JAMES A. TEEL, a pioneer of Schuyler county, and one the most successful farmers and stock-raisers of the State of lllinois, was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, July 19, 1830. His father, Henry P. Teel, was born in New Jersey; and it is thought that the grandfather, John Teel, also was a native of New Jersey. The great-grandfather, Captain John Teel, commanded a company in the war of the Revolution; he spent his last years in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, and was buried with military honors; his widow came to Illinois and spent her last days here. John Teel served five years in the regular army, and participated in the struggle of 1812; he emigrated from Pennsylvania and spent the last years of his life in Guernsey county; he married Huldah Haines, a native of the Keystone State; she also died in Guernsey county. Henry P. Teel was a millwright by trade, and followed this vocation in Pennsylvania until 1833, when he came to Illinois, accompanied by his wife and two children; the trip was made via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Erie, and thence by team to Rushville; here he lived two years, and then removed to the Territory of Iowa, locating at Fort Madison, where he lived one year; he then came back to Schuyler county, and resumed work at his trade. He saved his money, and in 1845 he purchased a tract of school land on section 16, Rushville township; in connection with his trade he superintended the cultivation of this land, and resided on the farm until his death, which occurred March 21, 1878. He married Martha Ann Mathews, who was born in New Castle, Delaware, November 11, 1811; her father, James Mathews was born on the sea when his parents were emigrating to America; Thomas Mathews, the great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry; after emigrating to America he settled in Delaware, but later removed to Pennsylvania, locating in Washington county; he afterward came to Ohio, where he spent the remainder of his days; he married Margaret Steward, a native of Ireland. James Mathews, the maternal grandfather, was a papermaker by trade, learning the business at New Castle, Delaware; after his marriage he removed to Washington county, Pennsylvania, and thence to Kansas, where he spent the last days of his life in Cherokee county; he was a thirty-third degree Mason, and his funeral was conducted by that body. Henry P. Teel and wife reared a family of seven children: James A. the subject of this notice, H uldah A., John T., William, Alice, Henry and Cass. The parents are members of the Presbyterian Church; Mr. Teel affiliates with the Democratic party.
James A. Teel was four years of age when his parents came to Schuyler county to reside; settlers were few, and wild game abounded. At Fort Madison also the Indians were numerous, Black Hawk and Keokuk being prominent chiefs, well remembered by Mr. Teel. He attended the pioneer schools of Schuyler county, which were taught in log school houses, furnished in primitive style; the seats were made of slabs with wooden pins for legs, and the desks for the older scholars were constructed after the same pattern; the pens were made by the teacher from goose-quills. Cooking was done by a fire-place, and the children were clothed in home-spun of the mother's own weaving. James A. resided with his parents until he was nineteen, and then, in 1849, he emigrated to California, joining the great throng that pressed to the gold fields of that State; he was one of a company of sixty who made the journey overland with ox teams, walking the entire distance. He arrived at Biddle's Bar out of funds; he soon found employment in the mines, and worked two days and a half at $9 per day; he then began mining on his own account, and remained there until 1851, when he returned to his home via the Nicaragua route and New York. In 1853 he made another trip across the plains, spent a few months in the golden State, and returned by way of the Isthmus. He engaged in farming in Rushville township, and soon turned his attention to the breeding of fine cattle. In 1856 he located on a farm which he still owns on section 2, Rushville township; this tract consists of 570 acres, and is improved with good substantial buildings; Mr. Teel lived there until March, 1891, when he removed to the farm where he now resides, one mile north of the courthouse; he owns nearly 1,200 acres of land, all in Rushville and Buena Vista townships.
He was married July 29, 1856, to Miss Elizabeth Smith, a native of Rushville township, born December 24, 1834, a daughter of Jonathan and Nancy (Skiles) Smith (see sketch of William Wood). Mr. and Mrs. Teel have four children living: Herschel V., Neosho May, Marshall E. and Walter H.: the oldest child, Everett L., was born July 14, 1886; he was graduated from the law department of the State University, Madison, Wisconsin, in the class of 1890, and his death occurred in October, of the same year. In early days Mr. Teel belonged to the Whig party, but for many years past has affiliated with the Democratic party. He has served as collector of Rushville township, and has been a member of the county Board of Supervisors. He is a stockholder in the Schuyler County Agricultural Society, and has made an exhibit at the second fair held in the county, receiving two silver spoons as premiums; his herd of short-horns has been seen at many county fairs in Illinois since that time, and has been awarded sweep-stakes and other prizes on different occasions. Mr. Teel is a stock-holder in the Schuyler Hotel Company, and also in the Bank of Schuyler County. He is a man of superior business qualifications, and his judgment in all matters pertaining to agriculture is highly esteemed throughout the county and State.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 185-187.
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