Biography - George W. James

GEORGE W. JAMES. A most worthy representative of one of the pioneer families of Union county is Mr. George W. James. Well known and highly respected not only for his upright and honest business career, but for his fine personal qualities, his popularity has grown with each year of his long residence in his home county.

George W. James, the oldest son of Wilson and Huldah (Abernathy) James, was born near Wolf Lake in Union county, on the 6th of October, 1847. Wilson James was the son of George W. James, who migrated to Kentucky from Virginia when that state was sending so many of her best sons over the Blue Ridge into the Blue Grass country. Kentucky continued to be his residence until about 1820, when this sturdy frontiersman again moved, this time to Union county. He was one of that small number who first settled in this region, and should be remembered with gratitude by its present residents as one who helped to smooth the pathway. Wilson James was also a pioneer, in that he was one of the first to discover the great adaptability of the soil to the growth of fruits. In 1853 he moved from the Wolf Lake farm to the place where his son now lives. Upon this farm he spent the remained of his life, devoting his energies to farming and especially to the raising of fine apples. In June, 1866, he succumbed to the dread disease, smallpox, which was widely prevalent after the Civil war. He left a family of six children, all of whom are living.

On the death of his father George W. James found himself with the responsibility of a family of young brothers and sisters. Facing the situation courageously, young as he was, he became the sole support of the family. The mother died on the 8th of April, 1862. Uncomplainingly he bore the burden, and with the help of his eldest sister and by means of hard work and shrewd management he cared for his sisters and brothers until they were grown or married.

Having thus given so much of his life for others he deserves the success which has been his. His home farm, two and a half miles from Cobden, contains one hundred and forty-five acres, and in addition to this he owns several farms near Alto Pass, aggregating seven hundred acres. Mr. James, following in his father's steps, has made a specialty of apples, having planted twenty-five acres of his orchard farm in this fruit. He has the distinction of raising the earliest apple in this section, the Transparent Apple, by name. Constant study of conditions and attention to the details of apple growing enabled him, in 1911, to grow a crop of so fine a quality that the price per barrel for which he sold it was larger than that received by any other grower. He produced about seven thousand bushels, selling the whole for six thousand dollars. At one time he had forty acres of his farm planted in peaches, but now, with the exception of a lot of young trees just beginning to bear, he has only five acres of this fruit. In 1911 he received an excellent price for his crop of eight hundred bushels of Captain Edes and Elbertas. On one of his other farms, managed by his son, fifteen hundred bushels of rhubarb, amounting to twenty-five hundred packages, were raised on twenty acres. Besides these principal crops Mr. James believes in diversified farming and raises a great variety on his various farms.

Fraternally Mr. James is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Alto Pass and has always been an active member of the organization. In his religious belief he is a staunch supporter of the doctrines of the Baptist church.

In 1868 Mr. James was married to Mrs. Nancy (Condon) Morris. His wife is a daughter of James and Mary S. (Adams) Condon, both of whom were native Tennesseans. Mrs. James was born in Nashville, Tennessee, her family having moved to Union county in 1859. Mr. and Mrs. James have two children, George W., who lives near his father, and Fontain E., who is living on a farm near Alto Pass. The older son married Ann Reese, the youngest daughter of Captain John Reese, also a native of Tennessee, and the younger son married Ava Asbury, the daughter of C. M. Asbury.

Having had heavy responsibilities thrust upon him early in life, knowing what it meant to work early and late, enduring many privations Mr. James' sympathy and kindliness toward all who need a helping hand have won him the affectionate regard of his fellowmen and he is fortunate in living to see the fruits of his labors returning to him tenfold.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 715-716.

Templates in Time