James A. Talbott has not only achieved that success represented by large land holdings and rich and prosperous farms, but also the riches of friendship and community esteem. All this is well indicated by the title affectionately bestowed upon him and most people know him as “Uncle Jimmie” Talbott. Mr. Talbott and his family reside in Harwood Township, in section 36, near Gifford, but his farm possessions spread over a large area and include 1,600 acres of choice Illinois soil.
Mr. Talbott is a native of West Virginia, and was the fourth of eight children born to J. V. and Sarah (Parsons) Talbott. He is of English stock on both sides and the families have been in America for many generations. Mr. James A. Talbott grew up in West Virginia and attended a school known as the Wise school, from the name of the land owner there. He was still young when his parents, in April, 1865, left West Virginia, soon after the surrender of Lee’s army, and migrated to Illinois. They heard the news of Lincoln’s assassination on arriving at Danville. J. V. Talbott bought ninety acres of land in Middle Fork Township in Vermilion County, paying $25 an acre. The family encountered many hardships and privations. J. V. Talbott had always suffered somewhat delicate health and the change of climate not agreeing with him he died in 1866, after about a year of residence in Illinois. He was a man of fine character, and in the brief time spent in Illinois had acquired a large circle of friends. His widow afterwards visited relatives in California and was taken ill and died in that state. When James A. Talbott was thirty years of age he married Ruthie LeFever. Mrs. Talbott at her death left four young children, named Charles V., Lucy A., Frank W. and Earl P. These children were educated in the Corliss district schools of Champaign County. Mr. Corliss had leased the ground for the school for a period of twenty-five years, and after the lease expired the name was changed to the Talbott School, in honor of this Talbott family.
For his second wife Mr. Talbott married Mrs. Eliza J. LeFever. She was born in Marion County, Ohio, seven miles from the city of Marion, daughter of Charles L. and Mary (Duckweiler) LeFever. Her father was a native of Germany and her mother of Pennsylvania.
After his marriage Mr. Talbott began housekeeping on a farm of eighty acres, for which he paid $20 an acre. It was prairie land in the midst of sloughs and without improvements. He bought the land from J. C. Sheldon. Here he began the sturdy work of improvement, erecting a small house, planting trees, and in the course of time has developed one of the attractive farm homes which stands as a monument to his industry.
Mrs. Talbott first married Isaac LeFever. They lived at Sugar Grove in Champaign County. By her first husband Mrs. Talbott has two children: Minnie A. and Ross W. LeFever. Minnie is the wife of Louis Schmitt, a farmer in Iowa, and their three children are named Florence, Ray and Loren. Ross LeFever is a farmer in Harwood Township and by his marriage to Effie George has a daughter, Beula May.
Of Mr. Talbott’s children by his first marriage Charles V. is a farmer in Vermilion County. He married Laura Smith and has two children, Asher and Hattie. Lucy A. is the wife of Emanuel Rowe, a Harwood Township farmer, and has a son, Orene. Frank W. Talbott also lives in Vermilion County and married Ollie Shellenbarger. Their children were Ethel, Grace, Walter, Ray, Carl, Roy and Ruth. Mrs. Ollie Talbott died at the birth of her daughter Ruth. Earl P. Talbott is a resident of Champaign County on a farm. He married Bertha Harper and has a daughter, Viola.
Mr. and Mrs. Talbott give their active support to the Methodist Episcopal Church at Gifford. In politics he is a stanch Democrat and believes that President Wilson is the man of the hour and entitled to the full confidence and support of a united country. Mr. Talbott served fourteen years as school director, two years as road commissioner, and at one time was elected justice of the peace, but on account of his business duties was obliged to decline the honor.
Mr. and Mrs. Talbott have cooperated in their efforts to rear their children to useful lives and instill in them the principles of loyal American citizenship. They have a most hospitable home and are well known throughout the county. One of Mr. Talbott’s close friends was the late Judge Cunningham, who, he says, was one of the finest judges and citizens Champaign County ever had.
Mr. Talbott’s success as a farmer needs no special demonstration. He has shown consummate ability in getting the most out of the soil without destroying its fertility and has built up a large estate of 1,600 acres. In 1872 he located a half section of land near Wichita, Kansas, and he has traveled widely over the different states and is thoroughly acquainted with agricultural conditions elsewhere as well as in Champaign County.
Mr. and Mrs. Talbott may now be found enjoying the comforts of a fine home a mile and a half north of Gifford. They look back upon days well and profitably spent. Mrs. Talbott was for nine years a widow after the death of her first husband and after her marriage to Mr. Talbott she took care of his orphan children, kept them in school, and her own children and her husband’s grew up in congenial companionship. Mrs. Talbott was a close friend of Mr. Talbott’s first wife and she and Mr. LeFever stood up with the couple when they married.