THOMAS E. MELVIN. For seventy-four years Thomas E. Melvin has been a resident of Greene county. Few indeed of its citizens have so long resided within its borders and he has intimate knowledge of its history as it has emerged from pioneer conditions to take its place with the best developed counties of this growing commonwealth. He has seen the work of improvement as it has been carried forward along progressive lines, and has co-operated in many improvements for the general good. For more than half a century he has been numbered among the substantial and thrifty farmers of Rubicon township, and he is now living a retired life in the city of Greenfield.
Mr. Melvin is a native of Tennessee, his birth having occurred in Washington county, on the 22d of December, 1824. His father, John Melvin, was likewise born in Tennessee and was there married to Miss Eliza Crouch. In the spring of 1831 he brought his family to Illinois, locating in Greene county, and later he settled in Rubicon township, where he entered land from the government and opened up a farm, transforming a tract of wild prairie into richly cultivated fields. Subsequently he established his home in Greenfield, where his last years were passed, both he and his wife dying in this city.
Thomas E. Melvin was a youth of six years, when he accompanied his parents to Illinois and upon the old home farm he was reared, assisting in the arduous task of developing new land as his age and strength permitted. The occupation to which he was reared he made his life work and as a companion and helpmate on life's journey he chose Miss Elizabeth Coonrod, who was born in Wayne county, Illinois, their marriage being celebrated in 1847. Her father, Stephen Coonrod, was a native of Kentucky and in 1829 came to Illinois, being among the first settlers of Greene county.
After his marriage Mr. Melvin engaged in farming on the old homestead for two or three years and afterward purchased a farm, while still later he bought the old home place, his father removing to Greenfield. There he successfully carried on general agricultural pursuits until 1902, when he rented the farm and took up his abode in Greenfield, where he has since lived. He owned and in former years operated seven hundred acres of land, but has now divided the property among his children. He made good improvements upon his farm, erecting a large and substantial barn and other necessary outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. A two story brick house had been built by his father the fall before our subject was married. He was a very successful farmer and stock raiser, also fed considerable stock, shipping from two to four carloads of cattle to the city markets annually, together with a large number of hogs. His business capacity and executive force were demonstrated by the capable conduct of all his farming interests and the excellent financial results which attended his efforts.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Melvin was blessed with six children, of whom four are living: Sylvester is married and owns a good farm in this county. He has four children: Leon, Morris, Mildred and Marguerite. George, also the owner of a good farm in Greene county, is married and has two living children, Ethel and Grant, the former the wife of George Sykes, by whom she has one child, Malcolm. George Melvin also lost one daughter, Lulu, who died in early womanhood in September, 1904. Edward is married and is a farmer of Rubicon township. Minnie is the wife of Bert Metcalf, a farmer of Rubicon township, and they have three children, William, Lee and Lewis. Mr. and Mrs. Melvin lost two children, Edna, who died in early womanhood; and Emma, who became the wife of Charles Smith, and died in 1893.
In his political views Mr. Melvin was formerly a Republican and cast his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln, but is now a Prohibitionist. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church and for some years was active in the Grange. A resident of the county from his youth to the present time, he has for seventy-four years been a witness of its development and is one of the few remaining early settlers here. He has seen the wonderful changes that have occurred during all these years as the county has been transformed from a wilderness and a swamp into a richly agricultural district, dotted here and there with thriving towns and cities which have all the improvements and conveniences known to the older east. He can remember the days when primitive farm machinery was used and, in fact, has even plowed when following the share as it has turned the soil. He also gathered the harvests in the primitive manner of the early days and as the years advanced was quick to take up the methods that facilitated the farm work. He remembers, too, the pioneer homes with their hardships and their hospitality. He commands the respect, confidence and friendship of his neighbors and acquaintances.