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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JAMES QUITMAN BISHOP, a former resident of section 10, Empire Township, was born in a log cabin on the farm which he now owns and occupies, Nov. 24, 1848. His father, James Bishop, one of the pioneers of McLean County, was born in Fauquier County, Va., April 3, 1806.

The Bishops from whom he descended came to the colonies from England with William Penn and belonged to the Society of Friends. In the fall of 1809 they removed to the Territory of Ohio and located within the bounds of what is now Clarke County [ed., Clark County, Ohio]. There James Bishop received his early education and remained with his parents until some years after he had attained his majority.

In the spring of 1831 he set his face for the farther West, coming as far as La Fayette, Ind., and thence to Ft. Clark, now Peoria, also to Pekin, whence he went down the Mississippi Bottoms, where he purchased cattle and returned to Ohio. He then returned to the West, but visited Ohio every year until he was married.

This interesting event occurred on the 9th of March, 1837, the lady of his choice being Miss Margaret Cannaday. They became the parents of five children, as follows: Caroline, born June 26, 1838, became the wife of Thomas Campbell, of Old Town; John Allen was born May 3, 1840, and lives half a mile west of his father's old homestead; Emily was born Aug. 30, 1843, and became the wife of William Evans, now deceased; Rachel was born May 23, 1846, and married Nathaniel Beckman; they live on a farm in West Township; James Quitman was born Nov. 24, 1848, the day when Gen. Scott captured the city of Mexico and made Gen. Quitman [ed., Brig. Gen. John A. Quitman] the Governor thereof.

The experiences of James Bishop during the first years of his residence in the Prairie State, were very interesting, oftentimes pathetic and frequently ridiculous. The pleasures of the early pioneers were of the simplest kind, but it is probable that they reaped fully as much enjoyment and amusement as do the people of today with their more costly recreations. The settlers had their wolf hunts, their bear hunts, Indian hunts and prairie fires, and these served to beguile many days and hours that perhaps otherwise would have been unbearably tedious.

Our subject was reared amid these stirring scenes, and thus became instilled with those sturdy and self-reliant qualities for which the earlier settlers of the great West were so eminently distinguished, and which was necessary to aid them in overcoming the difficulties which beset their path. James Bishop accumulated a fortune by farming and buying and selling cattle, and was at one time said to be the wealthiest man in Empire Township.

James Q. Bishop was reared on his father's farm and attended the district school, receiving a fair education. He remained under the home roof until his marriage, and then purchased land in West Township, where he located and lived until 1877. Then, after his father's death, which occurred in 1877, he returned to the old homestead upon which he has since resided. It includes now about 700 acres of land, and upon it is a fine set of farm buildings, all kept in good repair. The farm is well stocked with high grade cattle, horses and hogs, and the farm implements and machinery are of the most valuable and efficient character. The Bishop farm is familiarly known throughout McLean County, and forms one of the most attractive homesteads within its limits.

The subject of this history was married, Feb. 16, 1873, to Miss Martha J. Powell, of Pennsylvania. The young wife died within less than a year of her marriage.

For his second wife Mr. Bishop married Miss Margaret V. Powell, the sister of his first wife, Nov. 11, 1875. This lady was also born in Pennsylvania, and by her marriage with our subject became the mother of four children Minor, Clinton M., James Q. and Margaret E. Our subject and his family in their home life enjoy all the comforts and luxuries which wealth affords. Mr. Bishop manages the pasture land of his farm, and looks after the stock, while the balance is leased to tenants.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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