|Birth: ||May 24, 1824|
|Death: ||Jun. 4, 1917|
James Benedict Sturdevant was born to Rev Elijah & Mary Francis Jones Sturdevant, at Braintrim, Lucerne County, Pennsylvania in the Spring of 1824, May 24. He was the third of seven children, having two brothers and four sisters.
James grew up in the rural area of Black Walnut in the north to northeastern part of Pennsylvania, Wyoming County. This was the area where James' grandfather, Samuel Sturdevant had settled after his participation in the Revolutionary War. James' grandfather and father both, were Baptist ministers, and well to do farmers. His mother died when he was just 14 years old.
In early Spring of 1848, at age 23, James married Josephine Louise Mowry. The wedding took place at Susquehanna River Bottom, Black Walnut, Pennsylvania.
For several years, the couples' life seemed the same as generations before. James was a sashmaker in the couple's home area in Pennsylvania. Josephine gave birth to a plethora of children - Joseph Blanding (1848-1926), a baby that died in infancy in 1848, baby George that was born and died in 1951, Brantley Elijah (1852-1938), James Otis (1855-1879), Dr Charles Lacey (1858-1939), Rev Frank Moxley (1860-1940), Baby Otis Loomis, born and died in 1861, and Edward Payson (1862-1919).
This period of time was also marked with tragedy. In addition to the three children that died in infancy, James lost nine of his siblings.
In the Fall of 1862 came the Civil War. James enlisted as a private for the 16th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry. He fought for the Union side. He was later discharge for dysentery, a common affliction amongst Civil War soldiers.
James' listed hisself as an artist on his Civil War Draft documents. After the war, Bertha Josephine, or "Berthie" was born (1867-1943). Berthie was the last, and 11th child born to them, and their only girl.
In 1870, James is listed in that census as a farmer with a good amount of money.
In 1871, their lives changed again, when they made the decision to move West. James was 46 years old. The following is an excerpt of Nebraska Pioneers, contributed by Frank Sturdevant, James son:
"On Tuesday, March 7, 1871, at about 4:00 p.m. our family took train at Black Walnut, PA, bound for Nebraska. Others joined our party until there were twenty or more in our company going to Nebraska. We arrived at Fremont, Nebraska Friday afternoon, March 10, 1871, my brother Edward's birthday, he being 9 years old that day. Our family were apportioned out among old friends for the night.
Saturday morning, Mar 11, 1871, Father bought a cook stove, groceries, and some furniture and other things needed. After dinner, had them hauled to the Platte River just south of Fremont by a dray. There was no bridge there in those days, and the only means of crossing the river was by a ferry run by John Lee, an old time friend of Father's. Our goods, trunks, etc., were loaded on top of this ferry boat which was just a flat boat that we called mud scows in the East. Then we all got on the boat with the goods and the boat was pushed across the south side of the Platte River by men using long poles. We were in a little time, safely landed on the south side of the river, and our goods sat out upon the bank.
We were met there by thee prospective neighbors, Thereodore L Adams, Samuel Gregory, and Father Gregory, each one brining a team and lumber wagon with which to transport our goods and ourselves to our new home. Our goods and party were divided and loaded into three wagons and we started for our new home.
In the Adams wagon was the stove, groceries and some trunks. Also father, mother, Joseph, Edward, Eertha, and myself (Frank). We reached the Adam's home shortly after dark, and Mrs. Adams had supper about ready for us. After supper, father and Joseph loaded some straw into the wagon and Mr. Adams took all of us who came with him to our new home.
The stove was set up that night, the trunks opened, and bedding and ticks procured and filled with the straw we had brought from the Adam's place, and beds were made upon the floor in one small bedroom downstairs and in the upstairs which was all in one big room. Then we retired for the night. We had a sweet night's rest after our long journey upon the train, and with hearts beating high and with hopes for the future. We woke the next morning, Sunday, March 12, 1871, and arose to eat breakfast prepared by Mother and in our new home.
Our new neighborhood was composed largely of Christian people though much divided by denominational lines. However, this did not matter so much. Neighborhood services and Sunday school were held Sunday morning in the school house about a half a mile south of our new home. Our part of the party, excepting Mother and Bertha, then about 3 1/2 years old, went to the school house to attend services while Mother prepared dinner for the whole party. The other two loads of our party had remained with their hosts overnight, and came with them to the services the next morning.
There was a goodly number out to the services. A preacher of the Free Methodist type preached. Rev Noble Gregory, father of the two Gregories who had met us with their teams and wagons at the Platte River. We who had come from the East, were not accustomed to that type of preaching, and some did not restrain the smiles which they felt inside. This seemed to irritate the old gentlemen, and sitting down on a school seat close at hand and pounding the seat with his hand, he said "It may be that I am a fool but if I am I am a happy one!"
This was our first introduction to Nebraska, and I think that none of the party ever regretted our coming here.
It was not long until Father and Noble Gregory, a brother of the Gregories already mentioned, and a son of the preacher, went to Council Bluffs, IA, to purchase horses and wagons. In about a week they returned. Mr. Gregory with one team and wagon, and father with one wagon and three teams, two of horses, and one of mules. How all hands were busily engaged in putting in the crops or doing their bit about the farm and settled down to real farm life in the west."
The Fall of the following year of their migration, 1872, James father Elijah passed away, back in Pennsylvania.
James and Josephine settled in Atkinson, Holt County, Nebraska. James was a photographer there, and had a studio. He also had a studio in Wyoming, and traveled to Northeast Wyoming and to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, to photograph American Indians.
He was also musically inclined, and he and other friends and family members had a brass band in the early days of this small but lively Nebraska community.
Josephine lived to be 88 years old. She passed away in the season of the singing birds, Spring of 1914, on the 17th day of May. James passed away just three years later, in early June, 1917, at age 93. Both James and Josephine outlived all of their many brothers and sisters. They are laid to rest beside each other, in the velvety green Woodlawn Cemetery in Atkinson, Nebraska.
Elijah Sturdevant (1796 - 1872)
Mary Francis Jones Sturdevant (1797 - 1838)
Josephine Louise Mowry Sturdevant (1826 - 1914)*
Joseph Blanding Sturdevant (1848 - 1926)*
Brantly Elijah Sturdevant (1852 - 1938)*
Charles L. Sturdevant (1858 - 1939)*
Sarah J. Sturdevant (1820 - 1901)*
James Benedict Sturdevant (1824 - 1917)
Lucy Sturdevant (1825 - 1850)*
Lewis J. Sturdevant (1830 - 1854)*
Helen Sturdevant (1834 - 1840)*
William Brantly Sturdevant (1834 - 1853)*
Ellen F. Sturdevant (1836 - 1907)*
Maintained by: CONNIE FYFE
Originally Created by: Annie
Record added: Aug 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 75222479