An excellent type of sturdy American manhood is found in the person of Francis B. Thacker, who, although he has passed the allotted time of three score years and ten, is still engaged in active pursuits and is carrying on operations on his fine farm situated about three miles northwest of Vienna, Johnson county. Throughout his life Mr. Thacker has been one of this section's most energetic and public-spirited citizens. When the call for troops to protect his country's flag came he was one of the first to enlist from his section, and after he had served gallantly throughout the Civil war, he returned to the peaceful occupations of life and proved himself worthy of the esteem of his fellow men. Mr. Thacker is a native of Johnson county, and was born on a farm on Simpson's Road, two miles southeast of Vienna, a son of Joel Sampson and Sarah (Bain) Thacker, and grandson of Nathan Thacker, of Tennessee.

Joel Sampson Thacker was born in Stewart county, Tennessee, and as a youth migrated to Illinois with his mother, locating in Johnson county in 1830. He continued to engage in agricultural pursuits throughout his life, and his death occurred on his farm, situated near Pond, Illinois, in 1855. He married Sarah Bain, daughter of John Bain, a native of South Carolina, who migrated to Kentucky and then to Southern Illinois, and they had a family of five children: Francis B.; S. P.; Mrs. Martha Fort; Charles A., of Oklahoma; and G. N., of Weatherford, Oklahoma. The mother of these children passed away in March, 1908.

Francis B. Thacker began his education in the district schools of his native community, but was left fatherless when fourteen years of age and was compelled to leave school and start to work on the home farm. He was twenty years of age when the Civil war broke out, and on August 22, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, Thirty-first Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, with which he served until July 19, 1865. At the time of his enlistment his captain was Captain Williamson, and he saw much service under General John A. Logan. The first engagement in which Mr. Thacker took part was the battle of Fort Donelson, in February, 1862, and during the summer of that year his regiment participated in several minor engagements before a severe conflict with Confederate cavalry at Burnt Bridge, Tennessee. Following this came the battle of Corinth, October 3 and 4, and in the winter the army went to Coldwater Station, near Vicksburg. On January 1, 1863, the regiment was ordered to Memphis, and during the following month descended the river to Lake Providence, above Vicksburg. On May 1st the river was crossed, the blockade run, and the battle of Fort Gibson fought, and following this Mr. Thacker's division was stationed at various camps until finally engaging the enemy at Jackson, Mississippi. Returning to Champion Hill, a battle was fought at that point, and later on the regiment went to Vicksburg, where they took an active part in the siege, marching into the city on the morning of July 4th. Subsequently a series of engagements were fought to Black River, twenty miles east of Vicksburg, and here Mr. Thacker veteranized. In the spring of 1864 his regiment was transported up the river to Cairo, and later became a part of Sherman's army at Big Shanty, Georgia. Almost daily skirmishes followed, constant action under a heavy fire was nothing out of the ordinary, and sharpshooting on both sides became deadly. After the surrender of Atlanta, in August, the regiment became a part of the division that was sent after Hood's retreating army. Subsequently the regiment to which Mr. Thacker was attached returned to Atlanta, took part in the famous "March to the Sea," wintered at Buford, South Carolina, and in the spring of 1865 marched north and on March 19 met and defeated Johnston's army at Goldsborough. The surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Court House followed three weeks later, and the war was closed. After participating in the Grand Review at Washington, D. C., Mr. Thacker was mustered out of the service at Louisville, Kentucky, July 19, 1865, and on August 6th, following, received his honorable discharge at Springfield, Illinois. As a soldier who always did his full duty cheerfully, bravely and faithfully, Mr. Thacker won the respect of his officers and the esteem of his comrades. No duty was too irksome, no march too long or hard, no battle too fierce or skirmish too dangerous to keep him from his place in the ranks, and the record which he made through nearly four years of fighting is one of which any soldier might well be proud.

If Mr. Thacker was a good soldier, so has he proven himself a good citizen. On his return from the war he engaged in the sawmill business, being thus engaged until 1868, and then traded his mill for a tract of one hundred acres of land five miles north of Vienna, to which he added from time to time until he had nearly two hundred acres. Subsequently he moved to Grantsburg. where he again was engaged in milling, but selling his farm and mill he purchased a portable mill, and in 1873 went to Lick Creek, Union county. During the following year, however, he returned to Johnson county, and resumed operations on his old farm, but in 1892 sold that land and soon thereafter purchased the tract that he now owns. This comprises one hundred and fifty acres of some of the best cultivated land in Johnson county, and includes an orchard of fourteen acres of apple trees and a large vineyard. He has carried on general farming and stock-raising, and whatever he has taken up he has followed to a successful conclusion. Always a stalwart Republican, he has been elected to positions of honor and trust by his fellow-townsmen, including those of assessor and justice of the peace, and in 1888 he was elected clerk of the circuit court of Johnson county, a position which he held until 1892. During this time he was engaged in the nursery business in partnership with Mr. W. A. Galeener. Previous to this time he had served as county treasurer, from 1877 until December 1, 1882, and subsequently from 1903 to 1909, acted in the capacity of county commissioner for two terms. In his official capacities he has shown himself able, conscientious and competent, and his best efforts have been given that the affairs of his community might prosper. Fraternally he is connected with the A. F. & A. M., No. 150, of Vienna; he is a popular comrade of the Vienna G. A. R. Post, and he and his family attend the Methodist Episcopal church.

On October 25, 1866, Mr. Thacker was united in marriage with Miss Nancy C. Peterson, daughter of Owen and Elizabeth (Mercer) Peterson, of Cache township, Johnson county. Mr. Peterson, who was born in Arkansas, came to Johnson county with his parents, Thomas and Lucy (Arbor) Peterson. Mr. and Mrs. Thacker have had ten children, namely: Marcus, Minnie, Ida May and Sarah Ellen, who died in infancy; Mary Frances, born December 6. 1875, who married a Mr. Dundas, and has one child, Leona, aged thirteen years; Harry; Samuel, who married Fannie Stewart, deceased, by whom he had two children, Jeanette and one who died in infancy; and Kate, Nola and Charles. Harry Thacker was born February 10, 1878, and received his education in the schools of Vienna, also spending two terms in McKendree College, Lebanon. He had been reared to agricultural pursuits and was engaged in assisting his father, to whom he was deeply attached. A misunderstanding having occurred between his father and a publisher, and the latter publishing an unwarranted attack on Mr. Thacker, the son, out of filial devotion, endeavored to have it retracted. On September 10, 1910, the people of this community were shocked to learn that young Thacker had been the victim of a brutal murder. His loss was one that was felt not only by his immediate family, but by all who had come into contact with this bright, promising young farmer-citizen. His remains lie in the Vienna Cemetery.

Extracted 07 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1408-1410.

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