VINCENT A. STOOKEY. English people often pity Americans because they have no traditions, that is from their point of view. They are inclined to think that a man who does not live on land owned by his father and his father's father before him as rather a poor creature after all. Our sole defense is that it is much more interesting to be of the generation who are making traditions than of those who are preserving them, but, nevertheless, we have some families who have lived in the same spot for generations. Just as the English regard the whole American race, so do the people of Massachusetts look upon the Middle West, but here is Vincent A. Stookey, now past his three score and ten, who was born near the old log cabin that his pioneer grandfather erected when one could step from its door right into the forest primeval. He is one of the few men of his age whose parents were natives of the state of Illinois, and he has much the same feeling for the old log cabin, that is still standing half a mile east of Belleville, as the English cottager has for the rose covered cottage of his forebears. When the word "traditions" is mentioned, one immediately thinks of sleepy villages where nothing ever happens, and where business is carried on just as it was in the past century. One would laugh could he associate this picture with Mr. Stookey, however, for no more wide-awake, energetic man ever existed. That is the way Americans manage things, instead of allowing their family tree to enwrap them in its branches, they use it on which to climb upward.
Vincent A. Stookey is the son of Aaron Stookey, who was born in the log cabin that was mentioned in the preceding paragraph. The father of Aaron Stookey was Daniel Stookey. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1769, thus being the same age as the first Napoleon. From Maryland he went to Virginia and thence came to Illinois, settling in Saint Clair county in 1802. He devoted all of his time to agriculture, though in those days agriculture included almost everything. A man not only had to cut down trees, build houses and manufacture tables and chairs, but he had to be his own doctor, miller and shoemaker. Daniel Stookey must have possessed great strength of character, for he was evidently a man of force among his neighbors. He was a Jackson Democrat and is supposed to have been one of the presidential electors who put "Old Hickory" in the White House in 1832. He married Barbara Whetstone and died in 1835, while his wife survived him a number of years, dying in 1849. Their children numbered nine. Simon followed his father's
vocation, living on the old homestead, where he died in 1850, leaving a son to prepetuate his name; Moses spent his life in a similar manner and is now buried in the old Stookey cemetery at Belleville; Sarah became the wife of Samuel Anderson and died near the old home in 1838; Daniel did not go far from the original rooftree and left a large family when he died; Aaron; Samuel was a farmer and stock buyer and left several children at his death; Elijah was also a farmer; Mary married Joseph Ocherman and died in northern Missouri; and George W. reared his family in the old homestead, near which place he now lies buried.
Aaron Stookey was born near Belleville in September, 1808. He grew up with only such an education as he could obtain from the scanty sources at his command. He was commissioned a lieutenant in a state regiment raised for service in the Black Hawk war and was in the same command as Jefferson Davis. Aaron Stookey lived the industrious life of the heroes of America who, with the passing of the frontier, are no more. One can but wish that they might see the result of the work they did so simply and so unconscious that they were doing a great work. He took considerable interest in the exciting political affrays of the ante-bellum days, and sided with the Democratic party. The issue which brought about the war between the states caused him to turn from his allegiance and enroll himself under the standard of the Republican party, holding to this political faith until his death. His wife was Margaret Miller, a daughter of William Miller, who came to Belleville from Virginia and settled here in company with the elder Stookey. Mrs. Stookey was a year the junior of her husband, thus being the age of Abraham Lincoln, while Mr. Stookey was the same age as Jefferson Davis. She died in 1892, and her children were Albert H., who died on the Pea Ridge battle ground of Arkansas, in March, 1862; Vincent A.; Caroline, who died unmarried; William W., of Lexington, Nebraska; Lewis C. and Edward D., of Belleville, Illinois. Albert H. was a member of the Fifty-ninth Illinois Regiment, but was first mustered into the Ninth Missouri.
Vincent A. Stookey was born near the old homestead, near Belleville, Illinois, on the 7th of April, 1835, and his environment precluded his acquiring more than a fair education. His elementary education was acquired in the subscription schools and he later attended Shurtleff College, at Alton, Illinois. During his early manhood he did whatever came to hand. He was a farmer, dealt in stock, and put in his unoccupied time teaching school. He went into the livery stable business at Belleville the period of the Civil war, at which he was quite successful. After the war he moved from that section of the state and came to Perry county. Here in the year 1867 he located on a farm and became identified with agriculture and the related industries. He remained here until 1893, when he moved to Pinckneyville. He had previously established his son here in business, and when he came to the city he went into the business world himself. His first venture was in the mercantile line as a dealer in Hardware, and still later he entered the manufacturing industry as a maker of breaking plows. This modern well equipped little plant is still putting forth an article that the farmers of the country have learned to depend upon, knowing its real value. Recently he has established a general mercantile business at Buffalo, Arkansas, in the vicinity of which place he has mineral interests. He has placed his second son in charge of this store, and a thriving business is being done.
Mr. Stookey was married at Waterloo, Monroe county, Illinois, on the 13th of December, 1866, to Miss Maria N. Wiswell. She was a daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Miller) Wiswell. Mr. Wiswell was a
native of Boston. Mrs. Stookey died in Pinckneyville on the 17th of May, 1894, at the age of fifty. Mr. and Mrs. Stookey were the parents of three children, William D., who is associated with his father in business; Carrie B.; and Menard G.; in charge of the store in Arkansas. Mr. Stookey is a Republican, but is content to do his part in the casting of his ballot, believing that the honest voter is as important an asset to the party as an honest office-holder, for upon one depends the other.