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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Squire W. Lee

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


SQUIRE W. LEE was born in Pulaski Co., Kentucky June 3, 1820. The identity of his parents is not known, but he may have been the son of William LEE, also of Pulaski Co. On June 11, 1841, Squire W. LEE married Elizabeth Ann "Betsy" JAMES, born August 27, 1821 in Pulaski Co., the daughter of Rev. Joseph Martin JAMES, a talented but erratic Baptist minister who was defrocked in 1848 for taking to drink and adultery, despite the fact he came from two generations of Baptist ministers and himself had fathered 23 children. Betsy's mother was Martha "Patsy" MCALISTER, the daughter of Rev. John MCALISTER, sister of Rev. Robert MCALISTER. The surety for the marriage was provided by Samuel (Chadoin) Shadoan who would later follow Squire and Betsy on their migration from Kentucky to Champaign County, Illinois. Squire Lee was a farmer. In the early years of his marriage, he and Betsy had four children, Mary A.LEE, George W. LEE, James W. LEE, and the eldest child Martha Jane LEE,who on March 21, 1885 married Alpehus Parker GREGORY in Pesotum,Champaign Co., Illinois. The public disgrace of of his father-in-law in 1848 proved a strong motivation for Squire and Betsy to migrate to Mercer Co., Kentucky. There, Squire fathered another son Henry LEE who was born about 1850. Betsy had a brother, Joseph McAlister JAMES, also known as Mack JAMES, who was a real estate dealer in Danville, Boyle Co., Kentucky. Mack was a catalyst by nature. He bought a farm in Douglas County, Illinois, and probably persuaded Squire and his wife Betsy to migrate to Champaign County, perhaps as a method of having a trusted family member look after his holdings. Squire Lee was clearly a decisive person. He acted upon the influence of his brother-in-law. Around 1851 he moved his family to Champaign County where he established himself as a farmer in Pesotum. Squire and Betsy James had two more children in Champaign County. Robert G. LEE and Sarah E. LEE were born in 1853 and 1857. In the years following their arrival, Squire and Betsy welcomed to Champaign County Betsy's brother Henry JAMES, her sister Sarah "Sally JAMES and her husband Samuel (CHADOIN) SHADOWENS, and a step-brother Cyrenius Waite JAMES and his family which included a young John JAMES, who went on to become a Baptist minister and sired a long line of Baptist ministers who have redeemed the family disgrace. In 1878 Squire LEE and his wife Elizabeth Ann "Betsy" JAMES-LEE were identified in the register of Champaign County residents. At that time they lived in Section 30 of the county, and Squire's occupation was listed as afarmer, raiser, and shipper of livestock. Since then, nothing more is known of Squire LEE, Elizabeth Ann JAMES-LEE, or their children Mary A. LEE, Georege W. LEE, James W. LEE, Henry LEE, Robert G. LEE, and Sarah E. LEE. Their eldest child Martha Jane LEE, who married Alpehus Parker GREGORY, died August 23, 1928 in Colorado. Elizabeth Ann JAMES-LEE died in Pesotum on August 3, 1896. Squire LEE died previously on March 18,1875. He was as elusive in his passing as he was in his coming. His modest life was significant for his steadfast devotion to family amidturbulence and turmoil. Submitted by Eric James.

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