Marion County


Among the well-known citizens of Marion county who have finished their labors and gone to their reward, the name of Andrew Shanafelt is deserving of especial notice. He was a pioneer himself and the son of a pioneer. He was one of the sterling yeomen, whose labors and self-sacrifice made possible the advanced state of civilization and enlightenment for which southern Illinois has long been noted.

Andrew Shanafelt was born August 5, 1821, in Licking county, Ohio, where his parents, Peter and Catherine (Cover) Shanafelt, settled in a very early day, making the journey from their native state of Pennsylvania by means of a sled and experiencing many hardships and suffering on the way. Peter Shanafelt purchased a tract of heavily timbered land which by dint of hard work he finally succeeded in clearing and reducing to cultivation and on which he died, shortly after becoming situated so as to live comfortably. His wife, who survived him a number of years and for some time prior to her death, which occurred in Marion county, Illinois, at the age of seventy-seven, made her home with her children. The family of Peter and Catherine Shanafelt consisted of nine children, seven sons and two daughters, the subject of this sketch being the youngest of the number. Both parents were of German extraction and representatives of old families which immigrated to the United States in an early day and settled in Pennsylvania, where numerous descendants still live.

Andrew Shanafelt was reared on the home far M in Ohio, early learned by practical experience, the true meaning of hard work and grew up strong and vigorous and well able to cope with the difficulties and discouragements which life had in store for him. After remaining in his native county until 1847, he disposed of his holdings there and came to Marion county, Illinois, where for some time he labored as a farm hand, subsequently renting a farm near the village of Odin. On March 22, 1849, he was united in marriage with Katherine Johnson, of Licking county, Ohio, and two years following that event, purchased forty acres of land near Odin, on which he lived and prospered until the summer of 1856, when he sold the place and bought one hundred and twenty acres, which he made his home to the end of his days and on which his widow still resides.

Mr. Shanafelt labored long and diligently to reduce the latter place to cultivation and make it profitable, the land being about half timber and half prairie, on which no improvements of any kind had been previously attempted. He addressed himself resolutely to his task, however, and after working for a number of years and experiencing many hardships and privations, finally succeeded in developing a fine farm and placing himself in independent circumstances. Methodical in directing his labors and eminently progressive in his methods of cultivating the soil, he became widely known as a model farmer while in business matters his sound judgment and wise forethought enabled him to take advantage of unfavorable conditions and mould them to suit his purposes. As a citizen he ranked high and was ever public spirited in matters relating to the material improvement of the county and the moral progress of those about him. Few men in the community were as much esteemed or showed themselves more worthy of the regard of the people of the community and throughout a long and eminently useful life he discharged his every duty as he would answer to his conscience and his God.

Mrs. Shanafelt, who is still living at the ripe old age of seventy-eight years, is a daughter of William and Rachel (McClelland) Johnson, the former a native of Maryland, the latter of Licking county, Ohio. She shared her husband's fortunes and vicissitudes, encouraged him by her wise counsel and judicious advice and being in every sense of the word a helpmeet, contributed not a little to the success which he achieved. Ten children were born to this couple, three of whom are deceased, viz.: Elizabeth, William and Isaac; those surviving are Adam, a farmer of Salem township; Rachel, wife of T. M. Branch, of Salem township; Mary, who married John R. Branch, of Marion county; Susanna, now Mrs. Riley Farthing, of Salem; Martha J., wife of Frank Young, also of Salem; Samuel and David, prosperous farmers of the township of Salem.

In his political views, Mr. Shanafelt was a Democrat, but aside from serving as School Director and Supervisor, never aspired to public position. He was always interested in what made for the advancement of the county and the development of his resources, believed in enterprise in all the term implies and had great faith in the future of Marion county and the progress of its people. He lived with the greatest good of his fellow men ever in view and reached the advanced age of eighty years, retaining to a marked degree, the possession of his physical and mental powers. On May 1st of the year 1901, he died very suddenly of heart failure, and it goes without the saying that his loss was deeply felt and profoundly regretted by the large circle of neighbors and friends with whom he had been so long associated. Since his death, his widow has resided on the family homestead and although nearly eighty years old, she feels few of the infirmities incident to advanced age; having remarkable action, and able to attend to all her household duties, besides manifesting a lively interest in the labors of the farm. She has spent her entire life within the geographical limits of Marion county and has yet to take her first ride behind a locomotive. Although circumscribed within a narrow area, she is quite intelligent and well informed and keeps in touch with the times on all matters of general and local interest.

William Johnson, father of Mrs. Shanafelt, was taken to Ohio when thirteen years old, and grew to manhood in Licking county. He was reared a farmer and in due time married Miss Rachel McClelland, who bore him four children before he disposed of his interests in Ohio and moved, in 1842, to Marion county, Illinois. He made the journey to his new home by wagon and after purchasing eighty acres of wild prairie land, addressed himself to the labor of improving a farm and providing for those dependent upon him. His first dwelling was a hewed log building with a large fireplace for heating and cooking, such modern articles as stoves and carpets being unknown in the pioneer homes of those days and the good wife and mother was obliged to attend to her many duties with but few of the conveniences now found in the humblest of households.

Mr. Johnson and family lived after the manner of the typical pioneers of the early times and experienced not a few hardships and privations ere the farm was fully developed and capable of producing a comfortable livelihood. In the course of time, however, he added to his original purchase and became one of the enterprising and well-to-do farmers of his township, besides taking an influential part in the development of the community along other than material lines. He lived to see Marion county grow from a sparsely settled prairie to one of the most enterprising and progressive sections of Southern Illinois, and with strong arm and clear brain, contributed his share towards bringing about the many changes that are now apparent. He departed this life at the ripe old age of eighty-one, his wife dying several years later, when seventy-eight years old. A daughter, Mrs. Lavina Ross, lives on the family homestead at the present time and a son by the name of Isaac served in the late Civil war as a member of the One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois Infantry, Mrs. Shanafelt being one of the seven surviving members of the family.

Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 357-360.

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