JAMES W. REEDER is the son of one of the earliest settlers of Scott County, who bore an honorable part in its early development, and whose name is still held in reverence as that of a sturdy, enterprising pioneer, who led a useful, active life, guided by upright principles. The son of whom we write is a worthy descendant of such a sire, and is an invaluable citizen of Winchester Precinct, where the most of his life has been passed as boy and man, and with whose agricultural interests he has been identified many years as a prosperous, practical tiller of the soil, and a successful stock-raiser. He owns 253 acres of land of exceeding fertility, well adapted to general husbandry, all lying in a body, amply supplied with good buildings and well stocked with standard Short-horn cattle and Norman horses of high grade.
Mr. Reeder's parents, Amos and Nancy (Pratt) Reeder, were of Southern birth, natives respectively, of South Carolina and Virginia. An incident connected with the migration of his mother's family from the old home in Virginia to the wilds of Kentucky, when she was but five years old, well illustrates the dangers that the hardy, courageous pioneers of those days had to undergo in passing from one part of the country to another. The family were drifting down the Ohio River to their destination in an old-fashioned horse boat, and in passing the place where Louisville now stands an island divided the river into two channels, one straight and narrow, the other wider but more roundabout. The boat took the former course, and when it had fairly got into it the Indians on the shore began firing at it, and among those killed was Mrs. Reeder's mother, who was lying ill at the time. The parents of our subject were married in Kentucky, and continued to live there several years thereafter. But at last, impelled by the pioneer spirit of their ancestors, they resolved like them to seek a newer country, and in 1819 came to Illinois, which but a few months before had been admitted into the Union as the twenty-first State. They first took up their abode in Madison County, but four and one-half years later, in 1824, came to Scott County, and cast in their lot with the few pioneers that had preceded them to this part of the State. Mr. Reeder bought a tract of land, a part of which is now included in his son's homestead, paid for the improvements that had been made on it and entered it from the Government. Years of toil and hardship followed before he could get his land under cultivation and complete the necessary improvements. In this then sparsely settled region he and his family were obliged to forego many of the comforts of civilization that now seem indispensable, and they experienced many trials incidental to Pioneer life. Settlements were few and scattering, markets were far distant and they had to go way to St. Louis, Mo., to mill. Mr. Reeder's had labors did not go unrewarded, and in course of time he had developed a good farm from the wilderness. Jan. 8, 1831, his household was bereft of the patient, devoted wife and mother, and in 1848 he too passed to the life beyond. Seven children had blessed their wedded life, four sons and three daughters, all of whom have gone the way of all mortality, except our subject. The two older sons, John M. and Abisha, took an active part in the Black Hawk War.
James W., of this biographical review, was born June 30, 1816, in Christian County, Ky., and was about three years of age when he came with his parents to the Prairie State. He received his education in the primitive pioneer schools, which were of a very poor order, which he attended three months each year, when between the ages of eight and eighteen. He continued to live on the old homestead after he attained his majority, his father hiring him by the year to assist in its management, and ultimately giving him an eighty acre tract of land, of which only ten acres were fit for cultivation. Our subject commenced the improvement of his land, and also worked a part of his father's place on shares, continuing thus until February, 1849. In that month he married and established a home of his own, Miss Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Reuben Howard, of Scott County, becoming his wife. But four years was granted to them to walk the path of life together in happiness and peace, and then the young wife and mother folded her hands in death, and passed to the great beyond, leaving a precious memory of a sweet, pure womanhood that is still fondly cherished in the heart of him who knew best all her worth and goodness.
Two children blessed the marriage of our subject, one who died in infancy, and Giles. The latter was born Oct. 19, 1849, and was reared to a stalwart, self-reliant manhood on his father's homestead, and is now numbered among the most intelligent and progressive citizens of his native precinct. He possesses in a full degree those sterling qualities of head and heart that command the confidence and win the respect of all with whom he associates. His reading is extensive, he being a lover of good books, and is well informed on all subjects of general interest. March 16, 1873, he was united in marriage to Miss Jane Packard, daughter of Squire Charles Packard, of Lynnville, Morgan County. They have three children, of whom the following is the record: Emma May was born April 30, 1876; Charles Russell, April 24, 1881; James Ray, Aug. 20, 1883. Both Mr. and Mrs. Reeder are members in good standing of the regular Baptist Church.
Mr. Reeder, the subject of this biography, has been prospered and has accumulated a comfortable property wherewith he is content, not striving after great riches. He is a man of strong common sense, and in all his transactions he conducts himself with the same honor and probity that long ago gained him the trust of his fellow-citizens among whom so many years of his life have been passed, and in whose hearts he holds a warm place. He is a sincere Christian, and for thirty years has been a leading member of the regular Baptist Church, of which he is a Deacon. He has been Road Overseer of the precinct, and takes an active part in politics, always voting for the Democratic nominee, except in local elections, and his first vote was cast for Martin VanBuren.