Biography - William Grissom

WILLIAM M. GRISSOM, who is descended from one of the early settlers of Johnson County, was born in one of the first pioneer homes opened in Grantsburg Township, December 9, 1830, and is now one of its industrious, well-to-do farmers. His father was Warren Grissom, a native of North Carolina, and a son of John Grissom. When Warren was six years of age the family removed to Tennessee, and when he was twelve years old, in 1818, they came to Illinois, traveling in a one-horse cart, and were among the first to settle within the precincts of Johnson County, the grandfather selecting the land on what is now section 8, Grantsburg Township, and, taking possession of a little cabin that stood thereon, commenced the struggle to build up a home amid pioneer environments. The grandmother of our subject died on the place, and was buried in Grissom graveyard, and the grandfather returned to Tennessee to pass his remaining days.
The father of our subject was brought up to the life of a farmer, and remained on the old farm until he was eighteen years old. He then went to live with the Simpsons, and while with them had an opportunity to attend school a year, whereby he obtained a fair education. He remained in that neighborhood seven years, working on a farm when he was able to do so. He had acquired the trade of shoemaker by himself, and worked at that when he had nothing else to do. At the age of twenty-two he went to Golconda, and for the ensuing five years was employed in a tobacco warehouse and general merchandise store, learning good business methods and gaining a thorough knowledge of mercantile affairs.
At the age of twenty-four, Mr. Grissom married Miss Miranda Finney, a native of Ohio, where her parents died when she was a small child, and at the age of six an aunt brought her to Golconda. When he left the position that he had held so long in the tobacco and mercantile business, Mr. Grissom turned his attention to farming, buying an old settled farm on section 4, Grantsburg Township. There were eighty acres of land, and a large hewed log house stood ready for occupancy when Mr. Grissom took possession of the farm, upon which he made substantial improvements during the fourteen years that he lived there. Selling it at the expiration of that time, he resided in different places in the settlement for a number of years, and then bought sixty-five acres of land adjoining the old place. His first wife died in 1849, and he was afterward married to Sarah Williams, from Georgia, who also preceded him in death. His demise occurred in 1867, and his mortal remains were buried in Pope County. Seven children were born of his first marriage: William M.; Naomi, who died on the old farm when a year old; Elizabeth, who died on the old farm at the age of one year; Pleasant G., who died when three years old; Nancy, deceased; Mary A., who is married and lives near Brooklyn, Massac County; and Thomas L., who died in Massac County. By the second marriage there were three children: Warren J. and Delilah Jane, deceased; and a child that died in infancy.
The subject of this biographical notice was the first child born to his father. He remained at home until he was thirteen years old, helping his father on the farm, and at that age went to live with Pleasant Rose, near the old place. He remained with him eight years, attending school as he had a chance, and he was then employed on different farms for four years. He was prudent and economical, and by the end of that time had money enough saved to buy a farm, and he purchased the place where he now lives on section 7, Grantsburg Township, paying $350 for the eighty acres of unimproved land. About a year after purchasing it he built a cabin, having cleared land to make room for it, burning the timber that he did not use for lumber or rails. He had thus a home prepared for his chosen bride, and in 1859 he was wedded to Miss Eliza Farles, a native of Johnson County, and they began life together in the cabin. By persistent and intelligent labor, Mr. Grissom has transformed the place into one of the finest and most desirable farms of the township, putting it under a high state of cultivation and making substantial improvements. He has also increased its acreage more than two-fold, buying another eighty the next winter after his first purchase and adding forty acres subsequently, so that he has a good-sized farm of two hundred acres, all neatly fenced into convenient fields. In 1861 his humble cabin gave way to a more commodious frame house, and barns and other outbuildings of a good class have been erected.
The first wife of our subject, who was a valuable aid to him in bringing about his present prosperity, departed this life in 1886, and her last resting place is in the Concord graveyard. Our subject was married a second time, his present estimable wife being formerly Miss Eliza Spence, from Massac County. By his first marriage, Mr. Grissom bad the following children: Sidney A., deceased; James K., Jane, Thomas L., Kittie and Ida, all of whom died in infancy; Mary Elizabeth, wife of Frank Faeries; William M., who teaches school in Johnson County; and Barney, at home.
Mr. Grissom is a man of strong character, possessing in a full degree those manly traits that win confidence and esteem, and these are accorded to him in full measure by the people among whom he has always lived, and who know him to be a good neighbor and a steadfast friend. His success in life is due to his competency as a farmer and to his perseverance in overcoming the difficulties that lie in his pathway. The Republican party has in him a consistent supporter of its policy. Religiously, he is of the Presbyterian faith and a stanch church member.

Extracted 17 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 176-178.

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