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Douglass, James R.
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Douglass, James R.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, 1891; Page 641 - 643

JAMES R. DOUGLASS, M. D. After having practiced his profession for some years, Dr. Douglass has taken up his residence on a farm in Richwoods Precinct, Calhoun County, and is enjoying all the comforts with which the well-to-do farmer of modern times surrounds himself. He owns a fine estate of four hundred acres, more than one hundred and fifty acres of which is given to fruit culture. His residence, a commodious brick structure, is pleasing in architectural design, conveniently arranged and well furnished. The immense amount of fruit gathered from the orchards of Dr. Douglass led him to erect a cider mill in 1882, which is operated by steam power and has a capacity of upwards of one hundred and twenty barrels per day and this year he erected another steam cider mill at Martin's Landing, on the Mississippi River, with a capacity of two hundred barrels per day. Every appliance which the invention of man has furnished for the thorough and rapid cultivation of the soil and disposal of the fruits thereof may be found upon the estate of Dr. Douglass, and neatness and order everywhere prevail.

Dr. Douglass, as his name denotes, is of Scotch descent and comes of a family, many members or which have won renown in the world's history. During the Colonial times two brothers emigrated from Scotland to the New World, one of them settling in Vermont and founding the branch of the family of which the famous Stephen A. Douglas was a member. The other brother made his home in Maryland, which State was the home of that branch of the family for several generations. The grandfather of our subject, Joseph Douglass, was born in St. Mary's County, December 25, 1747, and died in Dorchester County, December 28, 1816. His wife bore the maiden name of Margaret Nichols, and was a native of the same State, having been born in Caroline County, and like her husband spent her entire life in Maryland. This couple had six sons, two of whom, Isaac N. and Joseph, died in their youth. Thomas H. married Janet Smoot; Joseph 2d, married Celia Wright and for his second wife Charlotte Wilson; John married Nancy Turpin; Jeremiah married Susan Thompson.

Jeremiah Douglass was born in Caroline County, Md., April 23, 1791. He was reared and educated in his native State and began dealing in horses when a young man, buying the animals in the West and taking them East to sell. While in Kentucky on that business he made the acquaintance of the lady who became his wife in Scott County, in June, 1817. The couple made their home in that county until 1821, when they removed to Pike County, Mo., the journey being made overland with a team. Mr. Douglass was one of the pioneers of the county in which Indians still lingered and where wild game was plentiful. He took up Government land seven miles south west of the present site of Bowling Green. There were no railroads spanning the country and no steamers plying the streams, and St. Charles, eighty miles distant, was the nearest market and depot of supplies, and there the nearest physician was located.

The people in that section lived upon the products of their farms, even the clothing being supplied from the wool and flax raised at home. The mother of our subject used to card, spin and weave, making all the cloth used in the family and forming it into garments by her own hands. Mr. Douglass had learned the trade of a boot and shoe-maker and for years made all the footwear used by his household. The worthy couple lived to see the country develop into a well-settled and wealthy region and their own farm finely improved and thoroughly cultivated. Mr. Douglass died in 1863 and his wife survived until December 13, 1876. The latter was born in Scott County, Ky., May 12, 1796.

In the maternal line Dr. Douglass traces his descent from John Thompson, an Englishman who came to America in early manhood. In Maryland he married Margaret Gilbert and removing to Scott County, Ky., during its early settlement, made that his home during the remainder of his life. In his family was a son Gilbert who was born in Maryland, accompanied his parents to the Blue Grass State and in 1821 emigrated with his family to Missouri, taking his place among the pioneers of Pike County. He took up a tract of land adjoining that of Mr. Douglass; improved the property and also built many mills in Pike and the surrounding counties, being a millwright by trade. The wife of Gilbert Thompson was Jane Shannon, a native of Pennsylvania, daughter of John and Susan (Alexander) Shannon, both of whom were born in Ireland, but whose marriage took place in Pennsylvania. Gilbert and Jane (Shannon) Thompson were the grandparents of our subject.

The family of Jeremiah and Susan (Thompson) Douglass consisted of seven children, our subject being the fourth in order of birth. John T. now lives near Bow ling Green, Mo.; Joseph M. in Virginia City, Nev.: Marion C. in Pike County, Mo.; William G. died December 15, 1888; Thomas J. lives in Batchtown, Ill.; Susan J. married Green G. Thompson and died in 1882.

Dr. Douglass was born on the farm near Bowling Green, Pike County, Mo., December 29, 1830. He spent his youth in the manner customary to farmers sons in a sparsely settled locality, receiving his early education in the schools taught on the subscription plan. In 1852 he began the study of medicine in the office of Dr. Benjamin F. Todd at Bowling Green, Mo. In 1854 he was found at Pittsfield, Pike County, Ill., with Dr. John T. Hodgen. During the winter of 1853-54 he attended lectures in the medical department of the University of Missouri, at St. Louis, and the following winter was again pursuing his investigations there, being graduated in the class of 1855.

Immediately after receiving his diploma Dr. Douglass located in Richwoods Precinct, Calhoun County, Ill., but a year later removed to Rockport, Pike County, Ill.; he sojourned there but three months then took up his residence in New Harmony, Pike County, Mo., where he resided until January, 1857. Returning to Richwoods Precinct, Calhoun County, he bought three acres of timber land, which is included in his present homestead, and has continued to make this his home. He built a log cabin which he occupied ten years, then took possession of his present residence, a view of which will be found elsewhere in this volume. He added to his estate from time to time as his affairs prospered, and is now well situated financially. He has had a large practice as a physician and in many families the name of Dr. Douglass is never uttered but with grateful hearts.

The lady who for many years has shared the fortunes of Dr. Douglass became his wife March 12, 1856, prior to which time she was known as Miss Maria E. Carr. She was born in Albemarle County, Va., is of good blood, and in her own person exhibits the virtues of mind and heart and graces of manner characteristic of the family. Dr. and Mrs. Douglass have two children living; their first-born, John Hodgen, died at the early age of twenty-three years. The survivors are Benjamin Todd, now a student in the Lebanon Law University at Lebanon, Tenn., and Maria Lee, at home. Dr. Douglass gives his political adherence to the Democratic party.

Mrs. Douglass is a lineal descendant of Sir Thomas Carr, of England, who, on coming to America, obtained a grant to large tracts of land in Virginia. His home was in Louisa County and his residence was known as Bear Castle. His son John was an extensive planter and so far as known spent his entire life in the Old Dominion. The next in the direct line was Overton Carr, who settled in Maryland, buying land and engaging in farming. He owned the present site of our National Capital. Following him was Jonathan B. Carr, who was born in Bladensburg, Md., reared in his native State, but removed to the Old Dominion where he practiced law a number of years. He finally removed to Lincoln County, Mo., in 1836, bought land and turned his attention to farming. There, his death occurred in September, 1860. Jonathan Carr married Anna Barbara Carr, who was born in Albemarle County, Va., and whose father, Garland Carr, was a son of the owner of Bear Castle. Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan B. Carr were the parents of Mrs. Douglass.

The attention of the reader is invited to a lithographic portrait of the Doctor, which is presented in connection with this biographical review.

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