Biography - Andrew Jackson Perkins

ANDREW JACKSON PERKINS, the popular and well-known proprietor of the Perkins House, is one of Johnson County's native-born sons, and first saw the light on the old family homestead July 14, 1853.  His father was Capt. William Perkins, who was an honored pioneer of the county, a gallant officer during the war, and a man of prominence in the public life and in the business circles in this part of the State.
Capt. Perkins was born January 6, 1819, in Kentucky.  His father who was a farmer, died there, while his mother spent her first years in this county.  He had to work hard upon the old farm that was his boyhood's home, and only had an occasional chance to attend school, but he had an active receptive brain, and besides learning to read and write outside of the school room, he acquired a practical education in other directions and was a well informed man.  He was ambitious to make something of himself, and at the age of nineteen left the shelter of the paternal roof to try life in the young and growing State of Illinois, coming to new scenes with but little money, but with an assured capital, consisting of a clear head, willing hands and an honest, courageous heart.  He at once engaged in hard work on a farm, receiving twenty-five cents a day in payment for his toil, and he continued for some time to labor for others at whatsoever he could find to do, contriving to lay up a little money in spite of low wages.  He thus accumulated sufficient means to engage him to take unto himself a helpmate and May 10, 1840, he was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Simpson, whose people were early settlers of the county.
After his marriage the Captain rented land in Johnson County, and devoted all the time he could spare to its cultivation, having to do other work to obtain money to support himself and wife.  Sometimes he would cut wood, and once he made a trip to New Orleans with a flatboat load of hop poles to sell.  In this manner he toiled on for a number of years, and then bought a farm two miles east of the present site of Vienna.  A roughly built log cabin constituted the main improvement on the place when he took possession of it, and it was only by diligence, perseverance and the applications of sound methods of farming that he made of it one of the best farms in the neighborhood, clearing  the land by felling the primeval forest trees and burning them to get them out of the way.  He subsequently sold that farm and turned his attention to milling in Vienna, having an interest in a flour mill and in a sawmill in connection with AJ Kuykendall.
The war broke out, and Capt. Perkins laid aside all plans for the future to respond to his country's call for help, and with cheerful self-sacrifice and an enthusiastic patriotism that was contagious, assisted in raising a company for service, which was incorporated in the Fourteenth Illinois Cavalry as Company G, and he was appointed it's Captain.  He was in the army nearly fours years, fought in many battles, and in action evinced true courage, promptness and decision that made his services as an officer valuable and inspired his men with confidence.  He was finally seriously wounded in an engagement with the enemy, was taken to a farmhouse, where he remained until he had so far recovered as to be able to walk with crutches, and then, he having fallen into the lands of the rebels at the time he was wounded, he was sent to Andersonville to drag out life as best he could amid the sickening environments of the prison stockade at that place.  Some months later he was fortunately exchanged, was subsequently discharged on account of disability, and returned home with impaired health, and never again regained the vigor and fine physical condition of bygone years.
The Captain was a man of affairs, who was influential in public life, and was a man of large public spirit, who was active in promoting enterprises for the advancement of the county.  Among other things, he was persuaded to sign a bond for a mail route between Dongola, Union County and Vienna. The principal on the bond died, and the Captain had to complete the contract for carrying the mail.  In 1868 he was elected Sheriff of the county and served the full term.  Previous to that time, in about 1866, he bought what has since been known as the Perkins House, a hotel property in Vienna, which he improved to some extent, adding to the building, and he had it under his management, except when he rented it until his death, which occurred April 30, 1892.  Thus there passed away from the scenes of his usefulness one who had been for many years closely identified with the growth of  the county, and whose memory will long be cherished for his great worth as a man and a citizen. The partner of his joys and sorrows preceded him in death, dying August, 1889. They were the parents of twelve children: Cynthia E., John Lewis and Henry S, who are dead; James K., a railway bridge carpenter at Vienna; Mary L. and August M., deceased; Indiana, wife of W. E. Galener, of Tunnel Hill; Andrew J., our subject; Edie C. and Mary J., both of whom are dead; William E., a resident of Popular Bluff, Mo.; LIzzie E., deceased.  Mr. and Mrs. Perkins also took to their home and hearts and reared as one of their own J. A. Simpson.
Andrew J. Perkins, of whom we write, is the eighth child of the family.  His early years were spent of the farm, but when he was eight years old his parents removed to town, and he had the advantage of an education in the schools of Vienna.  When he was a boy he was mail-carrier for his father between this village and Dongola, and he also worked in the livery stable that his father operated in connection with the hotel.  He conceived the idea of going to Texas to seek his fortune, but he went no further that Arkansas on his journey thither, and stopping there a few months was variously employed, working on a farm, at paper hanging, working in a confectionery store, baker's shop, etc.
After his marriage in 1876, he lived in the hotel with his father and engaged in the transfer business.  After running an express wagon nearly a year, he went on the road selling goods.  In 1879 he learned the art of photography at Vienna, and for a while gave his attention to that business.  In 1880 he bought a half interest in a barber shop, learned the trade, and at the end of ten years bought out his partner, and was sole proprietor of the establishment.  He carried on a thriving business, but abandoned it in September, 1891, to take charge of the hotel property, which he bought from his father.  He is admirably adapted to his position as  "mine host," being perfectly familiar with the management of a hotel, always courteous and accommodating, and he enjoys his share of public patronage.  He is an exemplary citizen imbued with trued public spirit and having the interests of his town and county at heart.  He is a member of the School Board, and appreciating fully the benefits of a good education, uses his influence to keep the local schools up to a high standard. In politics he is a Republican.  He has served on the Village Board of Trustees.
The marriage of Mr. Perkins with Miss Sarah C. Ralls was solemnized February 13, 1876.  Mrs. Perkins' parents came from Tennessee to this State in the early years of its settlement, and her mother is still living at a venerable age, making her home with her. Mrs. Perkins is a consistent Christian, and an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Her union with our subject has been blessed to them by the birth of six children as follows: Harry; two who died in infancy; Fred; Winnie, deceased; and Nellie.

Extracted 08 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, page 124.

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