Singleton, James W.

Born: 1811-11-23 Frederick County, Virginia

Died: 1892-04-04 Baltimore, Maryland

Flourished: Illinois

James W. Singleton, attorney and politician, attended an academy in Winchester, Virginia, then left his native state to study and practice medicine before turning to a legal career. He settled in Mount Sterling, Illinois in 1834 where he studied law, and in 1838 qualified at the bar and served as a justice of the peace. Singleton won election as a brigadier general in the Illinois Militia in 1844 and participated in the militia’s subsequent actions against the Mormons in Nauvoo. He served in the state constitutional conventions in 1847 and 1862 and represented Brown County in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1851 to 1854. In 1849, Singleton was an incorporator and later one of the directors of the Northern Cross Railroad. He also chartered the Toledo, Wabash, and Western Railroad. He moved to Quincy in 1854, where he started a new law practice and raised livestock. Singleton returned to the Illinois House of Representatives from Adams County, serving from 1861 to 1862. Initially a Whig, Singleton moved toward the Democratic Party during the 1850s. In 1862, Governor Richard Yates appointed him to negotiate continuous water communication between the United States and Canada. Late in the Civil War, with Abraham Lincoln’s permission, Singleton pursued informal peace negotiations with Confederate leaders. Singleton married three times and had several children.

James Garfield Randall, “Singleton, James Washington,” Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1935), 17:191; Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1827-28; The History of Adams County, Illinois: Containing A History of the County--Its Cities, Towns, Etc. (Chicago: Murray, Williamson & Phelps, 1879), 497-98, 731; Combined History of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois (Philadelphia: W. R. Brink, 1882), 113, 152; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Sangamon County, 9 April 1845, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Brown County, IL, 101; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 218, 219, 223; Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Adams County, IL, 485; The Sun (Baltimore, MD), 31 March 1892, 4:1; 5 April 1892, 4:1; Gravestone, Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, VA.