JAMES S. ROCHE, of Cairo, now sheriff and ex-officio collector of taxes of Alexander county, Ill., was born in Pulaski county, of that state, on Christmas day, 1852. He is a son of Michael and Ellen (Murphy) Roche. The father came to Pulaski county from the State of New York in 1848, and was for many years a contractor in the employ of the Illinois Central Railway Company. He died Sept. 16, 1883. The mother died just one year later, Sept. 16, 1883. Sheriff Roche and a sister, Mrs. Anna Sitphin, of Jonesboro, Ark., are the only surviving children. James S. Roche grew to manhood and received his education in his native county. Upon reaching his majority he engaged in fruit farming, which he conducted successfully until 1884, when he bought a farm on the Mississippi river, about twenty miles above the city of Cairo, and removed to Alexander county. Since then he has made several purchases of the land adjoining his farm until he now owns nearly 1,200 acres, practically all of which is under cultivation. Few farms in Southern Illinois are better stocked with implements, machinery, live stock, etc., or in the character of buildings and other improvements. Although Mr. Roche fills the office of sheriff and has his temporary residence in Cairo he still retains the management of this farm, employing men to do all the work under his personal direction. Ever since attaining his majority he has been an ardent Republican, and has held several minor offices. Soon after he was twenty-one he was elected justice of the peace in Pulaski county, and after holding this office for several years, was county commissioner for one term, just before he removed to Alexander county. In the fall of 1902 he was elected sheriff for a term of four years by a handsome majority, though a portion of the Democratic county ticket was elected. Sheriff Roche was married in 1884 to Miss Maggie Atherton. To this marriage were born three children: Francis D., aged seventeen years; Leslie B., aged fifteen, and Leon, aged twelve. The mother of these children died in 1894, and in 1896 Mr. Roche was united in marriage to Miss Mattie Martin, one of Alexander county's best known and most popular school teachers.
Extracted 2016 May 15 by Norma Hass from Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley, Personal and Genealogical with Portraits, published in 1905, Volume 2, page 215