Scientific methods of farming disseminated through the medium of the
agricultural schools throughout the country have come as a great blessing to
those pursuing agricultural callings. Yet the farmers in our younger days
had no such advantages. They had to depend upon their own judgment, their
own foresightedness, their own intuition, as it were, to overcome many a
perplexing agricultural problem. Their success was more often than not
almost phenomenal; and we can pardon them if they look askance upon our
newer methods. The subject of the present sketch began his farming career
(on his own land) about the Civil war period, and his well cultivated land
today shows that his efforts did not go unrewarded.
John P. Xander, of Richland county, Claremont township, was born May 26, 1833, in Lehigh county, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Joseph and Mary (Dorney) Xander, natives of that state, who in the year 1834; took a boat on the Ohio river from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to Evansville, Indiana, enroute to Illinois. They brought with them on the boat their horses, wagons and all belongings. During the voyage one of the deck hands happened to throw one of their wagon wheels overboard and the voyage had to be interrupted to fish it out. They landed in Evansville, Indiana, April 28, 1834, when they crossed the Wabash river on the ferry boat and set forth on a journey by land settled in Wabash county, Illinois. Mrs. Xander's parents also came along at the same time and settled in Illinois. Grandfather Dorney took a farm there at that time and Joseph Xander and his wife went to live with them for several years. Later they took up eighty acres of government land, paying one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre for it in Wabash county, and on this place they continued to live until their death. John P. Xander's mother died about five years before his father. He remained with his parents assisting them on their farm until his twenty-sixth year when he started on his own account. At the age of thirty years he married Mary Betebenner on August 23, 1863. He then rented a farm in Wabash county, where he remained about seven years, at the end of which period he bought a farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Claremont township, Richland county, and moved onto same where he remained for thirty years, again removing to the home he now occupies. His farm life was all the time marked with industriousness and his improvements did much to enhance the value of the land he settled on. He built every portion of the substantial house he now lives in.
John P. Xander's wife was born November 18, 1839, in Frederick county, Maryland. She was the daughter of George and Lydia Betebenner, her mother's own name being Everheart, who were natives of Pennsylvania. She was the fourth of nine children. Her parents came to Illinois in the year 1856, coming by train over the early railroad, where they settled in Wabash county, Mrs. Xander then being seventeen years of age. She remained with her parents on their farm until the time of her marriage. Her mother died at the age of sixty and her father survived about five years, dying at the age of eighty-five. Both died on the farm they occupied and were buried in the Lutheran cemetery in Wabash county, where the parents of John Xander are also interred.
John P. Xander's married life has been blessed with seven children, one of whom died in infancy. In the order of birth his children are: Ida A., who is the wife of Peter Crum, and resides on her husband's farm in German township; Furman, who has married, and lives at home with his parents; William H. is married and resides near Altus, Oklahoma, on a farm. Eva, the wife of George Bragunier, who resides in Emporia, Kansas. James E. is married and lives in Lincoln, Illinois. John H. is single and resides in Ogden, Utah, where he is employed by a large meat packing concern.
At the time of the Civil war John P. Xander was drafted for service in 1863, having responded to the call to arms, but upon arriving in Cairo, Illinois, he was returned home on account of a sufficient number of soldiers having already been obtained.
In his youth and early life, John P. Xander attended the subscription schools in Wabash county, where he imbibed all the knowledge that institution could give him. His school days were at the period of the elementary spellers; first, second and third; and McGuffey's readers. Arithmetics were also in use in the log schoolhouse. The old hewn planks, pin supported, were the seats, and the desks along the wall were of the same quality.
In politics the subject of this sketch is and has been a Democrat and a loyal supporter of W. J. Bryan. The first Presidential candidate for whom he exercised his right as a voter was James Polk. In former days he took a man's part in the politics of the township and county. He was for three terms Township Assessor in Claremont township.
John P. Xander, his wife and the members of his family, belong to the English Lutheran church. He has been very active himself in church circles, holding both the office of deacon and elder, and is a man looked up to by all of his co-religionists.
The subject of this sketch is now living quietly upon his farm of eighty acres which through his industry and zeal has been brought to its present state of cultivation. His health, which has always been of a rugged character, has failed somewhat within the past year and he is consequently a sufferer to some extent. He has always been unsparing in his hardworking efforts to improve his land, and as a result his labors have marked his frame. Aside from his ill health, his home life is extremely happy.
Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 317-.