James Mitchell, one of the best known and most venerable pioneers of Deer Creek Township, Tazewell County, and one whose useful life illustrates the worth of honest and industrious tillage of the soil, has lived on his present farm of 180 acres, in Sections 10 and 29, since the spring of 1843. In the truest sense of the word he is a self-made man, for his eighty-three years of existence have not been without struggle and adversity, especially in the earlier days when he was left an orphan by the premature deaths of his parents, Edward and Hannah (Johnson) Mitchell.
The subject of this sketch was born on a farm in Monmouth County, N. J., Feb. 18, 1821, and is a grandson of Isaac Mitchell, of Scotch descent, and supposedly a native of Monmouth County, N. J., where the maternal family of Johnson were also well known. Edward Mitchell was a sailor by occupation, and after his death his son was reared by William P. Stewart, who brought the lad to Tazewell County, in 1837, but subsequently returned to New Jersey, where he died.
After the departure of his benefactor, James Mitchell put his shoulder to the wheel, working on different farms in the county, and laying aside the greater part of his wages. On January 19, 1843, he was married in Deer Creek Township, Tazewell County, to Eliza Robinson, who was born in Pennsylvania, Oct. 2, 1825. Thus he became allied with another pioneer family, established in this section as early as 1832 by Ephraim and Margaret (Martins) Robinson, natives also of Pennsylvania. The Robinsons settled first in Groveland Township, but later sold their farm and became residents of Deer Creek Township.
Mr. Mitchell settled on his new farm with his young wife, and both had many adventures in the early days. Deer abounded in large numbers, and it was partially through the suggestion of Mr. Mitchell that the fertile region received its present name. At that time the exchange of work among farmers was more general than at present, and Mr. Mitchell recalls many such courtesies between himself and Richard N. Cullom, father of the present United States Senator, whose farm lay one mile north. During the Civil War Mr. Mitchell warmly espoused the cause of the Union and though not called upon to serve in the army, contributed money for the maintenance of the Home Guard. Mrs. Mitchell, who fulfilled the ideal of the pioneer wives and mothers of the State, and who died August 8, 1890, was the mother of the following children: Matisa, wife of Henry Famer: Mary, wife of John Ezelesiger; Margaret, wife of Jacob Werham; Lydia, wife of Nathan Wilson; Ella, wife of George McCalla; Emily, living at home; Charles W., who, died August 3, 1902; James Edwin (deceased); Prudence (deceased): William Mitchell, who died in Kansas: and one child, who died in infancy.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 1046