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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JAMES DeWOLF. Among the well-to-do farmers and stock-raisers of Scott County is James DeWolf, who owns in section 32, Winchester Precinct, one of the finest and most productive farms to be found in this section of Illinois. It comprises 280 acres of very fertile soil, and is supplied with all necessary appliances for conducting agriculture to the best advantage. Here he sows and reaps as the seasons come and go and here he gathers in his bountiful harvests of grain. He has erected a handsome residence, a roomy, substantially built barn, and everything about the well-ordered place is indicative of his thrift and industry. Our subject has given considerable attention to stock raising and has some valuable dairy cows, usually milking about ten. Mrs. DeWolf for her skill in butter making, even in the hottest weather, is famous in all the country round, and makes forty pounds a week of as fine butter as goes into the market.

Our subject and his wife both come of good New England stock, and are themselves natives of that section of the country. Mr. DeWolf was born in Berkshire, Vt., and Mrs. DeWolf in Westboro, Mass. He was the fifth child in a family of five sons and two daughters, (three of whom are now living) born to Roswell and Henrietta (Colburn) DeWolf,natives, respectively, of Vermont and Massachusetts. He is a lined descendant of the famous Hannah Dustin of Haverhill, Mass., who won historical fame on account of her capture by the Indians in the winter of 1697, after continued wanderings amid the gloomy surroundings of winter. Threats of torture aroused her and her companions to desperate action. One night they beheaded several of their sleeping captors, and escaped through the wilderness to their friends. A few years since a beautiful monument commemorative of the deed was erected to her memory in the thriving city that stands on the site of her former home. The parents of our subject never came west, but lived and died in their pleasant New England home. The father passed away in 1829 at the age of forty-eight, and the mother survived him but a few years. Being thus early orphaned James DeWolf was obliged to do what he could for his maintenance when he was only seven years old. He used to work during the summer, and in the winter gleaned a fair education by attending the district school. As soon as old enough he commenced to learn the carpenter's trade in Massachusetts, and worked at it steadily until he came West. Nov. 26, 1848 he took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Hannah Wadsworth, in whom he has found a true helpmate, one who has actively assisted him in the upbuilding of their pleasant home. She was born April 27, 1827 to John and Persis (Kimball) Wadsworth, of Grafton, Mass., the youngest of their nine children, four sons and five daughters. Her father was a farmer in the old Bay State, and there his death occurred in 1829 while yet in life's prime, he being forty-eight years old. The mother survived him until 1858, when she too passed away at the ripe old age of seventy-six years.

In 1855 Mr. and Mrs. DeWolf came to Illinois with their family to cast their lot with the pioneers of Scott County. He bought 120 acres of his present farm, on which stood an old log cabin. Into this the family moved and began the hard struggle to develop a farm from the wild prairies. They suffered many hardships and privations, and had to sacrifice much to gain a solid footing in their new home. Mrs. DeWolf was very homesick at first and her regretful thoughts constantly wandered to the comforts of her old Massachusetts home. She became thoroughly convinced that nothing too bad could be said about the country here, and that the old saying was true that "it was death to women and horses in this section." By hard work our subject managed to break up his land and get it under good cultivation, though he often had to figure his expenses very closely to make both ends meet, being compelled at times to deprive himself and family of many things that they had been used to consider the actual necessities of life. But his early labors have been duly rewarded, and he has added other land to it from time to time; purchasing at one time thirty seven and one half acres of land at $40 an acre, at another time eighty acres at $75 an acre, besides some timber land and a tract of land in Greene County.

Our subject and his wife have had five children, four of whom are now living, as follows: Persis is the wife of William Mehrroff, of Greene County, and they have six children; Edwin lives with his parents on the homestead; Mary A. wife of R.H. Rousey, and mother of two children, also lives under the parental roof; Henrietta married Stephen Cooper, of Greene County, and they have one child. Their daughter Mary is a fine scholar and finished her education in Jacksonville at the Washington High School. She has a first-grade certificate and has taught school five years in Greene, Morgan and Scott counties, and is accounted one of the successful teachers of this section of the State.

Mr. DeWolf is a keen, shrewd, far-seeing man and seems to have a knack for making money. He has led a busy life, and has had too much to do in attending to his own affairs to mingle in the public life of the precinct and assist in the administration of its government, the only office that he has held being that of Road Overseer. He is a live, energetic man, who has carved his own way in the world from the days of his childhood by sheer force of will, unremitting industry, and prudent management, and to-day stands among the most substantial and prosperous men of his calling in his neighborhood. He takes an interest in all political matters and votes the Republican ticket, being a firm believer in Republicanism.

An interesting feature of this volume is a view of Mr. DeWolf's residence, with its pleasant surroundings.

1889 Index
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