James Morris



The farming community of Rice Township numbers this gentleman among its most worthy citizens, one eminently worthy of representation in a work designed to commemorate the deeds of the early residents of Jo Daviess County. Many of them were from a foreign land, and right nobly have they contributed to the development of the Prairie State. A native of Hereford, England, Mr. Morris was born July 4, 1829, and had but limited educational advantages. He was trained to habits of industry and economy, but at an early period of his existence began to experience ambitions, which he feared would never be realized upon his native soil.

Young Morris lived in England until a man of twenty-seven years; then set out for the land of promise on the other side of the Atlantic, sailing in May, 1856. After landing in New York City he emigrated to a point in the vicinity of Albany, where he worked on a farm for a time, then set out for the embryo town of Chicago, Ill. He did not sojourn there very long, however, but pushed farther westward to this county, and since that time has been a resident of Rice Township.

In this county, as before, Mr. Morris followed pursuits in the employ of others for two years, then rented a tract of land and commenced business for himself. He operated this about twenty-three years, then coming to this county purchased the first eighty acres of his present farm of a homesteader, and later added to his estate until he now has 360 acres. After his arrival in this county he was married, March, 1859, to Miss Frances Gehmnel, who was born in Switzerland, Feb. 26, 1837. She came to America in 1857, and first met her future husband in Galena. Of their union there were born nine children, all of whom are living: William is unmarried and employed on the railroad; Lydia is the wife of James Eustace, a miner by occupation; George is at home; Mary lives with her parents; Charles is still pursuing his studies in the district school. John, Henry, Matilda, and Edward remain with their parents at home.

Farming has been the life-long occupation of our subject, and one which he has followed very successfully. He bears an excellent reputation among his neighbors and is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His excellent wife adheres to the Catholic faith of her forefathers. Mr. M. uniformly votes the Republican ticket, and although he has no political aspirations, consents to serve in the minor offices, being Road Commissioner and holding other positions of trust. He takes great satisfaction in the fact that he enjoyed the acquaintance of Gen. Grant before his army career had made him famous.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)