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James Buchanan Payne, "Great Uncle Jim", was Permelia's half brother by her father's second marriage to Priscilla Nixon Beezley.  The paragraph below was written by my uncle Donald Malcom from a excerpt from his short memoirs "The Malcoms and Their Ancestors" .  Donald was Permelia's grandson by her son, George William (Billy) Malcom.  The year numbers in this paragraph do not work out.  Permelia was born on 6/7/1843 and died on 12/14/1935.  Donald was born on 6/25/1914 so perhaps the year should be 1934 when Don was 19 or 20.  Since Don was educated as an engineer, a "hydraulic ram" would interest him and he was always a man who loved the ladies and visa-versa.  He could charm the birds out of the trees.  The grand daughter he speaks of was probably Great Uncle Jim's grand daughter "Louise", daughter of Lena Payne Smith. 

Donald Humphreys Malcom wrote:

"Now for Uncle Jim.  He was only eight years old when the Civil War ended so he was not drafted.  When he was seventeen, he started selling insurance for a small company that very soon went broke.  He took what money he had, or could borrow, and paid back the money the policy holders had given him, and went to work for Travelers Insurance.  Travelers grew and so did he.  When I met him in 1924, he was a very well-to-do man with a two-thousand-acre ranch along the banks of the river near Potomac, Illinois.  We took Grandma down to see her brother Jim when she was 91 years old.  Uncle Jim was a tough old bird and I didn’t like him very much.  I liked his grand daughter, though, and she took me out to the ranch and showed me the only hydraulic ram I ever saw.   It pumped very cold water from the artesian well along the river up to the spring house at the ranch homestead.

Click here for historical information about James Buchanan Payne written about him in 1930, before his death in 1939. Also you will see here his grave and other items of interest that I found in Potomac, Illinois the summer of 2007 when my husband, Greg, and I visited there.  As you can read, "Great Uncle Jim" did prosper in the insurance business but not with the Travelers Insurance Company.

  

In 2005 I was sent a large package of documents written by Uncle Don's older brother Vincent Valentine Malcom.  He also recalls "Great Uncle Jim" but in a different manner.  Perhaps that is because Vincent was 15 years his senior and saw things in a different light and through the eyes of an experienced businessman.  Below is his recount of "Uncle Jim".  Vincent is an excellent and detailed story teller.  Vincent, for literary purposes, I suppose, refers to his father, George William Malcom as the "Farmer" in most of his family biographies.  At the end of this story are a couple of excerpts from a history of Potomac, Illinois that I found at the Potomac Library on July 12, 2007.  I will try to find out the exact name of the booklet. The excerpts list the businesses in Potomac in 1893, 1897 and 1918 and help prove the veracity and accuracy of Uncle Vincent's story.

Vincent Valentine Malcom wrote:

 A Lesson in Economics

 

 from the Farmer’s Uncle

 as told by Vincent Valentine Malcom

 

I enjoyed my visits with Uncle Jim not only because he was an excellent recounter but because the stories he told represented examples from real life, well documented and told without the personal flourishes which so often ruin an experience well told.  This story is told in first person as he told it to me.

 

 When I was a young man, I pursued my feckless way without a particular goal other than to earn my expenses and save little money against the time I wanted to go into business.  This ended abruptly when I fell in love and got married.  The choices were limited for one who had no professional training and a rather indifferent education.  So I decided to be a merchant, raise a little money and started a small general store.

 

 It could have been called a grocery for the non-food items were largely visionary.  Both my wife and I worked at it and worked hard.  We succeeded largely because we were young, kept the store in order, clean and showed a tendency to please the customers.  I should remark that average establishments at that time exposed merchandise for sale rather than selling it.  They also charged a large profit and were inclined to sell the standard merchandise without regard to the purchaser’s needs or desires.  As store keepers we were modestly successful.  We added lines as fast as the cash flows would allow, used a standard markup, eliminated dead stock and pursued a firm credit policy.  In other words, good normal practice.

 

 In a few years we had expanded and built up the store to the point where we could not consider further expansion.   In other words, the store was as big as it could be considering the size of the town.  My wife had ceased to work in the store.  The chief clerk had become familiar with my policies and was perfectly capable of ordering additional supplies and I began to look afield for other lines of endeavor. 

 

About this time a stranger came into town with the avowed purpose of promoting the sale of fire insurance.  I suppose he was directed to me because I was young, was fairly successful in selling and was about the only man in town that was looking for something to do.  At any rate, we took to each other and when I was familiar with his proposition, signed up as a local agent for his company.  I worked at it hard and in a few months, orders began to come which I entered with the company retaining my commission from the initial payment.  Thus encouraged, I redoubled my efforts and increased my sales to the point that I covered my expenses and in a little less than two years was not only making my expenses (a team of horses and the meals I had away from home ) but an overall profit which was beginning to compete with the store.

 

 Then disaster struck, a home I had insured burned down, and when I evaluated the loss and made a claim and followed it in a few weeks, I was forced to admit that the company whose insurance I was selling was spending the money received, had no assets, and could  not settle any claim.

 

 Then my wife and I had a meeting and discussed the situation thoroughly.  We concluded first) that I wanted to continue to sell insurance; second) that is was a poor way to start by cheating on our customers and  third) that we must make restitution.

 

 The following day I discussed the matter with the local banker, not what to do, but how to do it.  The next day, with our banker’s approval, I sold the general store to the chief clerk and placed a mortgage on our home.  I got in the buggy and began to call on my insurance customers, the oldest one first.

 

 I told them that I had sold them the in insurance in good faith but I personally had not determined whether or not the company was reliable, that it was my fault, that I would reimburse each one for the policy bought, and cover the loss in the case of damage.  In about three months I repaid all the policies sold and few cases of extensive damage, was broke, but had learned enough about insurance companies to sign up with a an agency with a reliable insurance company.”

 

 I said, “Uncle Jim, that is an excellent story and has a lot to do with honesty, integrity and ethics.”  He said, “You are not seeing it correctly.  Honesty, integrity and ethics are abstract terms.  This story I was telling you is from real life.  What I did was to make the best business deal of my whole life. 

 

 Do you know that the people I reimbursed continued to buy insurance from me, every one, and their families grew up and bought from me and their grand children? 

 

 I took on other types of insurance, life, accident, and theft and they not only bought fire insurance but other insurance as well.  Do you know that it is considered an honor in the insurance business if you sell a million dollars worth of insurance a year?  They say you belong to the 'Million Dollar Club’. 

 

 Here I am in a town of 700, I am past 70.  I belong to the ‘Million Dollar Club’.  I have belonged every year and have belonged so long that I have forgotten when I joined.”

 

I have highlighted the 'Payne' places of business in Potomac, Ill. on both lists. 

I believe, at this time, that John W. Payne is the son of William O'Neal Payne and Emma Green and he was born in 1858.    William O. Payne and James Buchanan Payne are half brothers and both brothers of great grandmother Permelia Payne Malcom by different mothers.  It appears that the Payne family did very well and prospered in Potomac