James McNames, a pioneer of Ogle County of 1836, is the oldest settler now living in the township of Rockvale. He was born in Bennington Township, Delaware Co., Ohio, June 3, 1821. His father, Amos McNames, was a native of the State of New York, and settled in Ohio in 1814. He was also one of the earliest of the pioneer settlers of Delaware County. Cornelia (Westbrook) McNames, his wife, was a native of Pennsylvania. They continued to live in Delaware County until the year in which they came to Illinois. The father was the owner in Ohio of 106 acres of land, which he bought when it was all covered with the native growth of timber. He cleared 20 acres while he lived on the proeprty. In 1836 he sold it and, with this family, which included five children, started for Illinois with three yoke of oxen and three horses. the household belongings were brought along, and the housekeeping was attended to on the route. The start was made Oct. 22, and Dec. 24th following the family arrived in Ogle County. They settled at Washington Grove in Nashua Township, where they passed the winter. In April, 1837, they located permanently in the township in which they have since lived, and which was then only known as Township 24, Range 10. The father made a claim on section 13, of which a part was timber and part was prairie. There were no improvements, and the owner built a log-house 18x24 feet in size, which had puncheons for floor and doors, and was covered with "shakes." The father died in that structure in 1866. The death of the wife and mother occurred in 1861. They were the parents of five children who survived infancy. Dene married A.T. Culver, and they reside in Calhoun Co., Iowa. Welcome died in Missouri in 1881. James is the next in order. Orrison resides in the township where the decease of his father and mother occurred. William died there also.
When the family removed to the township of Rockvale Mr. McNames was in his 16th year. He has, therefore, a distinct remembrance of the incidents of the journey from Ohio to Illinois, which had for him all the novelty and interest of a new experience, and was full of pleasure, notwithstanding its tediousness and length. The nearest market, when they first located here, was at Chicago, and it was common for him to make a trip there. The distance was 100 miles, and the journey consumed five days on average. He frequently sold his load of wheat for 50 cents a bushel. The full force of this will be understood when the fact is stated that salt, in 1836, was $10 a bushel.
His marriage to Mary J. Van Vleet was solemnized Sept. 14, 1848. She was born Nov. 18, 1831 in Crawford Co., Ohio, and is the daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Coulter) Van Vleet. Her father was born in Holland in 1780. Her mother, now living with her, is a native of county Donegal, Ireland, and was born in 1796. Her parents were pioneers of Winnebago County, where they settled in 1836.
A short time after he was married Mr. McNames removed from the homestead of his father, where he at first located, to Daysville. He worked as a blacksmith there until 1855, when he settled on the farm which he has since successfully cultivated. He entered the land from the government years before he became its occupant, and is now its owner. It is located on sections 13 and 24, and includes a portion of the old homestead. It is fitted with all the latest appurtenances for modern farming, and has good buildings, and such as are suited to the necessities of a modern homestead.
The children belonging to the household are three in number: James H. is married and is the owner of a good farm near that of his father. Clara is a teacher in the public schools of this county. This young lady is the only daughter, and is accomplished and exemplary. She is a member of the same church to which her parents belong, and is prominent in her discharge of duty as a decided Christian. She is active in the Sunday School, and leads a life consistent with her connection with a religious organization. William is the youngest. He acts as the assistant of the father in the management of the farm. Besides the above named children they have buried the following: Orlin, who died Jan. 6, 1855; Oscar, died Dec. 30, 1857; Emma E., died Dec. 14, 1875, and Mary Ella died Jan. 10, 1879.
Mr. and Mrs. McNames are members of the Methodist Church. Mr. McNames is a cooper by trade, and acquired a knowledge of that business from his father, Amos McNames.
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