Biography of John Edward McJilton

John Edward McJilton. Formerly an agriculturist in one of the greatest cornbelts in the world, still the owner of a large amount of valuable land in Champaign County, and now the proprietor of a leading and successful lumber business, John Edward McJilton is one of the residents of Fisher who is familiar with the county in which he has spent practically all his life. From a modest beginning he has succeeded in building up a prosperous trade in lumber, and his standing in business circles is that which is attained by men who have honorably worked out their own success.

Mr. McJilton was born in Woodford County, Illinois, April 9, 1862, and is the youngest of five children, three sons and two daughters, born to John Thomas and Elizabeth Jane (Shafer) McJilton. His father was a native of Ohio, born in January, 1822, and died about April, 1904, at Elm Creek, Nebraska. He was about twelve years of age when he came to Woodford County in pioneer style, in wagons, with his parents, and here secured his education in the early public schools, his boyhood training being along agricultural lines. He traced his ancestry to Scotland, the land of the thrifty and industrious, and had inherited the characteristics of his forefathers, so that he was not long a worker for others, but secured land of his own. He was married in Woodford County, where his children were born, and in 1868 came to Champaign County, purchasing eighty acres of land in East Bend Township. This original purchase was subsequently augmented from time to time until Mr. McJilton was the owner of 200 acres of well improved land in the county, when he sold out and went to Butler County, Kansas, there becoming the owner of a farm by purchase. Mr. McJilton made his home in Kansas for about five years, following which he went to Buffalo County, Nebraska, and there rounded out his long and honorable career in the prosecution of agricultural operations. Mr. McJilton was not only one of the leading farmers of his section, but was prominent in township affairs, held a number of local offices, and for many years was a school director. He and his wife were consistent and faithful members of the Christian Church, to the movements and work of which they contributed liberally. In political affairs Mr. McJilton was a Democrat. Mrs. McJilton was born in 1828 in Woodford County, Illinois, where she was educated in the public schools, and died in June, 1906, in the same locality as her husband, Elm Creek, Nebraska, where a beautiful stone marks the resting-place of this devoted and highly respected couple. They were the parents of the following children: Mary, who is the wife of W. H. Swazey, a well known resident and merchant of Ashland, Kansas; Simon W., who is a resident of Overton, Nebraska, married and a retired farmer; Joseph W., who is engaged in agricultural work at Saint Louis, Michigan; Emma, the wife of Isaac Davis, who is connected with the United States mail service and is a resident of Towanda, Kansas; and John Edward, of this review.

John Edward McJilton is largely a self-educated man. He attended the district school of his neighborhood during his youth, but his time was largely occupied in assisting his father in the work of the home farm, on which he remained until reaching the age of twenty-two years, and the greater part of his education has come through experience, observation and mingling with men of affairs. When he was one year past his majority he became a renter of land in Kansas, whence he had been taken by his parents, and for three years gathered crops on property in that state thus secured. At the end of that period he came to Champaign County, where he had been given a forty-acre farm by his father-in-law. He fanned his father-in-law’s land for seven years, and in the meantime purchased an additional thirty-five acres, for which he went into debt, but subsequently cleared off his indebtedness. Being at that time the owner of seventy-five acres, with good prospects for success in his under-takings, Mr. McJilton decided to establish a home of his own, and February 11, 1886, was united in marriage with Miss Augusta Heyer. They became the parents of five children, of whom the following still survive: Alva W., educated in the common schools and one winter at a business college at Marion, Indiana, now a successful agriculturist and stockman of East Bend Township, Champaign County, independent in politics, voting rather for the man than the party, a member of the Christian Church, as was his first wife, Ethel Bryan, by whom he had one daughter, and married for his second wife Nellie Williams, who attends the same church; Elsie, educated in the common schools, married Ernest Mink, an agriculturist of Champaign County, Illinois, has one son, Lyle, and is a member of the Christian Church; Leslie, who is in the third year of high school at Fisher; and Hazel, who is in the sixth grade of the common school at Fisher.

Mrs. McJilton is a native of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, and was born March 5, 1860, being a daughter of William and Sophia Heyer. Her father was a native of Saxony, Germany, and after receiving a good education in his native land, came to the United States when still a young man. He was an agriculturist by vocation, and a man of unusual brilliance of mind and intellect, one of his favorite subjects being history, upon which he was exceptionally well informed. On first coming to America he located in Wisconsin, where he gained success both as an agriculturist and a manufacturer of cheese, and in the latter connection was the owner of a factory, in which Mrs. McJilton assisted her father when a child. After leaving Wisconsin Mr. Heyer became one of the earliest settlers near Fisher, and here the remaining years of his life were passed in the pursuits of the soil, he becoming the owner of 395 acres of good Champaign County land. He died in 1896, at the age of sixty-five years, in the faith of the German Lutheran Church. Mrs. McJilton was educated in the public schools of Champaign and has made her home here since girlhood. She is a member of the Domestic Science Society at Fisher, and is generally popular among the ladies here, but finds her chief interests in her home.

Mr. McJilton embarked in the lumber business in Fisher in 1908 and has steadily built up an excellent trade. He now carries a complete and up-to-date line of lumber and all kinds of building material, and his treatment of his patronage, as well as of the public in general, is such as to accord him a place in their confidence and esteem. While the greater part of his attention is now given to his lumber business, he has by no means given up his interest in agricultural matters, for he is the owner of 180 acres of land in Champaign County, eighty ‘acres in Gratiot County, Michigan, and twenty acres in Florida. He also owns his own home at Fisher, a comfortable and hospitable residence, where his numerous friends always find a warm welcome. With Mrs. McJilton, he belongs to the Christian Church, in which he is a deacon, and in addition to religion, he is a friend of education and has served in the capacity of school director. In every way he is entitled to be numbered among the representative men of 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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