JAMES HACKNEY. This gentleman, the present supervisor of Hilyard township, was born in New York city, December 18th, 1824. His ancestors were old residents of the state of New York. On his father's side they were from England, and on his mother's from Holland. His father, William Hackney, was born at New Scotland, New York, and married Margaret Keglor, who belonged to one of the old Holland-Dutch families which settled at an early date along the Hudson river. She was born in the city of Albany. James hackney was the fourth of a family of nine children. When he was about two years old his father removed from New York city to Troy, New York, where the family lived till 1836, when they came west, and the same year settled in Delhi, in Jersey county, Illinois. He never went to school except in the state of New York. He was twelve years old when he came to Illinois. No schools were in existence in the vicinity where his father settled, and his education has been obtained mostly by his own efforts.
When the Mexican war broke out in 1846 he was in his twenty-second year. In June of the first year of the war he enlisted in the 2d Illinois regiment, commanded by Colonel Bissel. He left Alton with his regiment for New Orleans, and thence proceeded by steamer across the Gulf of Mexico to Matagorda bay. The 2d Illinois at first formed a part of the army commanded by Gen. Wool, and was afterward commanded by Gen. Taylor. It was part of the force which marched triumphantly into the city of Mexico and took part in the battle of Buena Vista, 22d and 23d of February, 1847, and afterward stationed at Buena Vista, till his term of enlistment expired in June, 1847. He reached Illinois, on his return, about the 1st of July. He engaged in farming in Jersey county, where he lived till the spring of 1849, and then set out for California. Gold had been discovered the preceding summer. The news reached Illinois in the fall of 1848, and Mr. Hackney decided without hesitation to try his fortune in the new gold region, concerning the richness of which such fabulous reports were given. The expedition of which he was a member, numbering about sixty, left Illinois in the month of April, 1849, and crossed the Missouri river at St. Joseph on the 1st of May. At that early date no well marked road across the plains and mountains had yet been established, and the expedition pushed its way on to the Pacific as best it could. His brother, Joseph B. Hackney, was with him on this expedition. The famous gold country was reached in the month of September, 1849, and as soon as possible he went to work at mining. He was at work on the Stanislaus river the succeeding fall and winter, and at Downeyville on the Yuba river the spring and summer of 1850. He was successful; saved some money, and in December, 1850, returned to Illinois by way of the Isthmus of Panama and New Orleans, well satisfied to settled down in life, and thereafter devote his attention to the quiet pursuit of agriculture.
On the 21st of February, 1851, he married Amelia Britton, of Lee county. He had purchased a short time previous, in partnership with his brother, the land which comprises his present farm in section twenty-five of Hilyard township, and after his marriage moved on it, began to improve it, and has been farming there ever since. The death of his first wife occurred in January, 1868. He married Mary J. Vandeventer in July, 1870; she died in October, 1873. He has had ten children, of whom even are now living. The oldest is William Hackney; James, the next, died in August, 1856; John is residing in McLean county; the next children are Joseph, Edward, and Stephen, Mary, who died in infancy, and Thomas, whose home is with Mr. Hackney's sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Brown, in McLean county. Amelia May and a deceased infant are children by his second marriage.
In politics Mr. Hackney has always been a democrat. He was elected a member of the Board of Supervisors from Hilyard township in the spring of 1879, and has creditably filled that office. He is an enterprising farmer, and a good citizen. His father died at Brighton in November, 1877, at the age of eighty-seven; and his mother, who was born at Albany, New York, in 1794, is still living in Brighton township.