Search billions of records on

[Born, raised and schooled in Ecclefechan, Dumfries, Scotland. He was apprenticed to the carpenter's trade at the age of 14. Emigrated to New York in 1819 (or possibly Newfoundland). One account ["The Biographical Record"] has him spending time in Newfoundland, which was a destination for some ships bringing Scots immigrants to Canada and North America. Returned to Scotland in 1821 and married Jannet FARRIES in 1822. Listed in Pigot's Local Directory (business directory) for 1825-26 as carpenter/joiner in Ecclefechan. A William Brand (likely his older brother) also was listed in that issue as tallow chandler/grocer (the father, William, a merchant, was deceased).

According to written accounts, James sailed from Greenock, Scotland, in Spring of 1827 with his wife and two children (William and Lucy), bound for the United States. Their ship was becalmed for two weeks off Ireland. They reached New York City after a six-week sea journey. Initially settled near Utica, Oneida Cty., New York in September, 1828 and then New Hartford, NY where he engaged in his carpentry trade. Moved to Vaughan, York County, Ontario, Canada in 1830 where he farmed 10 acres (farm located 20 miles north of the city of Toronto) and was involved in shipbuilding and carpentry. A sympathizer with the 1838 MacKenzie Rebellion against a tyranical Crown governor, he moved to Brookville, Ogle Cty., Illinois in 1840 after the Rebellion failed.

He traveled the Great Lakes via the steamer "New England" to Chicago. There, he hired two two-horse teams and drivers for $25 to move his family and belongings to north central Illinois. (He chose Illinois because of the favorable accounts of others from Canada and Scotland who had moved there. Leaving his family temporarily in a log home at Dixon's Ferry on the Rock River, he and his oldest son, William, walked to Buffalo Grove (called St. Marion at the time and located west of Polo). There, they engaged help from two local men to move his family and their belongings from the ferry site. He and his family took up temporary residence in a log home (known as "The Barracks"), which they shared with another family. He bought two cows -- one each from George Wilcoxen and John Sanborn. He paid $140 for a 160-acre claim in Canada Settlement held by Charles Wemsley (an earlier arrival), where he hurriedly built and his family occupied a small frame house on July 11, 1840. He later (1845) replaced that home with a stone house.

He sold his farm and moved to Polo, Illinois in 1854 and was elected in 1857 to the town's first Board of Trustees. One of the town's first businessmen, he started a lumberyard and sold farm implements in Polo and built several houses in town for rent and sale. At one time, he was a partner in a wind-powered grist mill in Polo which was later damaged in a tornado and subsequently closed. He was one of the town's first School Trustees and Treasurer of the Board. (He was a justice of the peace when he resided in Brookville township.)

In an obituary, he was described as "a man of good education and fine mechanical abilities, and often expressed a desire to see the future possibilities for the use of electricity. In his youth, Brand was a classmate of Thomas Carlyle, his second cousin and the famous Scots mathemetician and author, whom he greatly admired."

J. Cairns, a writer who penned his obituary said of James: "Mr. Brand, from his youth, had a great thirst for knowledge, which often caused him to burn midnight oil, until long past. "The wee sma' hours a-yont the twal." (Brand said) [NOTE: This quote from Scots poet Robert Burns means "wee small hours beyond the twelve."]

Michael Brand,

Return to Ogle Co. Genealogy Site