The history of Perry and Randolph Counties would be incomplete without a sketch of the Elliott family. They are the descendants of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry. Members of the family came to America prior to the Revolutionary War. William Preston Elliott, the grandfather of James C. was a native of Virginia, and one of seven brothers. He married in Virginia, and a few years later moved to Georgia. In 1814 he came to Illinois and settled in the American Bottom, in the Goshen settlement. Ague and fever prevailed to a considerable extent then, and believing that the country was unhealthy, returned to Georgia. But the rich, fertile and productive lands of Illinois had left their impression, and the old pioneer longed for the “Flesh Pots” of Illinois. He accordingly returned in 1818, and settled in Randolph County, west of Sparta, on what is known as “Temple Hill,” and there built a house which was the first erected there. He remained there until the spring of 1821, when he removed to the south side of Grand Cote prairie about two and a half miles south of Coulterville, where he opened a farm, and there continued the peaceful avocation of a farmer until his death, which occurred in 1840. He married Margaret Murdock of Virginia. She survived her husband a few years and died in 1843.
By that union there were eleven children, who grew to maturity. One of her sons, the father of the subject of this sketch, was named Henry Hodge Elliott. He was born in Virginia, February 18, 1801, and was but thirteen years of age when the family first settled in the American Bottom. He returned to Georgia with his father, and came back with the family to Illinois the second time, and here grew to manhood, followed farming and remained in the precinct until his death, which took place March 4th, 1872. He married Miss Margaret, daughter of James and Elizabeth (McBride) Couch. Her mother was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, born in the north of Ireland, and was but eight years of age when her parents landed in Charleston, South Carolina.
Margaret Couch Elliott was born August 9th, 1810, and departed this life August 7th, 1847. By the union of Henry H. and Margaret Elliott there were seven children, two sons and five daughters.
- James Couch Elliott, the subject of this sketch.
- Catharine Elliott was the eldest daughter. She was born July 24th, 1847, and died in her sixteenth year.
- Jane Elliott was the wife of William Gallegly. She died April 24th, 1873, in her fortieth year. She left five children.
- William P. Elliott was born July 31st, 1836, and died in Andersonville prison in September 1864, in his twenty-ninth year. He enlisted in Co. “C” of the 30th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was taken prisoner before Atlanta July 22d, 1864, sent to Andersonville prison, and there died as did thousands of others from exposure, neglect and lack of sufficient to eat.
- Frances Elizabeth Elliott was the wife of Joseph Lively. She died without issue April 10th, 1870, in her thirty-first year.
- Mary W. Elliott, wife of John W. Lively, died March 14th, 1876, in her thirty-fifth year, leaving four children.
- Rachael C. Elliott died February 12th, 1870, in her twenty-fifth year.
James Couch Elliott is the eldest of the family and the only survivor. He was born in Randolph County, Illinois, near Sparta, January 6th, 1830. He was reared on the farm, and acquired his primary education in the subscription schools of his neighborhood. From fifteen to twenty-one he hired out, and his wages went to the support of the family only retaining enough to clothe himself. He attended one term at the Academy in Sparta, and then taught school for several terms. At the age of twenty he entered the State University at Bloomington, Indiana, and graduated from that institution. He had resolved to enter the ministry of the United Presbyterian Church, and with that idea in view he spent three terms of seven months each in the Theological Seminary at Monmouth, Illinois. He was licensed to preach May 7th, 1862, and regularly ordained a minister of the church Oct. 7th, 1863. In the latter year he went to Wyoming in Iowa County, Wisconsin, and was the “Supply” for six months, after which he became the pastor of the Wyoming and Blue Mound United Presbyterian Congregations, and remained in charge until in February, 1868. In July of the same year he was called to the pastorate of the Bethel Congregation in Grand Cote, Perry County, and has remained in charge up to the present, a period of nearly fifteen years. On the 14th of April, 1864, he was united in marriage to Miss Lydia A. Moreland of Randolph County, Illinois. She was the daughter of James and Margaret Moreland. She died December 7th, 1873, leaving one son, named William Zwingli Elliott, now in attendance at the Academy in Coulterville, Illinois.
On the 10th of October 1876, he married Miss Maggie Henderson, daughter of Rev. James and Nancy (McClanahan) Henderson, of Oakdale, Washington County, Illinois. Mrs. Elliott was born near Madison City, Indiana. Politically, Mr. Elliott votes the Republican ticket, but takes no further interest than exercising the right and duty of every American citizen by casting his ballot. He is very much in favor of prohibition, and regards the licensing of saloons, an offense against religion, good morals and the best interest of society.
- Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties Illinois – Biographical Sketches of some of their Prominent Men and Pioneers, Published by J. L. McDonough & Co., Philadelphia. 1883. Pgs. 430 & 431.