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Jonas Rude Harris

HARRIS, Jonas Rude, a much respected and retired farmer, living in Section 1, Eldorado Township, McDonough County, Ill., was born in Syracuse, N. Y., April 8, 1831, a son of James and Prudence Harris, who were cousins, the former born in Plainfield, Mass., July 22, 1782, and the latter in Berkshire County, Mass., April 6, 1785, and being married December 15, 1802. The paternal and maternal grandfathers, Daniel Harris and Nathan Harris, were brothers, born in Plainfield, Conn. The grandmothers on both sides, Lucy Fox and Prudence Park, were also natives of Plainfield, and the great-grandfather, Isaac Harris, who was the father of both grandfathers, came to the United States from England in the seventeenth century. Both of the grandfathers served in the Revolutionary War. All of the Harris ancestry in this county were located in Plainfield, Conn. James Harris, the father of Jonas, lived with his grandfather in Connecticut after the death of his mother, who had been left a widow. He afterward went to Niagara Falls, N. Y., where he staid about three years, then spent eight years in Cayuga County, N. Y., removing thence to Syracuse, where the family lived twenty-four years. In 1834 he came to Illinois, and settling in Eldorado Township, McDonough County, assisted in developing that region. He carried on dairying, milking from thirty to forty cows and supplied cheese to neighboring towns. He located on and cleared the tract on which his son Jonas afterwards engaged in farming, and to which the father had secured a title before leaving New York State. The log cabin which he there built was erected seventy-one years ago upon the premises now occupied by Mr. Harris. The farm contained 160 acres on the edge of the prairie and the remainder was covered with hazel brush. On this land James Harris devoted his attention to farming, and raised a large number of cattle. He died July 11, 1850, his widow surviving him until September 7, 1853, when she, too, passed away. The father was a pioneer of the Universalist faith, the first sermon of that denomination ever preached in the county being delivered in his yard. His son, Jonas R., who is also of that faith, has still the Bible owned by his father and used on that occasion. The elder Harris, before coming to McDonough County, was Overseer of the Poor of Onondaga County, N. Y. He was opposed to slavery, although favoring a compromise law to free the slaves.

Jonas R. Harris is the fifth son (and youngest child) of a family of twelve children, seven of whom were girls, all but himself being deceased. His earliest recollection pertains to the family journey by wagon from New York State. He remembers their arrival in a very wild region, where deer, wolves and prairie chickens abounded, as well as wild pigeons and wild turkeys. On the death of his parents Mr. Harris inherited the home farm, besides another of 160 acres in New Salem Township. One of his sisters kept house for him until his marriage. On the northeast corner of the farm two acres were reserved for the family cemetery. Here one of his sisters was first laid to rest, and now he has three brothers and five sisters buried on this spot, besides his father and mother. In early youth Mr. Harris received the benefits of the primitive subscription schools in the vicinity of his home, and helped his father and mother as best he could. On reaching maturity he applied himself to farming and handling stock on the property, and continued thus until his retirement from active labor.

On May 22, 1859, Mr. Harris was married to Mary M. Warner, who was born in Onondaga County. N. Y., and attended the common schools of New York and Ohio. Mrs. Harris' parents, James and Dency (Rust) Warner, were born respectively in Chenango County, N. Y., and Connecticut, were married in the Empire State and, coming west in 1854, settled near Blandinsville, where the mother died. The father died in Iowa. Mrs. Harris was the seventh of eleven children. In politics, Mr. Harris upholds the principles of the Republican party. He voted for Abraham Lincoln twice for President, and also favored his election as United States Senator. The subject of this sketch is among the few survivors of the group of men whose toils, privations and hardships made possible the present prosperity of the community in which he has lived for more than seventy years. He can look back over the eventful past without self-reproach, and toward the future with serene expectation.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 899-900, extracted 04 Jan 2019 by Norma Hass.

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