ROBERT JOHN MCILRATH, a retired farmer and highly respected citizen of Harrisburg, Illinois, looks back to Belfast, Ireland, as the place of his birth. His remote ancestors were natives of Scotland, Edinburgh being their home. It was March 30, 1844, that Robert John McIlrath was born, a son of James and Jane (McMurn) MCILRATH, by whom he was brought to this country in 1850, when a lad of six years. They came direct to Illinois and made settlement on the old Raleigh road one mile north of Harrisburg. This was all heavily timbered then, and here in primitive pioneer style, in a clapboard house, the new home was established and here the family, undivided, lived in peace and happiness until the Civil war cloud overspread the country. The father and son Robert J., then a youth of seventeen, offered their services to the Union and joined John A. Logan's regiment, the Thirty-first Illinois. While on the firing line beside his son at Fort Donelson the father was shot down and killed. His body was brought home and buried. Not long afterward the son was discharged on account of ill health, but his service was not marked by any wounds or captures. He resumed work on the home farm, and in time bought out the other heirs. He had seven brothers and sisters, of whom four are now living_James H., a dairyman; W. D., a Baptist minister; J. H., a farmer; and Mrs. Mary Lewis Baker. Those deceased are Agnes, Sarah and Isaac.
With the passing years Robert J. Mcllrath was prospered in his farming operations. He added to the old home farm until it comprised three hundred and seventy acres, and he also bought and sold other farms, one of three hundred and sixty acres. He gave considerable attention to stock, raising both horses and cattle, and some years fattened and shipped many cattle. He remained on the farm until about eight years ago, when he moved into Harrisburg, where he has since lived retired. For a number of years he was interested in the County Fair, of which for a time he was superintendent. He was one of the original directors and first president of the Harrisburg State Savings Bank, which was organized June 15, 1905. At the end of the first year he refused to serve longer as president of the bank, but he still remains one of its directors.
In 1867 Mr. Mcllrath married Miss India Gloss, daughter of Samuel and Eliza Gloss, who came to Saline county, Illinois, from Pern, Indiana, where she was born. Mrs. Mcllrath was an invalid for a number of years and died at Long Beach, California, December 4, 1906. They had no children of their own, but took into their home and cared for a little niece, who died at the age of twelve years. Politically Mr. Mcllrath has always affiliated with the Republican
party, but never in any sense has he been a politician. The only public office he ever filled was that of member of the City Board. He is ex-chaplain of George Newell Post, G. A. R., and has been in attendance at a number of the National Encampments; and he is a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine, having membership in Medinah Temple and Oriental Consistory, both of Chicago.