Biography of of Segler H. Lester
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Segler H. Lester (deceased) was born in Virginia October 29, 1804, and died in Garrett Township May 22, 1864, and married Parthenia Cassaday May 14, 1833. Mrs. Lester, who is known among her neighbors as Grandma Lester, still survives. She was a daughter of Daniel Cassaday, of Virginia, where she was horn July 9, 1811, and spent her early years in Kentucky. In 1829 she came with her parents to Edgar County, Illinois, where she met Mr. Lester, whom she subsequently married. Immediately after her wedding she moved with her husband to a place on the Springfield or State road, where there were about four families, of whom Mrs. Lester is the only survivor. In the autumn of 1834 she moved to the site of her present residence, where a round log cabin, 16×18 feet, was built, and the new family began the difficulties of pioneer life, with little more capital than willing hands and stout hearts. There were no cabins nearer than ten miles north and seven miles south, the site being chosen by Mrs. Lester because the Indians had once made it their camping ground. Here five children were born, and here was laid the foundation of a handsome competence ; here also the homestead still shelters the welcome guest. “There was no open road to fortune for the pioneers; the nearest market for surplus produce was at Chicago, where corn was sold for six and one-half cents per bushel; pork from one dollar and a half to two dollars per hundred and wheat at thirty-seven and one-half cents per bushel. Supplies were only to be purchased at the expense of a tedious trip to Charleston, Terre Haute, Georgetown, Eugene or to Monticello, a round trip taking a week to accomplish. Each family could not afford this expense and some went for the whole neighborhood. This involved the use of a wagon and three yoke of oxen; the loan for a whole neighborhood of those times would not now be considered large, but owing to the condition of the roads three yoke of oxen barely sufficed. The accumulation of property under such circumstances was a difficult matter. Mr. Lester worked two years to earn money enough to enter his first eighty acres, where the homestead stands, and in 1837 he went to Rock River and broke prairie for two months, earning enough to enter one hundred acres. When the coming of winter closed the season’s work on the farm Mr. Lester turned his skill as a hunter to good account, in one winter earning enough from the sale of deer’s hind-quarters to discharge a debt for his rifle, for which he had contracted to pay twenty-five dollars. It was by such slow and arduous efforts that he accumulated some one thousand acres of land, of which lie died possessed. In 1874 a fine frame dwelling, which had been erected by him at the cost of twenty-seven hundred dollars, was destroyed by fire, but was at once rebuilt at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars.
Nine children have been born to Mr. Lester: Eliza J., wife of James Howe; Harriet A., wife of William Howe; Almeta J., wife of Elbert S. Crowley; John D., now in the agricultural implement business in Tuscola; Louisa E. A., wife of Daniel C. Johnson; Orlando B., occupying an important position in the patent office at Washington, D. C.; Lennie] P., now a resident at the homestead; Mary E. died November 6, 1845, aged one year; Margaret C. died April 25, 1855, aged three years. Lemuel P. Lester was married February 27, 1872, to Luvina Rice, a native of Kentucky, who, when a child, came to Douglas County with her parents. They have had seven children, six of whom are living, Perl D., Bert, Paul, Otto W., Gertrude and Martin. Orwell died in his sixth year.