The study of biography yields to no other in point of interest and profit, it deals with success, not with defeat, of men, the difficulties they have met and overcome, and gives us an insight into the methods and plans which they have followed so as to enable them to pass on the highway of life many who started far ahead of them in the race. The obvious lessons therein taught would prove of great benefit if followed, and the example of the self-made man should stimulate and encourage others to press forward. To this class belongs James Gregg, now one of the old settlers and leading farmers of Nemaha county. He came to America empty-handed, and has steadily worked his way upward through determined purpose and unfaltering diligence.
Mr. Gregg was born in Scotland July 27, 1827, and remained in that country until twenty-six years of age, working by the day and year for eight years. In order to acquire an education he daily walked four miles to a subscription school. At length, resolving to seek a home in America, he crossed the Atlantic to New Orleans in 1852, and from the Crescent city proceeded up the Mississippi river to Lyons, Iowa, where he worked for his board the first winter. At the time of his arrival he had only three sovereigns in his pocket, that is, about twenty dollars, the first money he earned was in the month of March, 1853. Soon after he began work in the construction of one of the first railroads in Iowa, but he never received his pay for his services. Subsequently he rented a farm in Clinton county, Iowa, continuing to operate that land for three years, and in 1857 he came to Nemaha county,. locating on the farm which is still his home. He was one of the first to settle in Nemaha township, his home being eighteen miles from any other house or fence, and not a single building marked the site of Hiawatha, while the town of Seneca was yet a dream of the future. In fact the entire county was almost an unbroken prairie tract, but the rich land afforded excellent inducements to those who wished to devote their energies to rural pursuits. Mr. Gregg first built a log cabin in which he resided for some time. In 1863 He erected a little log house that was for some years used as a court house, and was then located in Richmond township. He afterward removed it to his farm and it now forms the sitting room of his comfortable residence. From the time of his location in Nemaha county he diligently prosecuted his farm labors, and is to-day the owner of four hundred and thirty-eight acres of valuable land, the greater part of which is under a high state of cultivation. At intervals he has been forced to borrow money in order to carry on his work, and at times has paid as high as sixty per cent on it. Industry and enterprise, however, when guided by sound judgment never fail to meet success, and his career has been no exception to this rule. In connection with general farming he has made a specialty of the breeding of heavy draft and Clydesdale horses, and has a high-bred stallion which he imported from Scotland, and which won the premium at a fair at Seneca in 1899. He exhibited eighteen horses and colts at the fair. He now has thirty-four head of fine horses and colts upon his farm, and also an excellent herd of seventy-two head of short-horn cattle, most of which are thoroughbreds. He also has some thoroughbred hogs, and is recognized as one of the leading stock-raisers and dealers in this section of Kansas. In the fall of 1899 he sold nine head of cattle for five hundred dollars each.
Mr. Gregg was married in Scotland the day before sailing for America, but his wife died during the voyage, four days before the vessel reached New Orleans, and was buried in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1856, in Clinton county, Iowa, Mr. Gregg wedded Jeannette Beard, widow of Alexander Anderson. She was a native of Scotland, and died in 1876 on the farm where her children now reside. In his political affiliations Mr. Gregg is a Democrat, although his first vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln. In local elections he gives his support to the man whom he thinks best fitted for the office, regardless of party associations. His fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, have elected him to the office of treasurer of Nemaha township, and for nine years he has filled that position in a most acceptable and creditable manner. He is one of the pioneers of the county, has witnessed its growth through long years, and has seen the marvelous changes which have resulted in the building of towns and cities, the improvement of wild lands and the introduction of all the industries and accessories known to the civilization of the older east. His life has been honorable and upright and those who know him esteem him for his sterling worth.