JAMES S. COON, a pioneer of the Prairie State, has been a resident of Gridley Township over forty-five years. He was born near Crawfordsville, Ind., March 21, 1825, being the son of Adam and Eleanor (Dickason) Coon, natives of Pennsylvania and Virginia respectively. They removed in early youth to Ohio, where they were married, in Fayette County, in about 1811. Subsequently they came to Indiana, settling near what is now Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, where they lived until July, 1837, then coming to this State and county, settled first near Towanda, whence they afterward removed to Money Creek Township, and in the spring of 1841 to Gridley Township. Here they spent the remainder of their lives. Of their nine children, seven lived to mature years, these being Isaiah, Jonathan, Ruth, Michael, James S., Nancy J. and Margaret. Elbert and Henry died when quite young.

James S. Coon was but twelve years old when he came to this county. He remained under the home roof until he was twenty-five years of age, when he was married, and settled in Gridley Township and engaged in agricultural pursuits, which he has followed all his life. His farm consists of 180 acres of improved land, upon which he has erected a good set of frame buildings and has all the appliances of a progressive modern farmer.

He was married in Gridley Township, Feb. 14, 1850, to Miss Maria, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Wilcox) Young, who were natives of Ohio. They were reared and married in that State, and settled first in Fayette County, whence they removed to this State in the fall of 1832, and took up their abode in Money Creek Township, this county, where they passed the remainder of their lives. The father died in 1833. The mother afterward married John Thomas, by whom she had four children. Her death occurred in about 1847. Of her first marriage there were born three children. Mrs. Coon was born in Fayette County, Ohio, May 22, 1831.

Our subject and his wife became the parents of three children: Ambrose W. married Miss Catherine Sheppard, and they had four children, only one of whom survives, a daughter, Delia M., and the wife died in Gridley Township, June 7, 1884; Sarah E. is the wife of Wesley Lowery, and resides in Colorado, and she has four children—Isaac I., Mary M., Carrie E. and Ambrose W.; Frank died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. C. are devoted members of the Church of Christ.

Mr. and Mrs. Coon are known all over this section of the country as “Uncle Jim" and "Aunt Maria." Mrs. C. is a very expert carpet-weaver, in which she has been occupied for many years, and during that time has rolled up 1,000 yards a year, which present as handsome workmanship as is ordinarily found. Mr. Coon, during his earlier years was very fond of hunting, and in company with his brother, Michael, slaughtered scores of deer, wolves and various other kinds of game. They caught, one winter, eighteen wolves in steel traps, but finally abandoned the trap and pursued the wily rascals with greyhounds, after the country became so thickly settled that the game was nearly all captured or driven away. Being among the early settlers of the Prairie State, they were obliged to endure much privation and inconvenience, but they possessed that brave and courageous spirit for which the pioneers have ever been distinguished, and were ready for any emergency that might arise. For some years they were far from either market or mill, and even when the roads were good it took one week to make the trip to Chicago. Our subject and his wife have watched with unabated interest the progress and prosperity of this great Commonwealth, and have contributed their full share toward the industrial and agricultural interests of McLean County.

In politics our subject is a stanch Republican, and uniformly casts his vote in support of the principles of his party.

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), 735. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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