Biography - James Boys

JAMES BOYS. The name at the head of our sketch is that of a highly respected and honored man who has watched the growth of this State for many wars, having settled hereon section 26, of Ridge Township, Shelby County, in L836. He was born in Durbin County, Ind., June 26, 1827, and is a son of Alexander and Virginia (Bradley) Boys, natives respectively of Ohio and Virginia. They began life together as pioneers in Ohio, thence removed to Indiana, casting their lot with other pioneers in the Hoosier State, and in 1833 they removed to Illinois, locating in Vermillion County.

After three years spent by our subject's parents in improving alarm in Vermilion County, they came to Shelby County and entered some land in Okaw Township, again casting their lot with pioneer settlers. The father passed his remaining years in Shelby County and died in January, 1881, his wife having passed away two days previous to his own demise. The old people were interred at the same time and in one grave, and thus they were together in death as they had been for so many years in life. Our subject's father was the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of land, much of which he cultivated, and which, at the time of his death, was well improved. Both he and his wife were for many years ardent members of the Methodist Church.

The original of our sketch is one of thirteen children, ten of whom lived to maturity; of these, our subject is the eldest. The others are: Mary, John W., Sarah, George W., Lyda, Elizabeth, William, Bonaparte and Charlie. Of these, Mary became the wife of Henry J. Bowen and resides in Shelbvville; John W. died in Okaw Township, a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855; Sarah married James Hillsbach and resides in Stewardson; George W. lives in Ridge Township. Lyda married Henry Hougtbough. Elizabeth became the wife of E. Hager. After becoming a widow she married Thomas Blackstone. Willliam died of typhoid fever when a young man. Bonaparte, like his brother John, and in the same year, was a victim of cholera, as was also his younger brother Charlie.

Mr. Boys was reared on his father's farm and early learned the duties incident to a farmer's life. He received the educational advantages to lie had in the district schools, having attended the fi ret school taught in Okaw Township. The teacher was Peter Parker, a man who was highly respected by all as much tor his manliness as for his superiority in an intellectual way. When a young man the monotony of farm life was broken for our subject by trips made to markets and mill. For the former he went to St. Louis and Alton and carried his corn to Springfield to he ground.

October 15, 1849, Mr. Hoys was united in marriage with Sarah Hardy, a daughter of Thomas Hardy, of whom a sketch may he found under that of William Hardy, in another part of this volume. She was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, and October 7, 1827, was her natal day. After marriage Mr. Boys purchased land which is now within the limits of Shelbyville. Two years later he settled where he now resides, having purchased there eighty acres, and adding to it forty acres of timber land. He is now the owner of over eight hundred acres of land, five hundred acres of which is in one body and included in the farm whereon he resides. All of Mr. Boys' land he has accumulated by his own efforts. At the time of his marriage he had only a horse and a cow with which to set up housekeeping. His wife was the proud owner of a bed, and with $10 they commenced the serious business of life together. Doubtless they were as happy, however, when with youth and vigor they started out together with love and confidence in each other's ability, as when years after, they could count their dollars by the thousands.

Our subject has now retired from active agricultural pursuits, renting his land and living the delightful life of a retired country gentleman. He and his wife are the parents of nine children, three of whom died young. One, Alexander, died November 25, 1834, at the age of thirty years, leaving a widow and four children. The five children still living are: John W., Mary J., James M., Thomas IH. and Charles F. Mary J. is the wife of Robert Weekly.

The breadth of platform of the Democratic party is that which appeals most directly to Mr. Boys' political intelligence, and with it he has cast his influence and vote for many years. He has held the office of Road Commissioner and School Director, and although frequently havings been urged to accept office, he fell that loyalty to his party did not necessitate the relinquishing of his private business for the duties of public office. He has, however, ever been held in high esteem by his fellows townsmen. His ability in a business way has been seconded by a native good sense and practical view of affairs that rarely allows of a mistake in judgment or action on his part. Mr. and Mrs. Boys are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and our subject was one of the largest contributors toward the erection of a church near his home. Although having reached the age when many people lose their sympathy with youth and joyousness, and life seems but a threadbare garment to he worn but a short time, our subject and his amiable wife have mellowed until the kindly geniality of their natures lends a charm that is fascinating to each day of the serenity of their lives.

Extracted 17 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 645-646.

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