Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

WILLIAM BALDWIN - Among the farmers, fruitgrowers and stock-raisers of Gardner township whose business interests have been so conducted as to win prosperity is numbered William Baldwin, who lives on section 36, where he has a farm of about two hundred acres pleasantly located within five miles of Springfield. He is a native of this county, his birth having occurred in Gardner township, January 21, 1831.

His father, Johnson Baldwin, was a native of Kentucky, born in Scott county, March 25, 1797. There he was reared to mature years and afterward married Elizabeth Kendall, whose birth occurred in Gallatin county, Kentucky. The father was a blacksmith by trade and in early life followed that vocation. One daughter was born of his marriage in Kentucky, and in 1824, with his little family, he came to Illinois, locating in Gardner township, Sangamon county, among the first settlers to establish homes in this section of the state and reclaim the wild land for cultivation. He broke, fenced and improved a small farm, and also built a blacksmith shop, which he conducted upon his land. Subsequently he sold his first place and purchased two hundred and forty acres of land located at the edge of a timber tract. There he erected a good set of farm buildings and placed one hundred acres of his land under a high state of cultivation, the well-tilled fields returning him a golden tribute for his care and labor. He became well to do and was a highly respected agriculturist of his community, making his home here until his death, which occurred about 1872. His wife had passed away about twenty years before, dying in 1852.

Mr. Baldwin, of this review, was the only son in a family of eleven children, two of whom reached adult age, but only five of the number are now living. He was reared to manhood under the parental roof and pursued his education in the country schools, which he attended through the winter months, while in the summer seasons he worked in field and meadow, assisting his father to carry on the home farm until after he attained his majority. He then started out in life for himself, and in November, 1853, in Gardner township, he wedded Mary Jane Parkinson. Her father, James Parkinson, was born December 22, 1805, in Belmont county, Ohio, twelve miles below Wheeling, West Virginia, and came to Illinois in November, 1830, being one of the pioneer settlers of Sangamon county. On the 7th of November, 1833, he married Miss Mahala Earnest, and they reared a family of five children. They made their home on a farm on the Jacksonville and Springfield road, eight miles west of the latter city. In 1862 Mr. Parkinson united with the Methodist Episcopal church, and for over thirty years was a consistent member of the same. Conscientious, tenderhearted and charitable, he made many friends and was held in high regard by all who knew him. In 1848 he was elected justice of the peace, in which capacity he served for twelve years, and was also the first supervisor of Curran township, being twice elected to that office. He died on the 14th of January, 1893, and his wife passed away six years previously. Mrs. Baldwin has a family scrapbook in which are many interesting incidents of early days in this locality, and it also contains a copy of Lincoln's letter proposing marriage to Miss Mary Todd, who became his wife. Mrs. Baldwin was born November 1, 1834, and was reared and educated in Curran township.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin removed to Menard county, Illinois, twenty-five miles north of Springfield, and there purchased a farm, upon which they lived for a quarter of a century, at the end of which time Mr. Baldwin disposed of that property and again came to Sangamon county, taking up his abode upon the farm where he is now living. He succeeded to a part of an old estate, comprising sixty acres, and to this he has added until he now owns one hundred and eighty-three acres of rich and valuable land. Upon his place he has erected a good and neat residence, a substantial barn, and has planted a large orchard of ten acres, containing an excellent variety of fruit. He has also fenced and tiled his place and made of it a valuable farm, on which he is not only engaged in the production of grain, but also devotes his attention to stock-raising and to the dairy business.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin have been born six children, who are yet living, and they lost two in infancy: Ellen M. is the wife of John McDonald, who assists in operating the home farm, and they have two children; Eunice P. is the wife of M. W. Summers, a farmer of Curran township, and they have three children; Otis, who was graduated at a medical college in St. Louis in 1903 and is now engaged in practice at Farmersville, married Edith Austin, of Virden; Otho, the twin brother of Otis, married Minnie Samuelson, of Cambridge, Henry county, Illinois, and resides in Springfield, where he is engaged in the practice of dentistry; Augusta M. is the wife of Professor Lewis Paulen, a successful educator of Sangamon county, and they have two children; W. 0. married Sarah McGurn, of Reno county, Kansas, where they make their home, and they have one child, a daughter.

Mr. Baldwin cast his first presidential ballot for Zachary Taylor, and since the organization of the Republican party he has been one of its loyal adherents, but has never sought or desired office. In religious belief he is a Seventh-Day Adventist, but is not connected with any organization. Having always lived in this section of Illinois, he has been a witness of the wonderful growth and development of Sangamon county. He has seen it emerge from the bushes and the timber districts to take its place with the leading counties of the great commonwealth, has seen its wild lands transformed into productive farms and has watched the growth of Springfield from a small town to a metropolitan center. Well may he be classed among the self-made men of his community, for in early manhood he started out on an independent business career with no capital, but he placed his dependence in the substantial qualities of industry, perseverance and honorable dealing, and these have brought to him very gratifying and well-merited success.

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