JESSE MEHARRY, Supervisor of Philo Township, and whose portrait is shown in this connection, is widely and favorably known throughout Champaign County as one of most extensive land-owners and successful farmers in Southern Illinois. His fine farm is beautifully located on section 20, near the W. & St. P. R. R., which passes south of his residence. His landed possessions in the township of Philo embrace in one body 1,040 acres, which have been brought to the highest state of cultivation and are supplied with commodious and substantial farm buildings. Besides this Mr. M. owns 427 acres in McLean County, Ill., and 275 acres in Tolono Township, this county. The farm is finely laid out and well stocked with the best grades of cattle and horses. Of the former he makes a specialty, keeping a large number of cows and raising numbers of calves each year. The business of the farm is conducted in the most admirable manner, with method and system, and indicates on every hand the intelligence and enterprise of its proprietor.
Mr. Meharry located in Philo Township in 1865, and since that time has made it his permanent home. He visited the State when a child with his father, who entered land in Crittenden Township, in 1855. Our subject was born in Coal Creek Township, Montgomery Co., Ind., Oct. 9, 1835, and is the son of Thomas and Unity (Patton) Meharry, natives of Ohio, and the grandson of Alexander and Jane (Francis) Meharry, who were of Scottish parentage but Irish birth, and emigrated from their native country to the United States in the Colonial days.
The family was originally driven from Scotland to Ireland during the persecution of the Protestants in the reign of Queen Mary. The grandparents of our subject were married in Ireland in the spring of 1794, and in May following embarked on a sailing-vessel for the United States. After a voyage of three weeks they landed in New York City, whence they proceeded to Philadelphia, and later to New London, Cheshire Co., Pa. The year following they removed to Connersville, Fayette Co., Pa., and afterward took up their residence in Adams County , Ohio, where the grandfather was accidentally killed by a falling tree on the 21st of June, 1813. The bereaved widow was left with a family of seven sons and one daughter, who grew to maturity, and she lived to see them married and settled in life. Her death occurred in 1842, when she was well stricken in years. It may be properly stated that when her husband met his death he was riding home from camp-meeting in the middle of the day; there was not a cloud in the sky, and the tree which killed him fell without warning, his death being instantaneous. He was a man of much energy and force of character, possessed of sound judgment, and was successful as a business man and farmer. He was honest and upright in his transactions, and was a leader among his brother pioneers. He improved a good farm of 200 acres, from the proceeds of which each of his sons obtained a good start in life.
The father of our subject was reared in Adams County, Ohio, but was afterward married in Brown County, in December, 1827. His wife, who was formerly Miss Unity Patton, was of English and Welsh descent, and was born in Brown County, Ohio, Aug. 16, 1802. Soon after marriage the young people removed to Indiana, locating first in Fountain County, and from there moved to Montgomery County, where he purchased a tract of land which remained his home until his death, which occurred Jan. 29, 1874. In 1853-55 he came to Illinois and entered a large tract of land in McLean, Shelby and Champaign Counties, which after a few years became very valuable. He had at one time been the owner of 4,000 acres, the larger part of which was divided up among his children before he passed away. The mother is yet living on the old homestead, with her son Isaac N., but spends a great part of her time visiting with her children. She is now eighty-five years old, and is still bright and intelligent and can relate in an interesting manner many of the incidents of her early life.
The subject of our sketch during his childhood and youth attended the schools of his native county, and completed his studies at the college in Greencastle, Ind. He came to Illinois with his father in 1855, but did not permanently locate here until 1865. He was united in marriage with Miss Addie A. Francis, Feb. 27, 1873. Mrs. M. is the daughter of Abraham and Mary A. (Davison) Francis, natives respectively of Ireland and Brown County, Ohio. Her maternal grandparents were William and Jane (Love) Francis. They owned land in Ohio, but in their old age made their home with their daughter, Mrs. Hugh Meharry, in Montgomery County, Ind., where they passed their declining years and where their remains were laid to rest. The parents of Mrs. Meharry soon after their marriage located in Will County, Ill., in the pioneer days, in 1835, and erected one of the first log cabins in that vicinity, but the Indians soon afterward became so troublesome that they were compelled to return to Indiana temporarily. After a month's sojourn they again took possession of their land in Will County. This humble dwelling remained their home until it was replaced by a better one, and during the latter years of their life they inhabited a substantial modern frame house.
Mrs. Meharry was the ninth child of a family of eleven, and was born in New Lennox Township, Will County, Sept. 12, 1851. She was there reared and educated, completing her studies at Joliet, and afterward returned home and assisted her mother in the household duties until her marriage. Our subject and his wife are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with which they have been connected for several years. Mr. Meharry is the financial center of the church in his township, as well as the various other enterprises which have tended to its development and progress.
Mr. M. served as Supervisor of his township for five years consecutively from 1869 to 1874, and in the recent election was placed in the same office once more. His energy and ability have always distinguished him as a citizen among his fellow-citizens, whose confidence and esteem he enjoys in a marked degree. Since the organization of the Republican party he has been a warm supporter of its principles, casting his first presidential vote for Fremont, and being a loyal adherent of his party since. In his various undertakings financially and in his position socially, Mrs. Meharry has been a cordial sympathizer and companion, and has proved herself well worthy to be the wife of a man possessing his substantial traits of character and the qualities which have made him an honest man and a good citizen.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, ILL. Written and published by the Chapman Brothers, Chicago, IL, 1887, Pages 359-360, submitted by Leslie Rankin