Was born in Bedford county, Tennessee, January 4, 1824. He is the eldest son of James and Mary Ham, whose history is elsewhere given in this work. He lived in Tennessee until six years of age, when, in 1830, he removed with his parents to Pike county, Illinois. They settled on section 30, since organized into a portion of Chambersburg township. The subject of this sketch received his early training and education in the common schools of Pike county. Opportunities for schooling were very poor in those early days. He attended school in the winter, and worked on his father's farm in the summer. During the Black Hawk war seven Indians Crossed McKee's creek on a raid. Mr. Ham's father and six other men started in pursuit of the retreating fugitives. William was then but about ten years of age, and, in company with George Hegger, whose age was thirteen, they were left, with one shotgun, to protect his mother and four neighbor women, with about a dozen children, against the incursions of the momentarily expected savages. The women, armed with axes, clubs, and knives, and with the doors and windows baricaded they undoubtedly presented a formidable array, but, as luck would have it, no Indians appeared. After a few days had elapsed, Mr. Ham and party returned, having failed in overtaking the Indians.
On the 14th day of May, 1846, William was married to Miss Elizabeth A., daughter of Samuel D. and Elizabeth Elliot. She was born February 22, 1831, near Worcester, Massachusetts. Her grandfather Elliot was a soldier in the revolutionary war, and participated in the battle of Plattsburg and others, receiving an honorable discharge at the expiration of the war. Mrs. Ham's father, while yet a lad, went over the battle field the next day, and saw it strewn with munitions of war, and many mangled bodies. Balls literally covered the ground.
Mrs. Ham is a regular descendant of the old Elliot family of Massachusetts history. Mr. Elliott removed with his family to Pike county in 1837, settling on a farm in Perry township. He died in October, 1846. Mrs. Elliot died four years previous, in April, 1842. Reverend John Elliot was one of the most eminent preachers of new England, and made many converts among the Algonquin tribes. He also wrote an Algonquin grammar, and translated the Scriptures into that tongue. This translation was printed at Cambridge, in 1863, and was the first bible ever published in America. It is an honor to note among one's ancestry a family so highly revered as the Elliots. Mrs. Ham comes from the purest Puritan blood. Mr. Ham, after his marriage, settled on one of his father-in-law's farms, and turned his whole attention to farming and stock growing. He remained there four years, then moved on the farm where he now resides. He has met with good success, and now has a fine, well improved farm, situated about two and a half miles south of the village of Chambersburg, and is one of the best stock farms in the township. They have had a family of six children, all of whom are yet living. His eldest son and daughter are married. Mr. Ham is a genial, wholesouled gentleman, surrounded by an interesting family. By perseverance and fair dealing he has succeeded in accumulating considerable wealth. A view of his farm and residence will appear in this work. Politically he is, and always has been, a supporter of the old principles of the Jackson and Jeffersonian democracy.
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