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The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Kentucky of the Dead and Living Men of the Nineteenth Century, Cincinnati, Ohio; J. M. Armstrong & Company, 1878.
CANTRILL, CAPT. JAMES EDWARDS, Lawyer, son of Edward F. and Susan E. Cantrill, was born June 20, 1830, in Bourbon County, Kentucky. The ancestors of this distinguished member of the bar were natives of the Commonwealth of Virginia, from which they emigrated at an early day; his grandfather settling in Bourbon County, Kentucky. His father was a farmer in this fertile region of the State, and is still living, being a resident of Jessamine County. He married Miss Susan Edwards; six children were born to them – this subject being the second child. He attended a common-school in the neighborhood of his home, until about sixteen years of age. He then entered Georgetown College, graduating at that institution in the year of 1858. After leaving college, he commenced the study of law, in the office of Mr. Polk, in a class consisting of Rev. J. C. Morris, of Louisville; Hon. J. R. Ward, of Cynthiana; William R. Webb, and two or three others. Leaving this class, he was admitted to practice law by Judges Stites and Duvall, and entered upon his profession, in 1859, at the age of twenty years, in St. Louis, Missouri, remaining there in the pursuit of his calling until the breaking out of the war, in 1861. Upon the opening of hostilities, he immediately returned to his native State, and, espousing the Confederate cause, at once joined the army. Enlisting under Col. Humphrey Marshall in West Virginia, about the time when Generals Bragg and Kirby Smith were invading the State, he succeeded in raising a company, and with it joined the Fifth Kentucky Cavalry, D, Howard Smith’s regiment, Buford’s Brigade. He participated in the Kentucky campaign of that summer and Fall, taking an active part in the terrible battles of Perryville and Stone River, besides being in several minor engagements. After these battles, Bragg fell back to Tullahoma, Tennessee, and Rosecrans took position at Murfreesboro; these positions being retained by the two generals for the remainder of the Winter. About this time, Captain Cantrill was detailed with a company for scouting service, at the front of Gen. Bragg’s army. He served faithfully in this arduous and dangerous duty during that Winter; never, in all that time, sleeping within the picket lines. In the ensuing Spring, his regiment was assigned to Gen. John H. Morgan’s command; he serving with the general until his death, except a short period while a prisoner of war. He was in the vicinity of Greenville when the daring Gen. John Hunt Morgan was killed. He also participated in the West Virginia campaign, with Gen. Breckinridge. At the close of the war he returned to his home, to take up the pursuits of civil life. Resuming the practice of his profession, in January, 1866, he was soon recognized as one of the most successful members of the Georgetown bar. He soon obtained an extensive and lucrative practice, embracing many of the most important cases arising in Scott County. Among the many prominent cases in which he has taken part may be mentioned the celebrated Glass Will Case, in which he was engaged as principal counsel for the defendants; the suit being decided in favor of his clients. He has also successfully conducted a considerable number of criminal cases. He is a life-long Democrat. He was elected to the Kentucky Legislature in August, 1867, and served creditably in that body. He is a Mason of high standing; also a member of the Knights Templar, and Grand Junior Warden of the Grand Commandery of Kentucky. He was married, January 5, 1869, to Miss Jennie Moore, the accomplished daughter of the late Chilton C. Moore, of Fayette County, Kentucky. They have one child, James Campbell Cantrill. Captain Cantrill is in the prime of life, and a man of superb physique, standing six feet two inches in height, and well proportioned. He is known as a ready and forcible speaker, on public occasions, and also a writer of merit; and stands high as a citizen and professionally.