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TANQUARY, James

James TANQUARY, “Uncle Jimmy,” as he was familiarly called by almost every man, woman and child living in Steuben and adjoining townships, in Marshall county, was a man greatly loved and universally respected by all who knew him. For nearly half a century his was a familiar face in Marshall county, and now that he has gone it seems like the light had gone out of the home of not only his immediate family, but the entire neighborhood as well.

James TANQUARY was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, June 17, 1831, and was the son of William and Elizabeth (SHACKFORD) TANQUARY, both of whom were reared in that state. His boyhood days were spent in his Ohio home, where he remained until sixteen years of age, when he accompanied his parents to Indiana, and there remained with them until reaching his majority, when he came to Marshall county, Illinois, where he had relatives living. Soon after his arrival he engaged in farming, and pursued that occupation during his entire life.

The life of a farmer is lonely enough, even when surrounded by family and friends, but without either it is doubly so. Mr. TANQUARY was a man of domestic tastes, and we therefore find that on the 15th of September, 1853, he was united in marriage with Mrs. Lucinda C. BLACKWELL, whose maiden name was WATKINS. She is a daughter of Isaiah and Mary (DOUGLAS) WATKINS, and a sister of David WATKINS of Steuben township. When but fifteen years of age she married Rev. David BLACKWELL, who died eight years afterward. He was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, a member of the Illinois conference. When he formed the acquaintance of Miss WATKINS he was pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church at Lacon, and she was a pupil in the public schools. After their marriage they resided at Whitehall, Carlinville, and Mt. Vernon, Illinois, in each of which places he was pastor, and while residing at the last named point he was called to his final reward. Two children were born to them: Rev. William Robert BLACKWELL, of the Methodist Episcopal church, now residing at Mt. Vernon, Iowa; and David Richford BLACKWELL, who is a farmer of Steuben township. The widowed mother returned to the old neighborhood, met and married Mr. TANQUARY. Whether it was “love at first sight” or not, it can truly be said that they were lovers during their entire married life, and Mr. TANQUARY became a real father to her fatherless children, and they loved him with a tender love even unto the end. One son came to bless their union, Nathan Quinn TANQUARY, a leading attorney of Denver, Colorado, who was educated at Iowa City, Iowa. They also had a foster son, J. KEYS, who was killed in a railroad accident.

On their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. TANQUARY began their domestic life on a farm in Camping Grove, where they remained some two or three years, when they removed to the farm where Mrs. TANQUARY now lives, and for nearly forty-two years their home was one of joy and happiness, with but little to detract from it. As already stated, Mr. TANQUARY was a man of domestic tastes, and there was to him “no place like home.” He cared nothing for the strife of this world, and in reality shrank from it. His farm, his home, and his church were his all in all. True, he was interested in educational matters and gave a part of his time to educational work, and, politically, he was a thorough-going republican, attending party conventions and filling different local offices. For some years he was justice of the peace, and was serving in the latter office when his death occurred, November 25, 1895.

But it was as a member of the church of God, a humble disciple and follower of the blessed Master, where his life shone at its best. Converted and called of God at the age of eleven years he was ever afterward a consistent and devoted Christian man. On coming to Marshall county he united with the Bethel Methodist Episcopal church, in Steuben township, and for about forty years served it as class leader, steward and trustee, and in its Sunday-school was an indefatigable worker. He was a great Bible reader and loved to dwell upon its precious promises. Two passages which he had marked in the blessed book and which he often quoted, give a perfect outline of his faith in the Word, and the spirit which characterized his life: “Evening and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Psalms Iv, 17. “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy hill, for the Lord our God is holy.” Psalms xcix, 9. Of an emotional nature, he showed his joy in church and at home, and in thanksgiving to his God. His home was ever the home of the ministers of the gospel, and he greatly enjoyed their presence at his fireside.

The Lacon Journal, whose editor was well acquainted with Mr. TANQUARY, in its notice of his death, after speaking of the warm place in his heart that he gave to his stepsons and to his foster-son, said:

“But the supreme crowning to his beautiful life was his devotion to his wife. In all the forty-two years of their singularly happy wedded life they walked hand-in-hand, a pair of grand old lovers to the last; she returning his affection measure for measure. How fondly we cherish last words and last looks when friends are gone. Only last Friday he came into the office for his mail. He and his old friend, George HOLLER, stood talking together about their ages. We joined in, saying: ‘Why, Uncle Jimmy, you are not old; you are not out of your honeymoon yet.’ ‘He is not likely to get out of it,’ rejoined his friend. This little talk pleased him greatly. He went home and told his wife of it with much delight. This was the last time we saw him. So fresh and ruddy, so happy-looking he was that day. The next Tuesday Uncle Jimmy was gone and a hush of deep sorrow fell on the whole county and town.

“Forty-three years he has lived in Illinois, most of the time on the same farm, a few miles northwest of Sparland – a beautiful spot, by his hand made to blossom as a rose. ‘Twas in his own home, in the midst of his neighbors and friends of a lifetime and in a quite sacredness of the domestic circle where he was best known and most loved. His hospitality was without stint, without measure. Everyone loved to go to Uncle Jimmy TANQUARY’s, loved to linger, departed regretfully. His home was the Mecca, the happy playground of all his little grandchildren, especially the city-bred children – three of them of his son, N. Q., who came on annual trips to grandpa’s to grow strong on the farm. With them he was a child again – no end of fun, frolic and chatter. They went with him everywhere.

“James TANQUARY was a man of positive character, fixed principles, strong convictions. He shrank from humbuggery, imposture and false pretenses; loved his God and his church. Cold the day and hard the storm that did not see Uncle Jimmy sitting in his accustomed seat in beloved old Bethel church. With his going it seemed that the very keystone had fallen from its arch. Of his money he gave to it liberally; of his influence, his all. In this sacred edifice his funeral took place on Thanksgiving Day at 11 a.m. His pastor, Rev. De CLARK, assisted by Rev. E. K. REYNOLDS of the Baptist church, spoke comforting words to the bereaved ones. The singing was beautiful, falling like balm on the hearts of the mourners. His funeral attendance was large, friends coming from many miles distant. Tenderly, lovingly, he was borne from the church and laid in the Sparland cemetery.”

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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