James N. Anderson is now living retired in Hennepin, but for many years has been closely associated with agricultural interests in Putnam county. He has long since passed the Psalmist's span of three score years and ten, having reached the age of seventy-eight years, his birth having occurred in Philadelphia on the 2d of May, 1828. His parents were Robert and Ann (Crosby) Anderson, the former a native of Scotland, whence he came to America in 1801, being at that time about twenty-one years of age. For twenty-one years he worked for a man by the name of Israel Lobb upon a farm in Pennsylvania, and while thus engaged he was married. Subsequently he removed to Montgomery county, Ohio, where he bought a farm of one hundred acres, nearly all of which was wild land. This he cleared and developed into productive fields, making his home thereon until his death, which occurred when he had reached the very venerable age of eighty-five years. His wife, who was born in Philadelphia, died in Montgomery county, Ohio, at the age of sixty-eight years. In their family were four children, of whom James N. was the second in order of birth and the only one now living. The others were Margaret, who became Mrs. Addison and died in Montgomery county, Ohio; Elizabeth, who died in her father's home; and Robert, who passed away in Emmet county, Iowa, about two years ago.
James N. Anderson, reared under the parental roof, attended the common schools, and at the age of twenty years began earning his own living. He worked at carpentering and at farm labor, and soon afterward he engaged in farming on his own account and lived at home. However, he made further arrangements for having a home of his own by his marriage on the 3d of June, 1852, to Miss Mary B. McCabe, who was born in Hightstown, New Jersey, January 4, 1826, a daughter of Isaac and Rachel J. (Brown) McCabe, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of New Jersey. At an early day they removed to Ohio, and the father worked at the carpenter's trade, which he made his life occupation.
Following his marriage Mr. Anderson purchased a farm of one hundred and five acres in the county of his nativity and there lived until 1867, when he came to Putnam county, Illinois, and purchased a farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Granville township, near Mount Palatine. This farm was considered an improved property in those days. Upon it was a small frame house, a log stable with thatched roof and a fence built of poles and posts. The farm, however, had been rented and had grown up in weeds. Mr. Anderson at once began its further development and cultivation and made his home thereon until 1889, during which time he transformed the place into rich and productive fields and made many substantial modern improvements thereon. In 1889 he retired from active business and removed to Hennepin. He had, however, in the meantime built a new house and barns upon his place and had added eighty acres to his land. He had also invested about fifteen hundred dollars in tile and had drained his place until it was one of the best farms of the county. He retained the ownership of this property until about two years ago, when he sold out. In the meantime he had purchased land in Missouri, and has given to each of his children one hundred and fifty-seven and a half acres.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were born a daughter and three sons: Annie, now the wife of Fred Stansell, a resident of Knox county, Missouri, by whom she has three children; William J., who died at the age of twenty-three months; Isaac, who died at the age of four years; and Phillip B., who wedded Martha Stansell and is living upon a farm in Knox county, Missouri. They have two children. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson have recently returned from a visit to their children in Missouri, whither they go every year. In 1902 they celebrated their golden wedding, their children being at home, and over fifty invited guests were present, making the day a most memorable and enjoyable one.
For more than a half century Mr. Anderson has been an Odd Fellow. His political support is given to the democracy, and his first presidential vote was cast for Franklin Pierce. He delights to tell of the pioneer days, and recalls many interesting experiences of the times when ox teams were used in breaking the land and tilling the fields, and when nearly all of the work was done by hand. He has watched with interest the progress of events that have occurred, bringing about a wonderful transformation in the county, and though he retains pleasant recollections of the early tunes when almost every home was noted for its hospitality, he yet rejoices in what has been accomplished as the work of improvement has been carried forward. He and his wife now have a nice home in the city of Hennepin, and he takes great delight in the well-kept appearance of the place. His rest is well merited, being the fitting reward of many years of earnest toil.
Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 336.