Biography of John D. Seltzer

John D. Seltzer, now living retired at Villa Grove, spent many useful and productive years in Champaign County. These years dealt pleasantly with him and in response to his energy and good judgment rewarded him with one of the finest farms in Raymond Township, which he still owns, and he is able to look back upon his past years with a great deal of satisfaction, born of practical achievement and the performance of the many duties that are assumed by public spirited citizens like Mr. Seltzer.

He is of old Pennsylvania stock and was born in Schuylkill County of that state April 6, 1843. His parents, Michael and Mary (Fryer) Seltzer, were natives of the same county. His father was a farmer, later engaged in the hotel business and for nine years served as superintendent of the Alms House in Pennsylvania. Going west, he lived about three years in Kansas, and through the inducement of his son John finally located in Champaign County. He and his wife had seven children: Francis and Abraham, both deceased, were Union soldiers in the Civil War; Rebecca, now deceased; Charles, also a veteran of the Union Army; John D.; Amanda; and Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Borda, living in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

John D. Seltzer grew up in his native state, but early in life came west to Illinois and spent a year and a half farming around Naperville in the northern part of the state. In 1871 he came to Champaign County. His advent into the county was attended by some interesting circumstances.

While living at Naperville he had acquired a handsome team of horses. He drove this team from Naperville south into Champaign County, and for a great many years it has been a matter of jest with his friends that he was overtaken when about a mile out of Urbana on his way to Tolono by the Champaign County sheriff and was accused of having stolen the team. Champaign County people were not as accustomed to such fine horses forty-five years ago as they are today, and Mr. Seltzer’s team had been the object of much admiration while he was stopping in Urbana. A few wiseacres at Urbana decided that such a fine team could not have been justly owned and acquired by their driver, and the only other plausible explanation was that they had been stolen and were being driven away for disposal. The sheriff, therefore, went in pursuit merely on this suspicion, but Mr. Seltzer soon convinced him and the deputy that they had an innocent man to deal with.

On settling in Champaign County Mr. Seltzer bought 160 acres of railroad land in section 30 of Raymond Township. For this land he paid only $12.50 an acre. Later he bought another quarter section for $15 an acre, and finally 160 acres more at $30 an acre. This last quarter section “he sold some years ago for $120 an acre. Mr. Seltzer lived on his land, cultivated it to the staple crops, planted trees, tiled and ditched the low places, and left it to remove to Villa Grove in as complete a condition for practical and diversified farming as any other place in Raymond Township.

John D. Seltzer married Sarah Erb, widow of Richard Davis. She was the’ mother of one child by her first marriage, Charles Davis, a resident of Raymond Township. Mrs. Seltzer died February 26, 1908. She and Mr. Seltzer had five children: Elnora, widow of William Hays and living at Allison, Colorado; Amanda, wife of Jacob H. Joseph of Sidell, Illinois; Lydia, wife of Michael O’Neil of Longview, Illinois; John Franklin, who occupies the old homestead and is referred to in a later paragraph; Susie, wife of George W. Ewin of Villa Grove.

Mr. John D. Seltzer is an active Democrat. He was highway commissioner and for twenty years school treasurer of his district in Raymond Township. He belongs to the Grange or Patrons of Husbandry.

John Franklin Seltzer is the son who is capably managing the old farm in Raymond Township, and was born in that township on section 30 October 7, 1879. As a boy he attended the district schools, afterwards attended the high school at Champaign, and took a business college course in Danville. For nine months he had experience as a merchant at Fairland, and then returned home and took charge of the farm of 440 acres. He now has the active management of 280 acres and is also overseeing a large ranch of 400 or 500 acres in Montana. He is a busy farmer and stockman and has shown that he possesses much of the sterling ability in this direction of his father.

February 11, 1903, John F. Seltzer married Annie Kimmel, a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of Jacob and Amanda (Seltzer) Kimmel. Both her parents are now deceased. Mrs. Seltzer was one of nine children, the oldest and the youngest, both sons, having died in infancy. The second child, Robert, lives at Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. The third child, a daughter, died in infancy. Her brother George is deceased and her sister Estella is the wife of Arthur F. Young of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Seltzer is the sixth in order of birth. Lottie is the wife of Newton Delbert of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Andrew is the youngest of the living children.

Mr. and Mrs. John F. Seltzer had three children: Frank, who died in infancy; George K., born March 29, 1906; and John J., born October 20, 1907. John F. Seltzer is a Democrat, has attained the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite of Masonry, belongs to the Mystic Shrine and is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America.



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

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