James Smith


James Smith

Rutland, Rutland County, Vermont, USA
Death 24 May 1941 (aged 96)
Rolette County, North Dakota, USA
Burial Rolla, Rolette County, North Dakota, USA
Memorial ID 114859520 View Source

James Smith, Veteran of Civil War, Is Dead


James Smith, believed to be one of three surviving Civil War veteran in North Dakota, died Saturday, May 24, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. D. Gregory, in Holmes township. He was 96 years, six months and 14 days old, and passed away quietly. He left St. John, his home since 1889, to live with his daughter after had suffered a stroke about nine years ago.

Funeral services were conducted from the First Presbyterian church of Rolla, Tuesday, May 27, at 2 p.m., Rev. L. A. Andersen officiating. A color guard and firing squad from Fed C. Wagner Post No. 235, American Legion, with whom he marched for many years at Memorial Day exercises, accompanied the body from the church to the Rolla cemetery, and performed the customary military rites at the grave.

Mr. Smith farmed on his homestead adjoining St. John on the west until 1897, when he became postmaster at St. John, serving in that office until 1917. He also served as county commissioner of Rolette county for one term, was a justice of the peace and school director. Court houe offices were closed during the funeral service.


James Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith, both of whom were born in Ireland, was born at Rutland, Vermont, Nov. 10, 1844. He accompanied his parents to Wisconsin in 1849, thence in 1856 to Rochester, Minn., the year following to Cottonwood county, and in 1861 to Renville county, Minn. Coming to North Dakota just before this became a state, he had the distinction of living in three Midwestern territories before they became states.

Following his marriage to Miss Ann L. Tompkins, at Birch Coulee, Minn., Jan. 25, 1874, they lived at Hector, Minn., until 1889 when they came to St. John. Mrs. Smith died Jan. 27, 1931.

Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Jay. D. Gregory of Holmes township and Mrs. L. Grossarth of Minot; two sons, H. W. Smith and George A. Smith of St. John; one sister, Mrs. Mary E. Lamphere of Ironton, Minn.; 11 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. Four daughters and two sons preceded their father in death.


When the family came to Minnesota in 1856, they settled near Fort Ridgely, in that area which suffered so heavily from Indian uprisings in that early period, and his father was scalped by a band of Indians.

Young Smith at the age of 16 enlisted in the 2nd Minnesota Infantry at Fort Virgil, St. Peter, Minn., June 17, 1861. While stationed with the troops at Lebanon, Ky. in 1862, he received word that his father had been killed by Indians. The elder Smith was on his way to Fort Ridgely when told of the new Indian outbreak, and in attempting to return to his family he was captured and scalped.

The family, meanwhile, had hidden in a corn field and finally reached the fort where they remained until the uprising was subdued.

James Smith served four years in the 2nd Minnesota, was mustered out before he was 21 years of age. He participated in many of the important battles of the Civil War. In was in January 1862, under General Thomas, that the real fighting for the 2nd Minnesota began. Arriving at Shiloh just after the battle, the regiment helped bury the dead, then went on to Chattanooga and the battle of Perryville.

In the battle of Chicamauga, Sept. 19, 1863, Smith was wounded, and his arm was partially paralyzed ever after as a result of the wound. He was in a hospital for several weeks. During this time his period of enlistment expired but upon his recovery he re-enlisted and in July, 1864, was transferred to the Veterans' Reserve Corps where he remained until the corps was mustered out at Indianapolis, Ind., June 24, 1865.

Among his treasured keepsakes, were his badge as officer of the day, his insignia of rank, his G. A. R. badge, tintypes, discharge papers, old letters and a slip of folded paper, crinkly and yellow with age, showing the enlistment of Private James Smith, June 17, 1861, with his signature in an unformed, boyish hand.

During a long period of years he participated in Memorial Day exercises in Rolla. In 1934 he missed the program for the first time.

The Turtle Mountain Star
Rolla, North Dakota
Thursday, May 29, 1941
Page 1, column 6


The picture is dim, but the memory is everbright.

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