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Champaign County, Illinois
Biography - John N. Boyer
SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878
SURNAMES: BOYER, HENRY
CAPT. JOHN N. BOYER. John N. Boyer, one of the leading citizens of Harwood township, is a native of Pennsylvania, and was born in Center county, of that state, on the 23d of January, 1837. His ancestors for several generations had been residents of that part of Pennsylvania.
The first ten years of his life were spent in his native county. In the year 1847, his father, John BOYER, removed with the family to Illinois. He settled at Plattville, in Kendall county, at that time a thinly settled portion of the state. Here, the subject of this sketch attended the common schools, and received the elementary part of his education. At the age of seventeen, he became a student at Mount Morris Seminary, in Ogle county, which he attended for nearly two years. He afterward engaged in teaching school, an occupation which he subsequently followed at different intervals. In the year 1858, he went to Missouri with the purpose of teaching in that state. On reaching St. Louis, he took a boat up the Missouri river, intending to proceed to Kansas City. On the same boat was part of an expedition under Col. Lauder, organized with the object of laying out a military road across the plains. This circumstance occasioned an entire change in Mr. Boyer's plans. He joined the expedition which fitted out at Independence, Missouri, and then proceeded westward, and during the summer was constructing a military road from South Pass to Fort Hall. This was the summer of the Mormon war, and Mr. Boyer was sixty miles north of Salt Lake City during its progress, and at the time, the Mormon capital was occupied by United States troops.
By the first of October, 1858, the expedition had reached City Rocks, two hundred miles west of Salt Lake City, and at that point it was proposed to return. Thirteen young men, of whom Mr. Boyer was one, left the expedition, and determined to strike out across the mountains to California. The Indians that season were unusually hostile, and the party underwent many privations, reaching Honey Lake Valley, California, on the 28th of October, 1858, almost in a state of starvation. He was in California, nearly a year engaged in mining and other occupations, and traversed almost the entire state. In the summer of 1859, he sailed from San Francisco, on his homeward voyage. After a delay of some time at Acapulco, Mexico, and on the Isthmus, he reached New York city, and from that point proceeded directly to Illinois.
He resided mostly in Kendall county till May, 1861, when on the breaking out of the war of the rebellion, he offered his services to his country, and enlisted in the 20th regiment Illinois infantry. He was mustered into the United States service, (his regiment having previously been in the state service), on the 13th of June, 1851. The 20th Illinois was first dispatched to south-eastern Missouri, and afterward served in Tennessee, Mississippi, and other parts of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Boyer took part in the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Raymond (where his company was nearly annihilated under a terrific fire from the enemy), Shiloh, Champion Hill, and Jackson, Tennessee. His record as a soldier was most honorable. He never shrank from any duty, and acquitted himself with credit at the head of his company, through some of the hardest fighting of the war. In March, 1862, he was commissioned as first Lieutenant, and the captain having resigned, had command of the company. He received a Captain's commission after the battle of Shiloh. After having been wounded three times, he received at Vicksburg, on the 33d of May, 1863, a severe wound which long disabled him from active service and caused his return to Illinois; and seven months afterward he was mustered out of service by special order of the war department. For a year and a half it was impossible to walk a step without a crutch.
He continued to reside in Kendall county, where, in 1866, he bought a small farm. In the year 1868, he purchased 120 acres of land in section 24, township 22, range 10, Champaign county, to which locality he removed, in September of the same year. His farm now consists of 320 acres of land, and a view of it is shown elsewhere in this book. His marriage occurred in 1862, to Lydia A. HENRY, of Kendall county. As the fruits of that union, they have two daughters. In politics, he has always been a staunch and steadfast Republican. He is a man of public spirit and enterprise, and is now serving his third term as supervisor from Harwood township. He started out in life with no capital save his own energy and self-reliance, and his success has been gained by his own efforts. He has now reached a position among the substantial farmers and respected citizens of the county. He has been careful in his business management, and has always endeavored to follow the apostolic injunction, " to owe no man anything."
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