Biography of James Rowland

James Rowland. More and more as time goes on American people appreciate the sacrifices and heroism of that host of men who preserved the Union in the dark days of the ’60s. It was a wonderful heritage left by them “Much more by far than all the crowns that Europe’s monarchs ever wore, the heritage heroes left a nation free from shore to shore.” Comparatively few of the old veterans of that struggle still survive, and wherever they are found they enjoy increasing respect in proportion to their decreasing numbers.

One of them is Mr. James Rowland, whose country home is in section 6 of Harwood Township. Mr. Rowland was born in Washington County, Ohio, the youngest in a family of seven children born to William and Sarah (Chapman) Rowland. His parents’ ancestors came from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the Rowland family first had its home in the State of Maine and from there came to Ohio.

James Rowland was only three weeks of age when his mother died and has was reared in the home of a Mr. Fowler. He acquired an education in the Ohio public schools and at the age of nineteen enlisted to serve his country. The date of his enlistment was May, 1864, and he joined Company H of the One Hundred and Sixty-first Ohio Infantry. He enlisted at Hiramsburg in Noble County, Ohio, and went into the Army of the Potomac. He took part in the Lynchburg raid, where the Union troops sustained severe losses, and later was in the hard fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, where the gallant Sheridan came to the rescue of the hard-pressed Union forces and gained a victory that will always be celebrated in American history. Mr. Rowland remained with the army until the close of the struggle and was mustered out at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio.

Then, at the age of twenty, he came to Illinois with the Fowler family, and his first day in this state will always remain permanent in his memory, since it was the day the news of Lincoln’s assassination was flashed over the nation and plunged its entire people into gloom.

At the age of twenty-one, in 1866, Mr. Rowland married Miss Elizabeth Davis, a native of Ohio and a daughter of Jacob Davis. After their marriage they settled on a farm in McLean County, Illinois, living there eighteen years, and then came to Champaign County, where they had their home for over thirty years. In Champaign County Mr. Rowland paid $45 an acre for a farm of 184 acres in Harwood Township. He established a good home here and by wise management and much hard work has created those circumstances which he now enjoys and which have enabled him to liberally support and provide for his family.

Five children were born to their marriage, four sons and one daughter. The oldest, Orloff, died at the age of six years. The second, Laura B., is Mrs. E. A. Wood of Gifford, and they have two children, Atha and Edith, the former the wife of Leland Fowler. The third child, Elmer A., is a concrete and monument worker at Champaign and his children are Morris, Carl, Lola, Donald and Blanche. T. A. Rowland, the next son, is in the barber business at Sidney, Illinois. H. N. Rowland, the youngest child, is in the grocery business at Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mr. and Mrs. Rowland took much pains to educate their children properly. Elmer and H. N. both attended the seminary at Onarga, Illinois, and H. N. graduated from the Wesleyan University at Bloomington. The son Bert was a student in the high school at Farmer City, while Laura completed her studies in Paxton College.

Mr. James Rowland has for many years been identified with the Grand Army of the Republic and has attended many state and national reunions of that great patriotic organization and has souvenirs of those occasions in many of the badges which he wore. He has also an interesting record of public service besides the part he rendered as a soldier in the war. He served as school trustee, road commissioner, was assessor five years, and at one time was elected to the office of justice of the peace, but declined to fill it on account of other duties. He is a member of the Masonic order. In politics he is a Republican and has given his stanch allegiance to the party which kept the Union intact in the Civil War and has always furnished the country wise and strong government. After experiences of over half a century Mr. Rowland is today well preserved and active, and it is the ardent wish of his many friends in Champaign County that his years may be greatly extended.


Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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