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James D. Skelton
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Birth: 1811
Lunenburg County
Virginia, USA
Death: May 13, 1893
Kankakee County
Illinois, USA

James D. Skelton
James D. Skelton was born about 1811 in Virginia. His father was reported to have been a tailor and would travel on horseback, carrying his materials in his saddlebags, around to the Southern plantations, staying to make clothes for the family and then traveling on. The family reportedly moved from Virginia to Hardin County, Kentucky when James was a boy. James married Rachel D. Powell from Tennessee who was born in 1818. Rachel was the daughter of Henry A. Powell. Henry Powell had other children, a daughter, Elizabeth and son James Bonnie Powell. Elizabeth married John Hope Henderson who was a strongly vocal abolitionist. Elizabeth and John moved to Freedom Township in LaSalle County, Illinois in the 1830's in protest of the slavery issue in the Southern States, and were participants of the "Underground Railroad". James Bonnie Powell remained in Haywood County, Tennessee and married Zilpha Nunn. He was a school teacher and physician who became a wealthy landowner and had several slaves.
James and Rachel's first child, James Henry (called Henry) was born November 18, 1838 in Fairfield, Haywood County, Tennessee. In a July 4, 1926 speech in Maury City, Tennessee, Bill Poston recalled, "Mr. Jim Skelton, who married Henry Powell's daughter, was also a very outspoken abolitionist. Such an opinion was very unpopular here at that time, and he and his father-in-law, Henry Powell, left here and went to Illinois."
The Young Skelton family left Tennessee around 1840, using a team of oxen for transportation and lived for several years in Taylorville, Illinois, near Springfield. Two more children were born here; Mary in 1844 and Columbus in 1847. It was during their years in Taylorville that the family came to know Abraham Lincoln, who was a circuit riding lawyer at the time. According to newspaper accounts, Lincoln was popular with the local citizens and made it a point to know by name all of the local children. One day while passing by, Lincoln noticed that one of the Skelton boys was not present with the other gathering children. When he was told that Henry was sick at home, Lincoln left and returned with a puppy for the ailing child. Henry was very proud of this episode in his young life and recounted the story throughout his lifetime. James brother-in-law, John Hope Henderson suddenly died in 1848 and it is believed that James and Rachel then left Taylorville to join Elizabeth Henderson and her six children in Freedom Township. The Skelton family grew with the addition of son John H. born in 1850 and Sarah in 1858. James was a tailor by trade and according to the ledger kept by Norman Smith, the Harding Storekeeper, paid his account by making coats. He also served as the Highway Commissioner for the township in 1855 & 1856. James farmed and assisted his neighbors with carpentry work and brick laying. It must have been a difficult time for the two young families. It is documented that James wrote back to Tennessee to Dr. Powell to ask for monetary assistance. Dr. Powell replied that "all the money he had was made by slave labor, and of course, he would not want any of that; therefore, he could not send him any." Dr. Powell was quite proud of his clever reply and reportedly laughed heartily as he recounted the story in later years.
The family was still living in LaSalle County according to the state census of 1865. A land abstract of December, 1863 states, "James Skelton owned Lots 1 & 2 In Bock 5 and Lots 1 & 2 in Block 6 and Lot 2 in Block 7 in the Town of Munson. He deeded these lots to Henry Skelton in June of 1865, and reportedly moved south to Ford County. In 1870, he was farming on 80 acres in Mona Township, Ford County with daughter, Sarah, age 12, still at home. Rachel does not appear in the census reporting for that year. In 1880, James was boarding with the Sargeant family in the Village of Cabery in Ford County and working as a brick mason. James died May 13, 1893 in Kankakee, Illinois at the age of 82.

Written by Amilyn Skelton, Great-Great Granddaughter of James D. Skelton.

Transcribed by Charlotte Stevens Schneider, wife of Gary E. Schneider, GG Grandson of James D. Skelton.
Family links: 
  Rachel Docton Powell Skelton (1819 - 1865)*
  James Henry Skelton (1838 - 1935)*
  Mary Skelton Jeffords (1844 - 1929)*
  Columbus Skelton (1847 - 1942)*
  Sarah Skelton Smith (1858 - 1946)*
*Calculated relationship
Clayton Cemetery
Ford County
Illinois, USA
Plot: Lot 139 It is 6 or 7 rows back from the west side and near the north end of the cemtery
Maintained by: Amilyn Skelton
Originally Created by: Charlotte Schneider
Record added: Aug 23, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 29259776
James D. Skelton
Added by: Amilyn Skelton
James D. Skelton
Added by: Charlotte Schneider
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- kathrynwitte
 Added: Aug. 1, 2015
Rest in Peace, GG Grandfather.
- Charlotte Schneider
 Added: Aug. 23, 2008

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