Biography - James Halcom

JAMES F. HALCOM, whose war record as a true soldier with the dearest interests of his country at heart, reflects credit on the State that sent him to the front, is one of the foremost farmers of Johnson County, and the fortunate proprietor of two choice farms, one in Grantsburg Township and one in Cache Township, besides valuable residence property in the suburbs of Vienna, where he makes his home.
Our subject is a native of Tennessee, and a son of Stephen Halcom, a patriotic veteran of the late war, who sacrificed his health for his country's good while helping to fight its battles. Stephen Halcom was born in Jackson County, Tenn., and there grew up without educational advantages. He became a farmer and rented land to carry on his operations. Hearing favorable reports of the cheapness of the land, and of its great fertility, in southern Illinois, he embarked with his few possessions on board a steamboat, his family accompanying him, and in due season landed at Golconda. That was in the year 1855, and upon his arrival in Pope County he rented a farm, and for a number of years conducted a very good business as a renter. Ho laid by money enough to buy a farm of his own, although it had been but little improved, and its forty acres had been little cultivated. He moved into the small log cabin that stood on the place, and entered with a good will into the hard task that lay before him of developing his land. He worked steadily at his task, but finally laid down his work to volunteer for the defense of the Government, enlisting December 1, 1863, in Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. He remained in the service until after the rebellion closed, but he was disabled by all that he had endured, and on that account was honorably discharged in June, 1865. The most important battle in which he took part was that at Little Rock, Ark., though he was an actor in several skirmishes with the enemy. His life as a soldier so impaired his health that he has never regained his old-time vigor. A year after his return from the scenes of war he sold his farm, and is now living with his son James F.
Mr. Halcom was married while living in his native Stale to Miss Nancy Curnel, who was also born in Jackson County, Tenn., and her death occurred in Tennessee in 1852. He married for his second wife Sarah Baldwin, a native of Henry County, Tenn. He had a family of four children, as follows: Sarah, deceased; James F.; William Clayton, a farmer in Grantsburg Township; and Maria, deceased.
The subject of this sketch was born in Montgomery County, Tenn., in 1844, and was the second child of his father's first marriage. His mother died when he was but eight years old, and to be thus early deprived of her kindly and wise guidance was a great loss to him. As soon as large enough he had to make himself useful on the farm, and remained at home engaged in agricultural pursuits until he was nineteen years old, when he followed his father's patriotic example and became a member of the same regiment that he joined, the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. Young as he was, he left a wife behind to mourn his departure, but while he was away lighting for his country she died. In one of the numerous skirmishes with the enemy in which he bore a gallant part, the encounter taking place eight miles from Pine Bluff, Ark., he was captured, and suffered imprisonment ten months and nineteen days at Tyler, Tex. In journeying thither he was marched hundreds of miles over the burning sands in the month of July and August, when every step with blistered feet was agony. He had two attacks of sickness, but miraculously recovered in spite of the hard prison fare, which comprised one quart of coarse, unbolted corn meal, in which husks still remained, and a half pound of beef, the latter not always forthcoming, the half-starved prisoners sometimes being three or four days without. Our subject in his desperation planned an escape, but was hunted down by bloodhounds and taken back to his loathsome quarters. May 27, 1865, he was exchanged and returned to his regiment, and was finally discharged from the army in September following. The strong youth returned home an enfeebled man as the result of what he had passed through, and, saddest of all, the young wife whom he had left to watch for his coming had died while he was languishing in prison, hundreds of miles away.
As soon as he had in a measure recovered his health, Mr. Halcom resumed farming, renting land for some twelve years in Johnson County for that purpose. Industry, wise economy and practical ability as a farmer gave him a good start, and at the end of that time he bought forty acres of wild land in Grantsburg Township, and building a log cabin upon it for a dwelling, took possession of it, and at once began to clear and till his land. Selling that place, he bought a tract of one hundred and thirty-six acres of unimproved land in the same township, erected a good barn and other necessary buildings, and dwelt upon it one year. He disposed of that place, and the ensuing ten years rented land for farming in Union County. At the end of that time he bought a farm in the same county, which he sold two years later, and put his money in a farm in Grantsburg Township, this county. A year later he sold that and moved to a farm of eighty acres that he bought in Bloomfield Township. He occupied it two years, sold it, and purchasing a desirable piece of residential property, pleasantly located in the suburbs of Vienna, has lived here since. He is still, however, identified with the agricultural interests of the county, owing two farms, as before mentioned, and is classed among our successful farmers and business men. In politics, he votes with the Republicans, and in all things we know him to be a most loyal and exemplary citizen. His wife and family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he contributes liberally to its support.
Mr. Halcom had one child by his first marriage, Sarah Nancy, who is dead. The maiden name of our subject's present wife was Mary A. Comer. Seven children were born to them: James Monroe, a farmer in Grantsburg Township; Mary Madeline, deceased; Stephen Nathaniel, at home: William Edgar, deceased; and Lula Belle, Moses and Le Roy Francis, all at home with their parents.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 191-192.

Templates in Time