Cover: Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties
1891 Portrait and Biographical Record:
Hon. Jonathan Meeker


HON. JONATHAN MEEKER. The little city of Sullivan, in Moultrie County, counts among its citizens a number of men of unusual intellectual grasp and acumen, whose experience in life has been such as to bring them prominently before their fellow-men and prove them sturdy and stanch material of which are made. Among such whose professional ability as well as personal qualities commend them to our readers, we are pleased to mention the gentleman whose name appears at the opening of this paragraph. He is a lawyer of more than ordinary ability and a man of massive frame and commanding presence,

Our subject was born in Bennington Township in that part of Delaware County which is now included in Morrow County, Ohio, July 25, 1831. His father, Ambrose Meeker, was born in Orange, N. J., and Grandfather Meeker was a farmer and spent his last years in New Jersey. His wife's maiden name was Miss Tompkins.

The father of our subject was but two years old when his parents died and he was cared for by his maternal uncle, and at the age of fifteen was made an apprentice to learn the trade of blacksmith at Newark, N. J. After completing his apprenticeship he started for the then far West, walking over the Alleghany [sic] Mountains to Ohio and settled in that State at Newark, Licking County. Here he opened a shop and followed his trade for a time before removing to Delaware County, where he bought a farm and for one year attended to cultivating it. He then returned to Newark and resumed business as a blacksmith, remaining there until 1832, when he carried on the same business at Etna after which he became a pioneer at Maysville, Union County.

The young man bought a tract of timber land and erected a shop, carrying on blacksmithing and farming together until 1847, when he went to Hancock County, Ill., making the removal by teams. There were five families in the colony and they prospected first in Nauvoo, then in Clark County, and in February, 1848, they came to Sullivan, which was then a small hamlet in a sparsely settled country with no railroad facilities. The land about here was then owned by the Government, and Mr. Meeker purchased some property in the village besides forty acres of partly improved land and two hundred and forty acres of wild prairie land. Customers came to his shop from as far away as Douglas and Piatt Counties, and his business prospered, making him content to remain here for the remainder of his days. His death occurred in 1881, when he was eighty-two years old.

Hannah Hartwell Meeker, the mother of our subject, was a native of Plymouth, Mass., her parents being descended from the first settlers of Plymouth. She had two children, our subject and his sister Roxanna, the wife of the Hon. John T. Eden. Her death took place in February, 1848. The pioneer school of Ohio afforded all the advantages which these children received in their early days, and the log schoolhouse, the puncheon seats, the wide fireplaces and the unglazed windows were familiar to their childhood.

Jonathan Meeker began work upon the farm while still quite young, and after coming to Illinois worked with his father in the blacksmith shop and attended the academy in Sullivan, and in 1858, at the age of twenty-six, having devoted himself to the study of law, was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Sullivan, which has been the scene of his labors from that day to this. Besides his professional duties he has been somewhat interested in farming, and has made this his recreation from intellectual effort.

The young lawyer soon began to think of establishing himself in domestic life and in November, 1860, he married Nancy Parker, a native of Rush County, Ind., and a daughter of Robert and Mary Parker. Five children came to bless this union, namely: Gertrude, Estella, Clara Belle, Raymond and Grace. To these children their parents are giving the very best advantages for a liberal education. Clara Belle and Raymond are graduates of Butler University, in Indiana.

The public career of the Hon. Jonathan Meeker began as early as 1852, when he was elected as one of the village Trustees, in which office he served for several terms. Soon after this he was elected Justice of the Peace and he has represented the township as a member of the County Board of Supervisors. He was elected as Representative to the Illinois State Legislature in 1870, and placed upon the bench of the County Judge in the year of 1877, which honorable, office he held for nine years. At the beginning of the present year he formed a professional partnership with D. R. Patterson, Esq., which bids fair to be a business alliance which will benefit both parties and increase their efficiency. This honorable gentleman will no doubt continue to augment his already fine reputation as a member of the bar and as a public-spirited citizen for many years yet to come.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 332/333

Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb