BIOGRAPHY - John Woolstoncroft

JOHN WOOLSTONCROFT, one of the extensive land-owners of Lyman Township, residing on section 18, claims England as the land of his nativity and also has some Scotch blood in his veins. He was born in Lancashire, in 1810, and was one of a family of eight children, two sons and six daughters, whose parents were John and Mary (Woods) Woolstoncroft. His father was a weaver of cotton cloth. He died at the age of sixty-four and his wife passed away at the age of fifty. The only members of the family yet living are three sisters of our subject: Mary and Janet, both of whom are widows and reside in Lancashire, England, and Sarah, who resides in Philadelphia.

Our subject began to earn his own livelihood at the age of eight years, working at the weaver's trade from that time until twelve years of age, when he learned the trade of brick-making and also laid brick. When about twenty years of age, he determined to try his fortune in America and, in 1831, sailed from Liverpool to New York. He was almost penniless when he arrived in this country, a stranger in a strange land. He first secured work as a weaver in Philadelphia, where he remained for six years, and in the spring of 1837, he went to Ohio, where he spent about five months. He next located in Putnam County, Ill., and, making his home in Magnolia, engaged in weaving in the winter season and in brick-laying in the summer.

While residing in Putnam County, Mr. Woolstoncroft was united in marriage to Elizabeth Phillips, a native of England. Their union was celebrated in April, 1838, and unto them were born six sons and six daughters, eight of whom are now living: David, the eldest, wedded Mary Warner, a native of this State, by whom he has three children. He is a plasterer and brick mason and one of the prominent citizens of Roberts, and, in politics, is a stanch Republican. John married Miss Hannom and follows farming in Kansas; he, too, is a Republican. Abraham married Miss Pettit and is a resident farmer of Kansas; Wilber was joined in wedlock to Miss Hawthorne, and follows farming in Kansas; Alice is the wife of George Dykes, an agriculturist of Illinois; Elizabeth is the wife of John Warner, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work; Hannah is the wife of Edward Owens, a farmer of Wall Township; Maria, who successfully engaged in teaching in Onarga and in Ford County, is now the wife of Nelson Buzick, farmer, by whom she has six children, namely: Earl, who aids his father in the farm work; Flora, a student in Onarga Seminary; Mary, Jessie, John W. and James. Mrs. Woolstoncroft died May 7, 1864, and was interred in Magnolia Cemetery, where a beautiful monument marks her last resting place.

In 1867, Mr. Woolstoncroft came to this county with John Hunt, and purchased four hundred acres of raw land. The towns of Melvin and Roberts were not then laid out, wild game of all kinds was plentiful and at that day one could not have realized that such a rapid change was so soon to take place. Our subject bought land at $9 per acre and began the development of a fine farm. His labors were successful and he has become one of the well-to-do citizens of the community. In early life, he was a Whig and cast his first Presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, but since the organization of the Republican party, he has been one of its stanch supporters. Throughout the community, he is held in the highest regard and the word of John Woolstoncroft is as good as his bond, for his upright life and sterling worth have won him the confidence of all. He is now eighty-two years of age but is still enjoying good health.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 262-265.

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