Among the old settlers and prominent families of Clinton county, Illinois, is the PRATHER family. James Prather, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born and raised in Allegheny county, Maryland. During his early life he was a prominent man in his native state, and was for a time a member of the Maryland Legislature. He came west to Illinois in 1837 on a tour of observation, and while here purchased the land where John J. now lives. In 1838 he removed his family here, and made this his home until his death which occurred April 23, 1846. He was a man possessed of large means, which he invested in lands, and owned at one time between three and four thousand acres. He married Harriet COLLINS, of Virginia. She died in 1852. There were twelve children by that union - seven sons and five daughters. Three children have survived the parents.
John J. is the eighth in the family. He was born in Allegheny county, Maryland, June 8, 1835, and was but three years of age when the family came west. He here grew to manhood, and has lived on the same farm from his childhood to the present. When his father bought the farm it was unimproved, except about forty acres. All the improvements, or nearly all that are now on the farm, have been made by Mr. Prather since he has come in possession of it. When he was young he received a limited education in the county schools, which were then operated on the subscription plan. He learned to read and write and calculate in figures. His education has been improved in later years by reading, and also by habits of close observation.
After the death of his father he and his brothers conducted the business on the farm until the death of his mother, when the property was divided.
On the 22d of March, 1860, he was happily united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Sophia HARMON, a native of Clinton county. She was left an orphan at an early age. Her father, Jacob Harmon, was a native of North Carolina, and her mother, Laura, was born and raised in Illinois, and was one of the pioneer families of the state. By the union of John J. and Sophia Prather there have been four children born to them. Their names in the order of their birth are Laura Ellen, James W., Sophia and Mary Cornelia, all of whom are yet beneath the parental roof.
His estimable wife and eldest daughter are members of the M. E. Church. Mr. Prather is not a member of any particular church organization, but gives liberally to all denominations. He is a respected member of the I. O. O. F., and belongs to Clement Lodge, No. 674. He is also a member of the beneficiary order of A. O. U. W., No. 176, Carlyle, Illinois.
In matters of politics he is a republican, belonging, however, to the conservative wing of that party. On state and national occasions he votes with his party. In the county and local elections he votes for good men regardless of their politics. He is one of those men who know that all parties commit mistakes occasionally, and that there are good principles and good men in all political organizations, but thinks also that there are a few more in the republican party than any other, consequently, in case of doubt, he always gives the republican party the preference.
He has followed farming and stock-raising all his life, and has been very successful. He is the owner of over nearly seven hundred acres of land, and has the proud consciousness of knowing that it is his, and that it is not encumbered with debt. In his habits he is very temperate; he neither smokes nor chews, nor has ever drunk alcoholic or fermented liquors. He is not a prohibitionist, but simply does not use tobacco or liquor in any form because he does not like it, and believes he is better in health and pocket without using it. He is a pleasant, agreeable companion and a good neighbor, and is respected by the entire community.
Source: History of Marion and Clinton Counties, Illinois, 1881, Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia
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