PURVINES, ACHILLES NEWTON - It is with the greatest pleasure that we present the name of this honored citizen soldier and pioneer farmer of Sangamon County, to the readers of this work. He was born on Section 29, Cartwright Township, where his sister Mrs. Thomas White was born, and has since made her home. He was a son of Samuel and Mary (Irvin) Purvines, both born in Cabarras County, N.C., he in 1800, and she in 1802. Both families came from North Carolina, settling in Sangamon County in 1820, and in this county the parents were married. Samuel Purvines was a son of John Purvines, born in Pennsylvania in 1769, moving to North Carolina prior to the Revolution, enlisting from that State into the continental Army, serving in it for five years. Much later, he moved to Illinois, locating one mile north of Pleasant Plains where he entered land from the government, and there made his home until death claimed him in 1832. On this same farm, Samuel Purvines passed away, in August, 1852, while his wife died in October of that same year. Samuel Purvines and wife were parents of eleven children, three of whom died in infancy, eight growing to maturity, as follows: Tabatha married Robert F. Hamilton, dying in 1909, aged eighty-two years; Lydia A., married J. C. Bone, dying in 1867; A. N., born December 1, 1832, the subject of this review; Matilda, widow of Thomas White of whom further mention is made elsewhere in this work; Frances was the fourth wife of J. C. bone, dying in 1909; John F., a resident of Springfield, is nearly seventy years old; Rachel M., widow of James Zane, resides in Carthage, Mo., aged sixty-eight years; Samuel S., residing in Pleasant Plains. No family has done more to reclaim, build up and beautify Sangamon County than that of Purvines. Coming to the county in 1820, when the State had been in the Union for but a short time, the grandfather of our subject settled on Section 20, and later his son entered land on section 29. The family has been prominent in agricultural life and successful as farmers and stock raisers. The old grandfather was one of those who offered up his life to secure liberty for this country, and following that led a thrifty, industrious existence. The younger generation are sustaining the reputation made by the honored pioneers for good citizenship and excellent farming. It is because of such families as this, that Illinois has attained its present prominence.
Achilles Newton Purvines received his education in the subscription schools of the county, attending one held in the old log school house with its puncheon floor, slab benches and mud and stick chimney. The primitive fireplace was lined with rocks. The parents of the children had to pay a certain amount per child, so that the education of his eight children cost Samuel Purvines considerable amount, but he believed in education, and gladly denied himself to give them the advantages these schools afforded. At the same time he expected them to assist on the farm, and as soon as one was old enough to plow, he was set to work driving three and four yoke of oxen to break the wild land. Mr. Purvines forgets the hardships of those times, and delights to look back to those early days of the settlement of the county. He retains an old cradle and reap hook and in looking at them recalls the happy days at home before death made any break in their household. He remembers his mother using the old spider to cook her corn pones in the fireplace. Until one year of her death, the mother used these primitive utensils, preferring them to those of more modern pattern, and Mr. Purvines contends that corn pone cooked as she used to make it, is far superior to anything now produced. In his boyhood, Mr. Purvines dropped corn by hand until his father bought the Brown corn planter. Although reared to primitive methods in his farming, Mr. Purvines has kept abreast of improvements, and has the latest improved machinery on his premises.
Like his honored grandfather, Mr. Purvines responded to his country's call, enlisting August 8, 1862, in Company F, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry for three years' service, or until the close of the war. The regiment was organized at Springfield, and was sent in November, 1862, to Memphis, Tenn., and assigned to skirmishing duty. In the spring of 1863, the regiment participated in the Siege of Vicksburg, and other engagements in Tennessee and Mississippi. In June, 1864, Mr. Purvines was wounded at Guntown, Miss., in the right ankle. With this painful wound, he and his regiment managed to escape, but were pursued with bloodhounds, but managed to get into the swamp, where the water killed the scent. They subsisted seven days on wild blackberries and bark from the trees, suffering terribly. Mr. Purvines in his crippled condition tramped to Memphis to rejoin the portion of his regiment which had been transferred to that city, spurred on by the fear of imprisonment in the dreaded Andersonville, where some of his company were confined for thirteen months. Reaching Memphis, he was put in the hospital, and kept there for two months until able to rejoin his regiment. Following this he was sent to Little Rock, Ark., to reinforce General Steele; then to Nashville, Tenn.; thence to Mobile, Ala., where news reached the command of the surrender of General Lee. The regiment was returned to Vicksburg, and there mustered out in August, 1865, being honorably discharged at Springfield, Ill. In 1863, Mr. Purvines was promoted to First Duty Sergeant, retaining this office to the close of the war, although he often performed the duties of his captain.
After the war, he returned to the old home, soon thereafter buying 120 acres of land on Section 3, which is now his home. Immediately, he began to improve this property, erecting comfortable buildings, tilling the land, and buying new machinery. He now owns 345 acres in one body on Sections 3 and 4, and 90 acres in Section 29, Cartwright Township, a total of 435 acres. He has a beautiful residence of modern pattern. Mr. Purvines was the first man in the county raising Percheron horses and was among the first to begin breeding fine horses, short-horn cattle and Poland-China hogs. He has become a leader in breeding all kinds of stock. All his life, mr. Purvines has been identified with the best interests of Sangamon County, and has always been public spirited. He was first a Whig, but upon the formation of the Republican party, he joined issues with Abraham Lincoln with whom he was well acquainted, and is proud to say that he was one of Lincoln's hirelings. He has never sought public office, but has continued to content himself with the duties of a good citizen. For the past few years, he has practically retired from active life, while he still makes his home on the farm, surrounded by friends and the comforts of home, gained through the efforts of a busy, well spent life. Socially he is a member of the Dick Johnson Post, G.A.R., of Tallula, Ill. No better or truer citizen or soldier ever lived in Sangamon County than A. N. Purvines of whom we write.