History of Bureau County - Biographical Sketches 1885
Source: History of Bureau County, Illinois
H.C. Bradsby, Editor
Chicago: World Publishing Company 1885
Reprinted by: Higginson Book Co., Salem, MA
Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society
JAMES M. DRAPER, Greenville, was born in Bennington, Vt., December 5, 1817. He is the grandson of James Draper, a native of Norway, but who came to America at an early date in its history, and one of his sons, Nathan Draper, was the first white child born in Vermont. James Draper lived to be one hundred and four years old. His son, John, our subject's father, married Electa Elwell, a daughter of Jabish Elwell, a Revolutionary soldier. She was one of a family of ten sons and seven daughters, all of whom lived to have families of their own, and when James M. Draper's grandmother, Elwell, died, she was ninety-nine years, nine months and nine days old, and had 150 grandchildren, and 300 greath-grandchildren. While her husband, Jabish Elwell, was in the Revolutionary Army, not one of the children had a shoe to wear.
James M. Draper is one of a family of six children. He lived in his native State till coming to Illinois, in 1842. For two years he lived in Whiteside County, and in 1844 came to his present farm in Greenville Township. He came to this county without any property, but bought forty acres of land, and for four years all that he had to wear on his back was a cotton shirt and a cotton roundabout, costing 25 cents per yard, which he cut and made himself. He was of a robust and rugged constitution, and so he set himself at work to make a competency and now he is reaping his reward. He now owns 576 1/2 acres in one body in this township, and has retired from active life. He was married July 1, 1837, in Vermont, to Catherine Upham, who was born in Bennington, Vt. July 19, 1820. She is the mother of six children, viz.: Mary E., wife of Benjamin Odell, of Sacramento, Cal.; James H. married to Mary J. Hugboon; Franklin F., married to Mary Fairfax; Dennis D., married to Viola Wilson; Henrietta, wife of Jasper Stauffer, and Minne May, at home.
All except the eldest reside in this county. In politics Mr. Draper is Republican. He is a m,ember of the Protestant Methodist Church. When first settling in this county he experienced the hard times of the pioneer. His tea was made from the Redroot leaves, his coffee, burnt corn, and for sweetening, molasses made from watermelons served the purpose. But as he now looks back over a well-spent life he can say:
"But whilst I am a stranger away from my home,
I'll toil in the vineyard and pray.
I'll carry the cross, while I think of the crown,
And I'll watch for the break of the day."