JOSEPH BENTON KUYKENDALL, of Vienna Township, Johnson County, was born on a farm ten miles northeast of Vienna January 9, 1842. His father, Hon. Andrew Jackson Kuykendall, was born in what is now Hardin County, Ill., March 3, 1815, and was the son of Joseph Kuykendall, a native of North Carolina. He was a descendant of one of three brothers, natives of Holland, who came to America in early Colonial days. The great-grandfather of our subject, who was named Joseph, removed from North Carolina to Kentucky in an early day, and spent his last years in that State. The grandfather of our subject went to Kentucky with his parents and resided there until 1815, when he emigrated to the Territory of Illinois, and it was while the family was en route to Johnson County that the father of our subject was born.
The family located near the present site of Sanburn, in Johnson County. At that time the greater portion of the Territory was practically uninhabited except by the Indians. Deer, bear and other wild game were abundant. Grandfather Kuykendall improved a farm and resided upon it until his death. The maiden name of his wife, the grandmother of our subject, was Mary Taylor. She was a sister of Col. Richard Taylor, or "Uncle Dick," as he was familiarly called, of Chicago. Hon. A. A. J. Kuykendall had but limited opportunities for securing an education in his younger days, his education being principally obtained after he reached manhood. After his marriage he taught a school of small scholars for five months, and soon afterward taught a term of twelve months. At that time the schools were taught in a log cabin on the subscription plan.
While teaching, Mr. Kuykendall employed his spare time in studying law, and was soon admitted to the Bar. He began practice at Vienna, and very early became interested in public affairs, being frequently called upon to fill offices of trust. In 1813 he was first elected to the State Legislature, and he was re-elected many times to both the House and Senate, being a member of one House or the other for about thirty years. He started out in his public career as a Democrat, and was a Senator in the Legislature at the time the war came on, having been elected by that party. When an extra session was called by the Governor to meet the exigencies of the times, he called a meeting of his constituents and told them in substance that he loved his country and that he should vote to raise men and means to bring the war to a successful termination, in order that the Union might be saved. This brought forth a shower of protests, but he stood firm to his purpose, supported the country with true loyalty, and from that time on was a Republican in politics and a stanch supporter of Republican principles. In 1864 he was elected to Congress by the Republican party. In August, 1861, he was commissioned Major of the Thirty-first Illinois Volunteers and served for one year, when he resigned and returned home. Soon afterward he located on a farm, and for many years was engaged in general farming and stock-raising, though much of his time was taken up by his official duties. His death took place in Vienna, Ill., May 11, 1891.
August 16, 1836, Mr. Kuykendall married Cynthia Simpson, who was born May 7, 1818, in Illinois. Her father, William Simpson, was born near Detroit, Mich. His father, also named William Simpson, was one of the first settlers of the Territory of Illinois, locating about ten miles from Vienna, at the junction of the roads leading from Kaskaskia to Golconda and from Metropolis to Shawneetown. The nearest neighbor he had at the time of his settlement there w.as twenty-five miles away. Erecting a double log house, he opened a tavern, which was popularly known as Simpson's Tavern. He also bought live stock, which he drove to the Detroit market. He spent his last days in Johnson County, Ill. The maiden name of his wife was Polly Jones. The grandfather of the subject of this sketch was young when his parents brought him to Illinois. After his marriage he removed to Mississippi, where he lived for one year, when he returned to Johnson County and purchased a tract of land covered with timber adjoining his father's farm at Simpson Hill, upon which he resided until his death. The maiden name of the grandmother of our subject was Keziah Parmley; she was a daughter of Samuel Parmley, and was born in Kentucky. The mother of our subject has spent her entire life in her native county, and still resides in Vienna. She reared six of her fifteen children, viz.: Mary J., Kate L., Joseph B., Eliza E., Sarah A. and Edith.
Joseph B. attended school quite steadily during his younger years, and did not engage in any active business until after leaving the army. He enlisted in Company D, Thirty-first Illinois Volunteers, in August, 1861, went South with the regiment, and joined the Army of the Tennessee. Among the more important battles in which he was engaged may be mentioned those of Belmont, Jackson and the siege and capture of Vicksburg. In 1864 he joined Sherman's command at Kenesaw Mountain. He was honorably discharged in August, 1864, at the expiration of his term of service.
Returning to Vienna, for upwards of two years Mr. Kuykendall was engaged in the mercantile business. He then embarked in milling, which has since engaged his attention. He is the proprietor of the Vienna Rolling Mills, which are furnished with all the best modern machinery and have a capacity of one hundred barrels per day. In 1863 he married Eliza Gorham, who was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and is a daughter of S. A. and Nancy J. (Reed) Gorham. To this union there have been born four children, viz.: Carrie, Andrew J., Frank and Guy. Mr. Kuykendall is a Republican in politics, and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He is President of the Village Board. In their religious convictions he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 179
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