genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
JAMES PARKER WALKER, who after a successful career is now living a retired life in Taylorville, was born near Almira, in Tioga County, N. Y., July 23, 1828, and is a son of Daniel E. and Rachel (Miller) Walker, the former a native of New Jersey, and the latter of Pennsylvania. In 1835, the family removed to Champaign County, Ohio, and in 1839 came to Illinois, locating in Springfield. The father was a farmer and stock-raiser. In 1847 he came with his family to Christian County, and settled in Greenwood Township, where he secured eight hundred and eighty acres of land, of which only sixty acres had been improved, paying $1.25, $5 and $10 per acre. He also obtained a part of it on land warrants, and the cost of that was about ninety-two cents per acre. Here he carried on farming until 1862, when he went to Montgomery County, and there carried on agricultural pursuits.

His death occurred February 14, 1882, in his eighty-third year. He had improved the greater part of his land, was an extensive farmer, and became quite wealthy. For a number of years before his death he lived retired. His wife passed away in 1872, at the age of seventy-six years. Their family numbered eight children, five of whom are now living. Charlotte, widow of George Compton, is living in Christian County; two members of the family reside in Montgomery County; and one brother is living in Texas.

The first seven years of his life our subject spent in the State of his nativity, and then accompanied his parents to Ohio. He was a lad of eleven years at the time of the removal to Illinois. Upon the home farm he remained, and to his father gave the benefit of his services, until nineteen years of age, when he left the parental roof, and became overseer on a farm six miles south of Springfield, receiving from $12 to $20 per month for his services.

In connection with his brother William, he then began improving Congress land, as he had not enough money to enter land from the Government. He soon, however, managed to purchase a land warrant of one hundred and sixty acres for $150, and thus secured a farm. Upon it he built a cabin and with his brother kept "bachelors' hall." They lived in primitive style in this rude and hastily constructed log cabin, their table being a dry-goods box, and their chairs rude benches. They did their cooking at a fire place.

He again entered land, in 1851 and 1852, in Johnson and Greenwood Townships, and devoted his energies to its cultivation during the summer months, and also engaged in breaking prairie for $2.50 per acre, his team being made up of five yoke of oxen. In winter he would purchase hogs and drive them to the St. Louis market. In this way he secured money with which he purchased land warrants, and in time he and his brother became owners of six hundred acres.

On the 14th of March, 1854, Mr. Walker wedded Nancy, daughter of John and Margaret (Randall) Bowman, who had settled in Johnson Township in 1852. Unto them were born two sons: Joshua Bowman, who is book-keeper for the First National Bank, of Taylorville; and Charles Henry, who is at the head of a large publishing house in Houston, Tex.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker began their domestic life upon the farm, the young husband devoting himself to the improvement of his land, while the wife cared for the household. He grew corn, wheat and oats exclusively for a few years, and then began feeding and shipping cattle and hogs, which business he carried on until 1870. During the three last years of the war, especially, he had an extensive and profitable trade in that line.

In 1870, he left his farm, removing to Pana, where for three years he engaged in the grocery business under the firm name of Walker & Vandeveer. They had two stores in that place and did an extensive business.

After disposing of his interest, Mr. Walker engaged in stock-dealing for two years in connection with Messrs. Miller & Abel, owning two farms near Pana. He then embarked in the dry-goods business with his old partner of the grocery trade. They carried a stock of $23,000, and from the beginning they enjoyed a liberal patronage, which yielded them excellent returns.

Again he sold out after three years, and for two years dealt in stock with his former partners, Messrs. Miller and Abel. In 1881 he began dealing in real estate. The following year he disposed of all his business interests in Pana, including a bank, with which he had been associated and which had proven quite a successful venture, and came to Taylorville, where a year later he opened a grocery store, which he carried on for three years, his son Joshua being his partner.

The firm of Walker & Son also carried on a marble-yard for eighteen months. To quite an extent our subject has dealt in real estate all along his business life, and he still owns three hundred acres of land, a part of which he had entered from the Government at a cost of about ninety-two cents per acre. He holds the reputation of a careful, shrewd financier, and no man in the county stands higher among business associates.

In politics, Mr. Walker and his sons are Democrats. For forty-three years he has been a faithful and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has served as Trustee and in other official positions. He has been active in raising money for the building of a new church in Taylorville, and does all in his power for the cause of Christianity.

The cause of temperance finds in him a true friend, and socially he is connected with the Masonic fraternity and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Mr. Walker may truly be called a self-made man, for he started out in life without a cent, and all that he has acquired has been gained through his own efforts. He carries forward to a successful completion whatever he undertakes, and his prosperity is the just reward of his labors. He is numbered among Christian County's representative and honored citizens.



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