James Crawford is one of the extensive landowners of Ford county and all that he possesses has been acquired entirely through his own labors. His life record should serve to encourage and inspire others who have to start out as he did, empty-handed. Soon coming to a realization of the value of untiring industry, he has by persistent effort gained the place which he now occupies as one of the substantial residents of this part of the state. He makes his home in Ford county but is of Irish birth, although he was only ten years of age when the family came to America. He was born in County Clair, Ireland, April 12, 1838, his parents being Michael and Margaret (Flarity) Crawford.
When ten years of age the mother crossed the Atlantic with her family, landing at Quebec. The husband and father had died the previous year and thus upon the mother devolved the support and care of her little ones. They settled in Ontario, near Hamilton, and in the fall of 1852 removed to Niagara county, New York. In the spring of 1857 they came to Illinois, taking up their abode about five miles south of Earlville, in La Salle county. There for many years Mr. Crawford followed farming and in 1875 he came to Ford county, settling on a farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 21, Peach Orchard township. In 1862 he had made his first purchase of land, joining his brother John in buying eighty acres in La Salle county. At the time of his marriage, however, he sold his interest in this farm to his brother and bought another tract of eighty acres. As the years have passed he has worked persistently and energetically to achieve success, and as his financial resources have increased he has invested more and more largely in property until he now owns six hundred acres of valuable Illinois land, of which five hundred and twenty acres he in Peach Orchard township, and the remainder on section 15, Germanville township, Livingston county. Year after year Mr. Crawford carried on the work of his farm with the result that he annually gathered good harvests which found a ready sale on the market. He continued actively in agricultural work until the spring of 1900, when he put aside the more arduous duties of a business career and removed to Melvin, where he is now living retired. He had taken unbroken prairie and transformed it into fine farming property. Much of the land was wet and there were many duck ponds on it, but he drained and tiled it and made many substantial improvements. His first purchase in Ford county was made in 1872, but he did not take up his abode thereon until 1875. He gave seventeen dollars per acre for this tract, which comprises a quarter section, and as stated, he has since added to his possessions from time to time as opportunity has offered, until he is now one of the extensive landowners of the county. In addition to his property here, he has four hundred and eighty acres in Noble county, Minnesota, making a total of ten hundred and eighty acres. His business record is certainly most creditable, for all has been acquired through his own labors and the assistance of his children, to whom he gives much credit for the aid they have rendered him.
At the time of the Civil war, James Crawford enlisted at Chicago in February, 1865, as a member of Company L, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, under Captain Wilts, and was sent to Eastport, Mississippi, but took part in no engagements. There were not enough horses to mount all of the troops, so only a number of them participated in Wilson's raid, and Mr. Crawford was not of the number. He continued with his command until mustered out at Springfield in October, 1865. His health was considerably injured by the hardships of war, as he suffered a sunstroke and was ill with ague for a year. He was formerly a member of the Grand Army post at Melvin until it was disbanded owing to an insufficient number of members.
Mr. Crawford's mother is still living and is now in her ninety-sixth year. In 1875 she became the wife of a Mr. Carpenter, and following his death she lived with her son James until about six years ago, when she went to Bloomington, Illinois. In the family were eight children, of whom five died in Ireland, while three came to America. Of these John who accumulated extensive landed possessions, died on his farm in Peach Orchard township, November 15, 1899. James is the second in order of birth and Martin Crawford is a resident of Ottawa, Illinois.
In 1866 James Crawford was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Roark, who was born at Long Island, New York, June 6, 1841, and died in Melvin, February 22, 1907. Her parents came to Illinois in 1856 and she arrived in January, 1858. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Crawford were born eleven children. John R., who is now living on his father's old homestead; Mary E., at home; Thomas, on the farm; James, who is operating a part of the old home place; Margaret, the wife of P. H. Freihl, of Germanville; Catharine, the wife of John Mulchey, living near Rankin, Illinois; Nora, who died at the age of two years; Frank, who is upon the farm; Lucy, at home; Gertrude and Walter. The sons John and Thomas have a large plantation of two thousand eight hundred acres in Mississippi, on the delta, fourteen miles north of Vicksburg.
Mr. Crawford cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln and was a republican until General Grant's second term, when he joined the greenback party and later the democracy, but is now independent in politics. For many years he served as school director and was on the town board for a time. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Catholic church. He has lived a life of industry, perseverance and enterprise, and well merits the splendid success which has crowned his labors.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 716-718

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