The subject of this sketch is one of the sterling citizens of Centralia
township, Marion county, where he has long maintained his home near Walnut
Hill, being known as one of the progressive men of the community and always
interested in movements looking toward the development of the same.
Francis M. Bates was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, in Rome township, May 15, 1841, the son of James and Elizabeth (Bostwick) Bates, the former a native of Maine and the latter of Maryland. The father grew up in Maine and was well educated. He left that state when a young man and went to Ohio, where he engaged in farming, having devoted his life to the farm. Later he went to St. Clair county, where he bought land and where he lived for several years. Then he went to Jefferson county, Illinois, in the early thirties; he got a farm there in Rome township, and settled on land which he purchased for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. His death occurred there in 1860, and his wife died in 1873. He held no offices, but was an old-line Whig and later a Republican. He was a member of the Baptist church, and she of the Methodist church. They were the parents of thirteen children, namely: Benjamin, James, Sarah A., Belle, George, Francis, Wesley, Mary J. Five children died in infancy.
The subject of this sketch attended the home schools, principally subscription schools. He remained at home until he was twenty years old, when he married on February 20, 1 86 1, to Nancy Martin, a native of Bedford county, Tennessee, and a daughter of Willis and Jane (Stamper) Martin, both of Bedford, Tennessee. They grew up in that country, and were married there. They came to Jefferson county, Illinois, where Mr. Martin secured wild land and settled near Mt. Vernon. He was one of the brave "boys in blue," having enlisted in the One Hundred and Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He fell sick at Nashville, Tennessee, died and was buried in the National cemetery in 1863. His wife survived until 1893. Nine children were born to them, six of whom grew to maturity, namely: Nancy, William, Mary, James, John, Martha.
Fourteen children, nine of whom reached maturity, were born to the subject and wife as follows: William, a miller, living in Mt. Vernon, Illinois; Spencer is a miller at Walnut Hill, Illinois; Luther is a blacksmith at Mt. Vernon, Illinois; Ida is the wife of Zelter Patton, who is living in Chester, Illinois; Mary married Joseph Root a farmer of Centralia township; Walter is a farmer in Raccoon township, this county; Flora married Irvin Smith and is living in Centralia township: Mettie is the wife of J. Smith, of Centralia township; Homer is a miller living at Shattuc, Illinois.
After his marriage Mr. Bates located near Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and took up farming, which he made a success of until he heard the call for brave sons to save the Union, consequently he enlisted in Company E, Eightieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, as as private, on August 25, 1862, at Mt. Vernon and was drilled at Centralia. His first engagement was at Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8, 1862, where he was wounded, having been shot through the left wrist. He was sent to the hospital at Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained for three months and was discharged on account of disability, much to his regret, for he desired to see further service and do what he could to help suppress the rebellion.
After his army experience he came home and worked at farming for several years. Then he engaged in the milling business at Dix, Jefferson county, Illinois. In 1875 he came to Walnut Hill, and bought an interest in the Walnut Hill Flour and Feed Mills, later he bought the entire plant and finally sold the mill in 1905. Since then he has devoted his time principally to farming. He purchased a farm of eighty acres in Raccoon township, and also other land, which he sold, but he still owns a small place which is well cultivated. Mr. Bates has always been a hard worker and success has attended his efforts. He formerly voted the Republican ticket, but in late years has voted the Prohibition ticket. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic at Walnut Hill, also a member of the Methodist church at that place. Mr. and Mrs. Bates are fine people and they enjoy the friendship of all their neighbors and extensive acquaintance owing to their good lives.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 577-579.