PURVINES, JAMES O., a retired farmer residing at Pleasant Plains, Ill., was born a mile and a half northeast of his present home, February 11, 1845, a son of Alexander C. and Jane (Coleman) Purvines. The father was a native of Cabarrus County, N.C., and came to Sangamon County about 1823, being among the "Snow Birds" who struggled so hard for existence in early days. The mills were so far distant they had to mash their own corn for meal and they lived among the Indians for neighbors. Mrs. Purvines was born March 16, 1794, and died in Illinois July 16, 1861. He was a man of strong character and pronounced views, always ready to defend the honor of his State. He was one of the founders of Cartwright Township. At the time of the Mormon trouble at Nauvoo he took a load of men and started for that place, although having no gun himself. Those who were armed started t the front and Mr. Purvines took a neck yoke from his wagon and started to do battle with it, but found it unnecessary to take any active part in the fight. When the excitement was over they returned to the work on their farms, none the worse for the adventure. Deer and other wild game helped furnish meat for their larder. Their market was St. Louis, to which place they hauled wheat and sold it for twenty-five cents per bushel and sold dressed hogs for $1.75 per hundredweight, making the trip with ox teams. Mr. Purvines was a man of energy and determination and at the time of his death was one of the extensive land holders of his part of the county. He saw the wild prairie and heavy timber land converted into fertile farms and the Indian hut give way to the home of the farmer. He helped build the Richland Baptist Church and was an earnest Christian. His latch string was always left on the outside and the train of families moving westward who passed his place found a stopping place and a chance for rest at his home. His widow survived until October, 1878. She was a woman of high character, who was always cheerful amid the trials of pioneer existence and held in warm regard by all who knew her. Her maiden name was Jane Coleman, and she was born January 28, 1806. Her first marriage was to George Hamilton, by whom she had two sons and a daughter, namely: Robert F. Hamilton, died and left a family in Illinois; Martha C. married Asural Emory, a wealthy land owner living near Cuba, Mo.; George K., died at Pleasant Plains. After the death of Mr. Hamilton she became the wife of Alexander C. Purvines, who had been married before, and by his first wife had children as follows: Alfred, born October 25, 1818, died in young manhood; John W., born October 25, 1820, died in 1821; Elizabeth became the wife of Jack Bone, her birth occurred June 23, 1824; Green Lee, born November 10, 1826. The mother of these children bore the name of Lisbon before her marriage.
By his second marriage Alexander C. Purvines had children as follows: Margaret, born September 5, 1832, married Abraham Duff and die din Texas about 1909; William G., born September 3, 1834, lives at Pleasant Plains; Nancy S., born August 9, 1836, died in young womanhood; Sarah E., born July 17, 1838, married Mr. Hill Armstrong and died without leaving children; Alexander J., born August 8, 1840, died in Kansas about 1907 and his widow in 1908; Itha L., born September 12, 1843, wife of E. L. Bone, of Petersburg, and mother of William Bone, a noted lecturer; James O., of this sketch; Edgar C., born July 11, 1847. The mother of these children gave tender motherly care to fourteen children and also reared four grandchildren, making eighteen children who had grown up in her household. She and her husband gave the children such educational advantages as they were able.
James Oscar Purvines attended the Purvines district school and was reared to farm work. He remained on the farm until coming to Pleasant Plains in 1891. May 5, 1874, he married Miss Mattie Harnett, born near Circleville, Ohio, June 25, 1851, daughter of James B. and Mary (Pontious) Harnett. Her father died in Ohio, December 1, 1865, and in 1869 her mother brought her children to Pleasant Plains, where she bought a home and where her death occurred March 12, 1896. She had twelve children, of whom four now survive: James P., married Mary Blaney, in 1876, and is a contractor and builder of Pleasant Plains; Molly, widow of S. S. Purvines, of Pleasant Plains; Sarah, wife of Morgan Luse, of Garnett, Kan., recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary; Mrs. J. O. Purvines; Catherine, Wilson and Joseph died unmarried; Susanna; Daniel, deceased; Elizabeth married Dan Donovan and is deceased; Louisa Married a Chas. McLane and died at Circleville, Ohio, in 1882. Mr. Purvines purchased a beautiful home at Pleasant Plains and has since resided there. Their children are: Merry May, born April 25, 1875, graduate of the high school of Pleasant Plains, and of Sangamon College; George O., born July 22, 1877, a graduate of the State University, has for the past eight years been Assistant Cashier of the Farmers State Bank at Tallula, and is a young man of business ability and promise; Libbie Jane, born October 20, 1879, wife of James A. Daniels, Assistant Cashier of the bank of Heyworth, Ill., has two children, David Russell, born in March, 1903, and Gwendolyn, born July 21, 1906; Louana, born January 26, 1882, died September 24, 1885; Florence M., born June 21, 1889, is a post graduate of Pleasant Plains High School and the Normal School of Bloomington, and has for the past three years been a teacher at Pleasant Plains High School. The children of this family have been given many advantages in the way of education, etc. And have been fitted for honorable positions. Merry May is known throughout central Illinois as an expert horsewoman and an excellent judge of the merits of horses. For the past fourteen years she has been one of the most successful teachers of Sangamon County and commands the highest salary. She has won many medals for her riding at state and county fairs and is noted for her easy and graceful carriage. She is a lover of fine horses and an expert in training a fine saddle horse. Her sister Florence is also an excellent horsewoman and both daughters are well known as teachers of ability, having many friends.
Mr. Purvines has been identified with the best interests of his community and county and has taken an active part in all movements for the general welfare and progress. In early life he accompanied his father when the latter sold corn for eleven cents per bushel after hauling it a long distance, but times have greatly changed and he has been one of the most successful men of the county.