John Shilts, who is a retired agriculturist living in Melvin, is still the owner of three hundred and thirty acres of rich and valuable farming land in Ford county, from which he receives a good income. He was born in Wittenberg, Germany, on the 22d of May, 1847, a son of Michael and Argatha Shilts, natives of the fatherland, who emigrated to America in 1852. They first located in Kendall county, Illinois, where the father worked as a laborer for seven years and then operated a rented farm for a period of eight years. In the year 1868 he removed with his family to Ford county, purchasing one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 13, Peach Orchard township, which he improved and cultivated, making his home thereon until his death in 1883. His wife had passed away in 1874 and their remains were interred in the Chatsworth cemetery. They were the parents of the following children: John, of this review; Joe, of Melvin, Illinois; Reuben, who resides in Iowa; Mary, the wife of Robert Underwood, of Ford county; Frank, who makes his home in Missouri; Mathew, living in Crawford county, Illinois; Katherine, who became the wife of George Morris and reside in Tacoma, Washington; Maggie, the wife of Thomas Underwood, of Ford county; and three who died in infancy.
John Shilts acquired his education in the common schools and remained with his father until he had attained the age of twenty-three years, when he was married and started out in business life on his own account by renting a tract of land. When a year had passed in this way he purchased eighty acres on section 24, Dix township, to which he added from time to time until his landed possessions now aggregate three hundred and thirty acres in Ford county, while in Crawford county he also owns a tract of forty acres. He brought his land under a high state of development, adding all the equipments and accessories of a model farming property, and met with such a large measure of prosperity that in 1895 he was enabled to retire from the active work of the fields. He now rents his farm and lives retired in a pleasant and commodious residence in Melvin, surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries which go to make life worth living. He is widely recognized as one of the extensive landowners and prosperous citizens of the county, and also as one of the early settlers who aided in the work of pioneer development and progress here.
The wife of Mr. Shilts bore the maiden name of Hannah J. McGee and is a native of Pennsylvania, accompanying her parents on their removal to Illinois at an early day. She has one brother and one sister: George, who resides in Oklahoma; and Margaret, who is the wife of John Crawford and lives in South Dakota. Mr. and Mrs. Shilts became the parents of seven children as follows: Minerva, deceased;. Sybil E., who has also passed away; May E., at home; Calvin, who has departed this life; Ida M., deceased; Estella E., who became the wife of Albert Getleman and now resides in the state of Washington; and Elsie R., the wife of Philip Waleby, who also makes her home in Washington.
In his political views Mr. Shilts is a democrat and has served as school director for twenty years, the cause of education finding in him a warm and stalwart friend. He also acted as ditch commissioner for seven years and gives loyal support to all movements and measures instituted for the promotion of the general welfare and the prosperity of the country at large. He was reared in the Catholic faith but his wife and family are members of the Congregational church at Melvin, where the hospitality of the best homes is freely accorded them.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 697-698.

Templates in Time