James Pillars married Martha Hughes, the widow of Thomas Hughs who was killed by Indians in 1783. James moved with Martha and her son, James Hughes, from Kentucky to Kaskasia at Randolph County, Illinois. James was born into an Irish Quaker family 1760 at Virginia to William Pillars. William Pillars was from Ireland, and he and his wife moved to Warrington, Bucks, Pennsylvania in 1767, and for some reason, Wiliam returned to Ireland in 1769 leaving James behind.

James was living at Buckingham, Bucks, Pennsylvania 3 Mar 1783 and was brought up as business for the local Quaker meeting.

James is listed in the Abstract of Revolutionary Patriots, suggesting that he participated in the Revolutionary War. According to the Illinois, Revolutionary War Veteran Burials Index, James was from Virginia and served in the war in the Virginia line of troops. In 1781 there were at Fort Massac, illinois, and in 1793 they removed to Randolph County. According to the history books of the area, the moved to Illinois in 1795.

A story is recorded involving James Pillars and his step-son, James Hughs. The story took place about the Fall of 1798 or the Spring of 1799 in Randolph County, Illinois. James Hughs, being a man of energy and business capacity, engaged in making salt, at the mouth of Saline creek, in Missouri, opposite Kaskaskia, a place where the early settlers were in the habit of boiling salt. This salt he conveyed to the falls of the Ohio in what were then called Pirogues, small flat-bottomed boats, which were polled and hauled along the river. Trading the salt he brought back such articles as were needed for use and to barter. On one of these trips he met his future wife, a lady named Rachel Hall, and engaged to marry her at the conclusion of his next trip. His step-father, James Pillars, having by some means gotten information of the matter, unknown to Mr. Hughs, made his arrangements to surprise him, so when James Hughs started down the river with his cargo of salt, Mr. Pillars, taking two horses, besides the one he rode, cut across the country and met young Hughs at the falls, who being thus surprised, inquired the reason of his unlooked-for presence, and was told by Mr. Pillars that, expecting a marriage, he had brought the horses so that James Hughs might ride with his wife to her new home. The party rode back together, camping out at night, their only bed being the blankets carried on horseback, and their food such as could be prepared by the way with the camp kettle.

James Pillars' name is on the memoria dated 29 Dec 1805, to the President by citizens of the District of Ste Genevieve expressing their support and confidence in Governor Wilkinson. This event took place across the Mississippi river from where James lived, in the Ste Genevieve District, Louisiana and Missouri Territory.

In the 1810 census for Randolph County, James was living at Mary's River, Illinois.

James purchased eighty acres of land in Missouri 24 Apr 1820.

James and Martha were still living at Randolph County, Illinois according to the 1830 census. They were in their eighties. 

James died 17 May 1834 at Ellis Grove, Randolph, Illinois.


  1. Original story appeared in The Pioneer History of Illinois.
  2. History of Randolph County, Illinois
  3. Combined History of Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties, Illinois pages 463-464
  4. The Irish Friends in Pennsylvania 
  5. The Wilkinson Memorial
  6. Thomas Hughes is likely the Hughes mentioned in the census of the Cumberland Settlements: "...came to the Cumberland area to hunt in 1777 with Mansker. They were attacked by Indians but escaped."