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M. H. Argo is one of the men who have spent their lives in Champaign County, have witnessed its growth and development from almost wilderness days, and their own share in the transformation of the country is such that no work of this character could afford omission of the names and deeds.
Mr. Argo was born on Salt Fork in St. Joseph Township of Champaign County, his birthplace being three miles northwest of the village of St. Joseph. His birth occurred there August 14, 1853, and he is a son of true pioneer people, Moses and Ellen (Shepard) Argo. His parents were natives of Ohio. Moses Argo was one of the notable men in his community. He came to Champaign County when the country was a vast stretch of prairie and swamp lands, abounding in sloughs, virgin meadows and with many wild animals abounding. Moses Argo was a botanical or herb doctor and very skillful in concoeting healing remedies from roots and herbs and was the choice of physician to a large number of people in the early days. He was also a school teacher, and one of the first to teach school in his section of Champaign County. Thus he was a man of more than ordinary mental attainments and was a high class citizen in every respect. Some of the schools he taught were held in private buildings, frequently log houses. There are some evidences yet extant of his scholarship. One of these is a book of records, now among the prized possessions of M. H. Argo. The date of this book is February 4, 1825, and it shows the fine penmanship and mathematical skill of the father. M. H. Argo also has his father’s leather pocketbook, which is now over 100 years old.
Many of those incidents which are related on other pages of this publication as descriptive of pioneer things in Champaign County were part of the individual experiences of Moses Argo. In the early days he hauled grain threshed from his fields all the way to Chicago, where it brought a very small price. One of the necessary commodities hard to get in Champaign County was salt, and Moses Argo frequently brought a load of salt back from Chicago. In the matter of low prices M. H. Argo has had some experiences not unlike those of his father, since he has hauled corn to Urbana and sold it as low as 10 cents a bushel.
When Moses Argo came to Champaign County he entered his homestead from the Government. He and his neighbor, James Couden, went to the land office at Danville, each filing on a tract of land of their choice. On reaching home and having the land surveyed it turned out that each man had twenty acres which was most desired by the other, and thus there was mutual disappointment. To settle the matter they simply traded the two tracts, and according to the honest pioneer spirit that prevailed in those times neither was disposed to take advantage of the other in such a transaction.
M. H. Argo was only six months old when his good father died and he has therefore no personal recollections of that good old pioneer. The widowed mother was thus left with five children and she passed away when M. H. Argo was nine years of age. Thus he spent his boyhood as an orphan and acquired his education in the subscription district school.
At the age of twenty-two he married Miss Manda Worl, a native of Indiana, and a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Cox) Worl. Her mother came from Ohio. Mrs. Argo was one of ten children, and she too obtained her education in the subscription school.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Argo located on his father’s farm on Salt Fork, comprising 240 acres, most of which had been bought direct from the Government. They lived there three years, made a beginning of prosperity, and later Mr. Argo bought eighty acres a mile and a half south of St. Joseph village, where he founded his permanent home. To his first marriage were born four children, two of whom died in infancy. The others are William H. and James Edward Argo. They grew up on their father’s farm, went to school in the local district school, and are now married and both prosperously settled in life. William married Effie Brown, of Mount Vernon, and is engaged in farming on his father’s place. James Edward lives at Mackinaw, Illinois, and married Miss Nettie Dixon.
When the youngest child was three years of age death entered the home and took away the beloved mother. Later Mr. Argo married Mary Worl, a sister of his first wife. Thus she came into her dead sister’s home as an angel of mercy to the orphan children and filled the place of mother to them, rearing them and schooling them for life’s duties. By the second marriage there was one child, who died in infancy. By a former marriage, to Harrison Argo, Mrs. Argo had three children, Bertha, John T. and Hezekiah. They were educated at St. Joseph and are already established independently. Bertha is the wife of W. W. Woody, a farmer three miles south of St. Joseph. Their four children are Loyde, Mae, Ruth and Paul, bright energetic young children, and in mentioning the family the usual phrase runs, “Lodye and Mae and Ruth and Paul and that’s all.” They are now students in the high school at St. Joseph and Lodye is preparing for the University of Illinois.
John T. Argo, the second child, is a farmer at Waukegan, Illinois, and by his marriage to Essie Gordon has four children, named Bernice, Royce, Clyde and Dorothy. Of these children Bernice is the wife of Earl Winser, and they live in Odebolt, Iowa. They have a child, Dwight, the only great-grandchild of Mr. and Mrs. Argo, and of whom they are properly proud.
Hezekiah Argo, the youngest of the children, is a telegraph operator at Danvers, Illinois, and by his marriage to Emma Trickle has a son, Donald H. Argo.
Mr. M. H. Argo has spent a busy and energetic life, one of practical success as a farmer and stock raiser. His neighbors look upon him as a genius in the matter of raising hogs. He has raised and fed much livestock for the Indianapolis market. About twenty years ago he and his wife left their farm and located in the village of St. Joseph, where in order to keep in close touch with the country as well as the town they selected a home on the edge of the village. Here they enjoy the comforts of a very attractive residence. Mr. and Mrs. Argo are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the village, and its stone and brick edifice is a monument to the liberality of the people of that community and a beacon light in the lives of many. Mr. Argo served as school director a number of years, and has done everything he could to help forward the development of the country and its institutions and people. Through all his successful career his good wife has stood by his side, apt in counsel and advice, and always a true homemaker. She is one of the charming and interesting women of the community and her sincerity is in pleasing evidence when she bids a stranger goodbye, always adding the kindly injunction/ “be good to yourself and everybody else.” In politics Mr. Argo is an ardent Republican. He has kept in close touch with that party for over forty years, and believes that America’s great destiny is largely due to this political organization.