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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - John W. Egbert

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


JOHN W. EGBERT - Biography, says Horace Mann, especially the biography of the great and good, who have risen by their exertions from poverty and obscurity to eminence and usefulness, is an inspiring and ennobling study. Its direct tendency is to reproduce the excellence it records. Heretofore Americans have paid but little attention to it. This apathy and indifference is from two causes. In this matter-of-fact age and utilitarian country, we are accustomed to ignore or frown down anything that don't pay. We measure everything by the interest it will pay on the investment. We lose sight of the indirect good that may result, because the palpable profit is hidden in obscurity. Another and perhaps quite as strong a reason, is, many persons look upon it as a tendency towards aristocracy, and the doings of royalty, and place it in the same category with primogeniture, a custom that is vitally antagonistic to our institutions. The best refutation of these popular fallacies and best incentive to the preservation of biographies, is contained in Mr. Mann's terse paragraph.

Among the prominent men of Champaign county is Mr. John W. Egbert, who not only has a history worthy of preserving, because of what he has himself accomplished, but that of his family has been most honorable, patriotic and commendable. He was born at Georgetown, Brown county, Ohio, July 10th, 1833. He is the eldest child of Walter W. and Eliza TRUMWELL EGBERT. His mother was the only daughter of General SULLIVAN. Three brothers Egbert early settled in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, and at the beginning of the troubles with the mother country all volunteered in the Revolutionary army, in the same company. In the battle of the Brandywine William EGBERT, the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was severely wounded, and was captured. He was taken a prisoner to Halifax, and was after a time permitted to return to his home.

During his absence, or shortly after his return, one of his brothers married a Tory lady, and such was her influence over him that he imbibed her sentiments to such a degree that it created a lasting estrangement between the families. Mr. Egbert's family on the maternal side were no less patriotic than his father's family. Four brothers of his grandmother did good service during the war, and had the supreme satisfaction of being present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown. His grandfather, Job EGBERT, married a widow lady named Elizabeth PANGBORN. He was a captain of militia in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, and was present at Perry's victory on Lake Erie. One of his step-sons was a fifer of his company. Until his 24th year Mr. Egbert lived in his native state. He enjoyed good advantages, in winter attending school, and during the summer, as soon as he was old enough, he devoted his time to learning a trade and other pursuits. When twenty-four years of age he moved to Tolono, in Champaign county, where he erected the first house, excepting the section house. He remained there but a short time, when he removed to Matamora, Woodford county, where he built the principal part of the town of Cruger. He married Miss Elura CROUCH, who was born in Clermont county, Ohio, and the daughter of Temple C. and Martha CROUCH. By this union they have had seven children in the following order of their births: Charles C., who died in infancy; Evan B., Mary Olive, Albert S., Walter O., Harry Grant, and John Russell. In politics he has always affiliated with the democratic party, but has never sought office. His entire time and attention being strictly devoted to his private affairs he has had little leisure and less inclination to actively participate in politics. He has risen from poverty and obscurity simply by his own will and business capacity. His industry is great and his energy almost unbounded, and he is regarded as one of the most active men in his section. He is a worthy descendant of his patriotic forefathers. He is classed among the best citizens of the county, and one to whom she is indebted for her present prosperity. For to such men, shrewd, industrious, indefatigable in their efforts, is every prosperous community indebted. Without them they would soon sink into the lethargic condition that characterizes the Mexican and Spaniard, and ultimately destroys their manhood, their nation.

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