Biography of John M. Peters

John M. Peters, who now lives retired in the village of St. Joseph, has exemplified above everything else that quality of permanence which enters into the best class of personal and national character. Mr. Peters was for sixty-five continuous years a resident of one place, the farm where he grew up as a boy and whose acres he tended so skillfully and diligently during his own active life. From the work of his hands and brain he has prospered, has reared useful children, and has made his name widely respected over his native county.

Mr. Peters was born at Tipton, and lived in that rural locality until he came to St. Joseph a few years ago. He is a son of William and Sarah (McNutt) Peters. His parents were natives of Kentucky and came to Illinois at such an early period that his father was able to acquire 160 acres of Government land at $1.25 an acre. Besides farming and developing his raw land he also operated a saw mill for many years, manufactured much lumber, and was also a skillful cooper. He was a very successful and industrious man and at the time of his death owned an estate of 400 acres. He also served as justice of the peace for a long period and was widely known as Squire Peters. He educated his children in the old log schoolhouse which stood in his neighborhood, and it was in such a building that John M. Peters endured cold and other discomforts while learning his first lessons.

In 1868 John M. Peters married Miss Elizabeth Wood. She was born in Ohio, daughter of John and Sarah Wood, who came to Tipton in Champaign County at an early day. Mr. and Mrs. Peters had five children, Sarah Isabel, Eva, Oliver and Otis (twins), and Orin. These children were given the advantages of the Swearingen district schools and all of them have made successful records in life. The daughter Sarah is now the wife of Frank McAdams, a farmer at Defiance, Ohio, and they have one son, John. Eva married Alfred Blaker, and they live west of St. Joseph, their four children being Charles, Roy, Ruby and Raymond. The son Otis lives at Fairmount in Vermilion County and by his marriage to Jessie Alexander has three children, Lyle, Raymond and Bessie. Orin is connected with the grain elevator at Sidney, Illinois. He married Bertha Watson and has two children, Gladys and Dwight. Oliver, unmarried, is now baggage master in the Big Four Depot at Champaign and is an energetic young man, possessing many friends and having a bright future.

At the death of his father Mr. Peters inherited some of the estate and afterwards purchased more from the heirs, giving him a farm of 1071/2 acres. That land he diligently and closely cultivated and from it gained that prosperity which enables him to spend his last years in comfort.

On January 28, 1904, he was deprived of the companionship of his good wife and the mother of his children. On February 28, 1906, he married Mrs. Emily Cornelius. She was born near Troy in Miami County, Ohio, daughter of John S. and Mary C. (Day) Cox. Her father was a native of Ohio and her mother of Virginia, and in 1864, when Emily was nine years of age, the Cox family came to Illinois and settled near Fairmount in Vermilion County. There her father engaged in farming, but later was a druggist at Fairmount and in 1870 continued the same business at Ogden in Champaign County. He lived at Ogden until his death. Emily acquired her education in the district schools and in the graded school at Fairmount.

Mrs. Peters’ first husband was William E. Cornelius. Of that union there are five children, Frank, Edna, Nell, Walter and Lela. These children were educated in the district schools. Frank married Mabel Mulroy and has one child, Clover Frances. Edna is the wife of Robert Strong, connected with the elevator at St. Joseph, and they have a son, Paul. Nell married John C. Loeffler, and her two children were Bernhardt and Elizabeth. The son Walter Cornelius is a resident of Rockford, Illinois, and by his marriage to Maud Brown has two sons, Raymond and Donald. The daughter Lela married Gus Loeffler, who is employed by a brick contractor, living at St. Joseph, and their one daughter, Emily, was named for her grandmother.

Mrs. Peters has laid two of her children to rest, Frank and Nell, and that was the severest bereavement she has been called upon to suffer. Up to six years ago Mr. Peters was identified with general farming, and he and his wife then moved to the village of St. Joseph, the first move Mr. Peters had made in his life of sixty-five years. Most of his pleasant memories of boyhood and of mature life are centered around the old home place at Tipton. Mr. Peters has never been called upon in vain for a proof of public spirit. For thirty-three years he served as school director, and has always been drainage commissioner. Besides farming he has been an expert carpenter, and has erected many buildings over this part of the county. Mr. and Mrs. Peters are members of the Christian Church and in politics he is a Democrat, while his wife was reared in sympathy with the Republican party. On moving to St. Joseph Mr. and Mrs. Peters bought a good home on Main Street and they live now in peace and comfort, happy in the fact that their children are well situated in homes of their own.

Mr. Peters was the youngest in a family of thirteen children. He was reared to honesty and industry and has endeavored successfully to instill the same principles in his own household. He and his wife have made their home a most hospitable one, and they enjoy the complete confidence and esteem of a large community. Mr. Peters can look back to a time when Champaign County was without railroad transportation. In fact he went to Champaign to witness the arrival of the first engine over the Illinois Central Railway. He has accommodated himself to the marvelous advancement and progress of the time, and is now a careful and skillful driver of his own automobile. Several years ago a party came to him for the purpose of selling him a car and he finally accepted with the proviso that if the automobile people could teach him to run the machine he would buy. He meant what he said, proved an apt scholar in the mechanics and technique of automobile driving and has developed into a most skillful chauffeur and has absolute confidence in his own ability to get his car over the roads, his only fear being of the other man, that constant dread of the automobilist, the reckless driver.



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

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