Isaac James is one of the principal (sic) men of Apple River village, where he is living a retired life, and is probably its wealthiest citizen. The family is of Welsh extraction, and his ancestors settled in North Carolina a great many years ago, being among the first settlers of that State. Later, part of them emigrated to Maryland, where the father of our subject was born, lived, and died. He was a farmer in Alleghany County, in that State and died in 1842, at the age of fifty-eight years. The mother, whose maiden name was Rachel Mason, was born in England, and also died on the Maryland homestead, in 1851, at the age of sixty-nine years.
The subject of this sketch was born in Alleghany County, Md., Mary 17, 1817, and is the only survivor of the five children born to his parents. His education was obtained in a subscription school taught in a log cabin three miles from his home, to and from which he had to walk in wet or dry, in heat or cold. He still well remembers how as a boy he spent many weary days hoeing in the corn-field, long before cultivators had been even thought of.
In 1841 Mr. James was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Chriss, in Virginia, where he farmed for four years, and then coming West, settled in Jo Daviess County. Here he began teaming and hauling supplies for the miners at New Diggings, Wis., continuing in that business for several years, and making his home during that time, principally in New Diggings. During this laborious work by strict attention to business and habits of industry and thrift, he laid the foundation of that fortune which he is now enjoying. For seven years he was engaged in the business of hauling provisions and general merchandise, and later purchased a farm near Scales Mound, in Jo Daviess Country.
Of the union of our subject with Margaret Chriss, twelve children were born: Eugene, the eldest, is engaged in the business of selling agricultural implements at Missouri River Valley, Iowa, and is married to Anna Early, and has one child, Pearl; William is a resident of Salt Lake City, where he is connected with the Maxwell Mining Company; Maria is the wife of Henry Shiley, mother of four children, and lives in Dakota; Emma is the wife of Mr. Blackhart, formerly a ranchman of Idaho, where she is still living with her two children; Albert is rapidly getting rich raising coffee in Central America, and was married while in Peru, to an Austrian lady; Edgar is a ranchman in Utah, is married and has one girl; the next was an infant, who died unnamed; then Ella, who is the wife of Robert Parmley, has two children, and lives in Dakota; Addie, her twin sister, is unmarried, and also a resident of Dakota; Clara is the wife of Webb Reridon, has one child, and lives in Dakota; Frank also lives in the West, and Delilah is the wife of Charles Read, and lives in Salt Lake City, where he was formerly part owner and superintendent of the King of the West gold and silver mines. The mother of this numerous family passed to her last rest in 1873. She was a woman of most excellent character, and of many qualities which endeared her to a large circle of friends as well as to her children, and by all she is sincerely mourned.
The second marriage of Mr. James was celebrated in July, 1881, his present wife being Mrs. Elizabeth Lukey, daughter of John and Jane Richards, both natives of Cornwall County, England. The father was a master mechanic; being a carriage-maker, mill-wright, and wheel-wright. The family came to America in 1853, and settled in Grant County, Wis. The parents had a family of thirteen children, of whom the following is recorded: Mrs. Charlotte Lukey, of Grant County, Wis.; Caroline, wife of John D. Terry, of New Haven, Minn.; Edwin is a mechanic, and is working in the West; the other living children are in various parts of the country.
In her youth Mrs. James attended private schools in England, where she developed a taste for musical and dramatic matters, and also became quite an artist. She came when quite young to this country, and was married in Wisconsin to her first husband, William Lukey, at the age of fifteen. He was also a native of Cornwall, and had come to this country some years prior to that time. Mrs. James is a woman of fine presence, hospitable, kind and generous, and at their elegant home in Apple River extends a hearty welcome alike to friend or stranger.
Mr. James has always taken a warm interest in educational matters, and for many years had been a School Director. In church matters he has also taken an active part, and has donated liberally toward the construction of many churches in this neighborhood. He and his wife have both been life-long advocates of the cause of temperance, and have taken a prominent part in the Prohibition movement in this part of the State, Mrs. James being Treasurer of the W.C.T.U. in Apple River. Mr. James was elected a delegate to the Prohibition Convention held at Indianapolis in 1888. Both are widely known and highly respected citizens of the county, who are always in sympathy with any movement tending to its moral or material advancement.
Mrs. James has had no children of her own, but has reared two, John James and Allie Whitehead. The former is married to Fannie Gilbert, and lives in Washington State; the latter is the wife of Edward Malone, resides in Galena, Ill., and has two children, Robert H. and James.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)