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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN BILDERBACK. In giving a brief sketch of Mr. Bilderback, it can with truth be said that he is one of the substantial men of the county and one of its much esteemed citizens. All his property has been accumulated by honest toil and good management, and he now has one of the finest farms in his section. Like many of the prominent men of the county, he is a native of the Buckeye State, born in Preble County in 1843, and the son of William and Sarah (Nye) Bilderback.

William Bilderback was born in New Jersey in 1816 and at an early age went with his parents to Ohio. When but nine years of age he was left an orphan and from that time on he was obliged to fight his own way in life. Possessed of an unlimited amount of perseverance and industry, he went bravely to work and for some time was a farm hand in Ohio. In this manner he managed to accumulate some means, and in 1838 he was married to Miss Sarah Nye. For about eight years he remained in the Buckeye State, and having accumulated sufficient means he determined to try the fertile soil of Michigan. About 1846 he brought his family to this State and located in Berrien County, where he began his career as a renter. In 1850 he located in Silver Creek Township, Cass County, and there bought eighty acres of Government land.

All his energies were bent towards the improvement and development of his place, and in this he was unusually successful, for from time to time he added to the original tract until he became the owner of four hundred and sixty-seven acres. Good buildings were erected, fences put up, and everything about the place indicated him to be a man of determination and great energy. Socially, he was a member of the United Brethren Church, but as there was no church of that denomination in the neighborhood, he united with the Disciples Church and continued a consistent and devout member until his death, in 1885. Formerly a Whig in politics, during the latter part of his life he affiliated with the Republican party and was an ardent supporter of its principles.

He held a number of local offices, such as Justice of the Peace, Highway Commissioner, etc., and discharged the duties of all in a very creditable manner. His wife, now seventy-five years of age, is still living and enjoys comparatively good health. The six children born to this estimable couple were named as follows: Peter J., deceased; John, our subject; William W., deceased; Mary, who married O. F. Momany, and after his death was united in marriage with D. W. Sammons; Martha, who married James Momany; and Sarah Rosa, who married Elias Smith. Peter died in the hospital at Pittsburg Landing during the war; and William died after reaching home from the army.

The youthful days of our subject were spent in the district schools of Michigan and on the farm, where he assisted materially in clearing it of the timber with which it was covered. Filled with a patriotic desire to assist his country, he enlisted in the army and was in active duty until the cessation of hostilities. Returning to Cass County, Mich., he bought eighty acres where he now lives, partly improved, but he has erected all the substantial buildings on it, and now has one of the pleasant rural homes of the township. He was married in 1866 to Miss Cynthia A. Becraft, daughter of Isaiah and Caroline Becraft, and four children have blessed this union. Ella Grace, a teacher of Cass and Berrien Counties, graduated from the schools of Dowagiac; Jesse N. married Miss Mary Taylor; Vernie C. is a student at Dowagiac; and William R. is at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Bilderback are members of the Baptist Church, and he is a member of H. C. Gilbert Post No. 47, G. A. R. In politics he is a Republican. Mr. Bilderback has held a number of the township offices — Supervisor, Highway Commissioner and Treasurer — and is a popular man. He joined the army in 1861, in the Army of the Potomac, and participated in the following battles: Winchester, Cedar Creek, second Bull Run, Slaughter Mountain, Fairfax Court House, and in the battles of the Wilderness, Gettysburg, Petersburg, etc. He was never wounded or taken prisoner, but a few days after enlisting he was taken down with the measles.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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