The subject of this sketch is a member of that sturdy citizenship from
the lands of hills and heather, bonny Scotland, from which rugged country so
many hardy sons have gone forth to bless humanity in various ways, and he is
in every way typical of those whose lives benefit all with whom they come in
James McNicol was born on the Isle of Arran, Scotland, in March, 1847, the son of Archibald and Anna (McBride) McNicol, both natives of Arran, as was also the grandparents of the subject. The ancestors of our subject were farmers. Archibald McNicol and family came to America in the early sixties on the steamship Caledonia. They landed in New York City and then went to St. Louis county, Illinois, where Alexander McBride, the brother of Mrs. McNicol, lived. The father of the subject rented land there for a while, and then came to Marion county, Illinois, where he bought land two miles west of Patoka. This place was wild and consisted of one hundred and sixty acres. He later went back to St. Louis county, where he remained several years, after which he went to North Dakota where he secured government land in Benson county, living there for a period of eight years, when he sold out and went to Pierce county, Washington, where he lived with his children until his death in 1897. His wife died in 1896.
They were the parents of five sons and two daughters, namely: May is living in Buckley, Pierce county, Washington; Mag - Buckley, Pierce county, Washington, as does also Alexander, who is a merchant; John, the fourth child, married Mary Hulsey, and he is in partnership with his brother in a store at Buckley, Washington; William who was a mill man at Buckley, Washington, was killed in 1900; Archie died at Patoka; James, the subject of this sketch and Alexander are twins and the third and fourth members of the family.
Mr. McNicol, our subject, received only a limited schooling and he remained at home until his marriage in the fall of 1865, to Ella J. Simcox, a native of Kentucky, the daughter of W. K. and Agnes Rebecca Simcox, natives of Kentucky. They came to Marion county, Illinois, in about 1866, and settled in Patoka township. The subject's wife passed to her rest April 6, 1902. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McNicol, one of whom is deceased. They are: William, a farmer in Foster township, who married Lola Caldwell; Archibald, who has remained single, is a ranchman in Montana; Mary is the wife of C. H. Arnold of Sterling, Colorado; Jessie is the wife of Luther Caldwell, of Foster township; Agnes is the wife of Cyrus E. Arnold, of Foster township; Maggie is living at home, as are also James and Warren; Ruth is deceased.
After his marriage the subject located in Foster township, Marion county, where he has since resided, having purchased land here. In 1876 he went to Benson county, North Dakota, and took up one hundred and sixty acres of government land, where he remained for six years, engaged in farming and stock raising, which he made a success. He sold out there and returned to Foster township, this county, where he purchased land, now owning an excellent farm of three hundred and fifty-nine acres, all in Foster township. It is under a high state of improvement and is regarded as one of the model farms of Marion county, being in every way in first class condition and showing that a man of rare soundness of judgment and business ability has managed it. He raises abundant crops of corn, wheat, hay and oats. No small part of his income is derived from live stock, for he is a most excellent judge of stock and some fine varieties of Poland China hogs and Red Poland cattle are to be found about the place. He carries on a general fanning business with that rare discretion which always insures success.
While our subject has never aspired to office he has held several local public positions. He is an independent voter, preferring to cast his ballot for the man he believes will best serve the public, rather than for the party. He is a faithful member of the Christian church of Patoka. Mr. McNicol's life has been one of industry, scrupulous honesty and integrity.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 529-530.