A bio-sketch is information pertaining to a certain family member that is not contained within an obituary

John William Zea has contributed in large and substantial measure to the upbuilding of La Hogue and the improvement of this portion of the county. His mind bears the impress of the early historic annals of this part of the state and since pioneer times he has borne his full share in commercial district. He was born October 18, 1835, in Cazenovia, Madison county, New York, and is descended from one of three brothers of the name of Zea who were natives of Germany and crossed the Atlantic to Manhattan Island during the colonial period in the history of this country. Two of the number afterward returned to the fatherland, but the great-grandfather of our subject remained on Manhattan Island. William Zea, father of John William Zea of his review, was born in Schohaire county, New York, and became a resident of Madison county, that state, where he met and married Miss Laura Blackman, who was born in Connecticut and was descended from Puritan ancestry. Mr. Zea followed the occupation of farming, which was the life work of his ancestors, and in 1846 he sought a home in Illinois, carrying on general agricultural pursuits for many years in La Salle county. The journey westward was made by way of the lakes Chicago and thence by wagon to his destination. His early political support was given the Wig Party and upon its dissolution he joined the ranks of the new Republican Party. Both he and his wife held membership in the Methodist church and he passed away in that faith when about 70 years of age, while his wife departed this life at the age at the age of about eighty years. Their family numbered six sons and three daughters, of who John W. was the second in order of birth.
IN the usual manner of farm lads Mr. Zea of this review spent the days of his boyhood and youth. He was but eleven years of age when the family came to Illinois and after that time was never able to attend school for more than three months in a year. From the age of eleven years he was practically been dependent upon his own resources in life, so that whatever sucess he has achieved is entirely the reward of his labor and industry. He was first employed as a farm had at five dollars per month and remained on one farm until nineteen years of age. He was then married and established a home of his own.
It was on the 17th of March, 1855, that Mr. Zea wedded Mary E. Arris, at Ottawa, La Salle county. She is a native of Maine and a daughter of James and Hannah Arris, who came to Illinois in 1850. Soon after their amrriage the young couple removed to Brenton township, Ford county, where Mr. Zea engaged in the hay business. The first land which he ever owned was a tract of twenty acres in La Salle county, but he sold that in 1868 and removed to Ford county, where he purchased eighty acres, improving it and making his home thereon until 1872. When the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railroad was built through Iroquois county he was made station agent at La Hogue, but at that time there was only a railroad switch there. He built the first dwelling in the town and continued to act as station agent until he was succeeded by his son Sherman. He likewise extended his efforts into other fields of activity, for in the fall of 1872 he began dealing in grain and hay and has since continued in that line. For the first five years he was in partnership with James O Barnard and for twenty-nine years he has represented the firm of P. B. and C.C. Miles, of Peoria, in the grain and coal busincess, in which he has secured a liberal patronage. He has moreover promoted the growth and improvement of La Hogue through the building of several houses and in addition to this property he owns a farm just outside the corporation limits.
As the years passes the family of Mr. and Mrs. Zea numbered nine children: John C., who is engaged in merchandising at Manchester, Kansas; Clara E., the wife of Adam Laub, of La Hogue; Charles E., who is living in Minnesota; Mary Alice, the wife of George Hill, of La Hogue; Frank E.; Harry E., who died January 17, 1897, at the age of twenty-eight years, four months and eleven days; James A., a resident farmer of Ridgeland township; Sherman L., who is a graduate of the Onarga Commercial College and is connected with his father in business and is station agent at La Hogue; and Lester M., who completes the family. ON the 17th of March, 1905, the parents celebrated their golden wedding. It was a most enjoyable occasion, at which all of their children were present save their son Charles.
Since casting his first presidential vote for John C. Fremont Mr. Zea has been continuously a stalwart advocate of republican principle and has frequently attended the conventions of his party. He is interested in the growth and success of the political policy that he endorses, yet he has never sought or desired office for himself. Fraternally he is an Odd Fellow and a Mason, having attained the Royal Arch degree in the craft. Both he and his wife are active and helpful members of the Methodist church, in which he has served as steward and trustee. He is well known in the business of life of the community and La Hogue numbers him among its founders and promoters, his efforts being of great benefit in the improvement of this section of the county. IN all of his dealings he has been straightforward and reliable and his life has been one of the continuous activity, in which has been accorded due recognition of labor, so that he is numbered among the substantial citizens of the community.
Source: Past and Present of Iroquois County, Illinois, By J. W. Kern, M.A.
Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1907