Jacob Darst

Darst, Jacob, real estate dealer and capitalist, res. cor. Monroe and Fayette streets; is one of Peoria's early settlers and most successful business men. He was born in Meigs county, Ohio, on September 16, 1815. At the age of seventeen his father gave him his time, and he started out in life with fifty cents of cash capital; worked on the Ohio canal until he earned $50, then labored several months in the iron works at Portsmouth, O.; was then employed a year for the Kenawha salt works in West Virginia, boating salt down the Ohio river. Mr. D. enjoyed very meager school advantages; but acute observing powers and retentive memory have rendered him well informed. He early imbibed the maxim that "time is money," and acted accordingly. In June, 1835, Mr. Darst came to Peoria; quarried stone on the Kickapoo for a time; then clerked in a general store for Aquilla Wren, in Peoria, six months; afterwards engaged in coal mining and breaking prairie with ox teams, in the mean time trading and speculating, and in 1839 had accumulated $1,500; engaged in shipping pork and produce down the Mississippi, and lost his entire capital by a devastating storm; returned to Peoria with $13 in his pocket; hired again to Mr. Wren, remaining in his employ shipping produce three years, when failing health compelled him to seek the country, where he spent two years hunting. Being much improved, he began operating in coal and speculating in land, in which business he made $15,000 in five years; and at the end of that time embarked in the dry goods trade in company with Mr. Dougherty. Not being pleased with the results, he again engaged in real estate business; and by 1860 had made $100,000 above a living. Mr. D. has amassed a fortune of $350,000 chiefly in Peoria city property, valuable coal mining lands and Western lands. Mr. Darst married Catharine M. Dougherty December 16, 1839, by whom he had eleven children, three living. Mrs. D. died March 12, 1861. He married his present wife, formerly Ellen R. Leonard, of Auburn, N.Y., in 1863, who has borne him one child.

from The History of Peoria County, Illinois, Johnson & Co., 1880