JAMES R. GRAHAM, the owner of five hundred and seventy acres of rich farming land in Illinois, two hundred and forty acres being comprised within his home farm on section 35, Sugar Grove precinct, township 18, and one hundred and sixty-four acres on section 3, township 18, Sugar Grove precinct, was born in County Westmeath, Ireland, October 3, 1842, his parents being William and Ann Graham. The father came to the new world in April, 1851, settling in New Jersey, but his death occurred in July of the same year. His wife died in Ireland in 1844. He left a family consisting of two sons and three daughters. Those now living are James R.; John C., a resident of Logan county; Mrs. Annie Haines, of Menard county; and Mrs. Lucy Downes, a resident of Iowa.
James R. Graham was a little lad of eight years when brought by his father to the new world and at his father's death he was bound out to Dr. Jacob Fisler for a term of eleven years, beginning in 1851. His sister Annie was bound out at the same time for a term of eight years. They found in the Doctor a good friend and Mr. Graham remained with him until March, 1867, when believing that he would have better opportunities for business advancement in the middle west he came to Menard county, arriving on the 15th of that month. He joined his brother John C. in a partnership, which was continued for twelve years. In the fall of 1867 they purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land and in 1877 they bought forty acres. Later James R. Graham purchased his brother's interest in August, 1879, still living with his brother until October 16, 1879, when he settled upon his present farm. He has made but two moves since his marriage and he now has a valuable farming property in this county, and also good land in Logan county. He is engaged in general farming and stock-raising and his well tilled fields yield to him good harvests, while in his pastures are seen good grades of horses, cattle and hogs.
On the 7th of June, 1866, Mr. Graham was married to Amanda Corson, a daughter of William and Jane Corson, both natives of New Jersey. The father, who was a glassblower, was born August 16, 1820, and died October 15, 1873, while the mother, who was born October 22, 1822, is still living in New Jersey. They were the parents of four daughters, who are still living; Mrs. Graham, who was born in Glassboro, New Jersey, May 15, 1846; Mrs. Anna Johnson, of Camden, New Jersey, with whom the mother makes her home; Mrs. Hampton, of Millville, New Jersey; and Mrs. Comer, of Sheffield, Pennsylvania. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Graham have been born eight children: William C., born April 24, 1868; Anna M., October 18, 1870; Mary F., October 1, 1876; Mattie J., August 19, 1879; Fred J., November 25, 1881; Ella A., February 21, 1884; Howard F., June 6, 1888; and Ruth Amy, April 14, 1890. The family circle yet remains unbroken by the hand of death. The parents are members of the Methodist church and in his political views Mr. Graham is a Democrat.
Many changes have occurred since he arrived in the county, especially in the manner of living and the methods of farming, as well as in the general development of the county. Mr. Graham was the first man that blanketed a horse while it was standing, he adopted this method while his horse stood during the church services that he attended at the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Irish Grove. The first funeral which he attended in this county was that of Albert Stone, in September, 1868. At that time there were no spring wagons in use in the surrounding country, only lumber wagons, and the body was taken to the grave in one of these and interred in the home burying ground near the timber. Sixteen years later Albert Stone's uncle John was buried, and in the funeral procession of over a third of a mile in length there were only seen three lumber wagons, the people having spring wagons, carriages and buggies, while the remains were carried to the grave in a hearse. All this shows how rapidly the work of progress and improvement was carried on. At the time of his arrival in the county Mr. Graham had a capital of only three hundred dollars, but making judicious investment of his funds and carefully husbanding his resources as the years have gone by, he is now in good circumstances.