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Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 472-473.

JAMES P. PAXTON, a retired farmer of Eola, Ill., is a native of Fountain County, Ind. He was born in the year 1831, and is the youngest of twelve children. His parents, Thompson and Cynthia (Potts) Paxton, were natives of North Carolina. Thompson Paxton was born January 23, 1783; his wife, Cynthia Potts, January 16, 1790. They were married March 6, 1816. Four years before their marriage Mr. Paxton served as a soldier under Gen. Jackson, in the war with the Creek Indians. A brother, Col. James Paxton, served as a soldier, and died in the battle of New Orleans.

Soon after the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Paxton, they moved north to Maury County, Tenn. Here he worked a small farm in connection with the cabinet-shop which he owned.

Having made a good beginning in life, and desiring to get as far away from slavery as possible, he determined to push his way still further north; so in 1830, he and his family moved to Fountain County, Ind., and there carried on farming on a larger scale until 1834, when he went to DuPage County (at that time included in Cook County) Ill., and there made a claim to a tract of land, probably over six hundred acres, and the next year brought his wife and children and settled at this place, with a log cabin for their first palatial residence in Illinois. In a few years he built a substantial frame house. In 1874 his son, James P., moved this structure off, and erected a larger frame house of modern design.

Thompson Paxton was Colonizationist in his views on the negro question, and also a strong Abolitionist. He was the only man in Cook County that voted for James G. Birney, the anti-slavery candidate. Mr. Paxton kept a station of the famous Underground Railroad, and frequently assisted in effecting the escape of slaves. His house was a place of public worship, and for years was open every Sunday for Sunday-school. The first Congregationalist Church of Batavia was organized at his home, although he was a strict Presbyterian until his latter days, when he united with the Christian Church of Batavia.

Mrs. Paxton died March 19, 1853, and from that time on till his death, September 12, 1859, Mr. Paxton made his home with his youngest son, James.

Our subject was reared on his present farm, and received a common-school education. At the age of nineteen he took charge of the homestead, and has managed it ever since. His father deeded him one hundred and eighty acres of land, and after his death James paid the other heirs a sum of money for their interest in the homestead. Since then he has bought about two hundred acres more. He deeded a portion of his farm to his eldest son, and now owns about two hundred and sixty-five acres, located six miles northeast of Aurora.

Mr. Paxton has been thrice married. His present wife was Miss Nettie M. Olmsted, a native of Canada. She moved with her parents to Kendall County, Ill., in 1856. They were married in Aurora, March 26, 1868. By the first marriage there is one child living, Frederick E. By the present marriage there are four children: Nellie L., wife of L. S. Hill; Edward S., Jae E. and Roy N.

Mr. Paxton is a Republican in politics, and has served as Assessor and School Director. He belongs to the Big Woods Church of Christ, which is undenominational in principle, but Congregational in form. His first wife, Emeline McFarren, was a native of Whitehall, N. Y., and came to DuPage County with her parents. They lived in Bloomingdale Township. She was married July 5, 1856, and died October 31, 1859.


– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on May 27, 2007.


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