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Bush, Joseph M.
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Bush, Joseph M.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 284-287


Hon. Joseph M. Bush, for many years a prominent figure in political circles in Pike county, and long connected with its journalistic interests has but recently retired, at the age of more than eighty years, from the editorship and management of the Pike County Democrat. Such a record of activity and successful accomplishment should put to shame many a man of younger years, who, growing tired of the burdens and cares of business life, would relegate to others the work that he should bear. Mr. Bush is too well known to need introduction to the readers of this volume. He was born in Pittsfield, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, January 16, 1822, the eldest son of Colonel Daniel B. Bush, a prominent lawyer, who served in the general assembly of Massachusetts in 1828. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Maria Merrick, was a daughter of Deacon Joseph Merrick, and died in the east about 1832. In 1834 Colonel Bush removed to Pittsfield, Illinois, where he entered upon the practice of law, and continued a member of the bar until his death, which occurred in 1885, when he had reached the advanced age of ninety-five years and six months. When he came to Illinois he left his son Joseph in Williams College, which he had entered at the age of twelve years, and from which he graduated with the class of 1838. Among his classmates were Rev. Henry M. Field and Ex-Lieutenant Governor Bross, of Chicago.

Following his graduation, Joseph M. Bush came to Illinois and entered upon the study at law, and was admitted to the bar in 1843, his license to practice being signed by Stephen A. Douglas, then one of the justices of the Illinois supreme court. He at once entered upon the active practice of his profession, but later turned his attention to other pursuits. On the 14th of March 1848, he was married to Miss Mary Alicia Grimshaw, a native of Ireland and the second daughter of John V. and Charlotte Grimshaw, who came to this country from Belfast about 1832. At the time of his marriage Mr. Bush began farming and was continuously and actively connected with agricultural pursuits until the spring of 1866, during which time he became the owner of a farm of two hundred and forty acres, which he brought to a high state of cultivation, conducting his work along modern lines. In the year mentioned, however, he turned his attention to other business interests.

In 1860, while still residing upon the farm, Mr. Bush was appointed master in chancery of the Pike county circuit court by the late distinguished jurist, Hon. C. L. Higbee, which office he held until November, 1885, covering a period of a quarter of a century. In 1858 he had been appointed United States commissioner for the southern district of the state of Illinois by the Hon. S. H. Treat, and also occupied that position for a quarter of a century. In 1865 he purchased the Pike County Democrat, of which he continued proprietor and editor until 1904, covering a period of thirty-nine years, when the business was turned over to the management of his sons who are now ably conducting the paper. He made this a valuable organ of the democratic party and kept it up to a high standard of modern journalism. In 1870 he was elected to the state senate from the thirty-sixth central district and thus became a member of the first general assembly held after the adoption of the present constitution. He served on a number of important committees but declined to be a candidate for reelection, preferring to resume his editorial duties. He has ever been active in all matters tending to the advancement and prosperity of the community which has so long been his home. He is a stockholder and secretary of the company, which in 1850 built twelve miles of plank road to the Illinois river. He was the first secretary of the Pike County Agricultural Society, established in 1850, and at various times he served as president and director. He has likewise been president and trustee of the board of education of Pittsfield, and for more than twenty-five years was a director and secretary of the Louisiana & Pike County Railroad. He has served as supervisor of his township and has been identified with practically all the public enterprises that have contributed to the material development and progress of this portion of the state.

In politics Mr. Bush has been unwavering in his advocacy of the democracy, and his paper has long been considered as it is at present, an influential factor in Illinois politics. Aside from his editorial work, however, Mr. Bush has been prominent in his labors for the principles of government in which he believes and has been a frequent delegate to the state, congressional and other conventions of his party. In 1868 he was an alternate delegate to the national convention held in New York.

Mrs. Bush died in 1885. Their four sons, William C., Joseph M., Jr., Henry and Daniel B., are all active and influential citizens of Pittsfield. An older son and their only daughter died in 1864. Socially Mr. Bush is a member of the Masonic fraternity, with which he became identified prior to the Civil war, and for two terms he served as eminent commander of Ascalon commandery, K. T. He has but recently retired after a long and active connection with business life, being yet deeply interested, however, in the great questions affecting the progress of the country along the various lines of industrial and commercial activity, and of intellectual and political advancement. As the years have passed his labors have found a just reward in a comfortable competence and he is now pleasantly situated in a home, where he has so long lived and labored, crowned with both years and honors.

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Submitted: 04/17/09 (Edited 09/09/09)

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