James Alexander Teel

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 185, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  James A. Teel, a pioneer of Schuyler county, and one of the most successful farmers and stock raisers of the State of Illinois, was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, July 19, 1830. His father, Henry P. Teel, was born in New Jersey; and it is thought that the grandfather, John Teel, also was a native of New Jersey. The great-grandfather, Captain John Teel, commanded a company in the war of the Revolution; he spent his last years in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, and was buried with military honors; his widow came to Illinois and spent her last days here. John Teel served five years in the regular army, and participated in the struggle of 1812; he emigrated from Pennsylvania and spent the last years of his life in Guernsey county; he married Huldah Haines, a native of the Keystone State; she also died in Guernsey county. Henry P. Teel was a millwright by trade, and followed this vocation in Pennsylvania until 1833, when he came to Illinois, accompanied by his wife and two children; the trip was made via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Erie, and thence by team to Rushville; here he lived two years, and then removed to the Territory of Iowa, locating at Fort Madison, where he lived one year; he then came back to Schuyler county, and resumed work at his trade. He saved his money, and in 1845 he purchased a tract of school land on section 16, Rushville township; in connection with his trade he superintended the cultivation of this land, and resided on the farm until his death, which occurred March 21, 1878 {March 31, 1878}. He married Martha Ann Mathews, who was born in New Castle, Delaware, November 11, 1811; her father, James Mathews was born on the sea when his parents were emigrating to America; Thomas Mathews, the great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry; after emigrating to America he settled in Delaware, but later removed to Pennsylvania, locating in Washington county; he afterward came to Ohio, where he spent the remainder of his days; he married Margaret Steward, a native of Ireland. James Mathews, the maternal grandfather, was a paper maker by trade, learning the business at New Castle, Delaware; after his marriage he removed to Washington county, Pennsylvania, and thence to Kansas, where he spent the last days of his life in Cherokee county; he was a thirty-third degree Mason, and his funeral was conducted by that body. Henry P. Teel and wife reared a family of seven children: James A., the subject of this notice, Huldah A., John T., William, Alice, Henry and Cass. The parents are members of the Presbyterian Church; Mr. Teel affiliates with the Democratic party.
  James A. Teel was four years of age when his parents came to Schuyler county to reside; settlers were few, and wild game abounded. At Fort Madison also the Indians were numerous, Black Hawk and Keokuk being prominent chiefs, well remembered by Mr. Teel. He attended the pioneer schools of Schuyler county, which were taught in log school houses, furnished in primitive style; the seats were made of slabs with wooden pins for legs, and the desks for the older scholars were constructed after the same pattern; the pens were made by the teacher from goose quills. Cooking was done by a fire place, and the children were clothed in homespun of the mother's own weaving. James A. resided with his parents until he was nineteen, and then, in 1849, he emigrated to California, joining the great throng that pressed to the gold fields of that State; he was one of a company of sixty who made the journey overland with ox teams, walking the entire distance. He arrived at Biddle's Bar out of funds; he soon found employment in the mines, and worked two days and a half at $9 per day; he then began mining on his own account, and remained there until 1851, when he returned to his home via the Nicaragua route and New York. In 1853 he made another trip across the plains, spent a few months in the Golden State, and returned by way of the isthmus. He engaged in farming in Rushville township, and soon turned his attention to the breeding of fine cattle. In 1856 he located on a farm which he still owns on section 2, Rushville township; this tract consists of 570 acres, and is improved with good substantial buildings; Mr. Teel lived there until March, 1891, when he removed to the farm where he now resides, one mile north of the courthouse; he owns nearly 1,200 acres of land, all in Rushville and Buena Vista townships.
  He was married July 29, 1856, to Miss Elizabeth Smith, a native of Rushville township, born December 24, 1834, a daughter of Jonathan and Nancy (Skiles) Smith (see sketch of William Wood). Mr. and Mrs. Teel have four children living: Herschel V., Neosho May, Marshall E. and Walter H.; the oldest child, Everett L., was born July 14, 1866; he was graduated from the law department of the State University, Madison, Wisconsin, in the class of 1890, and his death occurred in October, of the same year.
  In early days Mr. Teel belonged to the Whig party, but for many years past has affiliated with the Democratic party. He has served as collector of Rushville township, and has been a member of the county Board of Supervisors. He is a stock holder in the Schuyler County Agricultural Society, and has made an exhibit at the second fair held in the county, receiving two silver spoons as premiums; his herd of short-horns has been seen at many county fairs in Illinois since that time, and has been awarded sweep-stakes and other prizes on different occasions. Mr. Teel is a stockholder in the Bank of Schuyler County. He is a man of superior business qualifications, and his judgment in all matters pertaining to agriculture is highly esteemed throughout the county and State.

Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Illustrated 1908,  Volume II, Schuyler County, by Newton Bateman, LL.D. and Paul Selby, A.M.,  Edited by Howard F. Dyson, page 942-943, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Teel, James A. - During his many years of association with Schuyler County, James A. Teel was known as an increasingly prosperous farmer, and as a man who had sufficient breadth and ability to reach out and utilize many opportunities not immediately at hand.  More than the average, he seemed to realize the responsibility of the agriculturist as a factor in the world's progress, and evidently believed that the greatest development came through participation in the general affairs and responsibilities of the community.  He was particularly zealous and successful in promoting the breeding of fine cattle, and during the years of his greatest activity in this line his profits were unusually satisfying to himself and encouraging to those similarly employed.
  James Alexander Teel was born in Washington County, Pa. July 19, 1830, and was a great-grandson of Captain John Teel, a native of Ireland who settled in New Jersey, and after commanding a company in the Revolutionary War, was buried with the military honors due his rank.  John Teel, son of Captain Teel, and grandfather of James A., was born in New Jersey, served five years in the regular army, and participated in the War of 1812.  His son, Henry P., the next in line of succession, also was a native of New Jersey, and it was his energy and courage that shifted the family fortunes to Pennsylvania, where he engaged in farming in Washington County and whence he finally pushed still further westward to the out-post of civilization in Schuyler County, in 1833.  Two years later he removed to the Territory of Iowa, and after a year spent at Fort Madison, returned to Schuyler County, in 1845, locating on Section 16, Rushville Township, where Calvin Hobart had erected the first cabin in the county.  Martha Ann Mathews, wife of Henry P. Teel, was the daughter of James Mathews, whose father, Thomas Mathews, was a native of Ireland.
  Three years old when his father arrived in Schuyler County, James A. Teel had meager educational or other advantages, but he had the pioneering instinct of his sire deeply implanted in his nature, with the purpose and determination to make his dream come true.  In this he proved himself one of the hardy and bold spirits of his town, as against the cautious and timid class who were not equal to the hazards of penetration to the Pacific Coast; an outdoor man, an adventurer, who wanted something to conquer and who followed the star of empire to the continent's rim.  Arriving at the Mecca of his desires, he became a part of that unwritten chapter of romantic history which thrilled the country, and for two years lived in the ribald camps of the Argonauts, taking something from the earth in reward for his toil and self-sacrifice.  Again he journeyed westward in 1853, participating for several months in the pagan pleasure of life and the romantic zest for adventure which characterized the surroundings of the fortune seekers.
  As before, his good fortune was in no way exceptional, adding but little to his financial resources.  Farming rather than mining was his life-work, and when again on the old place in Schuyler County, he devoted practically all his time and the rest of his life to this pursuit.  He engaged extensively in general farming and stock-raising attaining to special prominence as a Short-horn cattle breeder, in which he first became interested before the Civil War.  For a number of years he was President of the Schuyler County Farmers' Institute, and took a keen interest in its affairs.  With the founding of the Bank of Schuyler in 1890, he became one of the stock-holders, and later was elected Vice-President of that institution.  On his death, October 22, 1902, at the age of seventy-two years he was the owner of 1,200 acres of farm land, besides various town properties in Rushville.  Illness somewhat changed the current of the later years of his life, but he bore all physical trials with rare patience, and applied that fine philosophy which had made light of many obstacles and helped him over many of the rough places in his career.
  In 1856 Mr. Teel married Elizabeth Smith, of Rushville Township, and of this union there were the following named children: Everett Lee, a young man of exception promise who had just been admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession at Galesburg, Ill., where, on returning from a visit to his parents, he was accidentally killed, being run over by an express train; Judge H. V. Teel, mention of whom may be found elsewhere in this work; Mrs. Neosha M. Mills; Marshall E.; Hulda, deceased; and Walter H. {note his bio is also on page 943}. A staunch Democrat in politics, he was a Supervisor of his township several terms, and in 1894 was elected to the State Legislature, his representation of the people reflecting his broad sense of justice, his intolerance of fraud and deception, and his fearlessness in insisting upon fair and above-board legislation.  He was an agreeable and approachable man, loyal to the public interests and friends, and he possessed the faculty of interesting other people in his projects and securing their support and co-operation.  His life gave encouragement to the faint hearted, and was an expression of force, determination and successful achievement.

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