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Randolph County Illinois
Genealogy and History


Note: Some of these may be abstracted, instead of complete transcriptions.  We're adding the complete biographies slowly but surely!
The abstracted bios were transcribed by Jeana Gallagher unless otherwise noted

James Eccles

Mr. Eccles, though a young man, is one of the oldest residents of Evansville, having been born and raised in that neighborhood. His birth took place May the eighth, 1846, and his father was Edmond Eccles. Edmond Eccles was an Englishman by birth, a native of the Township of Dilworth, Longridge, near Preston, in the County of Lancashire, England. He was born the seventh of May, 1806. His father, and the grandfather of James Eccles, was Seth Eccles, a farmer of that locality, whose family was composed of several children. Edmond Eccles received a fair, common-school education, and when a lad apprenticed himself to a currier, whose trade he learned and followed while he lived in his native country. At the age of about twenty-six, he was married to Lucy Garner, who had been born and raised in the same section of country with himself. Edmond Eccles was twenty-seven years old, when, with his wife and one child, Seth, which had been born in England, and was four or five weeks old at the time of leaving that country, he emigrated to America, in the hope of bettering his fortunes in the western world.

Landing at New Orleans, he came at once to St. Louis, and from there proceeded to Monroe County, Illinois, where he had a brother living on Prairie du Long, who had come over from England some years previously. After living a while in Monroe County, Edmond Eccles went to Belleville, and there followed his trade of a currier. His next move was to take up his residence in Randolph County. He found employment at the old tan yard of Elisha Seymour (where Edward Seymour now lives), two miles below Ellis Grove. His next stopping place was at Preston, where he worked for James Pollock. After a residence there of a few months, he came to Evansville about the year 1835. Evansville was then a place of small pretensions. It had recently been laid off into town lots by the proprietor, Cadwell Evans, and only two or three families, at the time of Mr. Eccles' arrival, composed the village.

Edmond Eccles lived in the place till his death. For several years he was prominently identified with the interests of the town, and carried on the tanning business in connection with Joseph Bratney. About 1850, however, he gave up this pursuit. He had received a good common education in England, was gifted by nature with fine abilities, and came to be recognized as one of the leading and most intelligent members of the community. For more than a quarter of a century he filled the office of magistrate. A ready perception, a careful memory, and long experience, had made him familiar with the law, and he was frequently called upon to practice in the proceedings before the neighboring justices. He had come to Evansville a man of no means, but afterward accumulated considerable property. His first wife, the mother of James Eccles, died in July, 1853, and he was twice subsequently married. Edmond Eccles, himself, departed this life on the twenty-seventh of May, 1873. In his time he was an active member of the community, and just before his death he had been elected Police Magistrate of Evansville. He was a man benevolent in his disposition, always ready to do a favor, or oblige a friend. His business habits were excellent, he was fond of reading, reflective in the tendencies of his mind, modest and unassuming in deportment. His knowledge of the law was thorough, as far as its practice is concerned in the lower courts.
James Eccles, the sixth child, was born, as has been stated, at Evansville, in May, 1846. The public schools of his town gave him his educational advantages. He was married October the fifth, 1869. His wife was formerly Mary E. Smith, a native of Randolph County. Mr. Eccles was elected constable in March, 1867, and has filled that position subsequent to that date. Of his three children, two are now living. As was his father, Mr. Eccles is a Democrat in politics. He has perhaps now lived in Evansville longer than any other resident of the place, and has borne the reputation of a good neighbor, and a public-spirited citizen.[Source: "An Illustrated Historical Map of Randolph County, Ills."; by John R. Williams, pub. by W. R. Brink & Co.; 1875; tr. by GT Transcription Team]

William Edmiston
Mr. Edmiston traces his history back to one of the old families of Virginia. His grandfather, Robert Edmiston, it is supposed, was both born and raised in that State. Towards the latter part of his life he removed with his family to Tennessee. He married a Miss Susan Hannah and raised a family of five children, four sons and a daughter, viz.: William, John, David, Alexander and Mrs. Polly (Andrew) McCurdy. William, the oldest, Mr. Edmiston's father, was born in Virginia, February 8th, 1795. He was sixteen when the family moved to Tennessee, where he was raised and married to Miss Sarah Askins. During the war of 1812, he entered the United States service, as a volunteer and is now one of the few remaining soldiers of that war. In 1832 he left Tennessee and came to this County, where he has resided ever since. He has raised six children, Albert, of Lyon County, Kansas, Polly (deceased), who married Thomas Paul, William, our subject, Rufus, also of Lyon County, Kansas, James, of Washington County, and Mrs. Sarah (David) Hannah, of the same County. Those who are now living are all well to do in life, honorable, industrious and upright citizens. The mother of these died in 1833, the year after the family came to this State. The father is still living and resides with his son William, of the town of Tilden.
Mr. Edmiston was born in Tennessee, March 21st, 1823. He came with his parents to Illinois in 1832, and has since been a resident of this County. He was raised on the farm and was fully inured to hard work during his youthful days. 1844, February 29th, he was joined in marriage to Miss Nancy Lindsay, daughter of Thomas Lindsay, an early settler of the County. Her mother was a Miss Jane Strahan, whose parents were both early settlers of Randolph.
Mr. Edmiston has been very prosperous. He has accumulated a very fine farm, which he has divided up among his children, and is now established in Tilden, devoting his attention to the grain trade, and is well known as one of the wealthy business men of his section of the country. Mr. Edmiston and lady have been blessed in their connubial relations with five children, all living, and all married with the exception of Charles F. Each of the three other sons, James H., William T. and John H. are farmers of Township 4-5, and are known as honorable and enterprising young men. The daughter, Jane and husband, Alexander Beckett, reside in the same township.
It is very probable, that the name Edmiston was originally spelled Edmondson. They are of Scotch nationality, and the ancestry were in this country during the days of the colonies, but what part they took in the early history of the nation, further than they were always patriots, cannot now be ascertained.[Source: "An Illustrated Historical Map of Randolph County, Ills."; by John R. Williams, pub. by W. R. Brink & Co.; 1875; tr. by GT Transcription Team]

John L. Edwords
Of the old and substantial citizens of Chester, John L. Edwords is worthy of a place in this work. He has been a resident of the vicinity since the year 1843, and of the town itself since the year 1855.  The Edwords family, with which he is connected, is of English ancestry, and had their home in the City of Philadelphia more than a century ago. The early members of the family followed the sea, a fact which may also be stated of some of his mother's relatives. His grandfather, both on his father's and on his mother's side, was a seafaring man. Both were sea captains, and both lost their lives on the ocean.
John J. Edwords, born in the City of Philadelphia, in the year 1792, was the father of the subject of this sketch. He was an only son. He adopted the profession of medicine, studied for a physician in Philadelphia, then the centre of medical knowledge and instruction, and afterward practiced in that city. His marriage took place about the year 1812, in the City of Philadelphia, to Eliza Gregory, a member of a family prominent at that time in Pennsylvania politics. There were two children, John L., and a daughter, Julia M. John L. Edwords was born at New Orleans, Louisiana, on the sixteenth of June, 1824, while his mother was on a visit to that city. His father lived in Philadelphia till his death, which happened in the year 1828, and John L. was raised in the Quaker City and there received his education, for obtaining which good facilities were afforded him. He was a young man of nineteen, when he came to Illinois, settled near Chester, and engaged in farming on the tract of land now occupied as the county farm. He bought this farm in 1845, but subsequently sold it, having lived on it for ten years. In the year 1847 he was married to Mrs. Josephine Brazeau, the maiden name of whom was Widen. Mrs. Edwords' birthplace was Kaskaskia, and she was a member of an old French family of that place, and the daughter of Raphael Widen. Her father was a prominent man in his life time. He filled several important public stations, and enjoyed to a high degree the confidence of the people. He was several times a representative in the Legislature, and once State Senator.
Mr. Edwords, in the year 1855, quit farming, and removed to Chester where he began the drug business, and at the same time carried on a trade in lumber. He continued in these occupations till the year 1868, when he disposed of the drug business to Mr. L. W. Morrison, and of the lumber business to G. H. Tate. He is at present engaged in no active pursuit, with the exception of occupying the position of a capitalist, and of attending to his own business interests.
We have recited the main facts of Mr. Edwords' career, and have only to mention that he came to Randolph County without means, and that his wealth has been accumulated mainly by his own shrewdness, industry, and energy. He is one of the solid men of Chester, cautious and careful in his business habits, and a progressive citizen. Henry W., Clarence Edgar, and Guy Joseph, are the names of his three children living. One is deceased. Politically, Mr. Edwords was an Old Line Whig, and his father was also connected with that party. He continued a Whig till that organization was numbered "among the things that were," and then Mr. Edwords became a Republican. He is, however, liberal in his political views. As a business man, Mr. Edwords possesses some excellent capabilities. Few capitalists have made investments on which they have stood a smaller proportion of losses, and while he occupied the position of an active business man, he was enterprising and reliable, and was active in promoting the growth of Chester.
Mr. Edwords has also been a conspicuous member of the Masonic Order. For several terms, he was honored with the position of Master of Chester Lodge, No. 72, and of Randolph Council, No. 44. He was one of the earliest members of the Masonic Fraternity about Chester, and has always taken a deep interest in its welfare and progress.[Source: "An Illustrated Historical Map of Randolph County, Ills."; by John R. Williams, pub. by W. R. Brink & Co.; 1875; tr. by GT Transcription Team]


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