Biography - JAMES W. STEVENSON
The venerable postmaster of Sunrise, LaSalle county, Illinois, is one of the most popular and widely known residents of the county, having taken an active part in all public affairs of local import that have engaged the attention of the citizens of this community since his residence here, - a period embracing half a century.
James W. Stevenson, who was born in Warren county. New Jersey, April 30, 1827, is a son of John and Hannah (Wilson) Stevenson, and a grandson of Joseph Stevenson. John Stevenson also was born in the state of New Jersey, where he grew to manhood and engaged in tilling the soil. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and was a. man of most exemplary character. Hannah Wilson, the lady to whom he was united in marriage, was born in Warren county. New Jersey, and was a daughter of Gabriel and Grace (Brotherton) Wilson, both of whom were of English descent. Eight children resulted from this marriage, namely: Joseph, a resident of Pasadena, California; James W., whose history is here briefly portrayed; Samuel, deceased, late of Pennsylvania; Almira Deats, of New Jersey; William, who died in Sayre, Pennsylvania; Edwin, who was drowned when he was about twenty-one years old; Daniel, a resident of Streator, Illinois; and Walter, who resides in Pasadena, California. The father died at the age of fifty-four years and was survived many years by his wife, who made her home in this township until her eighty-seventh year, when she also passed to her reward, the date of her death being March 20, 1889.
James W. Stevenson was reared in New Jersey, attending the public schools and the West Town Friends' Boarding School. He was employed for some years as an instructor in the schools of that state, and in 1849 came to Illinois, locating in Rutland township, LaSalle county. About 185 1 he returned to New Jersey and remained there two years, when he came back to this county and took up his permanent residence here, on the farm now owned and cultivated by him. This contains two hundred and eighty acres of land, one hundred and sixty of which is under cultivation. Good, substantial buildings lend an added charm, while a large orchard furnishes an abundance of finely flavored fruit, such as is grown no place else except on the broad prairie land of Illinois.
In 1851 Mr. Stevenson was married to Miss Comfort A. Millikin, daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Williams) Millikin, and a native of Licking county, Ohio, where she was educated. Her parents were early settlers of LaSalle county, and both died in Rutland township. Eight children were born to them, of whom six daughters and one son are living, namely: Comfort A., wife of our subject; Sarah Russell, a resident of Iowa; Minerva Smith, also of Iowa; Amanda L. Wightman, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Jerusha Kelley, of Grant City, Missouri; Samuel; and Lucy Parr.
To Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson were born six children, namely: Emma, who lives at home; John, who married Miss Florence Carver, by whom he has two children, Grace Eva and Roy; Edward, a bridge-builder of Toledo, Ohio; Ernest, a talented musician, who married Miss Mamie Vail and has two children, James Vail and Elmira C.; William, who married Miss Mabel Spencer; and Byron, who died at the age of thirty years.
Mr. Stevenson is a stanch Republican and has taken a prominent interest in township, county and state politics, rendering much aid to the party organization. He has served for twelve years on the board of supervisors, representing Otter Creek township, and for thirty-one years has acted as postmaster of Sunrise, Illinois, discharging his duties in a thorough and conscientious manner, which qualities have been among the chief characteristics of the man. He is now in his seventy-second year, but is hale and hearty, with a good word for everyone. His upright, Christian life has made him generally loved and respected, and no man stands higher in the esteem of the general public than he.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 70-71.