Biography of J. L. Peters

J. L. Peters. Three years have gone by since Mr. J. L. Peters passed that landmark of mortal journey known as three score and ten, and he and his good wife, who has been counselor and adviser and companion by his side for more than half a century, are now enjoying the comforts of retirement at their pleasant and attractive country home near the village of Tipton in St. Joseph Township.

Mr. Peters is one of the oldest living native sons of St. Joseph Township, where he was born January 25, 1844. That date is of itself evidence that the Peters family came to Champaign County along with the earliest pioneers. His parents were William and Sarah (McNutt) Peters. They were born in Kentucky, were married there, and soon after their marriage they started for a new home in the North, making the journey in a covered wagon. At that time all of Champaign County was a new district, and Indians were still here in large numbers, and through their thieving and begging propensities were somewhat troublesome. Mrs. Peters had never been accustomed to such neighbors, and she lived in constant dread of the red men, though they confined their excursions to the Peters home to merely beg something to eat. When the Peters family came to Champaign County fully 500 Indians were living within its boundaries. They usually spent the winter in the South, but returned early in the spring and frequented the sugar maple groves, where they tapped the trees and made sugar. Amid the circumstances of pioneer life Mrs. William Peters would gladly have returned to her old home in the Blue Grass State, but such a course was not practicable and in time she became better satisfied and contented.

William Peters on coming to Champaign County filed on 160 acres of Government land and paid $1.25 an acre. He was an energetic worker and a good business manager. There were few of the modern facilities and institutions in Champaign County, no railroads, no interurbans, and no modern highways. He usually went to Chicago to mill, driving in a big wagon and taking a week for the trip. On one of these trips he traded the only horse he had for some land and returned home on foot, carrying the flour on his back. He was determined to have as much land as he could care for, and he was granted his desire, and at one time owned more than 400 acres of the rich and fertile soil of Champaign County. The children of these parents had to make the most of their advantages in an old log schoolhouse, a building that was exposed to the elements and in spite of a roaring fire at one end was miserably cold.

In such circumstances J. L. Peters grew to manhood. The war came on when he was still a small boy, and during his twenty-first year he volunteered at Homer and enlisted in Company K of the One Hundred and Thirty-third Illinois Infantry. He marched away with the hoys in blue, being first ordered to Camp Butler at Springfield, and was then sent to Rock Island on the Mississippi River, where he was one of the soldiers guarding 10,000 Rebel prisoners. Practically all his service was in performing this heavy guard duty, and he welcomed the restoration of peace and his relief from such burdensome responsibilities. He was mustered out at Springfield, given an honorable discharge, and set out for home.

It was a sad home coming, since his father had died during his absence in the army. On April 20, 1865, soon after the close of his military experience, Mr. Peters married Ann E. Moore. She was born at Greensboro in Henry County, Indiana, a daughter of William and Rhoda (Maudlin) Moore. When she was six years of age her parents came to Champaign County and she grew up and attended the same district school as her husband.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Peters started farming the old ‘homestead and acquired part of the estate. Here they surrounded themselves with much material prosperity, but their chief pride has always centered in the fine family of children who have grown up around them. They are eleven in number, and were named Emmaline, Laura B., Lucinda A., Alta M., Milton, Lida M., John N”., Grant, Maggie P., Minnie E. and Fred. These children were educated in the local district schools. The daughter Emmaline married Charles McElwee and her children are May, Oral, Jennie, Effie, Iscle, Thelma and Ray. Laura B. married William Coburn, and is the mother of two children, Fay and William. Lucinda A. is the wife of James Stayton, and their two children are Florence and Hazel. Milton, who married Clara Hixenbaugh, have two children, Cecil and Bessie. Lida M. married Adrian Overman, and they have a large family consisting of Hallie, Helen, Lawrence, Russel, Ruth and Ray. The son John N. married Anna Pieplow, their children being Gladys, Grace, Dallas, Wayne, Charles and Paul. The son Grant married Bessie Raderbaugh. Maggie P. is the wife of Ed Lientz and the mother of Francis, Opal, Carl and Pauline. Minnie E. married Floyd Stephenson and has a son Paul. Fred married Bertha Schmidts.

Death has not spared the Peters family circle and at different times three of the children have been taken away, Laura B., Alta M. and Milton, while the wives of the sons Grant and Milton are also deceased. Mr. Grant Peters, since the death of his wife, has lived at the old homestead with his parents, superintends the management of the farm and is a good, steady, hard working man whose presence is a great comfort to his father and mother in their declining days.

Mrs. Peters is an active member of the New Light Church at Tipton. Politically Mr. Peters has always been staunchly aligned with the Republican party, and has given it his best support since Civil War times. He has served as school director, and having a large family of his own to educate has been extremely interested in securing the best of instruction for the young people of the neighborhood.


Champaign County,

Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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