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James C. McCaskrin. Of the families that have contributed much to the life and substance of Champaign County during passing years that of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. McCaskrin of Rantoul stand conspicuous.
They came as young married people to Champaign County more than forty-five years ago. J. C. McCaskrin was a son of Harrison M. and Louisa E. McCaskrin, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Ohio. The mother’s family moved from Ohio to Indiana and entered a Government tract of land. Harrison McCaskrin was a miller by trade and followed that occupation in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. J. C. McCaskrin was the fourth in a family of five children, four sons and one daughter. The daughter, Mary Elizabeth, married Mr. Holliday and moved to Oswego, Kansas. Two of the sons, Reuben B. and George W., were Union soldiers and both lost their lives during the service. When the McCaskrin children were quite young their father died in White County, Indiana, and the widowed mother then took her children back to Tippecanoe County, where she fell heir to the family estate and lived there to see her sons grown to worthy manhood. The other son, Winfield Scott, lived with his mother and cared for her throughout her lifetime, subsequently removing to Kansas, where he died.
J. C. McCaskrin married, in December, 1869, Miss Margaret Cloyd. She was a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Nicewander) Cloyd. The Cloyd family consisted of six children, Maria, William, Margaret, Louisa, Albert and Lydia. They were educated in the public schools of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. John Cloyd was noted for his fine bred stock.
A few months after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. McCaskrin came to Champaign County, Illinois, and built a small house twelve by fourteen feet out on the broad prairie. They also had a small hay stable and one team of horses. This was the equipment with which the industrious young people began their lives in Champaign County. They were willing to work, possessed health and strength, and with those assets the future stretched before them with many rosy prospects. The nucleus of their landed estate consisted of eighty acres. Mr. McCaskrin worked strenuously in early years and gradually paid not only for his first farm but by adding forty acres at a time increased his holdings until he now owns 200 acres of fine, rich land.
Politically Mr. McCaskrin has always given loyal support to the principles of the Republican Party, though he himself has refused any official position.
A special part of this record should concern itself with the three children, two sons and a daughter, who are the crown of Mr. and Mrs. McCaskrin’s career. The sons are H. M. and G. W., and the daughter is Louise. From childhood they showed a bent for study and scholarly pursuits, were educated in the district schools, afterward in the high school at Rantoul, and following their graduation in that institution they entered the University of Illinois, where all of them completed courses. The sons studied law in the University of Michigan and are both alumni of that institution. H. M. McCaskrin is now a successful lawyer at Rock Island, Illinois. G. W. McCaskrin, who formerly practiced at Rock Island, now controls a large law business with offices in the Lincoln Building at Champaign. G. W. McCaskrin has had a life of exceptional activity and many honors. He served as alderman and twice as mayor of Rock Island, and was also a member of the State Legislature. In 1908 he was candidate for governor on an independent ticket. He went to the Legislature as a recognized exponent of the 2-cent fare on railroads in the State of Illinois. He originated and introduced the measure into the Legislature, which was passed in 1905 and brought about the reductions from the long-existing 3-cent fares to 2 cents. While his active part in this piece of legislation brought him the hostility of the transportation interests, it gained for him the approval of the general public, who have long enjoyed the decrease in transportation.
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The daughter, Louise McCaskrin, after graduating from the university, took post-graduate work in pedagogy and also musical training under Miss Clara Maud Kimball at the state university. For six years she was a successful teacher in this county, and she then married John D. Stayton. Mr. Stayton was formerly a farmer, but is now successfully engaged in the real estate business at Rantoul. Mr. and Mrs. Stayton have had four children: Laura S., Jean M., Paul M. (deceased) and Leo Cloyd. Education and culture have always been strong motives in the McCaskrin family and have been equally manifested in the Stayton household, where the children are bright and energetic students in the Rantoul High School. Their musical training has been carefully supervised by their mother, and all the children have excellent voices and have contributed notably to many public entertainments. Only recently the baby of the family, Leo, aged five years, gained hearty applause by singing a solo.
The McCaskrin family is mostly active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but Mrs. McCaskrin has always been a member of “the Christian Church, and all the children grew up to support the same faith. Mr. and Mrs. McCaskrin have been closely identified with the interests of Champaign County for many years. They properly take pride in the progress made by their children, and through them they realize their ambitious plans and desires of early years. They have also performed their part in matters of neighborly kindness and good will toward their fellowmen, and as they look back upon a past that is filled with accomplishment and worthy influences they also look to an unclouded future.