Calhoun County

1891 Biography - James Foiles

JAMES FOILES is numbered among the old settlers of Calhoun County and the representative farmers of Crater Precinct. He was born in Jefferson County, Va., October 18, 1811, and traces his ancestry in the maternal line to Germany. His father, John Foiles, was a native of the Old Dominion, but his mother, Peggy Havermill, had emigrated to that State from the Fatherland when but a small girl. Our subject was left motherless when eight or nine years old, but his father afterward married again and James continued an inmate of his old home. When he was fourteen or fifteen years old, the family moved to a location on the Ohio River in the western part of the State, a short distance above the Kentucky line. There our subject grew to maturity upon a farm, bearing a part in all the labor that was performed and acquiring skill in agriculture.

When he was about twenty-four years old James Foiles began boating on the Ohio River, making two trips as a hand and then building a flatboat for himself. He followed boating about seven years, then settled down on a farm in his native State, remaining there until 1855. In the spring of that year he came to Calhoun County, Ill., and bought one hundred and twenty acres of land for which he paid $500. The ensuing fall he purchased one hundred and sixty acres from the Government at the rate of twenty-five cents per acre. This land, with the exception of about ten acres, was covered with timber, but by dint of energy and the efforts which belong to pioneer development, Mr. Foiles has made the farm what it is to-day. He now owns seven hundred and ten acres which he has acquired by persevering industry and a wise use of the means which he secured from year to year.

In the Old Dominion, June 18, 1840, Mr. Foiles and Miss Mary E. Ansell were united in marriage. The bride possessed the affectionate nature and useful knowledge which made her a devoted helpmate and capable counselor during the long years of wedded life which were terminated by her death August 16, 1887. She had many friends who sincerely mourned her departure from the scenes of earth. Mr. and Mrs. Foiles had three children, two of whom survive and live in the same county as their father. These are Jacob A., and Virginia, wife of Dr. Lewis Foiles. The deceased child bore the name of Mary E.

Although Mr. Foiles enjoyed very limited educational privileges he possesses quite a fund of information gleaned in various ways during his long and useful life. He has ever been greatly interested in the growth of the school system and for several years was a trustee in Crater Precinct. Many years ago he was a Whig but since the organization of the Republican party he has been identified with that body. Pre-eminently successful in a financial sense, as his large estate attests, he is able to surround himself in his declining years with all the comforts and luxuries which he desires, and looking back over his long life can recall useful labors and hours well spent.

Extracted 16 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 420-421


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