W. H. LIGHTFOOT for many years has been identified with horticultural pursuits in Sangamon county, but is now practically living retired, although to some extent he yet gives his supervision to his fruit-raising interests. He has attained leadership in this line and his prominence is indicated by the fact that at many of the state fairs he has carried off various premiums upon the fruit which he has raised. His business has been a successful one and his enterprise and industry have been the crowning features in his prosperous career. Mr. Lightfoot was born in Morgan county,, Illinois, near Arcadia, April 5, 1842, and is a son of John and Ann Lightfoot, who were natives of Yorkshire, England. The father was a sailor, and went to the East Indies, whence he came to the United States about 1835, settling in Morgan county, Illinois, where he began farming. He was one of the early residents of that part of the state and at that day would drive all the way to Springfield to mill. Mr. Lightfoot, of this review, remembers to have seen his father kill turkeys while standing in his own doorway. Later, John Lightfoot became a resident of Cass county, Illinois, settling near Beardstown in 1850, and there he carried on farming until his death on the 10th of May, 1887. His wife passed away in 1889.
W. H. Lightfoot acquired his early education in Cass county, pursuing his studies in an old log schoolhouse, in which the slab benches were moved close around the stove in order that the children might keep warm. Later, a frame building was erected for school purposes. His early boyhood and youth were spent in Cass county and he there remained until 1861, when he offered his service to his country, enlisting in Company A of the Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He participated in the battles of Pittsburg Landing, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and numerous other engagements. In 1864 he was wounded at Pulaski, Tennessee, and was in the hospital from the 19th of May until October of that year, when he received an honorable discharge from Major General Hooker, because incapacitated for further field service.
Mr. Lightfoot then returned to private life and has since engaged in horticultural pursuits. In February, 1871, he purchased land near Springfield, which he developed into an excellent fruit farm. This he conducted for twenty years, when he sold the property and took up his abode in the city, where he has since resided. He devoted his attention especially to the raising of apples, pears, grapes and raspberries and is widely recognized throughout Illinois as one of the most successful fruit growers in this part of the country. He has always made exhibits of his fruit at the state fairs in the state collection, quality, quantity and artistic arrangement being there considered in the award of premiums. He won the first premium for nine successive years, including the year 1903, and will again compete in 1904. He is noted for great taste in the arrangement of fruit for exhibit. He has always experimented a great deal in the raising of seedlings and at last was successful in obtaining ten varieties of grapes, which no one else has been able to duplicate and which are of superior size, quality and flavor.
In 1866 Mr. Lightfoot was united in marriage to Miss Amy Winder, of Goshen, Indiana, and unto them were born three children, but only one is now living, Lulu L., the wife of Hamilton Forester. The wife and mother died October 7, 1892, and Mr. Lightfoot was again married June 6, 1894, his second union being with Mary Roach, a native of Springfield. Mr. Lightfoot belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic at Springfield, also to the Modern Woodmen Camp and the Loyal Americans. In politics he is a Republican, having ever been a stalwart advocate of the party since he cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln before attaining his majority, this privilege being accorded him because of his service in the army. He filled the office of commissioner of highways for six years, and during four years of that time was treasurer of the party. He has always been public spirited and progressive in matters pertaining to the general welfare, but his attention has been chiefly given
to his business interests, which have been so ably conducted as to bring to him the competence that now enables him to live a retired life.