Amid the wild scenes of pioneer life Charles S. Cantrall was reared and shared in the hardships and trials incident to the establishment of a settlement upon the frontier. His education was acquired in the primitive schools of the times and he followed farming, employing such crude machinery as was then in use, but as the years advanced he kept apace with the universal progress and in his farming methods was very practical and progressive. He was three times married. On the 2d of January, 1845, he wedded Emily M. Vandergrift, who was born October 6, 1830. They had two children: Mary E., the wife of Stephen 0. Price; and MacDonald, who married Margaret Peden, who resides at Illiopolis. The mother passed away January 29, 1852, and on the 20th of June of that year Charles S. Cantrall was married to Miss Lucy Swearengin who was born October 15, 1828, and died April 14 1853. Mr. Cantrall was again married and for his last wife chose Harriet A. Graham, whose birth occurred February 17, 1836, in Athens, Illinois. Her father Peter Graham, was born October 22, 1804, in New York city and came to this state in 1829. When twenty-three Years of age he had gone to North Carolina and thence to New Orleans, where be lived for three years. For sixty two years he was a resident of Athens, Illinois, and died there September 30, 1892 at the age of ninety Years, eleven months and eight days. In early life he was a carpenter and later was on a steamboat on the Mississippi river, running between New Orleans and St. Louis. As before stated, he arrived in Illinois in 1829, locating first at Jacksonville, where he remained for eighteen months. In 1831 he came to Athens, where he resided up to the time of his death, covering more than six decades. He was married in 1832, at Jacksonville, to Miss Mary Ann Akers, and unto them were born eleven children, seven of whom are still living: Mrs. Ursula Hart, of Lincoln, Nebraska; Mrs. Harriet Cantrall, of Illiopolis; Mrs. Henry C. Graham; Mrs. Ellen Cantrall, the wife of Young Cantrall, of Athens; Emma, the wife of Henry Cantrall; Mrs. Eliza Swigle; and E. N. Graham, of Athens. All of the children are married and have families of their own and some of them are with their children's children growing up around them.
At an early age Mr. Graham united with the Methodist Episcopal church and was ever one of its devoted members. His home in pioneer times was the place of entertainment for the venerable Peter Cartwright and other pioneer ministers of Illinois, and there the neighbors gathered to hear the preaching of the word. In the Graham home the prayer meetings were also held, and there the family altar was erected and kept until death severed the family circle. Mr. Graham was born in the year that Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated president of the United States and one year before Ohio was admitted to the Union. It was during his early boyhood that the Louisiana purchase was made by the government, the United States thus acquiring that great section of land out of which the western Mississippi states have been carved. He was but eight years of age when the first steamboat, called Fulton's folly by those who did not have faith in the invention, successfully made its first journey up the Hudson river. He was old enough to vote the year previous to the running of the first railroad train in America, and he bad passed the period of middle life when telegraphy was brought into use, and he came down to an age when the Atlantic cable was laid. He arrived in Illinois before Chicago was founded and he lived through twenty-three presidential campaigns, seventeen after becoming a voter. He saw the Union develop from sixteen to forty four states and saw the post rider replaced by the fast mail, the old stagecoach supplanted by the vestibule train. He gave his assistance to the work of transforming the Illinois prairies into productive fields, with here and there a thriving town or village, or perhaps a city of metropolitan proportions and advantages. He assisted in building the first frame house erected in Athens, and he also aided in building the old courthouse in the capital city. He could have entered large tracts of land for less than a dollar per acre when he arrived here.
He possessed at that time a capital of five hundred dollars in gold. Springfield was then a small hamlet, containing but three log cabins, and he took an active and helpful part in local progress and improvement. When ninety years of age he possessed much more energy and alertness than many a man of forty years. In July, 1891, his wife died, and on the 30th of September of the following year he, too, passed away. The funeral services, held at the Methodist church on Sunday morning at ten o'clock, were conducted by Rev. G. W. Dungan, of Jacksonville, assisted by Elder W. H. McGinnis, of the Christian church, and the interment took place in Hall's cemetery. Thus passed away one of the most honored and venerable of the worthy pioneers of Illinois, who aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present development and progress of this portion of the state.
Unto Charles S. and Harriet Cantrall were born nine children, namely: Charles H. and Thomas D., both of Athens; Alice, at home; John W. Levi G. ; William H. Fanny A., the wife of William Tackett, of Willis, Illinois; Homer E., who married Bessie Johnson, of Springfield; and Ida, who died in childhood. The two eldest sons, Charles H. and Thomas D., now conduct a general grocery store in Athens on the same lot on which their mother was born.
Charles D. Cantrall was a farmer by occupation and made his home west of Illiopolis, where he owned two hundred acres of land, all of which was wild prairie when he took up his abode thereon. He removed to that farm in 1866 from Cantrall, which town was then known as Antioch, but the name was afterward changed and named in honor of the Cantrall family. Throughout his remaining days Mr. Cantrall carried on agricultural pursuits and was a progressive, energetic farmer, whose labors were attended with excellent results. He placed his land under a high state of cultivation, used good machinery in improving his farm and had upon his place a high grade of stock. He was active in agricultural work until his death, which occurred December 15, 1884 After his death Mrs. Cantrall continued to conduct the home farm until 1902, when she removed to Illiopolis, where she and her daughter Alice are now living.
Mr. Cantrall served as collector of his township for four years, was also assessor for a number of years and likewise constable, and in all public offices he discharged his duties with promptness and fidelity. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity for over thirty years and was a stanch advocate of the temperance cause, untiring in his work in its behalf. He held membership in the Christian church and served as one of the eldersof the church of that denomination at Cantrall, Illinois, for twelve years. He took a most helpful part in promoting the various activities of the church and he purchased and gave to it the bell. Mrs. Cantrall has been a member of the Christian church since the age of thirteen years and all of her children are identified therewith. In her girlhood days she became a reader of the first paper published in Springfield, known as the Sangamo Journal. Her father was one of its subscribers. Mr. Cantrall afterward took it, and since his death Mrs. Cantrall has been a subscriber, so that the paper has been continuously in her home from her early girlhood days.