Biography - Isham Linder

When we contemplate the changes of three-fourths of a century in the condition of our own country, and note the varied improvements in society, the march of mind, the effects produced by human agencies and instrumentalities in the varied industries and pursuits, we sometimes forget that these changes are the results of individual energies combined, forming one grand and imposing volume of mind. If, in a historical review, we confined the scope of our investigations to our own beautiful state for the past half century, we should find the task less arduous, through abundant materials would be found on every hand to interest and instruct the reader. And if our review were still further restricted to a single community as its historian for the same period, we should find a field which, although more circumscribed than that of a state or nation, would, nevertheless, be fraught with mind and material too important and intricate to be revealed fully by the pen of the historian in all their varied and minute phases. The biographer finds, even in the portrayal of one mind, and in the life of a single individual, a task of no small moment, which, to correctly describe, requires a skill equal to that of a Raphael, or a Michael Angelo. Shakspeare lived, and wrote of the eternal realms of thought, with a beauty, pathos, and fruitfulness which no other pen has equaled. But the pen does not exist in this age that could reveal the mysteries, the wonderful depths, the lights and shades, of thought, which played over the mind of the immortal bard. The writer may, it is true, show some of the striking features of the mind of his subject, as manifested in an active and practical life; but he cannot fathom or fully reveal it. Mind, like the material world, is composed of many parts or faculties, not to be revealed or comprehended in a single lifetime.

The subject of this sketch has had an active experience, coequal, in point of time, with that of our state. He has lived to behold the broad and fragrant prairies of Illinois converted into fruitful fields, and dotted with pleasant homes and beautiful cities. He has traversed her alluvial soil many long years prior to the time when the steam engine blew its first shrill blast. And what a change appears. Railroads now permeating every section of the state, and a commerce and mercantile thrift of almost unsurpassed magnitude, have grown up within the memory of the older settlers of this state. These great improvements have, in a large degree, been owing to the untiring efforts of the hardy yeomanry who first broke the soil of the virgin prairies.

Isham Linder, the subject of this biography, is a native of Anderson county, Tennessee, where he was born on the 3d of August, 1802. He is the second child of Jacob and Dicy Linder. Mr. L. was a native of the “Old Dominion,” and was born near Abingdon, in that state. He was of German parentage, his ancestors being among the earliest pioneers of Virginia, and as far back as any record of the family goes, they were earnestly devoted to the tilling of the soil. Jacob Linder received his earliest education in the schools of Virginia, which, at that period, were very poor, there being no such thing as a free school system in that state, or if there was, it was in a very imperfect condition. After he grew to manhood, he emigrated to Anderson county, Tennessee, and it was there that he became acquainted with and married Miss Dicy Woods. She was formerly from the state of North Carolina. After his marriage they settled on a wild tract of land, where they made an improvement. IF the reader has never visited a new country, in a measure outside of the confines of civilization, he can form but a very faint idea of the hardships and privations that were incident to the lives of those early frontiersmen. The merciless savages were not unfrequently prowling around the settlements, adding fear and terror to the settlers. The above marriage took place about the year 1798, and, as the fruits of that union, they had eight children, six sons and two daughter; six of their children are yet living. Mr. Linder and family continued to reside on the same farm until 1810, when, in the fall of that year, in company with his father-in-law and his family, they started for the territory of Illinois. He first stopped and located on the prairie within five miles of where Edwardsville is now situated. The country there, at that time, abounded with hostile Indians, and was infested with all kinds of wild animals, and his place in that locality was about the outside settlement. Previous to 1810, Mr. Linder had made a visit to the Prairie State, and liking the appearance of the country, determined to return home, sell out, and become a citizen of the territory of Illinois.

It is almost impossible, in this brief review, to bring before the reader, in a vivid light, those thrilling events which transpired in the history of the early days of the country, and the hardships they were called on to encounter. The war of 1812 aroused the hostile Indians, and Mr. Linder was among the first to enlist in the ranger service. He was in the company under the command of Captain Moore, and remained in the service until peace was declared. He was present at the time that William Huitt, one of his old neighbors, was killed by an Indian near the Sangamon river. After the war was ended, and peace permanently secured he returned to his family and farm, where he continued engaged in agricultural pursuits, and resided on the same farm until the year 1821, when he sold his property in Madison and removed to Greene county. Here he entered a tract of land about three-fourths of a mile northeast of the then village of Carrollton, but subsequently settled on a farm about seven miles east of Carrollton, it being the one where his son-in-law (David Johnson) now resides, and where he continued to reside until his death.

The venerable subject of this sketch first attended school in Madison county, though the principal part of his education was gained after he came to Greene county, and it was such as characterized the youth of that period. Very early in life he was inured to the toils of farm labor. With very few now living, he can remember when Illinois was in its primitive state, and says it was then not an unfrequent thing to see large bands of Indians. He yet remembers, with vivid distinctness, the horrible spectacle presented by the mangled forms of Mrs. Reagan and those six children that were massacred by the Indians at Wood river. He continued to work with his father on the farm until he was married. Here he became acquainted with Miss Sarah Vaughn, and was married on the 5th of August, 1826. The old veteran, Col. Fry, accompanied Mr. Linder that day to his wedding, and the following day accompanied Mr. Linder and his young bride to the residence of his father. Mrs. Linder was born June 20, 1809, in Madison county, Illinois. Her father, Joshua Vaughn, was quite a celebrated Indian hunter of that early period. At the time of his marriage, Mr. Linder had but little means, nearly all the capital he possessed being a well-developed physical organization, an active mind, and an earnest purpose. And so, with his young bride and naturally buoyant spirts, he was not discouraged by seemingly adverse circumstances. He possessed a stout heart, and the world was before him, and he set about to carve out of the rough material a home and a fortune. When he first began farming he had not money enough to buy a plow, and put in his first corn crop with a borrowed one. We mention these facts to show what obstacles an earnest and determined purpose may overcome, and from what humble beginnings success may be reached. It is an example of endurance of hardship in early life, that the rising generation may well remember, while his energy and perseverance are worthy the emulation of all. What at the present day would seem unsurmountable hardships, to him were stimulants to greater exertion. The moral of his life is success through constancy and perseverance. And such qualities, displayed in a laudable undertaking, cannot be too highly commended to the youthful mind to encourage its aspirations in the path of a true success. The subject of this memoir learned, early in life, the importance of perseverance and economy in the acquisition of wealth. He early turned his attention to stock growing, and now takes a prominent rank among the stock growers of the county. He seemed, from his earliest boyhood, to have had a love for agriculture and the handling of stock; and the legitimate and successful carrying out of this original bent of his mind has placed him among the opulent farmers of Greene county. His home place, which is a beautiful and desirable location, consists of about six hundred acres of as good land as the county affords, situated a little north of east, a few miles from the county seat.

Mr. Linder and wife have had a family of ten children, six of whom are yet living – four sons and two daughters. They may be mentioned as follows: Johnson Linder, married and among the well-to-do farmers of the eastern portion of Greene county; John Linder, also married, and engaged in farming in Macoupin county; Dicy Linder, wife of Mr. Daniel Witt, residing on their place about two miles north of the old homestead; Isham Linder, Jr., married and has a family, also a farmer in Greene county; Anna, wife of Lewis H. Thomas, who is one of the leading and opulent farmers of Montgomery county (Mr. Thomas is the son of the honored old veteran and pioneer, Samuel Thomas, well known in the annals of Greene county); Uen Linder, yet single, and residing at home with his parents. Now, in addition to having raised a large and intelligent family of children, Mr. Linder and wife have made life a success, and it must afford them a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure to know that their children are all comfortably situated, so far as the means of enjoyment in this world are concerned. About the year 1843 Mr. Linder and wife became members of the Baptist Church at Hickory Grove, and they have since made it a careful study to live upright and honorable Christian lives, and lay up for themselves “treasures in Heaven.” Who can comprehend with what pleasure the Christian, who has reached the allotted time of three score years and ten, can look back and unfold the pages of his past life and scrutinize every act with satisfaction? Even though his career may not have been followed by the applause of the world, yet the consciousness that his life has been well spent in an honorable calling, is sufficient, at all times, to more than compensate for the absence of fame. The misfortunes of fire, accident, and unsuccessful competition with cupidity and avarice, may wreck the best hopes of a true and noble mind in its experience with the world, and the man designed for a successful life may be left to grope his way down to an unhonored grave. The development of success depends upon a right purpose, an active brain, and favorable circumstances. The individual must be in harmony with the controlling forces – in other words, there must not only be the inward purpose and confidence of the mind, but also favorable opportunities.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

In comparing the mental caliber of those who talk and those who act, we find in the latter a silent eloquence that burns deep down into the souls of thinking men, or an influence like evening dew upon the sun-dried earth, that comes with the stillness of those unseen forces of nature by which worlds are moved. Life and its lessons are so varied, that it more than puzzles the wisest understanding to unravel all its mysteries. Effects are ever visible, but scarcely traceable to their legitimate causes; it may be called the harmony of nature; it is the natural flow of unseen forces of being in their natural and unobstructed channels.

If we have digressed from the main object of this sketch the reader will pardon us in this attempt to throw back the veil from the life and mind of an individual who has lived and acted in this territory several years before it was a state. In every business enterprise he has shown the sterling qualities, and while others make more show, they have no more of the genuine traits of manhood than are to be found in the person of Isham Linder. Politically, he is a democrat, taking considerable interest in the success of his party, though he has devoted most of his time to the management of his private affairs, and has left official positions to those who were more aspiring. His first vote for President was given for Andrew Jackson, the immortal hero of New Orleans, of whom, from the earlies recollections of his boyhood days, he has been a great admirer. He has voted at every presidential election since he first voted for “Old Hickory.” Mr. Linder served one term as judge in the county court of Greene county. He is conversant with the leading topics of the day, and is, in most respects, a fair type of the hardy and brave old pioneers of Illinois. Possessing breadth of mind, largeness of heart, and active benevolence, the generous impulses of his nature are known and appreciated by all who are acquainted with him. At the advanced age of seventy years, he is residing with the wife of his youth, at their residence, in the enjoyment of good health. He possesses almost the activity of boyhood, and in looking back over the long career of this venerable gentleman, we find much to commend to the youthful reader; and even those of mature years may find, in the study of the life of Mr. Linder, many lessons of perseverance and economy, that may, in after years, prove valuable. Like the other early pioneers of this country, he will long be remembered.

Such, in brief, is the narrative of the life and career of one who has assisted in the growth and development of Greene county for upwards of half a century.

Extracted 30 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, pages 31-34.

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