Biography - Cyrus Preston

CYRUS ALFRED PRESTON. In presenting to the readers of this volume a biography of Cyrus Alfred Preston, a prominent young business man of the thriving town of Nokomis, it is but mere justice that prompts us to go back to the early history of his family to see what manner of man he is, to see whence the family came and what they have done to distinguish themselves. We find that he is a direct descendant of John Preston, who was of English extraction, but born in County Derry, Ireland. He was there married to Miss Elizabeth Patten, of County Donegal, Ireland.
In the year 1746, John Preston with his wife and three children emigrated to the New World, settling in Virginia, and at the May term of court he presented himself and made oath that at his own charge he had imported himself; Elizabeth, his wife; William, his son; and Letitia and Ann, his daughters, immediately from Ireland into the colony of Virginia, and that this was his first effort in procuring his right in order to partake of His Majesty's bounty in taking up land.
In order to show what a host of heroic men and beautiful and talented women came from this one immigrant, the honors they held, the intermarriages they made, and the influence exerted by them in every department of American politics and society, we propose to group together a few of the descendants of John Preston, the Irish immigrant. In addition to the three children brought with the parents from Ireland two more were born. These children are sketched as follows: William married Miss Susannah Smith. He was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and died of a wound received at Guilford's Court House. Letitia married Col. Robert Breckenridge, of Virginia, and after his death immigrated to Kentucky. Margaret married the Rev. John Brown, a graduate of Princeton College and a prominent Presbyterian minister in Virginia and Kentucky. Ann married Francis Smith, of Virginia, and went to Kentucky, where one of her daughters married James Blair, Attorney-General of that State and father of Francis P. Blair, Sr.
In the direct line of descendants of this distinguished family we find John Breckenridge, a United States Senator, and Attorney-General in Jefferson's Cabinet; James Breckenridge, a member of Congress from Virginia; and Elizabeth Breckenridge, who married Col. Samuel Meredith, a nephew of Patrick Henry. John Brown represented Kentucky in the Virginia Legislature and was three times elected State Senator from Kentucky. He married the daughter of the Rev. John Mason. James Brown was the first Secretary of State of Kentucky and for many years was United States Senator from Louisiana; he married the sister of Mrs. Henry Clay. John Preston was a member of the Virginia Legislature and for many years Treasurer of that State. Francis Preston was a member of the Virginia Senate, a Congressman from that State and a Brigadier-General in the War of 1812. He married the daughter of Gen. William Campbell, the hero of King's Mountain and a niece of Patrick Henry. William Preston was a Captain in Gen. Wayne's army. James Patten Preston was a Colonel in the United States army and a member of the Virginia Senate; he also served as Governor of that State.
Letitia Preston married John Floyd, Governor of Virginia, and was the mother of John B. Floyd, who was also Governor of Virginia. Thomas Lewis Preston was a member of the Virginia Legislature, a Major in the War of 1812, and married a daughter of Edmund Randolph, who was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and Attorney-General of the United States. John Smith married the first white child born in Kentucky. Margaret Howard married Robert Wickliffe, of Kentucky. Letitia Breckenridge married Peter B. Patten, of Niagara Falls, who was Secretary of War in John Quincy Adams' Cabinet and a Major General in the War of 1812.
Joseph Cabell Breckenridge, of Kentucky, was a member of the House of Representatives and also served as Secretary of State for Kentucky. John Breckenridge was a professor in Princeton College and married a daughter of Dr. Miller, who was President. Robert J. Breckenridge was a distinguished theologian and pulpit orator. William L. Breckenridge was President of Danville College, Ky.
John B. Preston was for many years a member of the Kentucky Legislature. William C. Preston was President of the College of South Carolina, United States Senator in that State, and was one of the foremost orators and statesmen of the land. John S. Preston was a member of the South Carolina Legislature, a Brigadier-General in the Confederate army and married a daughter of Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton, Sr., then the wealthiest plantation owner in the United States. William Ballard Preston was a Member of Congress from Virginia and Secretary of the Navy in President Taylor's Cabinet. He was a member of the Confederate Senate and was a distinguished orator and lawyer. Margaret B. Preston married Gen. Wade Hampton, Jr., who was Governor of South Carolina and a United States Senator from that State.
Elizabeth McDowell married Thomas Hart Benton, the distinguished United States Senator from Missouri. James McDowell was a member of Congress from Virginia and Governor of that State. Henrietta Preston married Albert Sidney Johnston, the noted General of the Confederate army. William Preston was a Member of Congress from Kentucky, served as Lieutenant-Colonel in the. Mexican War, was United States Minister to Spain, and a Major-General in the Confederate army. John B. Floyd was Governor of Virginia, Secretary of War in President Buchanan's Cabinet, and a General in the Confederate army.
Necketie Floyd married John W. Johnson, United States Senator from Virginia. John T. L. Preston was a Colonel in the Confederate army and a Professor at the Virginia Military Institute. Francis P. Blair, Sr., was veteran editor of Gen. Jackson's organ, and Thomas F. Marshall was a Congressman and eloquent orator of Kentucky. Alexander K. Marshall was also a Member of Congress from Kentucky. Agatha Marshall married Chancellor Caleb Logan. Edward C. Marshall was a Member of Congress from California. Mary W. Parker married Thomas L. Crittendon, Secretary of State from Kentucky. Susan S. and Sally Buchanan, both daughters of Francis Preston, married their two cousins, James McDonald and John B. Floyd, both Governors of Virginia, both Members of Congress, and one a Cabinet Minister. Lavennette Floyd married Frederick P. Holmes, of the University of Virginia.
Peter A. Porter was a Colonel in the Union army and fell in the battle of Cold Harbor. John C. Breckenridge was a Congressman and United States Senator from Kentucky, Vice-president of the United States, and Major-General and Secretary of War for the Confederate army. Samuel Miller Breckenridge is a prominent lawyer and Judge of St. Louis, Mo. Margaret M. Breckenridge was devoted to hospital and other charities in the late war. William E. P. Breckenridge, Colonel in the Confederate army, married a daughter of Henry Clay. Benjamin R. Brown, United States Senator from Missouri, was candidate for the Vice-presidency with Horace Greeley. John Mason Brown was a Colonel of Cavalry in the Union army and a prominent lawyer of Louisville, Ky. Edward Cabell Carrington was a Captain in the Mexican War, a member of the Virginia Legislature, and Brigadier-General in the Union army. William Campbell Preston Carrington was a Confederate officer who fell in the battle at Baker's Creek, near Vicksburg.
Susan Caleb married John B. Weller, Member of Congress from Ohio, also United States Senator from California, Governor of California and United States Minister to Mexico. Jessie Benton married Maj.-Gen. John C. Fremont, the Republican candidate for President in 1857. Sarah Benton married Richard T. Jacob, who was Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. Susan V. Benton married Byron Souldee Boilleau, French Minister to Peru. Sallie C. P. McDowell married Francis Thomas, Governor of Maryland. William Preston Johnson was a Colonel in the Confederate army, confidential Aide to President Davis, and President of Tulare University. Randall Lee Gibson was a Brigadier-General in the Confederate army and a Member of Congress from Louisiana. Hart Gibson was a member of the Kentucky Legislature. William Preston Gibson served in the Louisiana Legislature. Six brothers of these Gibsons were distinguished officers in the Confederate army. Two of them, William Preston and Claude Gibson, gave up their lives for the Confederate cause.
Mary Massie married John Hampton Pleasants, the well-known Virginia journalist, who was killed in a duel by Thomas Richard in 1846. Ann M. Lewis married the son of a Virginia lawyer, John Howe Payton. Montgomery Blair was Postmaster General in President Lincoln's Cabinet. James Blair, Jr., married a daughter of Gen. Jessup, of the United States army. Francis P. Blair was a Member of Congress and United States Senator from Missouri. He was a Major-General in the Union army and a Democratic candidate for the Vice-presidency. Elizabeth Blair married Admiral Lee, of the United States navy. Ellen Preston married James W. Shaffey, and Mary Shaffey married Prof. W. E. Painters, of the University of Virginia. Mary W. Packer married Todd Robinson, Judge of the Supreme Court of California. Thomas T. Crittendon was a Brigadier-General in the United States army and Governor of the State of Missouri.
Cyrus Alfred Preston, Sr., the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Kentucky in 1816, and was a direct descendant of John Preston, the Irish emigrant, in the sixth generation. He was educated at Danville College, Ky., from which he graduated, and later was a Director in the same institution. Born as he was in a slave State and the son of a large slave-holder, he early in life learned to abhor the institution of human slavery and soon became an avowed Abolitionist. An able lawyer, he located at Lexington. He possessed great oratorical powers and during the Douglas and Lincoln campaign we find him a supporter of Douglas, but many and eloquent were the speeches he delivered in favor of the abolition of slavery. Later, he embraced the principles of the Republican party, to which he clung to the day of his death. He served as Mayor of the city of Covington, Ky., and was Provost -Marshal under Lincoln.
In 1866, our subject's father gave up his political and professional life to seek quiet and retirement on his farm near Shipman, Macoupin County, Ill., where the great lawyer, scholar and orator died in 1875, at the age of fifty-nine years. The mother of our subject was Mary Amelia Myers, a native of Broome County, N. Y., and the daughter of Aaron Myers, a prominent lumber merchant. She was educated at Elmira College, Elmira, N. Y., and was a high-minded, cordial and Christian lady. Her marriage to Alfred Preston occurred in 1865. After his death, she married Dr. G. H. Gilson, a prominent physician of Shipman, Ill. Her decease occurred October 18, 1888.
Cyrus Alfred Preston, Jr., the subject of this sketch, is the eldest of three children born to his parents. He first saw the light on the home farm near Shipman, Ill., February 7, 1867. His father died in 1875, and he, with his sister, Daisy Mary Amelia, was left to the care of his widowed mother. After his mother's marriage to Dr. Gilson, he continued to reside with them until he had completed his education. It had been his desire in early life to become a physician. He studied pharmacy at the National Institute of Pharmacy in Chicago and from which he graduated in 1887. He later passed the State Board of Pharmacy and engaged in the drug business with his step-father at Shipman. In 1890, he established himself in the same business at Nokomis, where we find him conducting a very successful business. The history of his family is such that he may justly be proud of it, and future generations of his family will read and admire the record made by their ancestors from the time John Preston, the Irish immigrant, first set foot on the soil of America down to the present and seventh generation.

Extracted 12 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 491-494.

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