Biography of Jerome B. Baldwin

Jerome B. Baldwin, a resident of the village of Virden, is classed among the wise-awake and prosperous farmers who are upholding the great agricultural interests of this county, and are thus closely associated with its progress and material welfare. He was born April 22, 1843, on a farm near Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Ind. He is a son of the late William C. Baldwin, who was a native of Butler County, Ohio, coming of the old pioneer stock of that State, and his parents are also thought to have been natives of Butler County.

The father of our subject was reared amid the primitive scenes of his birth, and when a young man he became a pioneer, seeking to built up a home in the primeval wilds of Indiana. He bought a tract of forest covered land in Montgomery County, on which he built a log house, which humble abode was the birthplace of his son of whom we write. The father cleared a part of his land, and continued his residence on it until 1852, when he came with his family to Illinois. He lived for a time in Greene County, and then came to Macoupin County to take up his abode here for the rest of his life. He bought a tract of partly improved land a half mile from the village, and there he made his home until he closed his eyes in death in June, 1888. His wife passed away before he did, dying July 31, 1880. Her name in her maiden days was Cyrena Dalton, and she was a native of Madison County, Ky.

We will not turn our attention to the son of those worthy people who forms the subject of this sketch. He was a lad of nine years when his parents brought him to Illinois, and he was carefully trained by them to a useful manhood, being given such education as the local schools afforded, which he attended whenever opportunity offered, and he also gained a sound practical knowledge of farming in all its branches. He remained an inmate of the home of his father and mother until after he attained his majority. After his marriage at the age of twenty seven years he settled on a farm two and one-half miles northwest of Virden, and during the fourteen years he lived on it he brought it to a high point of cultivation, and by the various improvements that he made he greatly increased its value. In 1884 he came to Virden and bought land, upon which he built his present well-appointed, conveniently arranged residence, in which he has made his home ever since. He still retains his farm, a part of which he rents, and the remainder he operates himself with good financial results.

The marriage of Mr. Baldwin with Miss Mary E. Gates was duly celebrated September 1, 1870. One child has blessed their union, John M., who is a cripple from hip disease. Mrs. Baldwin, who is descended from the early pioneer stock of this State, is a native of Illinois, born three miles from Virden in Sangamon County, March 25, 1844. Her father, Andrew Gates, was born in Muhlenberg County, Ky., and was a son of Michael Gates, who was born and reared in Pennsylvania. He went from that State to North Carolina, and was there married. From there he removed to Kentucky, and was a pioneer of Muhlenberg County, where he resided until 1830. In that year he came to Illinois and took up his abode in Auburn Township, Sangamon County, where his death occurred at a venerable age.

Mrs. Baldwin’s father passed his early life in the state of his nativity, whence he came to Illinois in the spring of 1831, and settled on the line of Sangamon and Macoupin counties. At the time of his marriage he rented land, and farmed as a renter two years. He was a pioneer of that region, which was sparsely settled, and deer and all kinds of game abounded in the forests and on the wild prairies. There was no railway, and Alton was the nearest marketing point. As soon as able Mr. Gates entered land in Auburn Township, Sangamon County, and in Virden Township, making his home in the former county until his life was closed in death in 1882. His venerable wife, to whom he was wedded February 13, 1833, survives him, and is a welcome inmate of the household of our subject and his wife. She bore the maiden name of Lucinda Wood, and was born December 31, 1816, in Madison County, Ill., when this State was a territory. Her father, whose name was William Wood, was a native of Knox County, Tenn., and was left an orphan at an early age. He came to Illinois in 1810, and was a pioneer of Madison County, which at that time had but few white settlers, who stood in constant fear of the Indians who were numerous and troublesome. After a residence there of some years he bought land in North Otter Township, this county, and in the home that he built thereon he dwelt some years, devoting himself to the improvement of his land. He finally went to Texas, where he died. The maiden name of his wife was Polly Cox, and she was born in Kentucky, a daughter of George and Joanna (Hubbard) Cox, who were natives of South Carolina. The grandmother of Mrs. Baldwin returned from Texas to Illinois after the death of her husband, and died at the home of a son in Knox County. Mrs. Baldwin is one of a family of four daughters and two sons. She was carefully trained in all household work, and was early taught by her mother to card, spin and weave flax and wool of which all the garments worn by the family were made, and she also learned to knit. Under such instruction she became an excellent housekeeper, and understood full well how to manage her home when she became a wife.

Our subject has made a creditable record as a thrifty, capable farmer, and in him his community finds a citizen sound and true, an accommodating neighbor and a sincere friend. He and his wife and son are active members of the Baptist Church and are identified with its every good work. Mrs. Baldwin’s father was a devoted member of the German Baptist Brethren Church.

Source: Chapman bros. Portrait and biographical record of Macoupin county, Illinois. Chicago: Biographical publishing company, 1891.

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