Biography - Nathaniel Perry

COL. NATHANIEL MILLS PERRY is a name prominent and well known to the citizens of Greene county. He was born in Orange county, Virginia, November 30, 1806, and is the sixth of eight children of James and Ann Perry, who were of English descent, his ancestors, at an early day, having settled on the eastern shore of the "Old Dominion," that glorious old state, which is so full of historic interest and beauty, and around which cluster so many pleasant recollections of the past. She, equally with Massachusetts, was the "cradle of liberty," and, since the memorable contest of "Seventy-Six," her fair fields have been stained with the blood of the almost countless slain in the war of the rebellion. Orange count was, then, for a long time, the pathway and arena for both contending armies, and it was in this beautiful region that the ancestors of Colonel Perry first settled, where they engaged in the pleasant pursuit of planters. The breaking out of the war of the revolution fired the heroic hearts of many of the noble yeomen of eastern Virginia, and foremost to march to the standard of liberty and the maintenance of right was James Perry. He took part in many of the memorable battles of that sanguinary and almost hopeless struggle, and, after peace had crowned the efforts of their arms, he was awarded an honorable discharge, and he returned to the pursuits of husbandry. He was among the leading planters of the county in which he resided, and in that occupation found the most natural and congenial employment. His death occurred at his residence in Virginia in 1815, and three years later - in 1818 - Mrs. Perry removed, with her children, to Christian county, Kentucky. Her death occurred at the residence of her son, Colonel Perry, in Greene county, Illinois, on the 7th of October, 1853.

Col. Perry's father died when he was quite young, and he was thus early in life measurably thrown upon his own resources, or, at least, deprived of paternal counsels. His early culture was pursued in the schools of Kentucky, and by assiduous industry he was enabled to attain to a thorough knowledge of the solid branches of an English education. United with his naturally affable manners were the qualities of energy and perseverance, which eminently fitted him to grapple successfully with the practical concerns of life; and the early training which he received at school, and a love for the thorough investigation of any subject, have clung tenaciously to him through life, thus rendering him, in the strictest sense of the work, a thoroughly practical man. After finishing his education, he was employed to teach a select school at Nashville, Tenn. This was fortunate, for it gave the young student full scope for his faculties. In the winter of 1828 he was married to Miss Frances A. Tandy, daughter of Henry Tandy, who, with his family, was originally from Virginia, though at that period a resident of Clarksville, Tennessee. The young teacher, immediately after his marriage, engaged in the pursuit of agriculture in the celebrated blue grass region of Kentucky. As the fruits of that marriage, Mr. Perry and wife had a family of four children. After sojourning in Kentucky a few years, he became anxious to become a resident of the broad prairies of the "Sucker State," and accordingly set out with his family, determined to take up his residence in Illinois. He landed in Greene county in 1836, immediately after locating in the village of Kane. In the spring of 1837 Mr. Perry engaged in merchandise, which he continued to carry on till 1872, though, in addition to his mercantile pursuits, he carried on farming also. In 1855 he became a partner in a firm to build a steam grist mill, and, after it went into operation, he became the sole owner, which he continued to be for several years. His life, however, was soon to be marked by sorrow, for the early partner of his youth died at his residence in 1837; and that was a sad stroke for Mr. Perry and his family of young children. He remained a widower till 1840, and during that year was married to Miss Eliza Hill, daughter of Rev. William Hill, formerly from the state of Virginia. They had five children, all of whom are yet living, and all comfortably situated in life.
At the early age of seventeen Mr. Perry became a member of the Baptist Church, and was, for many years, a deacon in that organization; and during the long period that has elapsed since his joining the church, he has continued to live an exemplary and honorable member. The social and manly qualities of head and heart, of which he is the possessor, have rendered him, in every situation of life, a genial and companionable gentleman. It matters not whether in the society of ladies or gentleman, the same amiable and even-tempered disposition marks the man, and sheds a gentle luster over his actions. He is a fair type of the polished and graceful Kentuckian, in which state he spent the pleasant years of his early manhood; and in the acquisitions of his property the most honorable integrity has marked his course. From the most authentic information we have been able to obtain though those who have known him intimately since his residence in this state, we find that all accord to Col. Perry the honor of having always maintained through life a course of the strictest rectitude. He is among the wealthy citizens in the portion of the county where he resides - not one of those who delight to accumulate wealth for selfish ends, but for a nobler purpose, prizing it for the means it affords for doing good, and for the pleasures and benefits it confers on society and its possessors.
In July, 1861, death again invaded his home, and Col. Perry was called upon to perform the last sad rites of burial to his second wife.
In the fall of 1864 he was nominated, and elected, as the candidate of the democratic party, to a seat in the legislature of Illinois, and in that responsible position acquitted himself with honor. It is a credit to any county to be represented by an able man, especially by one whose unsullied character and stability make him respected at home; and such a man was Col. Perry.
 On the 2d of October, 1872, he was married to his present wife, Mary, daughter of Martin Bowman, Esq., of Carrollton, and is now residing at his home, enjoying the fruits of a well-spent life.

Transcribed 05 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, page 30.

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