WILLIAM T. VANDAGRIFT - William T. Vandagrift, who follows merchandising in Cantrall and is recognized as one of the active business men of Sangamon county, possesses marked energy and enterprise, which qualities have made him for twenty-seven years a successful as well as leading merchant of the city in which he makes his home. He was born in Menard county, Illinois, June 27, 1843, and is a son of A. J. Vandagrift, whose birth occurred in Virginia. The paternal grandfather, Thomas Vandagrift, was also born in the Old Dominion, and became one of the pioneer settlers of Sangamon county Illinois. He took up his abode in Springfield, where he worked at the tanner's trade, establishing a tanyard in the city. Later he carried on the same pursuit at Athens, Menard county. A. J. Vandagrift was reared in this state and was married here to Miss Araminta Barnett, a native of Kentucky. He was a tailor by trade and, establishing a business at Athens, was c onnected with its commercial interests for several years. About 1847 he removed to Wisconsin, locating at Shellsburg, where be spent his last days.
William T. Vandagrift whose name introduces this record, remained in Wisconsin until eighteen years of age and then returned to lllinois becoming a resident of Carroll county. He was there living at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war, and on the 12th of August, 1862, he offered his services to the government, enlisting in the Ninety-second Illinois Infantry with the boys in blue of Company I. This regiment was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland and he participated in the battle of Chickamauga and in the campaign under Sherman, which resulted in the capitulation of Atlanta. He participated in a number of engagements as they advanced toward that city and also assisted in its capture. He then went with Sherman on the celebrated March to the sea, then through the Carolinas and participated in the battle at Bentonville, the last regular engagement of the war. After the surrender of Johnston he was sent to Concord, North Carolina, and he was mustered out about June 25, and was honorably discharge d July 10, 1865, at Chicago. He was always found at his post of duty, being with his regiment save when he served on detached duty. He acted as a scout for eight months while on the Atlanta campaign and performed that arduous and difficult service with marked capability.
After receiving his discharge, Mr. Vandagrift returned to Illinois and located in Sangamon county, where for two or three years he was engaged in the stock business. He was then married in Menard county on the 15th of February, 1872, to Miss Margaret J. Canterbury, a daughter of 0. P. Canterbury and a sister of J. H. Canterbury, whose stretch appears elsewhere in this work. After his marriage he retired to a farm for three years and in addition to its cultivation he handles stock. On the expiration of that period he began business at Cantrall in connection with his father-in-law. The partnership continuing for a number of years. Since its dissolution Mr. Vandagrift has been alone in business. He carries a stock of general merchandise, including dry goods, groceries and hardware, and bag, and has not only built up a good trade, but be also enjoys an excellent reputation for carrying a fine line of goods and for honorable dealing. He has always studied the wishes of the public and his enterprise and perseverance have made him a prosperous merchant. His business methods, too, are such as will bear the closest investigation, for he has always conformed his conduct to the strictest rules of commercial ethics.
Seven children blessed the home of Mr and Mrs. Vandagrift: E. C., who is now chief clerk in the insane asylum at Kankakee, was elected and served for several terms as supervisor of Fancy Creek township while living in this county. Araminta is at home. H. M. assists in the conduct of the store. Carl W. pursued his education in the University at Champaign. Frank S. is a student in the high school at Springfield. Glen and Nellie the younger members of the family, are at home.
Fraternally Mr. Vandagrift is connected with the Masonic Lodge, of which he is now a past master. He also served his lodge as treasurer for fifteen years. He is familiar with its tenets and teachings and his life is in harmony with the beneficent spirit of the craft. His wife belongs to the Christian church and he maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. He served as commander of the post at Athens and always takes an active interest in anything pertaining to the welfare of the boys in blue. His first presidential ballot was cast for General Grant in 1868, and each nominee of the party for the office since that time has received his endorsement given through his vote. He has never wanted office or sought political preferment, but served, however, for one term as township trustee. Both he and his wife are well known not only in Cantrall, but throughout a wide territory, and the circle of their friends is an extensive one. Mr. V andagrift has lived a life of industry, perseverance and determination, and these qualities have enabled him to advance steadily on the high road to success.