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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - John Tivis Jessee

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


JOHN TIVIS JESSEE. This gentleman, who is a resident of Crittenden Township, is a native of Russell County, Va., where he first opened his eyes to the light on the 7th of August, 1836. His parents, Joseph and Cynthia (Smith) Jessee, were natives of the same county and State as their son, where they resided after their marriage on a farm until the death of the father when he was fifty-two years of age. The mother is still living in her native county, having now arrived at the advanced age of eighty-three years, and enjoys remarkably good health for one of her age. Her mental facilities likewise are wonderfully preserved. Since her eightieth birthday she has frequently saddled a horse and ridden over the country, leaping over the fences as when a girl. The household circle was completed by the birth of eight children, who grew to man and womanhood. Of these, Tabitha is now deceased; Timothy was a soldier in Co. A, 29th Va. Vol. Inf., C. S. A., and in a skirmish near Richmond received a wound which caused his death; Mary became the wife of D. Gilmore, Ephraim K. was the second son; Silvesta married Mr. John Percel; Eliza is the wife of John Browning; Eunice married A. Smith; John T. is our subject.

The subject of our sketch was reared with his brothers and sisters on the homestead, and after the outbreak of the Rebellion, in 1861, became a soldier in the Southern army, enlisting in Co. A., 29th Va. Vol. Inf., in which he served until the surrender of Gen. Lee. He participated in the engagements at Cold Harbor, Corinth, Culpeper court-house and Suffolk, Va. Two days before the surrender of Lee, he received a gunshot wound in the right foot which disabled him so that he was compelled to use crutches for three years afterward. After receiving his discharge he returned to his home in the Old Dominion, where he remained until 1869, and then came to Illinois, locating upon the tract of land in Crittenden Township, which constitutes his present homestead. Here he has 120 acres lying on section 4, under a good state of cultivation, and supplied with all the buildings and other appliances essential to a modern farm estate.

Before coming to this county Mr. Jessee was married, in the spring of 1869, in Russell County, Va., to Miss America E. Bickley, who was a native of that county, born in 1853, and the daughter of James and Eveline (Bartee) Bickley. Their six living children, all born in this county, are as follows: Robert L., Minne E., Belle, Grace, Clarence and Nellie. The two deceased are John B. and James B.

Our subject and his wife are both sincere believers in the Christian religion, and Mrs. Jessee is a worthy member of the Baptist Church. Mr. Jessee politically supports the principles of the Democratic party; has served as Supervisor of his township one term, and was School Trustee for a period of six years.

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