The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois
Originally published 1896
S.J. Clarke Pub. Co.
Transcribed by: Brandi McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society
Philip Reed Shugart, a retired farmer of Dover township, Bureau county, now making his home at Princeton, Illinois, was born at Mercersburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, February 15, 1820, and, with his parents, John and Polly (Reed) Shugart, removed to Richland county, Ohio, in 1840, locating near Ashland. On the 3rd of June, 1850, he came to Illinois, stopping first in Peoria county. He was reared at a hotel on the old pike before railroads had been constructed through that section, and after the removal of the family to the buckeye state clerked in a country store and stonemason’s trade, which he there followed for about four years, and was thus employed for a time after coming to Illinois. For two years he carried on farming in Ohio.
In what was then a part of Richland, but is now Ashland county, Ohio. Mr. Shugart was married, April 22, 1847, to Miss Rebecca K. Cox, a native of that state and a daughter of Rev. John Cox, one of its early settlers, who died when past ninety years of age. The following children graced this union, namely: Mary, now the wife of Allen Smith, of Massena, Iowa: Alice D., wife of Dexter Hempstead, of Shasta county, California: Margaret, widow of Frank Wright, by whom she had two children, Beva M. and Arthur W., and is now the housekeeper for her father: Hettie Ann, who was killed by a runaway team when ten years of age: Thomas J., who has a feed store at Council Bluffs, Iowa : Carrie, wife of M. R. Thackerberry, of Tampico, Illinois, and John J., who Cora, daughter of E. C. Matson, and is farming four miles north of town.
In the same year of his arrival, the parents of Mr. Shugart came to Bureau County, passing their last years in retirement at Princeton, where the father died in 1864, at the age of seventy-two years, and the mother in 1872, at the same age. The father first located in Dover township, where he owned a farm, and there had settled his brother, Samuel, and the latter’s son, Zachariah. On leaving Pennsylvania in 1846 the brother had come direct to Peoria county, Illinois, and with the other members of the family located in Dover township, Bureau county, in 1850. John Shugart, a brother of our subject, also made his home in the same neighborhood.
With his wife and two children, Philip R. Shugart drove the entire distance from Ohio, and on his arrival had but fifty dollars with which to begin life in this new country. He at first made his home upon the farm which his father had previously purchased, and with forty dollars of his own money and one hundred dollars which he borrowed of his father he entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, which at first seemed little better than a swamp. He and his family could get a start here, as he could find no work in his trade, and their principal diet was bread and blackberry jam. Added to their other misfortunes, the wife was taken ill, and the old cabin was so dilapidated that it was impossible in rainy weather to keep the bed dry on which she lay. During the first few years they suffered much from fever and ague. In the fall after their arrival, however, he began the erection of a more commodious dwelling, and soon got work at laying foundations for buildings in the county. The first ninety dollars which he earned was worth more to him then than that many thousand at the present time, and for three years he was principally employed at his trade, especially in the autumn.
Mr. Shugart sold his first one hundred and sixty acre tract and secured a farm on one hundred and forty acres in Dover township, for which he went in debt, and both himself and wife at times became very much discouraged, and at one time was on the point of selling, but in figuring up the property that he owned found that he was getting along very well, and so decided to remain. During the hard times of 1857-8 he had to pay as high as twenty-five per cent on his loan in order to keep his farm.
In 1863 Mr. Shugart laid aside agricultural pursuits, and in connection with his brother, E. L., engaged in the hardware business at Princeton under the firm name of Shugart & Company, and this was continued until 1868, when the brother removed to Council Bluffs, Iowa, there engaging in the agricultural implement business and make a fortune of half a million. As his wife would go no further west, our subject returned to the farm, where he erected a good dwelling and began breeding short horn cattle and fine hogs, which occupation his neighbors thought would be a failure, but he was quite successful. He paid for his first two hogs fifty-two dollars. He also became a successful breeder of Norman horses, and at many fairs he has carried off the highest prizes for his stock. He is a life member of Bureau county Fair association, of which he is also one of the original members, joining the organization thirty-six years ago, and has since been closely identified with its interests.
Mr. Shugart has been called upon to mourn the death of his wife, who passed away January 11, 1885, and two years later he left the old farm and took up his residence in Princeton, where he is now living retired, resting in the enjoyments of the fruits of his former toil. He added to farm until at one time he had four hundred acres, a part of which he has sold and given to his children, but still owns two hundred and forty acres on section 29, Dover township, , where he erected a handsome and commodious brick residence, and his place is now worth about one hundred dollars per acre. A part of his land was so low and level that it was thought by many to be worthless, but he converted it into one of the most highly cultivated tracts in the locality by the use of tiling, being the second man in the community to use that means. He also owns eighty acres in Fairfield township, and a farm in Story county. To his children he has given about eighty acres each.
Politically, Mr. Shugart is a lifelong republican, taking a deep interest in local affairs, attending the conventions of his party, but is no politician in the sense of office seeking. His wife was an earnest member of the Baptist church, but he holds membership with no religious organization. He is an upright, honorable man, one who has the respect and confidence of all with whom he comes in contact, and is numbered among the valued citizens of Princeton and Bureau county.