PRYOR LEE SKAGGS. Having accomplished a satisfactory work during his long and useful life, Pryor Lee Skaggs is now living retired from active business affairs at his pleasant home in Harrisburg, enjoying the well-merited reward of his many years of toil. A man of upright principles, strong convictions and good judgment, he fought bravely for the cause of the Union during the Civil war, and has since, in the common walks of life, performed the duties devolving upon him as a man and a citizen with the same loyalty and fidelity that he displayed on the battle-grounds. A son of Stephen M. Skaggs, he was born August 6, 1829, in Knox county, east Tennessee. He is of pure English ancestry, his grandfather, Samuel Skaggs, having been born in England, although he spent the greater part of his life in Tennessee, where his children were born and reared.
Learning the tanner and shoemaker's trade when young, Pryor Lee Skaggs was in the employ of the same man for five years. Becoming thoroughly familiar with both, he then, in partnership with his brother, opened a shoemaker's shop and a harnessmaking establishment, and in the manufacture of shoes, harnesses, collars and saddles made good use of all leather that came in their possession. At the end of five years, Mr. Skaggs sold out to his brother his interest in the business, and likewise the farm which he owned, and in 1855 left Tennessee, intending to settle in Texas. Arriving in Marion, Williamson county, Illinois, Mr. Skaggs was pleased with the place, and decided to locate there. Opening a shoe shop, he carried on a good business there for a few years, working at the bench himself the greater part of the time. Coming from there to Harrisburg in 1861, he worked at his trade for a year, when, in 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company F, One hundred
and Twentieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain Roark, of Harrisburg, and Colonel McKagg, of Shawneetown. With his regiment he went to Tennessee, arriving in Memphis just after its surrender, from there going to Vicksburg and there participating in the siege of that city and afterwards taking part at the engagement at Corinth, Mississippi. He then accompanied General Banks expedition up the Red river, and subsequently spent the remainder of his time of service in Memphis, being corporal of his company. He was honorably discharged from the army in August, 1865, having served three years continuing with his regiment even when his physical condition was such that the most of the soldier boys would gladly have been in the hospital rather than in camp or on the battlefield.
Returning then to Saline county, Mr. Skaggs continued at his trade for three years, running a shoe shop in Eldorado. The ensuing three years he was employed in a tan yard at Harrisburg, and having become accustomed to its management he rented the same yard for another three years, after which he bought the yard, and for three years conducted a substantial business as a tanner. Mr. Skaggs then opened a harness shop, and was engaged in harness and saddle making for a few years, establishing a large and lucrative business. Having through industry and thrift accumulated a competency, he then sold out his interests in the establishment to his son, William T. Skaggs, and has since lived retired from active pursuits. He is a man of worth and integrity, and an honored member of the George Newell Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
Mr. Skaggs married, in 1848, in Knox county, Tennessee, Eliza Jane Davis, who was born in that county, in November, 1831, at the time of her marriage having been but fifteen years old. The following children were born to this marriage: William T., who succeeded his father in business; Charles P., whose sketch appears on other pages of this work; Elizabeth J., wife of Clinton Otey, of Harrisburg; Pryor Lee, Jr., engaged in the harness making business at Eldorado; and Hannibal Grant, a printer in Jacksonville, Florida.