In this section of the country, teeming with successful farmers and orchardists, one of the foremost places should be given to James Edward Venerable. Starting out in life with the great handicap of orphanhood, he has now reached the place where he holds the distinction of being the largest shipper of fruits and vegetables in the Cobden district. This splendid rise is the result of his own courage and determination, strengthened by the fight against adverse conditions. The respect with which he is regarded in the community is sufficient proof that his struggle for success has not only resulted in a fine business, but also in a strong and upright character.

Mr. Venerable was born at Metropolis, Illinois, on the 18th of April, 1858, being the only child of Benjamin and Eliza (Crittenden) Venerable. His father was a native of the Blue Grass state, who had been attracted by the rich farm lands of Southern Illinois and had migrated to this section before the Civil war. But this peaceful life was not to last, for when the Civil war broke out the farmer dropped his plow, enlisted in a cavalry regiment and served through a large part of the war in the Union army. He fell at last in a skirmish with the guerillas. He and his wife had left by death the young boy, James, adrift on the world when but eighteen months old.

During his youth the lad was a welcome inmate in the homes of three families, but he always considered that of Mrs. Betsy Lamer, in Union county, his real abiding place. Until he became of age the boy worked for various farmers, thus serving his apprenticeship and gaining the practical experience which was to serve him in such good stead during his later life. By frugality and stern self denial he saved sufficient money to buy his present home farm of forty acres. He immediately followed the trend of the times into specialization, devoting his time to tomatoes, so successfully that he was able to increase his acreage to its present size of two hundred and seventy acres. This land is planted with seventeen hundred apple trees, three thousand peach trees, twenty-five hundred pears, and the remainder of the farm in a valuable diversified crop, which includes asparagus and rhubarb. In 1911 the apple trees produced a rather poor crop, which he sold for five thousand dollars, but the peach crop was very fine, bringing him three dollars a bushel, the total being between eight and ten thousand dollars. At one time he also grew sweet potatoes in large quantities, but now he does not raise any for the market.

Mr. Venerable believes strongly in fraternalism, his affiliation being with the Ancient Masonic order, Cobden Lodge, No. 446, Chapter No. 46, at Anna, and he also has the honor of being a Knight Templar of Cairo Commandery, No. 13. He has always stood for the principles of true sportsmanship, and his own healthful out of doors life has caused him to wish to give his friends an opportunity to possess some of its benefits. To this end he founded the Cobden Gun Club, further displaying his altruistic spirit by buying and developing the land which the club now owns. Although many fine shots have become members of the club since its beginning, his reputation as one of the best marksmen still remains undisputed.

In 1881 Mr. Venerable was married to Nancy Elizabeth Randleman, the daughter of Martin and Clara (Lamer) Randleman. Four children were born to them: Iva, James Earl, Willis and Herbert Wallace.

Starting as a farm laborer at fourteen dollars a month, going into debt for his first farm, and sturdily bearing this double load until he had paid off his indebtedness, his courage and perseverance make him a figure whom the young men of his community might well use as a model.

Extracted 13 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 3, pages 1122-1123.

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