Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.
Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.
JAMES MONROE SIMPSON, one of the old settlers of Christian County, has been for long years engaged in farming in Bear Creek Township, and is one of the most substantial and prosperous agriculturists of the locality. He is especially interested in stock-raising, and introduced the first thoroughbred horse into the county. He has handled some of the finest racehorses in America, and has won a national reputation in that line. Many of the business concerns and enterprises of Palmer have been furthered by the influence and means of Mr. Simpson, who is public-spirited to a marked degree.
The parents of our subject were Thomas and Caroline (Badger) Simpson. The former, who was born in Virginia, was a son of Andrew Simpson, also of the Old Dominion, who was one of the early settlers of Kentucky, where he made his home for many years. He followed agricultural pursuits for a livelihood, and was the owner of a large number of slaves.
In 1835 he went to Springfield, Ill., where he died at the age of fifty-six years. His family consisted of six daughters and two sons. Mrs. Simpson, whose birth occurred in Kentucky, was one of ten children, eight daughters and two sons, whose father was David Badger. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, born in Virginia in 1777, and died in Indiana in 1849. He followed the life of a farmer and was a man of considerable wealth. At the time of his death he was sixty-six years of age.
The family of Thomas and Caroline Simpson consisted of two daughters and four sons, namely: Andrew, David, James M., Emily, Mary and Hamilton. James M. is the only survivor. In 1835 the father brought his family to Illinois, spending his first winter in the Prairie State in Springfield. Afterward he settled in Mechanicsburg, where he made his home until 1846.
He then removed to this county, buying a farm of two hundred and sixty-two acres in Bear Creek Township, one mile northeast of the present site of Palmer. For this property he paid $800 and made a good bargain, as the place was improved and had a good house, barns and fences upon it. At that time it was the best-improved farm in the county. The owner afterward extended his possessions, until at the time of his death he owned four hundred and forty-four acres.
One tract of one hundred and sixty acres he secured by paying only $125. On this farm he made his home until his demise, which occurred in December, 1856, at the age of fifty-six years. His wife died in 1842, and was buried in Sangamon County. Mr. Simpson was a prominent Mason, and during the early days held various township offices, both in Sangamon and Christian Counties, once serving as County Commissioner.
The birth of our subject occurred near Sharpsburg, Ky., October 3, 1834, and he was just a year old on the day when his father set out for Illinois. He was a lad of eleven years when he came to this county, which has since been the scene of his life career. Though his educational advantages were limited, he improved what opportunities he had, and by observation and study has become a well-informed man. In 1853 he crossed the plains to California, taking five months to make the trip. For the succeeding six years he was engaged in mining much of the time, but also raised, bought and sold cattle in partnership with his brother David.
In December, 1858, he returned to his old home, which he inherited. He has made great improvements on the place since it became his, and now owns one thousand acres. For the property which he has purchased in addition to the old home place, he has paid from $1.25 to $40 per acre. His place he has turned into a stock farm, and he makes a specialty of breeding fine horses. For his first thoroughbred horse he paid $1,025 when he was only a year old. At the present time there are from sixty to seventy head of horses on the farm. Mr. Simpson is constantly raising, buying and selling high-grade horses and has made a decided success of the business.
A marriage ceremony was performed on the 29th of March, 1860, uniting the fortunes of Mr. Simpson and Miss Margaret Ricks, who is a daughter of William S. and Margaret (Bond) Ricks, natives of Christian County, Ky. Of the children born to our subject and his wife, Andrew, Nellie, Eva and Katie are deceased. Cyrus D. married Miss Mary Dietz and lives near the old homestead. Quintas I. married Miss Rosa Miller, and resides near Palmer. Andrew is the next in order of birth. Thomas L. married Miss Effie May Chapel and lives in Oklahoma. Jessie P., Caroline, Eugene, Emma and Hamilton complete the family.
In politics, Mr. Simpson is a stanch supporter of the Republican party. Besides his extensive farm and stock-raising interests he is a partner in the firm of Simpson & Boyd, dealers in hardware, agricultural implements and furniture in Palmer.
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