This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Celia Snyder. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Hon. Jairus Corydon Sheldon

SOURCE: "Early History and Pioneers of Champaign County, Illinois," by Milton W. Mathews and Lewis A. McLean, editors of the Champaign County Herald, published by the Champaign County Herald, 1886


HON. JAIRUS CORYDON SHELDON was born in Clarence, Erie county, New York, November 2nd, 1827. His parents were Corydon and Eunice (BROWN) SHELDON. The former was a native of New York, the latter of Vermont. When six years old he removed to Clarksfield, Huron county, Ohio. When about 21 years old, he apprenticed himself to a ship builder at Huron, Ohio, and for about four years followed that business there and at Milan and Cleveland, Ohio, becoming quite proficient in the art. Often when a craft had been completed, he shipped as one of the sailors to man her, and thus became something of a seaman.

He received a good common school education and attended Baldwin Institute at Berea, O., for one year. He married Eunice M. MEAD, a farmer's daughter, who was educated in the common schools and at Oberlin College. Five children were born to them of whom only one is now living, Nellie, Wife of Rev. C. B. TAYLOR, formerly of this city, now located at Rantoul as pastor of the M.E. church. Their son, Clarence C., died only a few weeks ago, and is sadly mourned by the whole community.

Mr. Sheldon came to this county on May 11, 1853, he having taught school the previous winter near Perrysville, Ind., footing it all the way and carrying all he possessed on earth, which consisted of a second suit of clothes, a 40-acre land warrant and $60 in cash. With the cash and land warrant he entered 40 acres of land three miles south of where Champaign now stands. The same fall he sold it for $5 per acre. He sought and found employment at once with the engineering corps in the construction of the I. C. R. R., then being built. He received one or two contracts in its construction, out of which he made some money, which he saved until he got enough to purchase a home for himself and wife, which he had married as before stated. In 1855 he entered the law office of w. N. Coler as student and was admitted to the bar at the fall term. Abraham Lincoln, then practicing in this court, being the committee appointed to examine him. In the fall of 1861 he formed a partnership with Frank G. Jaques, then and now of Urbana, which was very successful from a financial point of view, and was continued until 1866 when Mr. S. retired taking the real estate branch of the business, to which he had given special attention. In this he was entirely successful. Investing for others and occasionally for himself, he has succeeded in becoming the owner of over a thousand acres of well-improved land in this county, free from encumbrance. He was elected to the Legislature in 1870 and served in the 27th General Assembly, being the first session after the adoption of the new constitution of 1870. In 1872 he was elected as Senator from this, the 30th district and served four years. During this time he was successful in getting the appropriation for the main and mechanical buildings of the University of Illinois. His first vote was for Zachary Taylor and he was in the republican party when it was formed. He remained a republican until 1888, when he voted for Clinton B. Fish, the Prohibition candidate for President. He was the prohibition candidate for congress in the 15th district in 1888.

Mr. Sheldon has long been a consistent and prominent member of the M. E. Church. He is a liberal contributor to its treasury and lives up to its teachings in a way that causes all to regard him as truly a Christian gentleman.

His record as a man, a citizen, a Christian and his relations as husband and father are without a blemish. More need not be said.

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