NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people and the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
The James family is not only one of the most prominent families of northern New York, but is especially noted for its long and honorable connection with the legal profession. Descended from an early New England colonist of superior intelligence, it has reached the ninth generation in America,  and its representatives have left the imprint of their genius upon the records of their day.
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(I) Thomas James, native of Wales, said to have been both a clergyman and physician, arrived at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1634, and in the same year joined Roger Williams in the settlement of Providence, Rhode Island. He was a staunch friend of Wililams, and a good servant in the cause of humanity. He was one of the twelve persons to whom Roger Williams, on the 12th day of October, 1638, deeded the land that he had bought of the Indian chiefs Canicus and Miantinomak, comprising the greater part of the state of Rhode Island. He was one of the twelve original members of the First Baptist Church, Providence, founded in 1638, and in a letter written by Roger Williams, 1649, is mentioned as having returned from England with a full cargo of goods, which were saved, though the vessel was wrecked off Rhode Island. March 20, 1640, he sold to William Field "my dwelling house and all my housing in Providence, as also my field, garden, meadow, etc., and land at Sasafrax Hill, land on Moskasserck River and all other rights in Providence for the sum of sixty pounds." He had a son William and perhaps two others, John and Joseph.
(II) Captain William, son of Thomas James, was, according to information at hand, born 1653, but there is in the early Rhode Island records some evidence to show that his birth might have occurred at an earier date, as the William James who was of Portsmouth in 1655, is mentioned in "Savage's Genealogical Dictionary" as probably the son of Thomas of Providence. "Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island" states that William James was married in 1677 to Susanna Martin.
(III) Benjamin, son of Captain William James, married Patience Cottrel, a descendant of Nicholas Cottrell, Aug. 27, 1737.
(IV) Amos, son of Benjamin James, married Oct. 1, 1758, Nancy Swan.
(V) Amos (2), son of Amos (1) James, went from Rhode Island to New York state shortly after the revolutionary war, and settled in Stephentown, Rensselaer county, where he practiced law for the remainder of his life. He married Polly, or Mary, daughter of Uriah Lee of Thompson, Wyndham county, Connecticut.
(VI) Samuel B., son of Amos (2) James, was born in Stephentown, June 1788, died Feb. 18, 1864. He entered the legal profession and was one of the most prominent lawyers in Rensselaer county during the first half of the last century. His first wife was Anna Bailey, married at Nassau, New York, Sept. 1811.
(VII) Judge Amaziah Bailey, son of Samuel B. James, was born in Stephentown, July 1, 1812. Having thoroughly digested Blackstone, Coke and other legal classics, he was admitted to the bar, and settling in Ogdensburg he rapidly developed as a practitioner those eminent professional qualities which foreshadowed his future distinction as a jurist, and his career at the bar was unsuaully brilliant. In due time he ascended the bench of the supreme court, from which he was subsequently elevated to the court of appeals, and after devoting twenty-three years to the service of the state in the capacity of judge, he resigned that eminent position in order to enter the national house of representatives.
Judge James died at Ogdensburg, N.Y., July 6, 1883. He married, Dec. 8, 1836, Lucia Williams, born April 5, 1819, daughter of Christopher and Julia (Caulkins) Ripley.
Her immigrant ancestor, from whom she was the eighth generation in descent, was William Ripley, who with his wife, two sons and two daughters, came from Hingham, Norfolk county, England, and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts, where he was admitted a freeman in 1642. John, son of William Ripley, was born in England, and was admitted a freeman at Hingham, Mass. 1656. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. Peter Hobart, first pastor of the church in Hingham.
Joshua, son of John Ripley, was born in Hingham, May 9, 1658. He married Hannah Bradford, of that town, and settled in Windsor, Connecticut. Hannah Bradford was a daughter of Deputy Governor William Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony, and graddaughter of Governor William Bradford, who came over in the "Mayflower."
Joshua (2), son of Joshua (1) Ripley, was born in Hingham, May 13, 1688. He married Mary Backus, of Windham.
Joshua (3), son of Joshua (2) Ripley, was born in Windham, Oct. 30, 1726. He married Elizabeth Lathrop, of that town.
Ralph, son of Joshua (1) Ripley, was born Oct. 25, 1751. He married Eunice, daughter of Major Hezekiah Huntington (5). She was a descendant of Simon Hungtington (1), through Simon (2), Joseph (3) and David (4). Major Hezekiah Huntington served in the revolutionary war and also won distinction for having been the first in America to manufacture muskets.
James Wolfe, son of Ralph and Eunice (Huntington) Ripley, served as an officer in the war of 1812-15; attained the rank of major-general in the U. S. army; was for soem time superintendent of the U. S. arsenal at Springfield, Mass., and was appointed chief of the ordinance department by President Lincoln in 1862.
Christopher, son of Ralph Ripley, was born Dec. 12, 1781, died Sept. 17, 1851. He married, May 4, 1818, Julia Caulkins, of Berkshire, Ohio. Children: 1. Lucia Williams, previously referred to as wife of Judge Amaziah B. James. 2, Roswell Sabin, born March 14, 1823; served as major-general in the Confederate army during the civil war, and was the author of a history of the Mexican war. 3. Laura, married Charles Shepard of Ogdenburgh.
(VIII) Colonel Edward Christopher, son of Judge Amarziah B. James, was born in Ogdensburg, May 1, 1841. He pursued his early studies in the public schools and at the Ogdensburg Academy, and attended Dr. Reed's Walnut Hill School at Geneva, New York, where he was prepared for college. His desire for a classical education, however, gave way to his patriotism at the breaking out of the civil war, and he accordingly entered the service as adjutant of the Fiftieth Regiment, New York Volunteers, with the rank of lieutenant. During the Peninsular campaign of the Army of the Potomac in 1862, he acted as assostant adjutant-general of the engineer brigade and as aide-de-camp to General Woodbury; was later appointed major of the Sixtieth New York Infantry, and finally became colonel of the One Hundred and Sixth New York Infantry, serving as such in the Virginia campaign during the autumn of 1862 and spirng of 1863. When scarecely twenty-two years of age he was frequently in command of a brigade, and on one occasion, while commanding a brigade of two regiments, he displayed his courage and ability by rapidly planning and executing an important stretegic movement which prevented the enemy from capturing his entire command.
On account of physical disability incurred in the army he was compelled to resign his commission in the spring of 1863, and, turning his attention to the study of law at Ogdensburg, he was in an unusually short space of time admitted to the bar. In 1864 he became associated with Stillman Foote, surrogate of St. Lawrence county, under the firm name of Foote & James, and during the succeeding ten years this conern transacted a large general law business. For a period of seven years from 1874 he practiced alone, acquiring the experience which formed the basis of his future professional achievements. In 1881 he admitted to partnership his student, Alric R. Herriman, now surrogate of St. Lawrence county (see sketch), and, leaving the latter in charge of the Ogdensburg office, he removed to New York City, where a much wider field of professional activity was open to him. Colonel James entered the legal profession with the firm belief that success depended largely, if not wholly, upon his own resources. Though free from egotism, he was decidedly self-confident, and knew that in the pursuit of professional advancement it was necessary to accept heavy responsibilities. He regarded his army training as being in many respects a good substitute for a college education, and he was accustomed to answer when asked what college he attended, that he was graduated from the University of the Army of the Potomac, and that he knew of none better for the making men.
His removal to the metropolis marked the commencement of a series of brilliant professional victories which cause him to be recognized as one of the foremost leaders of the New York bar, and this enviable position he looked upon as a sacred trust, not to be used wholly for the gratification of personal ambition. The following extract relative to his career before the higher courts is taken from the Albany Law Journal: "At first he was practically unknown in the city of New York, but by his tireless industry and his great ability he rose steadily until soon he was known to the courts and his fellow-lawyers as one of the most active and successful men at the trial bar. His reputation and his success increased rapidly, until some time before his death he had reached the eminent position of the widely acknowledged leader of the trial bar. His fame was not confined to New York City or to New York state alone, but extended throughout all the land, until he was known as well in the west and in the south as in the immediate vicinity of his active labors. He was essentially an 'all-round lawyer,' and his range in the trial of cases was most extensive. Criminal trials, equity cases involving highly complicated questions in the law of trusts, will contests in the surrogate's court or before a jury, actions to recover for personal injuries, patent cases, cases of every kind and description, were tried by him with equal facility and success. His arguments before the court upon appeal were as notable as his addresses to juries in the courts below. It is difficult to say in which branch of court work he was most successful. He was eminent alike in the trials before the court at special term, in jury trials and in all branches of work in the appellate courts. He was a master of all the many kinds of legal work which fall to the lot of the active practitioner."
After practicing alone in New York City for some years, Colonel James established the firm of James, Schell & Eklus, with which he was identified for the remainder of his life. It is impossible in an article of this character to enumerate or describe even a few of his many important cases. It may be stated, as a matter of fact, however, that he seldom lost a case, generally winning on appeal when a decision went against him in the lower court. As counsel for the plantiff in a civil action brought against a newspaper, he obtained a verdict for forty tousand dollars, the largest amount ever awarded in a libel case, and as counsel for the Manhattan Elevated Railway Company he successfully defended that corporation in many suits for damages brought by abutting property owners. Probably his most famous criminal cases were those brought against Captain William S. Devery, former chief of police, and Inspector McLaughlin, in each of which he secured a verdict of acquittal. He belonged to that fast disappearing race of lawyers whose chief delight ws to spend the greater portion of their time in court, and, as many of his cases were brought to him by professional associates, he was known among them as a "lawyer's lawyer."
His last great case, Dittmar vs. Gould, was decided in his favor after his death. His printed briefs on appeal cases alone consist of over sixty large volumes. His marvelous capacity for industry continued unabated until the last, and shortly before leaving New York for Florida, from whence he did not return alive, he stated to a friend that if he could not continue to work as he had done he preferred to die. This preference was realized, as his death occurred at Palm Beach, March 24, 1901, and was directly the result of overwork.
He was not only noted for his indomitable courage, eminent legal ability and loyalty to his clients, but also for his amiable disposition, civility and kindness to all, irrespective of wealth or position, and none knew better than he how to appreciate a good joke.
Special memorial proceedings, eleaborated somewhat to suit the extraordinary occasion, occurred in the various courts and at a meeting of the Bar Association, and were ordered to be preserved in the records of these bodies, and these have been of use to the present writer.
Colonel James married, Nov. 16, 1864, Sarah Welles Perkins, daughter of Edward H. Perkins of Athens, Pennsylvania.
1. Lucia, born Sept. 9, 1866.
2. Sarah Welles, born Nov. 27, 1869, married, Dec. 31, 1896, Pulding Franham, Great Neck, Long Island.
(IX) Lucia, daughter of Colonel Edward C. James, ws born in Ogdensburg, Sept. 9, 1866. She married, Sept. 6, 1893, Grant C. Madill, M.D., son of Nelson Madill, and grandson of Abel Madill.
(VIII) Henry Ripley James, son of Amaziah B. (q.v.) and Lucia W. (Ripley) James, was born Feb. 3, 1839, in Ogdensburg, and came to be one of the most prominent, useful and successful citizens of the town. He was possessed of a very active intellect and completed his education at the age of sixteen years, when he graduated from the Ogdensburg Academy. About that time, with two others, he started the Boy's Journal, of which the first copy was issued August 26, 1854. He developed much talent for journalistic work, as well as great business ability, and in 1856, the Boy's Journal was changed to the Daily Journal. In 1858 the owners of the Journal purchased the Saint Lawrence Republican, and issued it in connection with the Journal. Within a year thereafter Mr. James became the sole owner and editor of both papers, and continued their publication up to 1874, when his interest was sold to other persons. In addition to his newspaper work, Mr. James became interested extensively in various industries, and also dealt in stocks. He built and operated with success a paper mill at Waddington. The multitude of his interests consumed so much of his time and energy as to materially shorten his life. He took a great interest in politics and was an active force in manipulating the policy of his party, the Republican, and might have had almost any office which he desired, but he steadily refused to be a candidate, but as a leader in political movements he was unexcelled. He took much interest in St. John's Episcopal Church and gave liberally of his time, talents and means to further its prosperity, as in fact he did to every movement calculated to promote the general welfare of the community.
In the midst of a busy career, Mr. James' life ended January 31, 1882, at Ogdensburg, after an illness of less than twenty-four hours.
He married, Nov. 27, 1861, Harriet Jane, fourth daughter of Egbert N. and Julia E. (Strong) Fairchild (see Fairchild VI), born Sept. 30, 1839.
1. Henry F., born Sept. 23, 1863, died Jan. 8, 1896; was one of the organizers of the George Hall Coal Company of Ogdensburg, with which he was identified at the time of his death. He married (first) May 11, 1887, Annie Ford Arnold, of Ogdensburg, who died May 7, 1891, leaving two daughers, Elizabeth Arnold and Bertha Ripley; married (second) Elfreda True, of New York City.
2. Annie Bailey, married, Oct. 3, 1888, Governor Edward Curtis Smith, of Saint Albans, Vermont; children: James Gregory, Edward Fairchild, Curtis Ripley and Annie Dorothea Bradford.
3. Harriet Bertha, married, Sept. 9, 1891, Isaac P. Wiser, son of J. P. Wiser, M.P., of Prescott, Ontario, and has sons, Henry James, John Philip and Paul Fairchild.
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