JOY, JAMES MADISON, Postmaster, Waverly, Ill., was born in West Virginia, April 16, 1840, a son of William F. and Minerva (Knight) Joy. His father was born at Harper's Ferry, Va., and his mother in North Carolina, his parents removing to Illinois, in 1857, and locating on a farm in Sangamon County, where they spent the remainder of their lives.
James M. Joy came to Illinois in 1856. Until the outbreak of the Civil War he attended school and worked upon various farms in Sangamon County. On August 7, 1862, he enlisted in Company I, Seventy-third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in which he served until the close of the war, being mustered out July 22, 1865. His command was attached to the Army of the Cumberland. Though he saw a comparatively small amount of active service in the field, he has a military record of which any man might well be proud. After participating in the battles of Perryville, Ky., and Stone River, he engaged in the historic battle of Chickamauga, where he was captured by the Confederates. He was first taken with a large number of other prisoners to Richmond, Va., and detained in Libby Prison for five weeks. Thence he was taken to Danville, Va., where he remained in confinement for five months, and thence to Andersonville, where eleven months of indescribable suffering were endured, making his total term of imprisonment eighteen months. As the result of the great hardships he was compelled to endure throughout his period of imprisonment, he has undergone considerable suffering in the later years of his life. During the closing days of his imprisonment in Andersonville, the report of his death reached his home, and all arrangements for holding funeral services in his memory were made, only to be stopped, a few moments before the hour set for the services, by the belated intelligence that he was still alive. From Andersonville Mr. Joy was taken to Vicksburg, Miss., and thence to Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, where he received a furlough and returned to his home at Loami, Sangamon County. The following year he began teaching school in the country districts, a vocation he followed for two terms. After working as a clerk in a store at Loami for a short time, he was united in marriage with Amanda Hall, and moved upon a farm in Sangamon County which he had purchased. There he remained following agriculture until 1881, in the meantime taking an active interest in educational matters, and serving for twelve years as a School Director. In 1881 he removed to Waverly, which has since been his home. At first engaging in work at the carpenter's trade, he continued independently until August, 1882, when he formed a partnership with Frank Rantz, and engaged in the hardware, undertaking and furniture business for six years. In 1893 he embarked in the undertaking business alone. On August 12, 1898, President McKinley commissioned him Postmaster at Waverly, and on February 23, 1903, he was reappointed to the office by President Roosevelt.
Mr. Joy is a prominent member of the Grand Army Post of Waverly, of which he has been Commander or Adjutant for many years. Fraternally he is identified with Waverly Lodge No. 93, I.O.O.F. In the M.E. Church he is a member of the official board. He has served two terms on the Waverly School Board, and two terms in the City Council. Politically, he has always been unwavering in his allegiance to the Republican party.
Mr. Joy's first wife died December 25, 1880. On February 22, 1883, he married Rachel Ann VanKirk, a native of Mercer County, N.J., who removed with her parents to Illinois in 1865. By his first marriage, Mr. Joy became the father of a daughter, Ida, wife of W. M. Minnick, of Chicago.
It is a fact worthy of note that Mr. Joy was one of five brothers who fought in the defense of the Union during the Civil War, four of whom served in the same company. Beside himself, they were John W., William E. and Joseph O. John W. died of wounds received at the battle of Perryville, Ky., and at the same battle William E. received a wound in a similar manner in the thigh, but not fatal. Joseph O. was wounded in the hip at the battle of Mission Ridge. The youngest brother, Buena Vista Joy, entered the army at the age of sixteen years, as a member of Company I, Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry, was wounded in the wrist, was captured, taken to Richmond, and thence to Andersonville, where he died.