Marion county, Illinois, is characterized by her full share of the honored and faithful element who have done so much for the development and upbuilding of the state and the establishment of the institutions of civilization in this fertile and well favored section. Among these worthy native sons the name of the subject of this sketch is properly installed.
W. S. Conant was born in this county, September 22, 1854, the son of William R. and Fannie (Swift) Conant. Grandfather Conant was a native of Massachusetts, who moved from that state to Georgia and then to Illinois, settling in Marion county, coming here in an early day and being the first school teacher in the county. He entered land here and farmed for some time, having passed to his rest about 1840, at the age of about fifty years. His wife died within one week of her husband. Grandfather Swift was a native of Tennessee, who moved to this county about 1830, entering land here which he developed into a farm and where he reared his family. He died a short distance from where he first located, having moved to the former place, his death occurring about 1870, when he was about seventy years old. His widow survived him about ten years. She was a Presbyterian. There were five children in this family, all of them living to maturity.
The father of the subject was born in Georgia and came to Illinois with his parents when he was but a boy. His father being a teacher, he received some education, but the father of the subject was a hardworking man and did not take time to properly improve his education. He was always a farmer. He entered land which he later added to by purchase until he had a valuable farm of two hundred acres, which he left at his death. The mother of the subject died when she was two years old, in 1856, his father having died at the age of forty. He was a Democrat in political belief.
W. S. Conant, our subject, had the advantage of a common school education, and having applied himself in a diligent manner he became fairly well educated, not leaving the schoolroom until he was nineteen years old. He worked on his father's farm until he was twenty, when he went to work on his own account. He farmed with his brother-in-law, then rented a farm and so continued for four years. He then bought a farm in 1881 of three hundred and twenty acres. It was unimproved prairie land, but the subject devoted seven years of hard work on the place and developed a fine and well-improved farm. He still owns this place. He then bought a residence property, and in time sold that and purchased the farm where he has since resided, which consists of twenty-four acres on which there is a modem and substantial residence together with convenient outbuildings. The subject carries on general farming in a most successful manner, skillfully rotating his crops so as to keep the soil in good productive condition. He also devoted much time to stock-raising, being a good judge of all kinds of live stock, especially cattle and horses. He frequently feeds for the market, but is now selling his stock for other purposes. He raises a good class of horses. For six years he engaged in buying and selling live stock in connection with his farming and made this business a success in every particular.
Our subject was united in marriage in November 1877, to Agnes I. Morgan, daughter of J. B. and Martha (Doolen) Morgan, who came to this county at an early day. There were two of the Doolen brothers who went through the Civil war, and are living in 1908.
Six children have been born to the subject and wife, as follows: Martha, born in 1880, who died in infancy; Gracie; Florence, who was born in 1881, died when three years old; William, who was born September 22, 1885, died when six years old; George, who was born July 8, 1887, is a farmer, married and has one child; Clarence C. was born July 14, 1894; Lewis was born in 1897, is single and living at home.
The subject is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in his fraternal relations, and also a Modern Woodman; belonging also to the Royal Neighbors, having filled all the chairs in an able manner in the Woodmen. In his religious affiliations he subscribes to the Methodist Episcopal church, South, as does also his wife. Mr. Conant is a loyal Democrat although he does not find much time to devote to political matters.
Extracted 06 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 136-137.