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 G. CANTRALL - During two thirds of a century William G. Cantrall has resided in Sangamon county. We of the early part of the twentieth century can scarcely realize the conditions that existed here at the time of his birth, for he is a native son of the county, having been born on the farm where he now lives February 20, 1837. Much of the land in this portion of the state was still wild and unimproved and on many a farm which is now highly productive not a furrow had then been turned. With the work of development and cultivation, Mr. Cantrall has been actively associated through many years and has been a witness of the greater part of the progress and improvement of this locality.

His father, Joshua M. Cantrall, was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, on the 17th of December, 1810, and arrived in Sangamon county on the 1st of November, 1824, when a youth of fourteen years. The family is of Welsh origin, and the first of the name to settle in the United States was Zebulon Cantrall, who took up his abode in Philadelphia about 1700. He had one son, Joshua Cantrall, who was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, valiantly aiding in the struggle for independence that resulted in the establishment of this republic. He was married and had nine sons, five of whom married and reared families of their own. Joshua M. Cantrall, the father of our subject, in connection with his father, entered a large tract of land in Sangamon county, the former becoming the owner of about two hundred acres. Resolutely he set to the task of transforming this into productive fields and carried on the arduous labor until he had opened up an excellent farm, which is now owned and occupied by his son William. He married Susan Cantrall, who was born in Urbana, Ohio in 1812, and upon the old homestead here they reared their family, spending their last years with their son whose name introduces this review, the father passing away January 11, 1891, while the mother's death occurred on the 28th of November, 1881 They had three sons and one, daughter who reached mature years but William G. and Jacob are now the only survivors of the family.

Amid the wild scenes of frontier life, sharing in the hardships and trials incident to the establishment of a home amid pioneer surroundings, William G. Cantrall grew to manhood. He assisted in the development of the farm, clearing away the brush, breaking the prairie and doing all necessary work for the cultivation of the fields. He drove three yoke of oxen to a breaking plow, turning the sod upon many an acre.

Like most young men starting out in life, he desired a companion and helpmate for the journey and on the 5th of January 1861, in Christian county Illinois, Mr. Cantrall was united in marriage to Miss Mary Jane Randall, a native of Sangamon comity and a daughter of Marshall S. Randall, whose birth occurred in Kentucky, in which state he was reared, coming to Illinois when a young man. Here he married Deborah Cantrall, a daughter of William G. Cantrall Sr. Our subject and his wife began their domestic life upon the home farm. where they reside. There were ten children born unto them, five of whom reached mature years: Marcus N., a farmer of Christian county; Sarah Matilda, the wife of Bret B. Malory, of Vermilion county; Mary L., the wife of Herman Miller, of Menard county; Lucy M., the wife of John Strode, of Fancy Creek township; and Wilbur F., who has charge of the old home farm.

Mr. Cantrall has led a very busy and useful life and has worked hard year after year, and now he is enjoying a well earned rest, his son relieving him of the labor of cultivating the homeplace. His earnest toil in former years brought to him a comfortable competence that now supplies him with all the necessities and some of the luxuries of life. From childhood days he and his wife were friends and for over forty years they have traveled life's journey together, their mutual love and confidence increasing as the years have passed by. In 1860 Mr. Cantrall probably cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln, and never has he wavered in his allegiance to the party which he then endorsed, but has deposited every four years a ballot for its leading candidates. He and his wife attend the Christian church and are well known people of Sangamon county where they have so long resided. The history of the improvement and development of this locality is indeed familiar to Mr. Cantrall. He can remember the day when deer roamed over the prairie or through the forests and there were many other kinds of lesser game. Wolves were also frequently killed and primitive conditions existed everywhere, the greater part of the homes being log cabins in which spinning and weaving was carried on, while the work of the fields was conducted with crude farming implements common at that day. With the work of improvement in agricultural lines, Mr. Cantrall has always kept abreast. He saw the introduct ion of the railroad, telegraph and telephone, and has seen the wonderful development of Springfield. He is one of the few remaining early settlers who two-thirds of a century have resided in Sangamon county, and among the pioneer class he well deserves mention.

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