JAMES F. NIFONG. Among the influential and public spirited men residing in North Palmyra Township, we are pleased to call the attention of our readers to the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this sketch. His father, Jacob Nifong, was of Southern birth, being born in either Virginia or North Carolina, while the mother, Letey Simms, was a native of either Tennessee or Kentucky. Their marriage took place in Madison County, Mo., in October, 1825, and they emigrated thence to Illinois and settled upon section 7, North Palmyra Township, in the year 1828, where Jacob Nifong died February 2, 1844.
The mother of James Nifong was married a second time to James Patton, of Sangamon County, Ill., where she died in 1856. The parents of our subject had nine children, only three of whom lived to years of maturity. James was born in Madison County, Mo., August 14, 1828. He grew to manhood in North Palmyra Township, which has always been his home with the exception of seven years, when he lived in Palmyra village, being engaged in the mercantile business in company with D. N. Solomon under the firm name of Solomon & Nifong. These two gentlemen platted the village of Palmyra and gave it its name.
When Mr. Nifong was a young man he learned the wagon maker's trade of his father and worked at it one year in Waverly, Ill. He also took up carpentry, although agriculture has been his chief pursuit through life. The first marriage of our subject occurred January 9, 1849, in South Palmyra Township. He was then united with Miss Zilpha A. Solomon, a daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Prowse) Solomon. This lady was born in Morgan County, Ill., October 28, 1829, and became the mother of nine children, three now deceased. The surviving ones are as follows: Jennie who is now the wife of John J. Wright, of Virden: Lewallyn J. who died when nearly twenty-eight years old; William A. married Ella Rohrer who is now deceased; Henry F. took to wife Ida Malone; Allison H., whose wife bore the maiden name of Mabel Baker; Leroy M., married Millie Fletcher and Clarence O., who is still at home. These children have all grown up to be an honor and delight to their father who finds in their beautiful affection and upright lives a cheer and comfort in his declining days. Their mother passed from earth in Palmyra Township, September 11, 1886.
The second marriage of our subject took place in Scottville Township, July 17, 1889, his bride being Lydia A. Coons, daughter of Joseph and Sophia (McCullough) Coons, who was born in Scottville Township, Macoupin County, June 28, 1850. Mr. Nifong is the owner of two hundred and forty rich and productive acres in North Palmyra Township and upon this farm are to be found as comfortable and commodious buildings as may be seen in the township. He owned at one time some eight hundred acres but has given away the most of his land to his children. His wealth has been accumulated through his own energy, enterprise and industry, as he began life by working out by the month, part of the time for the wages of $6 and $9 per month. His first farm was a rented one and his economy and industry have brought to him the fine property which he has owned. He was the first Township Clerk in North Palmyra Township after its organization and has acted as Trustee and School Treasurer. He is decidedly independent in his politics but is greatly inclined to aid all efforts in the line of prohibition. The Church of Christ is the religious body with which Mr. Nifong and his excellent wife are connected. He takes a deep interest in the welfare of the farming community and is a prominent member of the Grange, with which he has been connected for twenty years and two which he looks for help for the farmers, both socially and intellectually.