Biography - J. A. HAMPTON

J. A. Hampton, a retired minister, now residing on his farm on section 21, East Fork township, was formerly closely connected with agricultural interests in Montgomery county, and his unfaltering purpose and strong determination in the face of obstacles and opposition enabled him to gradually advance upon the high road to success. He was born in East Fork township. November 3, 1835, and is a son of William R. and Nancy A. (Williams) Hampton. In the maternal line he is a representative of one of the oldest families of the country, for the Williams home was established in this portion of the state in 1818. W. R. Hampton was born in Kentucky in 1814, and his wife in the same state in 1816. He was twenty-one years of age when he came to Illinois, and here he met and married Miss Williams. He was a farmer by occupation, devoting his entire life to the tilling of the soil, and through his perseverance and energy he was enabled to provide a comfortable living for his family, save them many of the hardships and trials of pioneer life had to be met. His death occurred about 1892, and thus passed away one who had long been associated with the agricultural development of Montgomery county.

J. A. Hampton commenced his education in the old log schoolhouse in East Fork township, which was one of the pioneer structures of the community. There were no glass windows, but a log had been removed from one side of the building and covered with greased paper, so that light was admitted to the room in that way. There was a wooden chimney and all the furnishings were very primitive. The methods of instruction also were rather crude as compared with the advanced methods of the present day, but Mr. Hampton laid the foundation for a good practical knowledge, which he has supplemented by experience, reading and observation in later years. He started out for himself at the age of twenty years as a farmer, and made the tilling of the soil his life work, although he has given his time and energies to a considerable extent to the labors of the church. In early manhood he began studying for the ministry, and while working at farm labor he would frequently take his books into the field with him. He received his license to preach when twenty-one years of age and became a local minister, preaching on Sunday while continuing at farm labor through the week. He was a local preacher for ten years, and afterward spent thirty years in connection with the southern Illinois conference. On the expiration of that period he entered upon supernumerary relations with the ministry. He never ceased to conduct his farming interests, and although he started out for himself empty-handed he gradually worked his way upward, adding to his capital, and he now owns about four hundred acres of land. At the present time he is residing on his farm, which his son operates.

At the time of the Civil war J. A. Hampton put aside all business and personal considerations and with patriotic spirit enlisted in Company E, One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois Infantry. He participated in the Red River campaign and in the battle of Nashville, was also in the fighting at Mobile at the close of the war and, though often exposed to the fire of the enemy, he was never wounded. He was, however, in the hospital because of illness during the last year of his service, and in 1865, following the close of the war, he was mustered out.
Mr. Hampton was married in October, 1855, to Miss Jane Desart, a daughter of George Desart. She was reared in Edgar county, and by her marriage became the mother of eight children, and only two are now living: George W., a resident of Bond county; and John M., who is living upon the homestead farm. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hampton held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and lived earnest, consistent, Christian lives. He cast his first presidential ballot for John C. Fremont, the first candidate of the Republican party, and continued one of its supporters for many years, but is now a Prohibitionist. He formerly belonged to the Masonic fraternity and is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.

He has for many years — in fact, during the entire period of his life — been a resident of Montgomery county, and has therefore witnessed many of its changes as it has left behind it the conditions of pioneer life and has emerged into an advanced civilization. His mother's family particularly, was one of the oldest of the county, and his mother lived here when the Indians were still very numerous in the locality. The rise of ground upon which the farmhouse is now located was at one time the site of an Indian camp. Mr. Hampton made all of the improvements upon his farm. He secured a tract of land which was uncultivated and unimproved. There were no fences upon the place, and over the wild prairie roamed deer and wolves, but with characteristic energy Mr. Hampton began the development of his property and in the course of time reaped good harvests as the reward of his labors. His life has been, indeed, an active, busy, useful and honorable one, and over the record of his entire career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil.

John M. Hampton, who is now operating the home farm, was born in East Fork township and supplemented his educational privileges by a course of study in the McKendree College at Lebanon, Illinois. He there pursued a law course and was graduated with the class of 1892. Subsequently he published a newspaper and practiced law in Gillespie, Illinois. His health then became poor, and he went south. After returning to Illinois he resumed the practice of law and published a paper at Cerro Gordo, Illinois, but once more his health failed and again he traveled south and through the west, visiting both Mexico and California.

About a year ago, however, he again came to Montgomery county and settled upon his father's farm, where he now lives. He is an enterprising, progressive man, making the most of his opportunities and in the control of his business interests is displaying excellent ability and enterprise.

In November, 1903, Mr. Hamilton was united in marriage to Miss Eva Merriwether, a daughter of James Merriwether, of Macoupin county. His wife belongs to the Presbyterian church. Mr. Hampton is identified with the Knights of Pythias fraternity and with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and his political allegiance is given to the Republican party. He is a worthy representative of a family that has long stood for progress and improvement along material, social, intellectual and moral lines and like his honored father deserves mention in this volume.

Extracted 11 Apr 2020 by Norma Hass from 1904 Past and Present of Montgomery County, Illinois, by Jacob L. Traylor, pages 40-43.

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