JOHN VINYARD was one of the prominent men of Hardin County, and one of the most active and earnest men in building up the interests of the community in which he resided. His father. Daniel Vinyard, came from Virginia to what is now the State of Illinois about 1817. He settled in Hardin County when the country was very new, and as one of the first of the pioneers of the county he experienced all the privations and hardships of pioneer life, as well as its peculiar pleasures, for it should not be considered that the pioneers of the early day saw nothing but trials and troubles. While schools and churches were few and far between and social and business intercourse was carried on under peculiar difficulties, yet there were compensations for these hard conditions in the closer and warmer friendships and the ever-ready helpfulness that are, perhaps, not now experienced to anything like the same degree. Daniel Vinyard performed his full share of the work which developed the country and contributed to the progress which he witnessed later on, and of which his and the descendants of other pioneers are now reaping the benefit. While he was well educated in his youth, yet he acquired sufficient practical knowledge to carry him successfully through the world, and he had a strong will and a determination to succeed in life and to make for himself and family a home in the wilderness which were never conquered or daunted. After many years of hard work he died in Hardin County, leaving no great amount of money, but leaving what is of far more value, an unspotted reputation.
John Vinyard was born August 4, 1817, and was brought up on the farm. Early in life he formed habits of industry, which have been of the greatest benefit to him through life. His educational advantages, like those of his father, were of the most limited nature, and the knowledge he obtained was not so much in the schools as in the every-day experience of life and by his own private reading, study and observance. He was married February 24, 1839, to Eliza Shell, who was born in Tennessee October 10, 1821. Her father, Solomon Shell, came to Illinois at an early day and settled in Hardin County on unimproved land, building a log house and improving a farm. After his marriage John Vinyard bought some land in Hardin County, which was to some extent improved. He and his wife moved onto this land and began their married life in earnest. They had at first a log house of one room, the cooking being all done in the old-style fireplace. The home, however, was a happy one, notwithstanding the primitive condition of things, for it has been the experience of many a family that wealth and elegance of surroundings are not necessary to, and do not insure, happiness in this world. By industry they succeeded in a few years in improving their farm, in building additions to the house and in adding to the number of their acres until they had one of the best farms and most comfortable homes in the county.
Our subject was a good and successful farmer, and while his labors were not confined to the farm, it was never neglected. He was a man of natural and varied ability and was always serving the community in general and benefiting his neighbors. He was never an idle man, and when not at work he was engaged in reading, thus improving his mind and increasing his knowledge. His study was so successful that he received a certificate from the State Board of Health authorizing him to practice medicine, and he followed the practice of medicine until the time of his death. He was also a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and took great interest in religious affairs while he lived. He was instrumental in organizing a church of that denomination, the meeting being held and the organization effected in his house, which was always open for religious meetings, and many a service, long to be remembered, was held therein. When he died, the church which lie had organized lost its main support. The community in which he lived lost at the same time a man who was friendly to the needy and to all worthy enterprises. His widow still lives on the old homestead, which has been her home from the time of her marriage.
To Mr. and Mrs. Vinyard there were born twelve children, seven of whom are now living: James, who is a merchant of Springfield, Mo.; Mary K., wife of Matthew Jenkins, a farmer of Pope County, Ill.; Martha A., wife of John Hubbard, a farmer of Hardin County, Ill.; William H., a farmer; Josie, wife of Frank Fowler; Alice, widow of John Hamilton; and Charles, a farmer. The names of those who have died were as follows: Sarah J., Thomas, Maria, Indiana and Louisiana. Mr. Vinyard was prominent not alone in church and school affairs, but also in civic matters and all things pertaining to good order and whatever was beneficial to the community. He, however, never aspired to office, but was always a good counselor, and a man in whom the community had the greatest confidence. While he preferred the polity and faith of the church with which he was connected, yet he was friendly to all denominations, and could and did greet them all as brethren in Christ.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 557
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