Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin counties of Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano, containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of many of the Early Settled Families.

Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co 1895
Copied & transcribed by our dear friend, Elaine O Leary 
 


Pages 98-99

JAMES BUCHANAN CHURCHILL in point of residence is the oldest settler of Grant Township, Shawano County. In 1857 he purchased from the Fox River Improvement Co. a tract of 160 acres in Section 35, Grant township, distant a scant mile from the present flourishing little village of Marion, Waupaca county. This pioneer home was then under the territorial jurisdiction of Matteson Township, and included what is now Grant, Pella, Matteson, Fairbanks and Split Rock townships. The little log house which he built stood in the midst of the dense forests, and here for many years he lived, a pioneer, when pioneers were few, and when frontier life meant hardships and privations almost innumerable.
   
Mr. Churchill was born in Lock Township, Cayuga Co., N. Y., in 1831, son of David A. and Martha (Buchanan) Churchill. David A. Churchill was the son of Daniel and Marion (Clark) Churchill, both of New York nativity and English ancestry. Daniel Churchill was a captain in the Continental army in the war of 1812, and died in Cayuga county, N. Y., where he was a large land-owner. Miriam Buchanan was the daughter of John and Miriam (Yaeger) Buchanan. John Buchanan was a native of Ireland, and served during the Revolutionary war as a captain in the Patriot army. He was a relative of President Buchanan, and a farmer by occupation, living through life on a farm in Orange county, N. Y. David A. Churchill, father of James B., was a currier and shoemaker by trade, and in 1845 moved from Cayuga county, N. Y., to Tioga county, Penn., where he remained until 1867. In that year he came to the Wisconsin home of his son, and remained there until his death, in 1880; his wife died in 1887. Their family of eight children consisted of Clark L., a lumberman who died in 1855, in Simcoe county, Canada West (now Ontario); James Buchanan, subject of this sketch; Jerome, of Tiogo county, Penn; Wilber, a resident of the same county, who enlisted in a Pennsylvania cavalry regiment and served three years; William, his twin brother, now a resident of Larrabee township, Waupaca county, who also saw active service in a Pennsylvania infantry regiment; David, also of Larrabee township, Waupaca county, and a veteran of a New York regiment; Daniel, who died in Maryland while in the service, January 1, 1862; and Martha, wife of Ebenezer Burley (also a Union soldier), of Tioga county, Pennsylvania.
   
James B. Churchill attended the district schools of Cayuga county, N. Y., and at the age of thirteen years accompanied his father's family to Tioga county, Penn., remaining there, engaged in farm labors, until the age of twenty. In 1851 he went to Canada, and there followed lumbering, and six years later was married to Miss Mary Warnick, a native of Canada, after which, with his young wife, he started for his prospective home in the wilds of Wisconsin. The journey was made by rail to Fond du Lac, thence via boat to New London, and the balance of the way afoot through the primeval forests. There were then no roads, and here in the fastnesses of the woods the hardy and venturesome pioneer lived for years. For several years after their settlement their only beasts of burden were oxen, and the only vehicle a wood-shod sleigh, which was used summer and winter, no wagons having yet been brought into the settlement. In going any distance in any direction streams of all kinds had to be forded. Their flour was all bought at New London, and brought by boat up to Clintonville, from which point Mr. Churchill would bring a l00-lb. sack on his shoulder to his home, a distance of ten miles as the roads run. The first interment in the adjoining graveyard at Marion was in 1872. In 1864 Mr. Churchill enlisted at Menasha, Wis., in Company K, First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery, which was assigned to the Twenty-second Army Corps and stationed at Arlington Heights and Ft. Lyons, Alexandria on garrison duty. He was mustered out at Washington, D. C., in July, 1865, and returned to Shawano county, Wisconsin.
  
Mr. Churchill's first wife died in July, 1862, and in September, 1865, he was married in Bear Creek township, Waupaca county, to Miss Elizabeth Hehman, a lady of Holland birth, whose parents, Gerhard and Bertha (Haytink) Hehman, emigrated in November, 1856, from Holland to Milwaukee, Wis., and in May, 1857, settled in Section 18, Pella township, Shawano county. Their nearest neighbor then was fourteen miles distant. Mr. Hehman cut a road through the woods from a point two miles below Buckbee, Larrabee Township. Waupaca county, to Pella, Shawano county, and from the farm to Embarrass village. He built a shanty 10 x 12 feet, and lived in it from May to November, by which time he had erected a log cabin, quite commodious in comparison. By faithful and persistent labor he improved the farm and he died at this pioneer home in 1872, his wife surviving until 1879. Their five children were: Henrietta, wife of Fred Strausburg, of Marion, Wis.; William, formerly of Seneca, Shawano county, who died of heart disease July 4, 1895; John, who died in Grant township in March, 1893; Mrs. Churchill; and Gerhard, who lives in Sugar Bush, Outagamie county.

After his second marriage Mr. Churchill settled in Bear Creek Township, and operated the Welcome Hyde farm for about five years. He then returned to his old farm, which he improved, and in 1883 equipped with a good one-and-a-half-story dwelling l6x 28, with an L l6x 16 feet, and having a one-story kitchen 14x15; his substantial barn, an imposing structure 36x56 feet, with 18-foot posts, he erected in 1869. Here Mr. Churchill is engaged in farming, and in raising an excellent grade of stock. In politics he is a Democrat, and he is one of the most public-spirited and enterprising citizens of the prosperous community in which he lives. In 1859 he served as commissioner of Matteson Township, and in 1869 he assisted actively in organizing Grant Township. He was instrumental in building many of the roads throughout the township, and in various ways contributed liberally to the convenience and welfare of the tide of immigrants who later filled up this wild land and converted it into an expanse of happy and prosperous homes.  In matters of local history Mr. Churchill is an undisputed authority, and none stand higher than he in the esteem and respect of his fellow-citizens. Though not a member of any Church or denomination, he has been a liberal contributor to the different churches of his neighborhood, having assisted all of them by donations at different times, for their erection and afterward in their support. Socially he is a member of Shawano Lodge, I. 0. 0. F.


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