Biography of James Cummins
Northwestern Ohio Biographies

This honored pioneer and well known citizen of Madison township has for almost sixty years been identified with the interests of Williams county, and has contributed to its material progress and prosperity to an extent equaled by but few of his contemporaries. A native of Ohio, he was born June 24, 1822, in Trumbull county, whence when five years of age he removed to Portage county, where he received a good common school education. His paternal great grandfather was a native of Ireland, and, having come to this country during Colonial days, he participated in the Revolutionary war and also in the early Indian wars. He first located in Virginia, and from there removed to Pennsylvania, where his death occurred.

John Cummins, the father of our subject, was born in Maryland, a son of Joseph Cummins, a native of Virginia, who died in early life. His widow afterward married a Mr. Stowe. John Cummins was reared in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and after the death of his father he removed with his mother and the other children to Trumbull county, Ohio, which at that time was almost an unbroken wilderness. He bought land, improved a farm and kept the family together until the children were able to care for themselves. While living in that county he served as a soldier in the war of 1812, and there married Miss Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Hatfield, a sturdy farmer of New England stock. On selling his farm in Trumbull county, John Cummins moved to Portage county, where he also developed a farm, and later came to Williams county, spending his last days at the home of our subject. He was a Jacksonian Democrat in politics, was a great Bible student, and a believer in universal salvation. Although he took an active interest in political affairs, and often made stump speeches for his party, he never aspired to office. On first coming to Williams county in 1840, he engaged in farming in Jefferson township, but later lived retired at the home of our subject, where he died in 1854, aged eighty two yearns; his wife passed away in 1876, aged eighty years. In their family were seven children: Mrs. Adeline Wright; James; Joseph (deceased); Mrs. Julia Allen; William, who died in Michigan; Hiram, who died while serving his country in the Civil war; and Mrs. Caroline Wadsworth. The father was also one of a family of seven children, the others being: William, Joseph, James, Thomas, Polly and Sally.

Soon after the removal of the family to Williams county, James Cummins (at the age of eighteen years) started out in life for himself with no capital save a pair of willing hands and a determination to succeed. He commenced operations in Jefferson township, Williams county, where he secured a position at chopping wood and clearing land; but as he had no money to buy an axe, he was forced to borrow one. For the first two years he was employed in clearing land, and having saved some money, he then entered eighty acres of wild land in Jefferson township, to the improvement and cultivation of which he soon turned his attention, cutting first a road through the timber to his place, over which he could drive an oxteam, always a favorite team with him for farm work. After clearing some of his land he erected thereon a cabin, and upon rented land began raising potatoes and a little corn. In 1844 he married and brought his young bride to his cabin home, and for some time their meat consisted principally of the wild game then so plentiful in this region. Upon his place he has often killed deer, wolves, wild turkeys, etc. After residing upon his first purchase sixteen years, during which time he made many improvements upon the place, including the erection of a good frame residence, he sold and purchased two hundred and sixty acres in Madison township, forty of which had been cleared and a shanty erected thereon. Upon that place he still continues to reside, has one hundred and seventy five acres under a high state of cultivation, a good orchard, a commodious two story frame residence, and good and substantial outbuildings, all of which stand as monuments to his thrift and industry. The place is pleasantly located nine miles northeast of Montpelier.

On April 13. 1844, Mr. Cummins married Miss Phebe Kirk, of Columbiana county, Ohio, a daughter of Timothy Kirk, who was of Scotch descent, and in Pennsylvania married Miss Polly Hoops. From the Keystone State they removed to Columbiana county, Ohio, and in 1842 came to Williams county, where Mr. Kirk improved a farm. He died in Bridgewater township, a member of the United Brethren Church. His children were as follows: Mrs. Mary Lambright, Phebe, Nathan, Mrs. Catherine Durbin and William. To Mr. and Mrs. Cummins were born seven children. John, who died from an attack of measles while serving in the Union army, but was brought home by his father before his death; William, a farmer of Madison township, Williams county; Mary J., wife of W. Rising; George, a carpenter at Pioneer; Caroline, who died at the age of three years; James M., a resident of Michigan; and one who died in infancy. The mother of these children, a consistent member of the United Brethren Church, died in 1863.

Mr. Cummins was married, April 12. 1864, to Miss Jane Evans, who was born in Portage county, Ohio, December 23, 1839, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (James) Evans, both natives of Wales, where they were married, emigrating to America soon afterward (in 1835) and locating in Portage county, Ohio, where, in connection with his father, Mr. Evans opened up a farm in the midst of the forest. Later he removed to a home of his own in the same county, and upon that farm spent his remaining days. In early life he engaged in carpenter work, but later gave his attention wholly to farming. In religious belief, both he and his wife were Methodists. Their children were John, who died in a hospital while in the Union service; Margaret, who first married a Mr. Reese, and after his death wedded William Jenkins; Jane, wife of our subject; and David and James, who are single, and still reside on the old homestead, where they are engaged in farming. stock dealing and the manufacture of cheese. Ten children blessed our subject's second marriage, namely: Marion, Fidelia and Henry, who all died when young; Charles. who conducts a meat market in Pioneer, Williams county; Delbert C., a resident of the same place; Mrs. Elizabeth Vanortrick; Mrs. Susie Martin; Zilpha and Orphan, at home; and Alva, who died at the age of three and one half years.

Mrs. Cummins was reared in the Methodist Church, and still holds to that faith, while our subject has been for many years a leading member of the United Brethren Church. Politically he is an ardent Republican, has served as clerk of the election board, school director, supervisor, and in all the local offices. He is one of four now living who aided in the organization of the Republican party in Williams county, the others being Mr. Hoy. of Northwest township. and Mr. Koonsman and Mr. Waterstone, of Montpelier. Believing that a nation could not exist which was half slave and half free, he takes just pride in the course he pursued at that time. and every day becomes a stronger ally of his party. On locating in Williams county, Defiance was still the county seat, and the towns of Bryan and Montpelier had not yet sprung into existence. He has therefore witnessed almost the entire development of the county, has borne an important part in its advancement, and aided in organizing its Sabbath schools and Churches. He voted at the first election held in Madison township, there being only about six voters at that time, and the ballots were deposited in an old teapot. This was held for the purpose of starting a school, there being at that time eight or nine children of school age in the community.

Nature has dealt kindly with Mr. Cummins, and, although seventy six years of age, he is still hale and hearty, able to superintend the management of his fine farm, and he still takes an active and prominent part in public affairs. He is widely and favorably known throughout this section of the State, and has the respect of all with whom he comes in contact.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Northwestern, Ohio
Including the counties of
Defiance, Henry, Williams and Fulton
Published by: J. H. Beers and Company
Chicago, Illinois

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