John was born in Galena, Illinois 1831. He was the son of James Rawlins and Louvisa Collier. He worked the family farm during the summers and went to school in the winters. He often was a maker of charcoal to earn extra money. He spent a year and a half at Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris, Illinois. And after a period of self-directed study to make up for his lack of formal education, he studied the law in the office of Isaac P. Stevens of Galena. He was admitted to the bar in 1854. In 1861, John helped organize the 45th Illinois Infantry which Ulysses Grant offered to help train. John became Grant's aide-de-camp. According to sources he became Grant's most influential staff officer, advisor, and closest friend. He advanced to the rank of Brigadier General and was the 29th United States Secretary of War during Presidents Grant's term. He passed away in 1869 just 5 months after he took office.
1850-1860 United States Federal Census Records
Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography; Volume: Vol. VI, pg. 190
U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865
Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church, New York, USA, 9 Sep 1869, Call Number87722
Biography & Genealogy Master Index (BGMI), Gale Research Company; Detroit, Michigan; Accession Number: 1024849
Illinois, County Marriage Records, 1800-1940
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia- John A. Rawlins, accessed 23 May, 2019