IRA ELLIS DRIVER, the subject of this sketch, is a son of Mrs. Margaret Eliza McAlister, whose maiden name was McDowell. Her husband, Milton McAlister, died before Ira was born. Mrs. McAlister afterward married Burrell Driver, in Todd County, Ky., and they moved to Tennessee, where new neighbors called the children by their stepfather's name. The family moved to Illinois in 1852, where the children still went by the name of Driver. Finding it difficult to assume the name McAlister, and being very fond of his stepfather, Ira had his name lawfully changed to Driver, shortly after his mother's death, which occurred in the summer of 1853. The stepfather, being a stonemason, worked at his trade and rented land, which the boys worked as a farm. There were three of the step-children, all of whom are dead save Ira, the youngest, who was born in the year 1838. There were five of the Driver children, who were, in the order of their birth: Leona Katherine, deceased; William Henry, now a leading farmer in Johnson County, Mo.; Andrew Jackson, who died in infancy; George Washington, who died in the One Hundred and Thirty-first Illinois Regiment, at Memphis, Tenn.; and America Virginia, who died in infancy, soon after her mother's death, in 1853.
Shortly after the death of his mother, Ira hired out as a farm hand at $4 per month, and the money thus earned he used to pay his tuition at school. In 1855 he hired at fair wages to keep ferry at Cave in Rock, Ill., saving his money to go to McKendree College, in Lebanon, Ill. In this way he obtained a fair education and qualified himself as a teacher, and has taught in all about eighteen years, having taught his first school near Rosiclare, Ill., in 1860. He enlisted in Company C, Forty-eighth Illinois Infantry, in September, 1861, and served through the war. Of the numerous battles in which he participated may be mentioned the following: Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, siege of Vicksburg, Jackson (Miss.), Lookout Mountain, Dalton, Ft. McAlister, and Columbia. S. C. He was wounded several times and had a portion of his hip shot away by a cannon ball at the storming of Ft. McAlister. He was with Sherman in his march to the sea. With his command he embarked on a vessel at Savannah, and was borne to Beaufort, S. C, and marched from there through Fayetteville, Raleigh, Petersburg, Richmond, Alexandria and on to Washington, D. C. He was promoted from a private through all the ranks to First Lieutenant, and was a participant in the Grand Review in Washington, D. C, May 23 and 21, 1865. With his regiment he was mustered out at Little Rock, Ark., August 14, 1865.
Mr. Driver returned to Hardin County, Ill., after receiving his discharge from the army, and shortly after entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the Southern Illinois Conference, and traveled the Elizabethtown Circuit two years and the Vienna Circuit one year, and was located at his own request in the autumn of 1870. He soon afterward entered the Illinois State Normal School, near Bloomington, to more fully qualify himself for teaching. He attended that school nearly three years and settled on the farm he now lives upon in the spring of 1875. He was first married, in 1879, to Mrs. Malinda St. John, who died in 1889. He was married the second time, to Mrs. Elvira Rude, in 1890. She was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Rev. William Vinyard, and they had kept each other's company when they were both young teachers. But she married, moved to Missouri, where her husband was killed, leaving her with a family of four girls and one boy (the latter born live months after his father's death). Mr. Driver owns three hundred and thirty-four acres of land, well-improved, and is one of the leading citizens of Hardin County. He is a member of Lodge No. 794, A. F. & A. M., and of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 545
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