JOSEPH BRIAR, one of the old settlers of Hickory precinct, Cass county, Illinois, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 3, 1823, son of James Briar, a native of Ireland. His grandparents were born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry, and spent their entire lives in their native land. James Briar was reared and married in Ireland and came to America about 1815. He first lived in New York city and afterward in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburg. He was a contractor on Government works, and while in New York city was engaged in building lighthouses in New York harbor. Subsequently be was one of the contractors on the building of the State prison at Alleghany. In the fall of 1836 he came to Illinois. He spent the winter at Beardstown during which time he looked around for a location suitable for a home, and in the spring entered a tract of Government land in the Sangamon river bottoms. As there were no improvements on his land, he rented an improved farm east of Virginia, and a part of the family settled on that farm while the rest took up their abode on the land he had entered, and at once began its improvement. He resided on this place until his death, February 22, 1844. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Davis. She was born in Ireland, and died on the home farm. They reared nine children.
Joseph Briar was thirteen years old when he came to Illinois with his parents. There were no railroads in this State at that time, and their removal was made via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers, landing at Beardstown November 19. Beardstown was then a small place, but was the market and depot for supplies for many miles around. Central Illinois was sparsely settled and much of the land still owned by the Government, while in the northern part the surveys were yet incomplete. Deer, wild turkeys, prairie chickens, and other game abounded. He resided with his parents till attaining his majority, when he settled on the farm he now owns and occupies. This place is located on section 4, township 18, range 10, and includes 122 1/2 acres of the best of Sangamon river bottom land. He has erected a nice set of frame buildings and enjoys all the comforts of a pleasant home.
In 1847 Mr. Briar married Mary A. Harris, a native of England, who came with her parents to Cass county when she was a girl. She died in 1853, and the following year he married Eliza Smith, a native of New York State. There are two children living by the first marriage: Martha J. and Emily D. Of the seven children born by his present wife, four are living: Joseph, Harry, Frank and Annie. Lillie, Bertie and Effie are deceased.
Mr. and Mrs. Briar are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 272-273.
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