Whiteside County Biographies 1908
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Whiteside Biographies 1908 > 1908 - John Grierson

Whiteside Bios - 1908, Vol. II
23 Sep 2015



John Grierson, possessing many of the strong and sterling characteristics of the Scottish race, is now serving as postmaster of Morrison and is worthy and popular citizen here. He was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, in 1841, a son of Thomas and Agnes (McQueen) Grierson, who were also natives of the same shire. The father was a miller by trade and was quite successful in his business life. He lost his wife in 1849 and continued a resident of Scotland for some years thereafter, but in 1858 he came to the United States, settling in western New York, where he again followed milling. There he died in 1866 at the age of fifty-six years. He had been a member of the Odd Fellows’ society in Scotland and held membership in the Presbyterian church, to which Mrs. Grierson also belonged. Their family numbered ten children, nine of whom reached adult age, and four sons and one daughter came to this country. The youngest, a son, died in infancy.

John Grierson, whose name introduces this record, attended the Free church school, Maxwelltown, Scotland, an also taught school in his native land and in western New York. On the 2d of September, 1861, he enlisted at Portville, New York, for service with Company D of the Eighty-fifth New York Infantry. He remained with that command for about a year, when he was discharged on account of disability, but when he had recovered his health he r-enlisted on the 7th of December, 1863, serving in companies G and H of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, with which he continued until the close of the war, being honorably discharged at Washington, September 26, 1865. He participated in a number of important engagements, including the siege of Yorktown under General McClellan in 1862 and the battles of Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, White Oak Swamp, Charles City Crossroads and Malvern Hill, Virginia. This was during his connection with the Eighty-fifth New York Regiment. While with the artillery he participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna River, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. While before Petersburg during the siege he was captured and taken as a prisoner of war into the city, July 30, 1864. He was then transferred to Danville, where he was incarcerated until February 22, 1865, when he was paroled. He then went to Annapolis, the parole camp, and afterward helped man the forts near Washington, while subsequently he marched in the grand review in the capital city. After being mustered out he returned to his home in New York. When taken prisoner he had his shoulder broken by coming in contact with the butt end of a musket in the hands of a Confederate officer. Fifteen years afterward, while in the south, he learned the name of the man who clubbed him. It was Captain McDonald of the Twenty-third Alabama, who was also a Scotchman. Mr. Grierson was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant, promotion having come to him in recognition of his fidelity and meritorious service.

After the war Mr. Grierson came to Illinois in 1866 and settled at Morrison, working in the Annan mill for four years. He afterward spent three years as an employee in the D. S. Spafford grocery store and thirteen years in the Anderson store. He was appointed postmaster of Morrison during the Harrison administration in 1891 and remained in the office for five years. On the 11th of April, 1900, President McKinley appointed him postmaster and he was reappointed by President Roosevelt in May, 1904, so that he is now the incumbent of the office. Three terms of service have not only brought him intimate knowledge of the duties connected therewith but have also demonstrated his fidelity to the trust reposed in him and his prompt and able discharge of his duties. In public office he is as true and faithful to his county as when he followed the stars and stripes upon the battlefields of the south.

In 1877, Mr. Grierson was married to Miss Mary Robertson, who was born in Albany, Whiteside County, Illinois, in 1851, a daughter of John and Harriet (Bliss) Robertson. Her father was a stone-mason and a builder and was one of the early settlers of the county, driving from Michigan in a single buggy about 1843, the eldest daughter being carried in her mother’s arms. The family located in the village of Albany, becoming very early settlers of the county. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Grierson were born three children: Janet A. who was born in Morrison, November 5, 1879, and is now the wife of Clarence C. Foster, of Seattle, Washington; and Walter G. and William A., twins, born August 4, 1882. Ther former, who was graduated from the State University at Champaign, Illinois, in June, 1907, is now with the Memphis Bridge Company at Memphis, Tennessee, as draughtsman. The wife and mother died December 4, 1904. She was a devoted and faithful member of the Presbyterian church and a lady whose many excellent traits of character endeared her to a large circle of friends.

In his fraternal relations Mr. Grierson is a Mason and also belongs to Alpheus Clark Post No. 118, G.A.R., of which he is a past commander. His political allegiance has always been given to the Republican Party since he became an American citizen. He has served as constable, superintendent of streets, and was a member of the board of education for seven years. As postmaster he has given a public-spirited administration and over the record of his official career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. 

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