An excellent farm of eighty acres on section 16, Rogers township, is the property of James M. Hiddleson. Today it is valued at two hundred dollars per acre but he purchased one-half of it for four dollars per acre and the remainder for seven dollars. Its rise in value is largely attributable to the care and labor he has bestowed upon it and the splendid improvements he has made thereon.
He is one of Illinois' native sons, his birth having occurred in Little Rock township, Kendall county, December 25, 1839. His parental grandfather was a native of the city of Dublin, Ireland, and was the first white teacher in the city of Philadelphia. A very highly educated man, he was closely associated with the early intellectual development of that city.
William Hiddleson, father of our subject, was born in Kentucky, April 23, 1801, and in 1836 took up his abode on a farm in Little Rock township, Kendall county, Illinois, where he spent his remaining days, passing away in March, 1896, at the venerable age of ninety-five years. When quite young he was left an orphan and later he removed to the vicinity of Canton, Ohio, being reared in that locality by George Williams. He was then a resident of the Buckeye state until 1836, when he came to Illinois, driving across the country with an ox-team. He suffered all of the hardships and privations incident to the establishment of a home upon the frontier. At one time, soon after his arrival in Illinois, while living in a log cabin, six members of the family were ill. He had only fifty cents in his pocket and no team, nothing but his two hands to aid in providing a living for his wife and children. He worked diligently and untiringly, however, to overcome the difficulties of pioneer life and win success here. He hauled all his products to Chicago, a distance of fifty-two miles, making the journey most of the time with ox-teams, before the building of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. In addition to his farming operations he conducted a brickyard on the bank of Fox river on the south line of his farm, where the Black Hawk Indians encamped. He carried on general agricultural pursuits and also the manufacture of brick, which he molded by hand. He was a remarkable man, of strong character and of high principles, never using tobacco nor intoxicants. His political allegiance was given to the democracy and he was a stalwart advocate of the Union cause during the dark days of the Civil war. He attended school but twelve days and in that time participated in thirteen fights because the other children made fun of his poor clothing. In the school of experience, however, he learned many valuable lessons and impressed upon the minds of his children the worth of integrity and upright character development.
William Hiddleson married Elizabeth Ferguson, who was born in Stark county, Ohio, and died on the old homestead in Kendall county in 1856. Their children were: Charles, a resident of Woodland, California; Mrs. Sarah Sargent, who became a resident of Ford county in 1863 and died near Cabery; John, who died in infancy; Anna, the wife of H. N. Ryan, who is an attorney of Streator, while she died about two years ago; James M., of Rogers township, whose farm adjoins that of his brother William C, who is the sixth in order of birth in the family; Erastus, a retired farmer living in Cabery; George, whose home is in Rogers township; Romelions, of Piano; and Robert, who died in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 1896. For his second wife Mr. Hiddleson chose Mrs. Hannah Sargent bnt there were no children by that union. %H%No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for James M. Hiddleson in his boyhood and youth. With the other members of the family he shared in the hardships of life on the frontier, all around stretching the wild, unbroken prairie, while the farm implements were very crude as compared with the modern machinery, and the homes were largely little frame or log cabins. He embraced such educational opportunities as were afforded and through much of the year was employed in the work of the fields, assisting therein from the time of spring planting until crops were harvested in the late autumn.
In August, 1862, Mr. Hiddleson, no longer content to remain at home while the preservation of the Union was in question, enlisted for service as a member of Company K, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain John H. Lowe, of Piano, and Colonel John C. Van Armon. He and his brother William and stepbrother, Thomas Sargent, and a cousin, John Howard, all working in the same wheat field, left at the same time and went to Piano, where they enlisted. All four then returned to the field and helped finish the harvest. About two weeks afterward they went to Chicago and were at Camp Douglas, being mustered into the United States service September 6, 1862. They were sent to Memphis, Tennessee, where they went into camp and afterward marched to Pigeon Roost Gap, fifty miles away. They reconnoitered for about two weeks and then returned to Memphis. After a short time they took boats down the river to Milliken's Bend, unloaded and went into Chickasaw Bayou, being first under fire there. Heavy rains fell and the water stood on the ground to such a depth that the soldiers had to climb on logs. At Milliken's Bend they took boat for Youngs Point, near Vicksburg. Mr. Hiddleson participated in the siege of Vicksburg and in the battle of Chattanooga. He was all through the siege of Atlanta and was taken prisoner there July 22, 1864, after which he was sent to Andersonville prison, where he was incarcerated for two months. He was then exchanged and went to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he continued for about two months. Later he went to Chattanooga and Nashville and on to Cincinnati, Baltimore and Fortress Monroe, whence he proceeded around Cape Hatteras and afterward to Raleigh, North Carolina. He joined his regiment there and participated in the campaign northward to Washington, where he took part in the grand review, the most celebrated military pageant ever seen on the western hemisphere. Later he was sent to Chicago, where he was honorably discharged with his regiment.
His brother William, who had enlisted at the same time, was wounded at Atlanta, Georgia, August 26, 1864, sustaining a gunshot wound in both hands. The first time he was wounded was on the 22d of July, when a bullet pierced his shoulder, and on the 3d of August following he was slightly wounded in the hip. At the battle of Resaca he received a part of a cap in the left eye, which nearly destroyed the sight. The injuries which he sustained on the 26th of August forced him to retire from active service and he was then transferred to Marietta, Georgia, where he remained in the hospital for about four weeks. He was then granted a furlough home and for three months was unable to feed himself. On the 1st of June, 1865, he rejoined his regiment at Washington, D. C, participated in the grand review and was mustered out in Chicago.
When the war was over James M. Hiddleson returned to Piano, Kendall county, Illinois, and in 1867 came to his present farm, where he has since resided. He has here eighty acres on section 16. The land which he purchased for four and seven dollars per acre is today worth two hundred dollars and constitutes a splendidly improved farm. All of the buildings and trees upon the place have been put here by Mr. Hiddleson, who has led a quiet but active and useful life of the farmer and has today a valuable property, which not only gives him a good living but also enables him to save something year after year.
On the 25th of January, 1868, Mr. Hiddleson was married to Miss Jessie Oglesby, who was born in Licking county, Ohio, November 10, 1842. She came to Illinois as a school teacher and resided with her brother James, who is now living in Kankakee. The death of Mrs. Hiddleson occurred June 8, 1899, after a happy married life of more than thirty years. They were the parents of two children: Edith, now the wife of L. G. Webster, a resident farmer of Norton township, Kankakee county; and Charlie M., who remains with his father and operates the home farm.
Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Hiddleson has been a supporter of the democrat party and its principles. He voted for Douglas and has filled some township offices, serving as collector for two terms, while for the past five years he has been township assessor. He was also a school director for eighteen years and has ever been loyal and faithful in the discharge of his duties. he is a charter member of Cabery Post, No. 664, G. A. R., and thus maintains pleasant relations with his old comrades, delighting in the camp fires and in recalling in his association with his old comrades at arms the scenes and events which occurred upon the battlefields of the south. He has attended nearly all of the national encampments of the Grand Army and has twice visited California.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 450-456.

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