One reason why the population of the United States contains so large a per cent of foreign born citizens, is because of the oppressive laws of many of the European countries. While an Irishman loves his native isle with all the impulsive characteristics of his race, the system of landlordism and tennantry in that country for many years has been so manifestly unjust and cruelly oppressive, as to compel thousands to leave the scenes of their childhood, the graves of their fathers and all they hold dear in this life, to seek relief in a free land. America has become the asylum for a greater portion of this class of people, and when once here and becoming accustomed to the ways of the country, they have, as a rule, become good law-abiding citizens. There are no anarchists among the natives of Ireland, but they love this country and its laws, and when treason threatened our land with destruction, there was no class of foreigners who sprang quicker or with more enthusiasm to the relief of the stars and stripes, than did the Irish.
James Guinnane was the oldest son in his family, and was reared to agricultural pursuits. His education was limited, for in his native country the persons who received an education, and were poor, were the exception, not the rule. The advantages in Ireland for gaining knowledge were even more limited than in the pioneer days of America. But Mr. Guinnane has been a close observer and by reading, has become a self-educated man. His emigration to America occurred in the fall of 1847, and his voyage across the ocean occupied forty days on a sailing vessel. HE landed in New Orleans, where he remained nearly one year, working most of the time in a livery stable. In the fall of 1848 he came to Beardstown, Ill., where he spent the following winter, and in the succeeding spring, he located in Morgan County, where he has resided since. He settled on his present farm in 1852, and his original purchase consisted of 136 acres of land which was then in an uncultivated condition, but by his native industry and good management, he has succeeded in converting it into a good farm. By subsequent purchases he has increased his acreage until now his farm consists of about 325 acres of land in Morgan and Scott counties, and it is said that his place is one of the best improved in Bethel Precinct. It goes without saying that the owner is a model farmer in every way.
Mr. Guinnane was married twice. His first wife was Sarah Gleason, by whom he had five children. Three of these are living: John, Mary and Margaret. His second wife's maiden name was Annie Gleason, who bore him six children of whom the following are living: Ellen, Martin, Sarah J. and James. Mr. Guinnane is a member of the Catholic Church at Jacksonville, and for several years has been a School Director, and was lately re-elected. In 1877 he was a candidate for the office of County Commissioner, but was defeated by his opponent Mr. Lawler of Meredosia. He has a large and extended acquaintance in the county, and possesses the esteem and confidence of all who know him, and as a good citizen, there are none who stand higher than he.