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James Wesley Cassingham Biographical Sketch

[From the Biographical Review of Hancock County, Illinois Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many Of The Prominent Citizens Of To-day And Also Of The Past, (Chicago, Hobart Publishing Company, 1907). Pages 263-264.]

James W. Cassingham

James W. Cassingham dates his residence in Hancock county since 1857. He is now living retired in La Harpe but was formerly identified with agricultural and manufacturing interests. He was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, June 16, 1840, and in the paternal line comes of English ancestry, his grandfather being Thomas Cassingham, a native of England. His father, James Cassingham, was also born in that country and came with his parents to America in 1826, the family home being established upon a farm in Ohio. In early life he learned the shoemaker's trade, which he followed throughout his entire business career. He wedded Miss Martha Oden, a native of Virginia and a daughter of Elias Oden, and they became the parents of four children, three sons and a daughter.

James W. Cassingham, the third in order of birth, left home in 1855 when only fifteen years of age and came to Illinois with a family of the name of Decker, settling upon a farm in McDonough county. There Mr. Cassingham remained until March, 1857, when he left the Decker family and came to Hancock county where he was employed at farm labor by the month until 1861. When the tocsin [sic] of war sounded and men from all departments of life flocked to the standard of the country, coming from the workshop, the fields. the offices and the counting rooms, he too gave evidence of spirit of valor and loyalty and on the 10th of May, 1861, enlisted in the Sixteenth Illinois Infantry as a member of Company F. He served for four years, being mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, in, July 8, 1865. He was once wounded, though not seriously, and after the close of the war, having for four years been a most faithful soldier, he returned to Hancock county, settling in La Harpe township near the village of La Harpe. There he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he cultivated for almost a quarter of a century, or until 1889, when he took up his abode in the town. In that year, in connection with C. H. Ingraham and J. R. Booth, he established a brick manufacturing plant in La Harpe and was engaged in the manufacture of brick for about ten years, when he sold his interest to Mr. Ingraham and retired from active business. On the 26th of February, 1903, he sold his farm of one hundred and sixty acres, all of which was under cultivation.

Mr. Cassingham was married February 4, I866, to Miss Elizabeth Bryan, who was born March 22, 1839, in Pennsylvania. They became the parents of six children: Arthur, who was born December 18, 1866, and resides in Memphis, Missouri; Martha, who was born November 19, 1868, and is the wife of Warren Talbott, of Warren county, Illinois; Charlie C., who was born October 25, 1870, and lives in Spokane, Washington; Mary D., who was born March 22, 1872, and is the wife of John M. Lyon of La Harpe; Rose who was born August 2, 1876, and is wife of Herbert Locke, of Blandinsville, Illinois; and Lora, who was born September 16, 1879, and who is the wife of Clifford Prather of La Harpe. On the 21st of October, 1886, the family mourned the death of the wife and mother, who on that day passed away at the age of forty-seven years. On the 1st of October, 1887, Mr. Cassingham married Mary A. Bryan, the widow of Cowden M. Bryan. She was born in La Harpe, April 24, 1845. It was soon after his second marriage that Mr. Cassingham retired from the farm and removed to La Harpe, where he has since resided. His political affiliation is given to the Republican party and in the Masonic fraternity he has taken the degrees of the lodge and chapter. A residence of almost a half century in this county makes him widely known and numbers him with its early settlers, while his activity in agricultural and manufacturing lines gained him considerable prominence as well as a gratifying measure of success in his business dealings, so that he is today enabled to live retired in the enjoyment of a rest which he has justly earned and richly deserves.