Hon. James A. Countryman – One of the representatives of the tenth senatorial district in the house of representatives of the state of Illinois is one of the best known and highly honored of the citizens of Ogle County, of which he has been a resident for forty-four years. He was born in Herkimer County, New York, May 24, 1840 and was partly educated in the district schools of his native state. He came with his parents to Ogle County in 1885, the family locating in the township of Lynnville. After coming to the county he became a student in Rock River Seminary, at Mt., Morris, and attended that institution of learning for several terms.
Daniel Countryman, the father of our subject, was born in Starkville, Herkimer County, New York, on March 31, 1815 and obtained his education in the primitive schools of the early day. He was married in his native county to Miss Sally Phillips, also a native of New York and who was born in 1818. Six children were born to them, four of whom are yet living – James A., Calvin, Carrie E. and Jennie V. Of these, the first named is the subject of this sketch. Calvin is now in business in the city of Rockford. Carrie E. married Benjamin F. Allen and they had son and daughter, Ada and Daniel. Jennie V. was united in marriage with Wesley M. Longenecker of Rochelle and one daughter was born to them, Grace E.
Daniel Countryman was a stock farmer by occupation and in his life was quite successful. His whole life was spent in the discharge of duty. He was a member of the Lutheran church, but for many years he advocated with voice and pen church union of all evangelical denominations and from his advocacy of this a very strong and flourishing union mission church, located at Lindenwood, is doing much good in that community. His generous spirit led him into constant deeds of charity and it was fortunate of others that his ability and frugality gave him ample means to assist others. He lived in the enjoyment of the love and almost adoration of his family, the esteem of his friends and with the respect of all that he ever met. He died as he had lived, with a benediction on his lips for all, and he left a large circle of sorrowing friends to mourn his loss. He died March 14, 1883, and his widow August 10, 1893. She was also well beloved by all who know her, a true Christian woman a loving mother, and steadfast friends and neighbor. The family, which is of German origin settled early in Herkimer County, New York, and there the grandfather of our subject, John I. Countryman was born.
James A. Countryman was fifteen years old when he came to Ogle County. He remained at home assisting his father in farm work until after he had attained his majority. Farming has been his life work, and that he has made a success of it is attested by his well tilled fields and the excellent stock upon his premises. He was married, February 26, 1873 to Miss Carrie Klinkhart, an adopted daughter of Moses Countryman and wife. This union has been blessed with three sons and one daughter: Floyd M., born July 12, 1877; Ralph A., February 11, 1882; and Jay A., April 28, 1886.
Mr. Countryman owns the greater part of the original family homestead on sections 20 and 21, consisting of eight hundred and eighty acres; which is under a fine state of cultivation. He is a general stock farmer, his specialties being thoroughbred shorthorn cattle, of which he annually attends and prepares for the market a very large number of head, for which he secures the highest market price. He is also a breeder of the world wide and justly celebrated Poland China hogs. His reputation in this line is very extensive, having made four shipments of the same to Germany. He has been for many years a breeder and exhibitor of pure bred stock, and has taken many first and sweepstake prizes at the American Fat Stock Show and leading fairs of the country. It is but natural that he should take great interest in this branch of his business.
Since first exercising the right of franchise Mr. Countryman has taken an active interest in political affairs, and has exercised a good influence in the party councils of his party, which, it is needless to say, is that of the Republican party. He has been repeatedly elected and filled responsible positions in his township and the duties of every office held he has discharged in a faithful manner. He was first elected supervisor of the township of Lynnville in 1875 and re-elected in 1876 and again in 1883 -4-5-6, then again in 1890, since which time he has served continuously in the office to the entire satisfaction of his constituents, a period of fifteen years. For two years he was chairman of the board. In the fall of 1898 he was elected one of the representatives of the tenth senatorial district to the Forty-first general assembly of the state of Illinois and took his seat in that distinguished body January 4, 1899. He is now chairman of the committee on state institutions and is a member of the following named committees: Agriculture, appropriations, county and township organizations, farm drainage, horticulture, roads and bridges and state and municipal indebtedness. In the legislation of the house he has taken an active part, and has made an influential member, one whose presence is felt. The life of such a man is well worthy of record, and is certainly an incentive to the young to do well his part that in time they, too may receive due honor.
Transcribed by Denise Border
Biographical Record of Ogle County
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