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Illinois Cathcarts
Descendants of John & Mary Harper Cathcart

Eldest son of James Cathcart, Sr., John Cathcart was born in County Antrim, Ireland in about 1789.  John married Mary Harper in County Antrim in about 1813; and their first two children (Nancy and James G) would be born there.

John and his family (along with his parents' and siblings) left County Antrim for South Carolina in 1816.  In 1846—30 years after emigrating to the United States, and all of his children having been born—John picked up and moved "west" to Randolph County, Illinois.  Family records indicate that during that journey, they visited with other Cathcart family members in Bloomington, Indiana.

The primary reason given for the move was John's opposition to slavery—along with the strong and continuing exhortations of his church that all its adherents renounce slavery and emancipate their slaves.  It's interesting to note that with respect to the visit of family members in Bloomington during their initial travels to Illinois, that Cathcart family members living near Bloomington were involved with the Underground Railroad.

By the time of the 1850 census, the family can be found in Township 4 South, Range 6 West of Randolph County.


1850 census
1850 census: Township 4 South, Range 6 West, Randolph County, Illinois









  1. For more information about the early Presbyterian Church—and its positions on slavery—please visit my religious information page.  For more details involving the Cathcart family's involvement with the Underground Railroad, click here.