Biography - William Lea

William S. LEA, grocer, Litchfield, was born in Yorkshire, England, in February, 1830, and came to the United States in 1848; he learned the trade of stone-cutter and mason at Spofforth, England, beginning at the age of thirteen years and serving nearly six years' apprenticeship. In the United States he was contractor and bridge-builder on several railroads until 1859, first working on the Des Moines Canal, in Iowa and Missouri, and afterward on the Alton & Chicago Railroad with his two brothers, building the masonry from Alton to Carlinville; on the Pacific Railroad he constructed the bridge across the Des Press River; he was employed on the masonry of the Illinois Central Railroad bridge spanning the Little Wabash, and the Iron Mountain bridge across the Merrimac River; in 1857, he took contract for grading and masonry of five miles on the West Branch of the Pacific Railroad, at the completion of which, in 1859, he settled on a farm in Macoupin County, Ill., which he operated until 1866, when he removed to Litchfield, Ill., and for two years was a contractor on the North Missouri Railroad. In 1868, he embarked in the grocery business in Litchfield, continuing until 1876, when a fire destroyed the entire stock and building, covered by only partial insurance; from that period until 1881, he managed his farm and other interests, and in the latter year again opened a grocery on State street, in which he is still doing a good business. Samuel LEA, the father of William S., was a surveyor and civil engineer, and came to Illinois in 1850, and for two years resided in Alton, then removed to Centralia, where both parents died in 1857, of milk sickness. Our subject married, April 30, 1852, Miss Caroline BARRETT, youngest daughter of Elisha BARRETT, one of the early settlers of Greene County, Ill. Elisha BARRETT was born in the State of Virginia, of Scotch-Irish parentage, somewhere about the year 1779; he came to Kentucky when small, with his parents, who settled near Lexington, where, on reaching manhood, he married Mary Jenkins, an English lady, by whom he had twelve children, five of whom are still living; he became the owner of a large landed estate in Oldham County, Ky., on which he farmed until about 1836, when he was dispossessed of his property by a prior French claim, and sought a home in the West, settling in Greene County, this State, where he resided until his death, in January, 1845; his widow, left with a large family, subsequently removed to Alton, Ill., where he died in 1851. Mr. and Mrs. LEA are the parents of eight children, three of whom died in infancy, and four are living - Edwin, a farmer of this county; Charlie; Harry, who died at the age of seventeen; Jennie and Sammy.

Extracted 19 Nov 2016 by Norma Hass from 1882 History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois, Part 2 Biographical Department, page 170-171.

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