J.B. (James Bell) Stevenson (1838-1890) was the third of at least seven children of John Turner Stevenson (1808-1857) and Eliza Ann Ewing Stevenson (1809-1889) of Kentucky. He married Rowena Ewing (1845-1927) on 10 Sep 1863 in Woodford County, Illinois. He and Rowena, whom he sometimes called “Row,” were the parents of at least one child, Annie Mary Stevenson Bullis (1868-1928).

Stevenson came to Bloomington with his family in July 1852. That family included older brother Adlai E. Stevenson (1835-1914) who became US vice president from 1893 to 1897.

J.B. worked as an insurance agent in Decatur, Quincy, and Bloomington. But, he was best known in McLean County for originating the coal shaft on west side of Bloomington in 1867. He served as an officer in the coal company for about two decades.

This bound book contains 500 pages of copies of business letters, nearly all written by Stevenson from January 1866 to January 1880. Most of the letters in the first half involve his life insurance agency business although many in the later half involve the McLean County Coal Company. Letters were written from Decatur (January through July 1866); Quincy (July 25 through early September 1866); and Bloomington (September 11, 1866 through January 1880)