James Dawson Rawlins was born 28 Feb 1801 in Clark county, Kentucky. He was the son of John Holladay Rawlings and his second wife, Jane Bush, daughter of Ambrose & Lucy (Gholson) Bush, and widow of William Simpson Embree.
His family moved to Howard county in Missouri Territory about 1817. Soon thereafter James left home to scout around northwestern Illinois. He spent about a year in Galena (Sep 1927 - Sep 1928). He returned to Missouri to marry, on 5 Oct 1828, Louvisa* Jane Collier, daughter of Aaron & Louvicy (Welch) Collier. She was born 2 May 1803 near Crab Orchard, Lincoln, KY.
Prior to 1838, he located a homestead on government land in the town of Guilford. There they completed their family, their last - William Devalcourt - was born Oct 1846.
In April 1847 they purchased a farm of about 200 acres of grass-land and timber, which provided their principal income from the sale of wood and charcoal produced on the forest land.
But, in 1849, with seven children not reached their majority, James and his eldest, Jarrard Owen, headed for California with visions of solid-gold sugarplums dancing all around their heads. It's not clear if they set out on their own or joined in with others; the only shred of information I've seen about their journey is that they set out by ox team. **
While James & Jarrard were on their excursion, who was minding the farm? Their second son, John Aaron, who was 18 years old and, with his mother, kept the family going. I have it from one of her descendants that Louvisa was a gifted nurse, visiting and ministering to the sick. She grew healing herbs and used them to make salves. She was also described as "a woman of strong and exemplary character" and as "having had excellent judgment, an even temper, and a most kindly and benevolent heart". ***
Two years later James returned to Illinois without the financial rewards found by some, but with many a story to tell. His son remained in California. And life went on.
The lives and times of their children can be seen to the left. Of their nine children, only Lemmon raised his family nearby, and some of the time James and Louvisa at times had care of their son John's three children. At least four of their children died before they did.
Lovisa died 18 Jul 1891 and James followed her on 21 Jul 1893. They are both interred at Citizens Cemetery in Scales Mound Twp, JoDaviess, IL.
* If you are a genealogy researcher and have the good fortune to be reading this, have no fear: you are not crazy. Louvisa is Lovisa is Louvicy is Lovisy is......
** Family history written by James & Louvisa's granddaughter Cora Monnier Rawlins.
*** Anne Collier Regier