Lee County Biography

James H. Preston
Amboy Township


The Amboy News, of which this gentleman is publisher and proprietor, is justly considered one of the brightest and most sparkling local papers of this county. A six-column quarto, it chronicles the latest and most interesting happenings in the social, business and political world. SInce its purchase by MR. Preston in 1884,it has grown rapidly in influence and is now a welcome guest in many homes.

Mr. Preston is numbered among the early settlers of this county, whither he came in 1854, settling on 160 acres of Government land June 22. He was born in Rochester, NY June 3, 1820 and is the son of James and Mary (Gorham) Preston, both natives of Ft. Ann, NY. The maternal ancestors of our subject resided at Nantucket and were searfaring people, who engaged in whaling. The paternal grandfather who bore the name of Othniel Preston, was of Irish parentage and resided in NY where he pursued faring. In the Revolutionary War he enlisted as a soldier and fought in defense of the colonies. His death occurred at the age of 92 years.

James Preston, father of our subject, passed his entire life in NY and pursued farming first in Monroe County, then Steuben County and there died at the age of 56 years. He was a soldier of the War of 1812. His wife survived him until the age of 62. Three sons and three daughters came to bless their home, our subject being the eslest of the sons. He passed his early life on a farm and received a common school education, which he mde use of by teaching at $12 per month and board. In1845, when ready to establish a home of his own, he was married to Miss Nancy A. Maydole a native of NY.

For nine years following their marriage they continued to reside in Steuben County , where he engaged in farming, aslo as hotel-keeper and Postmaster at Haskinsville. In 1854 he came to IL and pre-empted 160 acres of land in Lee County. Between the years 1855 - 1857 he was interested in a union store at Amboy, and later engaged in farming until 1879 when he removed to Amboy. In his politics he was a firm Republican and servedin various official positions, among them Assessor, Justice of the peace and County Superintendent of Schools. To the later position he was elected in 1865, holding the office twelve years by election and one by appointment. WHile holding that position he removed to Amboy in 1879 and has here since resided.

At the expiration of his term of service as county Superintendent, MR. Preston traveled one year as salesman, and in 1884 purchased the Amboy News, which he still owns. In his political affiliations he was a Whig in former years but later became a Republican and is now somewhat independent in his belief. Since the campaign of 1844 he has voted at every election and during all those years has exerted a great influence for good. In his social relations he is a member of the Masons and the oldest member of IL Central Lodge No 178, A.F. & A.M. He was also a charter member of the first lodge at Amboy, I.O.O.F.

The marriage of our subject and his estimable wife has been blessed with four children - albert W who was killed by a bukl when 30 years of age; Frances a teacher ofunexceptional ability and engaged in her profession at the State Normal, died May 4, 1880; Addie the wife of William F. Wolcott and Charles a lawyer at Paw Paw. Mr. and Mrs. Preston adopted a girl, wom hey have named Bertie and who received from them every care and attention which has been bestowed upon their own children.

Source: Portraits & Biographical Lee County 1892 Pg 674

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