Biography - James H. Downs

JAMES H. DOWNS, a prosperous farmer residing on section 18, Ridge Township, Shelby County, is a son of Elections Downs, who was born in Virginia, October 13, 1803, and afterward removed to Maryland thence to Ohio from there, to Illinois, where the grandfather, Daniel, died at the home of Elections in Ridge Township. The mother of our subject was in her maidenhood known as Mary Ann Stiffler, and was born in Washington County, Md., October 26, 1800, and after becoming the wife of Elections Downs resided for a short time in Hagerstown, that state, and then removed to Delaware County, Ohio. This couple remained in the Buckeye State until 1845, when they emigrated to Shelby County, Ill., and settled in Ridge Township, which they made their home until called away by death he on August 18, 1873 and she died July 29, 1881.

The subject of this sketch was the seventh in a family of eight children, and was born in Delaware County, Ohio, May 4, 1837, being thus about eight years old when he came with his parents to Shelby County, since which time Ridge Township has been his home. He had thorough training in the duties of a farmer-boy and has always followed agricultural pursuits and stock-raising. The schools of this county, which he attended were as good as any country schools of that day, and were carried on mostly by subscription. The boy was industrious and attentive to school duty and made a good start in this direction which has ever served him in good stead through life.

James Downs was married in Ridge Township, March 22, 1860, to Miss Jane Oller, a daughter of William and Eliza J. (Johnson) Oller. Her father was born in Virginia, May 5, 1818, and her mother, in Chambersburg, Pa., and is living in Shelbyville, Ill.; her birth occurred September 12, 1821 and they came to Shelby County, about 1840, settling in Ridge Township, which they made their permanent home, and where Mr. Oller died, July 31, 1874.

Mrs. Jane Downs was born in Ridge Township, February 15, 1845 and here her married life has been spent. Mr. Downs now owns nearly one thousand acres and has erected a valuable brick house which has delightful surroundings and he has placed other excellent buildings upon his farm.

Mr. and Mrs. Downs are the parents of four children: Jennie, the wife of Dr. A. P. Rockey, of Assumption, Ill., who is the mother of one child Stella, born May 18, 1886; William E., who died in infancy; Dora A., now the wife of John J. Smith, of Ridge Township and Ora B.

Mr. Downs has filled the office of Highway Commissioner for about six years and in politics inclines to the doctrines set forth by the Democratic party, yet is independent in regard to his vote, aiming to cast it always for the best good of the community and to help in placing in office the best man for the place. Besides the valuable property owned by Mr. Downs in Shelby County, he is interested in a coal mine at Assumption and has twenty fine building lots at Decatur, Ill. He has a good residence and excellent surroundings in every way and his wealth is the result of his energy, enterprise and integrity.

Extracted 13 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 424-425.

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