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Eliza Ann (Gaumer) James

Eliza Ann (Gaumer) James was born on June 17, 1850 in Adamsville, Muskingum County, OH, the daughter of Adam and Nancy (Boies) Gaumer

She migrated to Illinois with her parents as a girl or teenager.

On Sept. 16, 1868, when she was 18 years of age, Eliza Ann was united in matrimony with 25-year-old Civil War veteran Firmin James (July 1, 1844-1915), the son of William James and a native of Zanesville, OH. Their nuptials were held in Paris, Edgar County, IL, by the hand of justice of the peace William J. Vandyke.

Firmin had migrated from Ohio to Edgar County in 1850 at the age of six. He stood 5 feet, 9 inches tall in adulthood and and weighed 135 lbs.

The Jameses' marriage certificate from Edgar County, IL. National Archives

Eliza Ann and Firm were farmers of near Paris.

The couple were the parents of three children -- Jenny "Olive" Hinds, Ottie May Hinds and Edwin W. James.

During the Civil War, Firmin served in two Illinois regiments. The first was the 21st Illinois Infantry, Company F, from July 1861 to October 1861. For more than a month of that time, in August and September 1861, he suffered from typhoid fever and was laid up at New House of Refuge Hospital in St. Louis. He shortly thereafter was discharged due to his medical disbility.

On Aug. 11, 1862, in Chicago, he joined the 88th Illinois Infantry, Company D. One battle in which he participated was at Stone's River, TN on New Year's Eve 1862.

He also is known to have taken part in the "Franklin-Nashville Campaign" waged by Union forces under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas to counter attacks by Confederates moving north from Atlanta, commanded by Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood. This resulted in a number of battles from mid-September 1864 to late December 1864 in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

Civil War soldiers' camp, Nashville, during the Hood-Thomas Campaign
Library of Congress

During the winter of 1864, while stationed at Nashville, TN, he was stricken with diarrhea and, he recalled, "was off duty for as much as two weeks at a time but was never in hospital. I contracted Rheumatism the same winter." Boyhood friend N.J. Campbell, of the regiment, said he had seen Firmin "riding in ambulances on the marches before the Battle of Nashville Tenn." At the end of the war, he was so broken down, said William James, that he was assigned to work on a hospital train.

Firmin was discharged from the army on June 9, 1865. Upon his return home, his friends and neighbors could see that he was in very poor health and could not perform hard labor. He moved frequently within Edgar County over the next six years, from Kansas Township to Elbridge Township in September 1865. After a year, he returned to Kansas Township and stayed until February 1868, at which time he moved back to Elbridge. Then in March 1871, he pulled up stakes and relocated to Dudley, remaining until March 1877. Their next move was to Oakland Township.

The 1870 U.S. Census shows the family in Edgar County and in 1880 in East Oakland Township, Coles County, IL. But a confusing record exists in 1880, as Eliza also is shown as unmarried at the age of 30, living at home with her parents in Elbridge Township, Edgar County.

Firmin was awarded a military pension in November 1882 as compensation for wartime ailments. [Invalid App. #465.281 - Cert. #373.669] He claimed he suffered from chronic diarrhea, rheumatism, vertigo and spinal disease. Many relatives and friends provided affidavits of support in his claim. Among them was his wife's cousin James Riley Shirer, also of Paris, son of Valentine and Catherine (Gaumer) Shirer Jr., who lived a quarter-mile away from 1865 to 1868 and saw him nearly every day.

The Jameses' home in 1891 was in Oakland Township. On Jan. 9, 1890, while outside carrying a bucket of well water on his farm, he slipped on the ice and fell, breaking his left kneecap. Dr. J.A. Hawthorne was called for treatment, but the fracture never fully healed. Circa 1895, he was burdened with asthma "so badly that I have been compelled to leave home in the winter time & go south," he wrote. He once worked on a barn project with Amos L. Maddock and to have farmed together with Joseph McQuaid, planting corn and buying livestock.

When the federal census enumeration again was taken in 1900, the Jameses remained in East Oakland Township.

Then in 1903, the Jameses decided to leave their old home region and migrated to Oklahoma. They established a new residence in Okemah, OK and later in Weleetka, Okfuskee County.

Firmin is known to have returned to visit Illinois friends at times. In May 1905, after one trip, he told a reporter with the Weleetka (OK) American that the rains had been heavy and that he had to shorten his stay due to muddy roads. He is known to have received $24 per month in pension checks as of 1914, and, at that time, only weighed 98 lbs.

Suffering from asthma and what a physician wrote as a "complication of disease," Firmin died at the age of 70 on April 15, 1915 in Weleetka. Interment of the remains was in Hillcrest Cemetery in Weleetka. His obituary was printed in the Mattoon (IL) Journal Gazette.

A month after his death, the community held a Decoration Day (Memorial Day) ceremony to mark soldier graves at Hillcrest. Reported the Okemah Ledger, "Capt. J.W. Newlon inaugurated the movement and conducted the simple ceremonies. Although there was little time in which to prepare, there was quite a crowd present. So far as the committee could ascertain only four soldiers are buried in the Wekeetka cemetery -- J.J. F. Wortman, Firmin James and Robert Cofield, of the Union army, and Dr. M.R. Harp, of the Confederate army."

Eliza outlived her husband by 25 years. Within a month of his passing, she began receiving his pension payments. [Widow App. #1.047.355 - Cert. #797.713 - XC 2.689-764] She received monthly checks for the remainder of her life. Coming forward to provide sworn testmony of support in her case were friends E.S. Gray and H.B. Catlett of Weleetka.

The censuses of 1930 and 1940 show the elderly Eliza living alone in Weleetka and with no occupation, probably entirely dependent on her pension for income. She was a member of the First Christian Church. 

Toward the end, she went to spend the summer in the Illinois River home of her son E.W. near Tahlequah. There, she succumbed to death at the age of 90 on Aug. 10, 1940. Funeral services were held in her church, led by Rev. J.L. Schuler. She also rests in Hillcrest Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Weleetka American, which referred to her as "one of the pioneer women of Weleetka, coming here with here husband and family in 1903, and has been a resident of this city since that time... Mrs. James was affectionately called 'Nannie' by relatives and family friends, a woman most highly respected and loved."

~ Daughter Jenny "Olive" (James) Hinds ~

Daughter Jenny "Olive" James (1870-1915) was born three days before Christmas 1870 near Paris, Edgar County. 

At the age of 21, on Feb. 25, 1892, she wed Clarence Dola "C.D." Hinds (1870- 1948), also of Edgar County and the son of Jacob and Susan (Markland) Hinds. They held their wedding at Paris. 

The couple bore six children -- Cecil Durward Hinds, Leota Hinds, Wilbur Hinds, Paul Otho Hinds, Roland Hinds and Edna May Hinds. Sadly, son Wilbur is thought to have died young. 

As a young man, Clarence had attended a business college in Kentucky. The family relocated in 1902 to Chandler, OK and the next year moved to Weleetka, OK. The house was seated in the Canadian Heights section of town. In 1906, the Hindses were in Okmulgee, OK and in 1910 back in Weleetka. 

Clarence was a farmer, but as with his brother-in-law Edwin W. "E.W." James, he also was a newspaperman. Reported the Weleetka American, Clarence was "widely known in many Oklahoma towns and cities." They were members of the First Christian Church. 

Sadly, Olive became seriously ill in mid-1915 and was "confined to her bed for several months," reported the Okemah (OK) Ledger. She died on Aug. 28, 1915. Her funeral was preached by Rev. G.W. Hilderbrandt. In addition to the Ledger, an obituary appeared in the Wetumka Gazette

Clarence outlived his bride by more than three decades. He was active in the Democrat political party and worked to advance Oklahoma's interests. Health problems forced him to give up editing and instead live an "outdoor life," said the American. He "came to Creek county during the development period of the oil industry in that area, and had a part in the construction of many petroleum processing plants in Cushing, Oilton, Bristow, Shamrock, Walters, Jennings, in North Texas, and at Drumright in which city he made his home." 

Circa 1934, he dwelled in Colorado but eventually returned to Oklahoma. The last two years of his were spent enduring illness. 

He died in Sapulpa, OK at age 77 on Sept. 30, 1948. An obituary was published in the Weleetka American, which referred to him as "pioneer of early Oklahoma days." His survivors were counted as 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Burial of the remains was next to Olive's in Hillcrest Cemetery in Weleetka with a view of the North Canadian River. Rev. Straiter, his pastor, led the funeral service.

Son Cecil Durward Hinds (1893-1978) was born on March 1, 1893 in Oakland Township, Coles County, IL. He married Vesta Allen (1893- ? ). The Hindses lived in Drumright, OK in 1940-1948 and in Cushing, Payne County, OK in 1967. In the 1960s, Cecil assisted in creation of a mural for the Drumright Community Historical Museum in the restored Santa Fe Railroad depot. Cecil passed away in Oct. 1978 in Cushing

Daughter Leota May Hinds (1894-1975) was born in 1894 in Illinois. She married Raden Oscar Fox (1886-1950). They became the parents of a large brood, among them Floyd Vernon Fox, Harmon Bruce Fox, Mary Olive Fox and others. The Fox family resided at Lake Arthur, NM in 1940 and eventually relocated to Keyes, CA. Raden is known to have died in 1950. Leota survived as a widow for another quarter-century of time. Death swept her away in El Cajon, San Diego County, CA on June 23, 1975.

Son Paul Otho Hinds (1903-1986) was born on Aug. 23, 1903 in Oklahoma. He joined the U.S. Air Force and stationed at Langley Field, VA in 1940. He held the rank of colonel in 1948 and retired about 1954, at which point he moved to St. Petersburg, FL. His address in later years was 354 80th Avenue Northeast. Paul was married and the father of James Hinds and Sue Toma. Paul surrendered to the spirit of death in St. Petersburg, FL on March 20, 1986. A notice of his passing was published in the Tampa Bay Times.

  • Grandson James Hinds dwelled in St. Peterburg in 1986.
  • Granddaughter Sue Hinds married (?) Toma. She dwlled in Falls Church, VA in 1986

Son Roland D. Hinds (1906-1992) was born on Oct. 31, 1906 in Oklahoma. He is said to have been joined in wedlock with Alice Richardson ( ? - ? ). Roland lived in Duncan, OK in 1940 and migrated to Washington, DC and was there in 1948. He died in Las Vegas on Aug. 24, 1992.

Daughter Edna Mae Hinds (1910-2001) was born on Jan. 22, 1910 in Oklahoma. She was twice-wed. She first entered into marriage with Ernest M. Meyer ( ? - ? ). Children born into this union were Olive May Meyer, Juanita Meyer, Shirley Jean Meyer and one other. The couple made their home in Blanco, CO in 1940 and later divorced. In time she married (?) Harmon ( ? - ? ) and, circa 1948, was in Phoenix, OR. Her final home was in Medford, OR. She succumbed to death on Nov. 26, 2001.

~ Daughter Ottie May (James) Hinds ~

Daughter Ottie May James (1873-1906) was born on May 26, 1873. 

At the age of about 23, in 1896, she married Colonel Wilbur Bertrand "C.W.B." Hinds (Feb. 1872-1934), son of Jacob and Susan (Markland) Hinds. The couple did not reproduce. 

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1900, the pair dwelled in Mattoon, Coles County, IL, where from 1895 to 1905 Wilbur was editor of the Mattoon Star newspaper.

 They relocated to Oklahoma in 1905 and settled in Weleetka. 

Sadly, having borne heart problems, Ottie died on Aug. 5, 1906. The Weleetka State Democrat reported that she "was in the full bloom of life, when the visions of the future is rosy, and then the grim destroyer, whose greedy maw is never filled, stepped in and called her hence, but the end came very peacefully..." 

Wilbur does not appear to have remarried during the remaining 28 years of his life. He wrote for the Guthrie (OK) Leader in 1907-1910 and then in 1910 was city editor for the Sapulpa (OK) Evening Light. The Sapulpa Herald wrote this of William:

Hinds was one of the old school sort of newspaper men with a flair for politics that almost overshadowed his ability as a writer. In appearance he was commanding, standing well over six feet and always wearing a long frock tailed coat. He wore his hair down over his coat collar and adorned his head with a very wide-brimmed black hat. A gold headed cane completed his makeup.

When "the capital was moved from Guthrie to Oklahoma City, he followed," said the Decatur (IL) Daily Review. In time he edited the Oklahoma City Outlook and owned the Hugo (OK) Daily News, which once said he was "one of the most colorful characters that ever resided in Hugo. He was not only a good writer but a statesman as well... He held the Hugo job until he was appointed assistant secretary of state where he served several years" under J.L. Lyon during the administration of Gov. Robert L. Williams. 

He also wrote for Harlow's Weekly in Oklahoma City until 1923 and then in 1924 worked in the publicity bureau of the Democratic state central committee. Circa 1928-1929, he lived in Texas and Mexico. 

He died in Oklahoma City at the age of 65 on March 3, 1934.

~ Son Edwin W. "E.W." James ~

Son Edwin W. James (1881- ? ) was born on July 1, 1881 in Illinois and relocated with his parents to Oklahoma. 

In about 1904, Edwin was joined in the bonds of wedlock with Indiana native Sadie Thomas (1885- ? ). 

Together the produced one known son, Gregory James. 

Edwin's business stationery, 1940. National Archives

Edwin entered the printing and newspaper business in young manhood. For about two years, with a focus on covering Democrat party politics, he edited the Weleetka American until selling it to Lake Moore. He then leased back the American in June 1907 and, reported the Okfuskee County News, "will work in the interests of democracy in the new state and in Okfuskee County... Mr. James is an able and experienced newspaper man and will give the good people of Weleetka and vicinity a first class sheet, the only hard thing we can say about him is that he is a democrat and every body knows the reputation they bear in Oklahoma." 

In time he sold the American to J.Y. Bryce and moved to Enid, OK, before again buying back the paper in August 1909 and returning to Weleetka. 

Circa January 1911, he was employed as Clerk of Okfuskee County Court. Then in April 1914, he bought the Okemah Independent newspaper from E.D. Mitts and renamed it the Okfuskee County News, writing "I would rather edit a good country newspaper than to command the armies of the universe, or to wield the scepter of the nation, or even to be clerk of the county court at Weleetka." 

Edwin sold the News to Frank Jones and the American to John Fields, both circa 1916, exiting entirely from the editing field. By February 1918, he was selling automobiles, and in 1920 worked as a real estate agent. He was constantly in motion, with his name frequently appearing in local newspapers. 

The family is known to have attended the University of Oklahoma homecoming football game in November 1921, watching the Sooners beat Kansas 24-7. Edwin also motored to Tulsa in late December that year to watch the state championship game between Sapulpa and Pryor high schools. 

Among his civic duties was a seat on the Okfuskee County Excise and Equalization Board. Active in her own right, Sadie in 1936 was elected vice chairman of the county Democrat party. Circa 1940, he was self-employed in the land, lease and royalty business in Weleetka.

Son Gregory James (1906- ? ) was born in about 1906 in Oklahoma. He graduated from Weleetka High School. In 1923, at the age of 17, he was enrolled in Phillips University at Enid, OK, where he played football. He went on to earn a degree from the University of Oklahoma. In 1933, he was appointed as office deputy by the county superintendent. On June 8, 1939, in nuptials held in Fort Smith, AR, Gregory was united in holy matrimony with Mary Catherine Laws ( ? - ? ), daughter of W.H. Laws of Eureka Springs, AR. The wedding was led by Rev. Dr. Bacon, in the First Christian Church, and announced on the pages of the Weleetka American. The newlyweds dwelled in Oklahoma City and then in 1940 in Tahlequah, OK.


Copyright 2000, 2011, 2015, 2016-2018, 2020-2022 Mark A. Miner