COMPTON, James H. & Wortman

Biography of James H. COMPTON (brother of Wortman COMPTON)
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 746-749

James H. COMPTON, a successful dealer in all kinds of carriages, buggies, harness, farm implements, farm machinery, etc., and one of the popular and most successful business men this city, has been a resident of Rockford [Winnebago County, IL] since 1881, but has been engaged in business on his own account only since Jan 1890.  He is located at No. 517 West State Street, and has gained an enviable reputation as a successful business man.   From the time he first came to the city he has been engaged in his present business, but for nine years of the time he was with Matthew HARVEY, at the stand he now occcupies, three years of that time.  Mr. COMPTON's object now is to carry a fine and high grade of carriages to satisfy the demands of the best trade.

Our subject came to IL in May 1852, and resided in Rockford for one year.  Since then he has made his home in Winnebago County and was engaged in business as a mechanic and contractor for some time.  After this agricultural pursuits occupied his attention in Winnebago and Ogle County for 18 years, and his reputation as a hard working, industrious man is well known.  Since his residence here he has been identified with the business interests of this city, and the enterprise he has established is second to none in its line, and he may well feel a justifiable pride in it.

Born in Somerset County, NJ, our subject there grew to manhood and learned the trade of a carpenter and joiner, which he followed for seven years before coming West.  He came of New England stock, and was the son of Reuben COMPTON, who was also a native of NJ, born in 1798.  The elder Mr. COMPTON followed agricultural pursuits all his life, and remained in his native State until 1853, when he decided to move West.  He came to Winnebago County, IL, settled on a partially improved farm in Owen Township, and made many decided improvements in the same.  He passed the remainder of his life on this, and died when over 80 years of age.  The companion of his joys and sorrows remained a few years on the old home place and then too passed away, being also over 80 years of age.   She had been formerly Miss Elizabeth POLSON, a native of NJ, and her ancestors came from Holland, the original stock being members of the old, or regular, Baptist Church.   They were the parents of 10 children, four sons and one daughter now living.   Two of the sons, John and Saul [Samuel?], were soldiers in the Rebellion, serving in the 74th IL Regiment.  The latter was killed in battle while bravely bearing his National colors.  He had married, and by his death left a sorrowing wife and two little children who are still living.  John was wounded at the battle of Ft. Donelson, and died soon afterward; he was single.  [The following biography of Wortman COMPTON notes that John was a member of the 15th IL Infantry, was wounded at Pittsburg Landing, and from his wounds at the hospital at St. Louis.]  Both were loyal and brave boys and are now numbered with the thousands of other brave lads who gave up their lives for their country.

In Somerset County, NJ, in 1847, our subject married Miss Hester A. VANDERCOOK, who was born and reared in NJ, but in a county adjoining Somerset [five counties adjoin Somerset].   She came of Dutch ancestors as the name indicates, and of NJ parentage.  Her father, Henry VANDERCOOK, was accidentally drowned when in the prime of life, while trying to save the life of another.  His friend's life was saved, but he himself was drowned.  His wife, whose maiden name was Lydia WHALE, having moved to IL in 1860, afterward married a Mr. C. VAN DYKE, and both are now deceased [p 749], the latter dying when 84 years of age and the former when 77 years of age.  They were the parents of three children, and after the death of her father, Mrs. COMPTON was reared by her mother and stepfather, remaining with them until her marriage.  She is a very intelligent and amiable lady.

In his poltical views, Mr. COMPTON advocates the principles of the Republican party, and in religion Mr. and Mrs. COMPTON are members of the Court Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and both liberal contributors to the same.  They have been blessed in their union by the birth of five children, one, Reuben, being now deceased.  Those living are:  (1)  Henry, a foreman in the Emerson-Talcott Manufacturing Company, married Miss Mary FORSYTH, of Rockford; (2)  Nathan assists his father in the business and resides at home; (3)  Ella, the wife of Robert McAVOY, an attorney of the firm of Frost & McAvoy; and (4)  Nellie, at home.

Biography of Wortman COMPTON (brother of James H.)
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 1157-1158

In the history of our late war, the name of our subject will be found as not having borne an unimportant part.  He enlisted 09 Aug 1862, for three years service in Company D, 74th IL Infantry, and remained with his regiment until the close of the war.  He is at the present time living in the city of Rockford, successfully engaged at his trade of a carpenter and joiner.

Burrnett Township, Somerset County, NJ, was the native place of our subject, his birth occurring 27 Jul 1830, he being the son of Reuben COMPTON, also a native of NJ, where James COMPTON, the grandfather, was born.  The latter-named gentleman was a farmer by calling, and spent his entire life on a farm in Burnett Township.  The father of our subject bought the old homestead, upon which he resided until 1857, when he sold it and came to Winnebago County [IL], purchasing a tract of land in Owen Township, on which was a small house and a few acres broken.  He placed the entire farm under good tillage, and made his home upon it until 1875, when his decease occurred.  His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth  (POWELLSON) COMPTON, was also a native of Someset County, NJ, and was the daughter of John POWELLSON.  She died on the old farm in Owen Township, in 1884, having become the mother of six sons and one daughter:  Nathan, James, Mary, Wortman, Henry, Samuel, and John.

Samuel [Saul in the preceding biography?] COMPTON, a brother of our subject, served as a member of Company D, 74th IL Infantry, and was killed in the battle of Missionary Ridge, where he was color bearer.  John was wounded at Pittsburg Landing, being a member of the 15th IL Infantry, and died from the result of his wounds at the hospital at St. Louis.   Our subject participated in many of the important battles of that period, being present at Stone River, and was with Sherman on his Atlanta campaign, engaging in the various battles of that memorable march, including the siege and capture of Atlanta.   After the fall of that city, he was under the command of Thomas in pursuit of the Rebel Genral Hood, and thus fought at the battles of Franklin and Nashville.  In the charge at Kenesaw Mountain, Mr. COMPTON's gun was broken in his hand, in consequence of which he was slightly wounded by a splinter, but with one other exception entirely escaped the fate of many a poor soldier.  At another time, while the command were sleeping on the ground without even the shelter of a tent, one of the horses broke loose and ran over Mr. COMPTON, giving him a severe scalp wound.  He received his honorable discharge in KY, in Jun 1865, and, returning home, resumed his trade of a carpenter.

Our subject was reared in his native State [NJ], and when 18 years of age learned the trade of a carpenter, serving as a journeyman for two years, and in 1855 came to IL, and purchased 25 acres of land in Harrison Township, Winnebago County, where he worked at his trade until entering the army.  In 1868, however, he sold that farm and purchased the old homestead in Owen Township, on which he erected a good set of frame buildings, and otherwise improved the farm, on which he resided until 1886, which was the date of his coming to Rockford.

In Nov 1852, Mr. COMPTON was married to Mary VANDERHOOF, a native of Somerset County, NJ, and a daughter of Henry VANDERHOOF, who, as far as is known, was also born in NJ.  He died when Mrs. COMPTON was 14 months old.  The maiden name of her mother was Rachael VAIL; her birth occurred in Somerset County, NJ.  On the death of Mr. VANDERHOOF, she was married to Cornelius VANDYKE, a partriot in the War of 1812.  They came to IL in 1860, settling in Winnebago County, where the mother died at the home of Mrs. COMPTON.

To our subject and his wife have been born two [p 1158] children, Agnes and Whitefield.   The daughter is the wife of Archibald ARMSTRONG, to whom have been born two children, Charles E. and Mary L.  Whitefield married Nellie JOHNSON, and is the father of four children:  Maud B., Mabel C., John W., and James H.  Mr. and Mrs. COMPTON are members of the Court Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and our subject being a Grand Army man [member of the G. A. R.] , is connected with Nevius Post No. 1.  In politics he is a Republican.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.