James JENKINS is a retired farmer, living in Varna, and has passed the eighty-third milestone on life's journey. He was born in Hamilton, Ohio, April 3, 1823. His father, John JENKINS, a native of Virginia, was a blacksmith by trade and was about fifty years of age when his life's labors were ended in death in Ohio. He had married Elizabeth VINAGE, a native of that state, who also passed away in Ohio when about fifty years of age. She was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in her family were six children: John and William, both deceased; Margaret and Rosana, who have passed away; Elizabeth, who died in infancy; and George, the youngest, who lives in Lacon.
James JENKINS of this family acquired his early education in the schools of Ohio, and was about twenty years of age when he removed to Cambridge, Indiana. He was there married to Miss Elizabeth REEVES was born in Cleveland, Ohio, July 14, 1828, a daughter of William and Mary REEVES, in whose family were three daughters, the sisters of Mrs. JENKINS, being Mary and Caroline, both now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. JENKINS were married April 15, 1847, and afterward returned to Ohio, where they remained for two years. In 1855 they became residents of Lacon, Illinois, and Mr. JENKINS was employed by Jabez FISHER in the packing business, working for him for about fifteen years. He then farmed in the vicinity of Lacon for about five years, operating the Fisher place in the summer and working in a packing house during the winter. At that early day he found it very difficult to rent a house in Lacon, but finally secured a small frame dwelling. He afterward bought a farm in Evans township, about three and a half miles west of Varna, in 1865, going in debt for the' property. He had to pay a big interest on the money, and as the farm was not at first self-sustaining he had to hunt work outside in order to provide a livelihood for his family. He would leave his wife and children to carry on the farm work while he would go to Lacon and work for Mr. FISHER. He always covered the distance between his home and Lacon fourteen miles on foot, visiting his home about every two or three weeks. He would make the trip on Saturday and return Sunday evening in order to be ready for work Monday morning. He started out in life empty-handed and is now in possession of a very comfortable competence. For many years he carried on general agricultural pursuits, owning a farm of two hundred and six acres, and he brought his fields under a high state of cultivation, but is now retired, living with his wife in the village of Varna. They are a most highly esteemed and venerable couple, who for almost sixty years have traveled life's journey together as man and wife, sharing with each other in the joys and sorrows, the adversity and prosperity which has come to them.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. JENKINS have been born the following children: Alice C., who died at the age of sixteen months; Albert W., who is farming in Evans township; Mrs. Clara Belle YOCUM, who is living in Lenexa, Kansas; Mrs. Lillie May RUSH, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri; Rosalind Leslie, who is living near Varna; Frank E., a resident of Columbus, Ohio; Eugene O., who is upon the old home farm in Evans township; Emma Grace, who died at the age of eighteen months ; and Eugene Edgar, who died in infancy.
Mr. JENKINS made no mistake when he determined to try his fortune in Marshall county, for though the early years were fraught with hard and unremitting toil and he had to face many difficulties and trials he has nevertheless worked his way upward here and his life record proves that labor can overcome all difficulties and obstacles. He is now comfortably situated in life and is enabled in the evening of his days to live in honorable retirement from business cares. Moreover, he has never been known to take advantage of the necessities of his fellowmen in any business transaction, and is therefore honored and esteemed by all with whom he has been brought in contact.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties