JAMES W. McKINNEY, of Cairo, Ill., Captain of the Illinois Central Transfer, is a native of Beaver County, Penn. He was born on the 21st of December, 1839, and is a son of Charles McKinney and Permelia Lytle. But little can be learned of his parents, his mother dying when he was but nine years old, and his father when he was twelve. He was then left an orphan in childhood, and reduced to the necessity of supporting himself, which he managed to do quite handsomely. About the time of the death of his father, be became a cabin boy on the steamboat Irene, running on the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Penn., to Wheeling, Va. He continued to serve as cabin boy until strong enough to assume the duties of a deck hand. He rapidly worked himself into the position of pilot, receiving his first license to that position in 1861. In 1862, he was appointed to the position of post pilot at Cairo, and Captain of the boat Champion No. 2. He continued in this position until September, 1865, and during the war made some very perilous trips on the Mississippi River. At the last-named date, he was employed as Captain of the Illinois Central R. R. Passenger Transfer from Cairo to Columbus, Ky., and during a period of eight years made 12,040 round trips, never meeting with the slightest accident. Since 1873, he has been Captain and pilot of the company's transfer boat at Cairo. He is a member of the A., F. & A. M. — Royal Arch and Knights Templar. Mr. McKinney was married in Champaign, Ill., March 17, 1873, to Lulu J., daughter of D. W. and Tabitha Robinson, of Effingham, Ill. She was born in Lima, Allen Co., Ohio. They have had six children, three of whom are dead: Fannie S., James W., James W., Jr., William H. G., Josie Bell, and Clarence Wilbur. They own a city residence at No. 20 Twentieth street, besides a valuable property on corner of Ninth and Cedar streets.
Extracted 31 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V, page 32.
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