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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of John Roughton

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


JOHN ROUGHTON. Among the citizens of this county who emigrated from foreign shores to find a home in America and become worthy citizens of this Republic, is John Roughton of Ludlow township. He was born in Derbyshire, England, on the 5th of April, 1819, the oldest son of Gervase ROUGHTON and his wife Ann, whose maiden name was PIMM. His father was a mill-wright by occupation. When the subject of this sketch was only a few years of age the family removed from Derbyshire to Leicestershire.

By the custom of those times boys were usually apprenticed to trades, and required to serve a long term of apprenticeship, during which the master had the authority over them of a parent. Accordingly when a boy of thirteen Mr. Roughton was placed as an apprentice to a blacksmith nine miles from the city of Leicester; he served seven years and a half, or until twenty-one years of age, receiving during that time no remuneration for his services, not even his clothes and washing. His apprenticeship gave him little opportunity of attending school; what education he has acquired has been the sole result of reading and study of later years.

After his apprenticeship had expired he followed his trade in Enderby, near Leicester, and afterward in Derbyshire, where he was married on the 8th of November, 1842, to Eliza GILBERT, a native of Thurleston, in Leicestershire. He subsequently worked at his trade in Yorkshire, two miles from Sheffield, and was living there at the time he emigrated to this country.

In the year 1844 he came with his family to America. He landed at the city of New York and after a stay of a month with a brother who had preceded him to America, and was then living at Camden, New Jersey, he went to Ohio and settled at Cuyahoga Falls, in Summit county, where he followed his trade for three or four years, and then removed to Piketon, in Pike county, where he lived till the time of his removal to Illinois. He came to this state in 1851. He first settled at Urbana, and followed his trade the greater part of the time till 1855, when he pre-empted the quarter section of land on which he now lives, north of Rantoul, part of Section 27, Township 22, Range 9. He was one of the earliest settlers of Ludlow township. That part of the county being all prairie was unsettled to a comparatively recent date, in comparison with the older townships of the county, and the first settlements were made at about the time when Mr. Roughton became a resident of the township.

Since coming to America Mr. Roughton has taken such an interest in public matters as is fitting for a citizen of this country, where every one is supposed to have a voice in the affairs of government. His sympathies attached him to the Republican party of which he has been an earnest supporter from the period of its first organization. He would have voted for Fremont in 1856 but was unable to secure his naturalization papers in time to cast his ballot. In 1860 he stoutly advocated the election of Lincoln. In the year 1862 he enlisted in the 76th Illinois Infantry, determined to bear his part in the burden of putting down the rebellion. He served till the close of the war. The greater part of the time he was on detached service and stationed at Columbus, Kentucky; Jackson, Tennessee; and Memphis. He rejoined his regiment, from which he had been absent, at New Orleans, and was with it at Mobile, where he took part in the charge on Fort Blakely, and in Florida. His regiment was subsequently sent to Texas, where he was at the time of the close of the war; he was mustered out at Galveston, and discharged at Chicago.

After his return from the army he resided for three years in Urbana where he carried on a foundry, machine and blacksmith shops. He came back to his farm in Ludlow township, in 1868. Mr. and Mrs. Roughton have been the parents of eight children, of whom only one, Reuben, is now living. He married Ella, daughter of Elisha N. GENUNG, deceased, who was one of the early settlers of Ludlow township north of the town of Rantoul. He is living on the farm with his father.

Mr. Roughton is a man who has endeavored to throw his influence through life on the side of morality and virtue. He became connected with the Methodist church while an apprentice in England, and for many years was a member and local preacher in that denomination. His views in later years have assumed a different basis in relation to the doctrine of future punishment, and he is now a member of the Universalist society at Urbana, with which he has been connected since the date of its formation. He has been warmly interested in the temperance cause, in behalf of which he has spoken frequently, aiding materially every movement toward the suppression of that great evil. He is now serving his third term as justice of the peace and has performed the duties of that office in an able and impartial manner.

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