GEORGE M. CONSTANT. - George M. Constant has been engaged in the harness business in Riverton for a quarter of a century. He was born in Clear Lake township, January 31, 1844, on the old family homestead. His father, Hon. Rozen H. Constant, was a native of Clark county Kentucky, born July 8, 1809, and the grandfather, Isaac Constant, also first opened his eyes to the light of day in Clark county. The family is of German lineage and was established in Kentucky at a very early epoch in the history of that state. Rezeia Constant was there reared and he married Abigail Constant, a cousin. He devoted his attention to farming for several years in Clark county and then came to Illinois soon after his marriage, arriving in the fall of 1830, so that he lived here at the time that the great snowfall became a fact in the history of the county that is now most memorable. In Clear Lake township he entered a half section of land, a part of which was covered with timber, but clearing away the trees he plowed his land and in course of time developed a good farm. As his financial resources permitted he also bought more land and eventually became the owner of several hundred acres. Upon his farm he reared his family and spent his remaining days. He was a man of prominence and influence, well fitted to mold public opinion and to shape public action, for he earnestly desired the best interests of his community and put forth effective effort in behalf of upbuilding and improvement. He was elected a member of the state legislature and served during the session of 1846-7. He was also commissioner of the county and filled the position of justice of the peace for a number of years. A man of education he engaged in teaching in Kentucky in early life and his course was marked by mental advancement that well qualified him for the position of leadership which was accorded him by his fellow townsmen. In the Black Hawk war he served as a soldier, being a member of the same regiment to which Abraham Lincoln belonged. He went to battle as a lieutenant and was afterward promoted to captain, thus commanding his company. For long years he was an honored and respected citizen of Sangamon county and his death occurred in April, 1889, when he had reached the age of almost eighty years. His wife passed away in 1846 and he afterward married Mrs. Mary L. Halbert, a widow, who had three children by her first marriage and three by her second.
George M. Constant was one of the family of three sons and five daughters. One son and one daughter are yet living and of his three halfsisters two yet survive. One brother, Alfred S., now deceased, reached manhood, became a soldier of Company 1, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Infnatry, and received an honorable discharge for disability. His living sister is Mrs. Sarah A. Grubb, of Springfield. His half-sisters are Cordelia H., the wife of H. R. Riddle, of Mechanicsburg, and Sabra G., the wife of R. 0. Riddle, a farmer of Clear Lake township.
George M. Constant was reared under the parental roof and attended the public schools. He enlisted in 1862 for three months' service as a member of Company F, Seventieth Illinois Infantry and was drilled at Camp Butler, where he was also engaged in guarding rebel prisoners. He later went south with prisoners to Vicksburg and at the close of the war he was honorably discharged and mustered out at Alton, Illinois. After his return home he resumed work on the farm.
Mr. Constant was married in 1865, in this county, to Margaret E. Bales, who was born in Madison county, Ohio, a daughter of Moses Bales, whose birth occurred in Virginia, whence he removed to the Buckeye state. On coming to Illinois, he located first near Williamsville and afterward in Clear Lake township, where Mrs. Constant was largely reared and educated. After his marriage Mr. Constant continued farming with his father for a year or two and then rented land near the old homestead for about three years. In 1869 he removed to Mason City, Illinois, where he was engaged in general business, but eventually turned his attention to the harness trade, remaining there until the spring of 1880. On the expiration of that period he sold out and removed to Springfield, where he continued until the fall of 1881. In August of that year he came to Riverton, where he established a harness shop and has since carried on business. He and his wife established a hotel in 1890 and this they have since conducted. Mrs. Constant is practically the proprietor and gives her personal supervision to the conduct of the business, while Mr. Constant manages his harness and saddlery store. Unto this worthy couple have been born two children, who are yet living: C. G., who is married and is assistant superintendent of a coal company at Coal City, Illinois, and has five children, and Pearl Constant, who is married and has a daughter, Emma, who is a bright little child and the life and joy of the Constant homestead. Our subject and his wife also lost two children in early childhood, Charles and Fred.
A stanch Republican, he cast his first presidential vote for Grant in 1868. He has been a member of the village board, also of the school board and for four years he served as postmaster of Riverton under appointment of President McKinley. He is a member of the Modern Woodman, also of the Grand Army of the Republic, and has been adjutant of his post for several years. He has also been its commander and he enjoys the highest esteem of his old comrades who wore the blue when the nation was in peril.