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Jesse Allen James


  • Born: 1 December 1838
  • Died: 5 June 1913
  • Father: Jesse James
  • Mother: Margaret Allen
  • Spouse: Martha A. Williams


Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties by Gilbert Cope (1904), pg. 237.

Jesse Allen James, for many years a sterling citizen of West Nantmeal, Chester county, Pennsylvania, was born in that township, and is the second of the name to be identified with the agricultural interests of the community and prominently active in its public life.

Jesse James, the father, was also born in West Nantmeal township, December 5, 1794, on the farm now owned and worked by Christian Amole. He was a man of energy and integrity, and he brought these qualities of mind to the conduct of his farm. In public affairs he was always to be found on the side of the forces that make for the betterment of human condition. He was an active anti-slavery man in those trying years leading up to the war of the rebellion. Later in life he gave himself to the temperance reform movement and in his public career paid the penalty of standing for an unpopular cause. For nine years he served the town as justice of the peace, and in 1830 was elected to the legislature. Because of his temperance principles he was defeated for a second term. He was again nominated in 1850 on the Whig ticket and was elected. He served in 1850 and 1851, but his advocacy of temperance defeated him for a third term. He married Margaret Allen, born in November, 1798, a daughter of Captain Ephraim and Sally (Erwin) Allen. Captain Allen, a cabinet-maker by trade, came to West Nantmeal township from Carlisle, Cumberland county, and settled on the farm now owned and occupied by his grandson, Clarence Allen James. Jesse and Margaret (Allen) James were the parents of eight children as follows:

1. Hannah, who became the wife of James S. Phipps, of West Chester. Mr. Phipps was a farmer and a school teacher. They had two children, Margaret and Jesse (deceased). Margaret married Joseph Armstrong, an oil broker of Petrolia, Canada. 2. Ephraim, who was a farmer early in life, but began speculating in oil and lumber in 1864. Later he operated a line of boats on the Allegheny river. He was twice married, first to Susanna Russell, who left one daughter, Annie, who became the wife of Charles Henderson, of Glen Moore, a bookkeeper in Honeybrook National Bank. She has two children, Sarah Jane and Benjamin Reed Henderson. The second wife of Ephraim James was Florence Bump, of Syracuse, New York. 3. Abner, a mechanic and coal and lumber dealer of Isabella, Pennsylvania. He married Margaret Lincoln, of Lancaster county, daughter of Samuel Lincoln. From this marriage came three children: Edward, who died at the age of four years, Clarence Allen James, married to Lizzie Millard, and father of two children, Helen and Edward; Elizabeth Lincoln, wife of Trago McFarland, a merchant of Wagontown, Chester county; she has no children. 4. Sarah Elizabeth, wife of William Templeton, a farmer. 5. Rachel, wife of James Butler, of Upper Uwchlan township. (For chldren of this union, see sketch of James Butler elsewhere in this work.) 6. Jesse Allen, whose career is fully treated elsewhere in this article. 7. Isaac, who died at seventeen years of age. 8. Ruth Anna, wife of Dr. Richard Matlack, of Brooklyn, Chester county. Dr. Matlack died, leaving his widow with three children - Bessie, Francis and Richard. Francis is a bookkeeper and stenographer at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jesse Allen James, sixth child and third son of Jesse and Margaret (Allen) James, was born on the old homestead farm, about one-half mile from his present home, December 1, 1838. He was educated at Pughtown and Millersville, and taught for two years after leaving school. During his young manhood he served in the state militia and was called to the regular army during the Civil war, where he gave the full measure of a soldier's duty in the cause so dear to his father. After the restoration of peace, he became connected with an engineering corps for the surveying of government lands. Still later, he joined the inrush to the oil fields, where he found employment as bookkeeper and clerk. Thus, after a life of many and varied experiences, he returned to his native town and took up farming. He now owns a farm of one hundred acres, which he supervises, giving most of his attention to dealing in cattle, his operations extending to the west as well as to the east. The church affiliations of the family are with the Presbyterian denomination. In politics Mr. James is an independent Republican.

Mr. James was married, in 1881, to Martha Williams, daughter of Joseph and Jane (Wilson) Williams, a woman of Scotch-Irish descent, and the eldest of a family of ten children, the others being as follows: 2. Margaret, who cares for her parents; 3. Ella W., a graduate of a private school in Philadelphia, now teaching in Stratford; 4. James Wilson, who after graduating at Princeton was made assisstant to the Rev. Dr. Cady at Dinsmore and is now pastor of the Second Presbyterian church in Philadelphia, which position he has held for five years; 5. May Elizabeth, who became the wife of Dr. Wayne Buagh, of Paoli, and to whom was born one daughter, Marion; 6. John Alexander, a clerk and bookkeeper at Berwyn, Chester county; he married nellie Worrilow, a daughter of John Worrilow, and a sister of Lieutenant Worrilow, now in the United States Navy; the children of John A. and Nellie Williams are Chester, Roy and Edith; 7. Joseph, who was at one time a clerk and is now a farmer in Chester Valley; he is unmarried; 8. Jennie, unmarried, who is a bookkeeper in the Berwyn National Bank; 9. George Henry, a druggist at Camden, New Jersey, who is unmarried; 10. Della Hannah, a graduate of the West Chester Normal School, who is now a teacher at Paoli. Jesse Allen and Martha (Williams) James are the parents of one son, Jesse Evans James, born August 31, 1882. After finishing a course at the West Chester Normal School, he entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he is preparing himself for a civil engineer.

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