JAMES ELLARS. Illinois gave freely of her wealth and of her men to the defense of the
Union when the call came from President Lincoln for troops to suppress the War of
the Rebellion. All over her broad prairies you may now find men living in quiet retirement upon
whose breasts may be seen the modest decoration of the Grand Army of the Republic, or who,
perhaps unbadged, still keep in their hearts the memory of their days and nights upon the battlefield
and upon the march. Such will ever find cordial recognition and a hearty approval from
every patriotic man or woman, and among them we are pleased to mention the prosperous farmer
and stock-dealer residing at Arthur, Moultrie County, whose name we have placed at the head of
Mr. Ellars settled in Lowe Township in the spring of 1868, and at that time purchased two
hundred and forty acres of land on section 24 where there were but few improvements. Madison
County Ohio, had been his birthplace, October 18, 1842, and the excellent couple who gave him
his birth and training were Benjamin and Priscilla (Harrison) Ellars.
The family came to Illinois in 1852, settling upon a tract of unbroken prairie in what was then
known as Coles County, but which is now included in Douglas County. At that date settlers were
few in that section, but deer were abundant and could be seen grazing upon the prairie as plentifully
as the cattle of to-day. There the father of our subject improved three hundred and twenty
acres of rich prairie soil and remained for two years. In 1854 he decided to prospect about a
little more before settling for a permanent home, and started for Iowa, traveling overland with his
team. The first night of his journey he stopped at Monticello, Ill., and as he was taking a loaded
gun from a wagon it was accidentally discharged and the shot penetrated his lungs. This accident
crippled him so that he gave up his journey and finding that he was unable to do farm work he
sold his land and undertook the management of a small country store. He then purchased a store in
Bourbon, which he carried on for a number of years until his health was sufficiently recovered
for him again to undertake agricultural pursuits. He resided in Missouri from 1870 to 1881, after
which he returned to Illinois and died in Douglas County in 1882, at the age of sixty-seven years.
His faithful wife, who was the mother of ten children, had been taken from his side by death some
years previous to his demise.
He of whom we write was eight years old when the family settled in Illinois and the Prairie State
has been his home from that day to this. In 1861 he entered the service of his country, enlisting in
Company F, Second Illinois Cavalry, and did brave service for two years and six months. When
his term of service expired in the Second Cavalry he re-enlisted, and was then commissioned as Second
Lieutenant in the fourth United States Cavalry, with which he fought until December, 1864,
when he resigned and went home. He returned to Douglas County, and since the war has devoted
himself to farming and dealing in live stock, carrying on this double avocation with such success
that he now owns eight hundred and eighty acres of excellent land, and is looked upon as one of our
prosperous farmers. Since January, 1875, be has made his residence in the village of Arthur.
A happy wedded life began for our subject in January, 1867, when he was married to Harriet P.
Reeder, a daughter of John A. and Mary Reeder. This lady was born in Ohio, 1843, and there received
an excellent education as well as practical training in home duties, both of which have fitted
her to be what she now is, not only a leader in social circles, but a capable and notable housewife,
a faithful wife and a judicious mother. One son only has blest this marriage, namely: Orla L., who
has established a home for himself, having taken as his bride Miss May Crumbar. The declarations
of the Republican party embody very fully the political belief of Mr. Ellars, and he consistently casts
his vote for the candidates of that party. He is not in any sense a politician or a wire-puller, but
believes it to be the duty of every citizen to speak his mind through the ballot in regard to all matters
of public interest.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 389/390
Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb