ISRAEL D. JANES, a wealthy and prosperous farmer of Danvers Township, has one of the finest homesteads in this
section, consisting of 310 acres, finely cultivated and tilled, furnished with a handsome and substantial set of
frame buildings, and stocked with good grades of domestic animals. He first opened his eyes to the light among
the New England hills, March 8, 1812, being born in Lebanon, New London Co., Conn., and is the son of Ezra and
Mary (Haynes) Janes. His father was born in Brimfield, Mass., in 1782, and the mother on Long Island, just two
weeks after her husband. Ezra Janes was a cooper by trade, and after his marriage, which occurred in 1810, he removed
to Connecticut, where he rented a farm, and for fourteen years following was engaged in cultivating it. He then
went to the State of New York and purchased 100 acres of choice land, in Genesee County, where he remained until
his death, which occurred March 7, 1869. The mother had died five years previously, in 1864. Their family included
five children, three sons and two daughters, of whom Israel of our sketch was the eldest born; Ryland married Miss
Salina Loomis; Ezra S. married Miss Margaret Kinney; Elizabeth became the wife of Leman Bishop; Mary died when
about twelve years old. The parents were both members of the Baptist Church, and politically Ezra Janes was formerly
a Whig, but later identified himself with the Republican party.
The Janes family trace their ancestors back to the twelfth century in England where they were, even at that early period, closely connected with the history and government of the Kingdom, and in all measures for the public good their influence was potential, as the following will indicate. The writer was shown an engraving of a coat of arms presented to the Janes family, and inscribed as follows: "Janes family coat of arms, given to Guido de Janes by Henry H. King of England, for distinguished military prowess and leading in three successful expeditions to the Holy Land, A. D. 1200." The first representative of the Janes family in America was William Janes, who, in company with Davenport and Eaton, established the colony of Connecticut. They came over a short time after the Massachusetts Colony, with which they were not fully satisfied, and went from there to Connecticut. The father of our subject served in the War of 1812. The family was noted for its enterprise and intelligence, and for the excellent influence its various members exerted in whatever community they chanced to reside.
Israel B. Janes [ed., name is as it appeared in original publication, in contrast to heading] remained under the parental roof until he had attained his majority, in the meantime receiving a good common-school education. Like all the young men of that period who were physically able, he was obliged to do military duty, and be enrolled in the State militia. On the first day of his attendance he was elected into the list of non-commissioned officers, and the third year received from Gov. Marcey, of New York, the commission of Captain, which he held until coming West. When about twenty-one years old he commenced learning the trade of a carpenter and cabinet-maker. He was a natural mechanic, and became very skillful in the use of tools. To this he added the study of architecture, in which he also became skilled, being possessed of a correct eye, in regard to symmetry of proportion. In 1838 he emigrated to Illinois and purchased eighty-eight acres of land in Danvers Township. This he soon doubled, and afterward added to until he became the owner of 1,000 acres. He disposed of a part of this, but kept for his homestead the 313 acres already mentioned. He was chief builder, architect and carpenter of his present residence, superintending it from the first, and doing much other work with his own hands. He hauled the logs which he sawed into lumber, and his taste and skill are apparent in the whole.
The wife of our subject was the daughter of Elizur and Olive M. (Dowd) Hinsdale, who were natives of Connecticut, whence they removed to New York State in 1822. Mr. H. was a skillful ax manufacturer, which business he followed all his life. He died in the latter-named State in 1871; the mother survived her husband only a short time. The children were Morris, Mary, Olive M. and Charlotte M., by the first wife; and by the second and third wives there were Harriett, Caroline, Eliza, William, Anna and Jane; one died in infancy unnamed.
Mrs. Olive M. Janes departed this life Jan. 31, 1883. She was a faithful and affectionate wife, and a sincere and earnest Christian, devoted to Church work and to the cause of temperance. She presented to the society in this place a fine organ, and otherwise contributed liberally and cheerfully to the support of the Church and Sunday-school. She was also greatly interested in the Missionary and Bible Societies, to which she gave much of her time and means. Her name is held in tender remembrance by her family and a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
Mr. Janes has been a prominent and useful member of the community since coming here. He is a straight Republican in politics, has held the office of School Director for a number of years, and organized the first Sunday-school in McLean County, which is still in operation. He was Superintendent of this school for a period of ten years, and fulfilled his duties in a manner reflecting great credit upon himself and those by whom he was retained in the office. He built at his own expense a handsome little chapel an annex to the church, 24x32 feet, furnished it with chairs, a handsome chandelier, etc. This, when completed, he gave to the society. On account of the pro-slavery sentiments of the pastor, Mr. Janes, with his wife and others, left the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, by letter, and in 1861 organized the Congregational Church of Danvers.
Mr. Janes has been a man of benevolent and philanthropic impulses, and among other good works is pledged to the Trustees of the Danvers Library Association for 11,000, to be kept as a permanent loanable fund, the yearly interest of which is to be used in keeping up the Library. A part of the sum is already in the hands of said Trustees, and the balance will be paid over as soon as the preliminaries can be arranged. It is also the intention of Mr. Janes to place in the Library, from his own private collection of books, over 100 selected volumes, which include the productions of some of the best minds of the age in this and other countries. An accompanying page is embellished with lithographic portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Janes.
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), 691. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.