JAMES Family history
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Part One - From Ireland to The Firelands


Thomas Malcolm JAMES, his wife Jane and their 5 children immigrated from Ireland to America in 1807. The family sailed from Dublin, leaving their home in (view map of) Knockadawk, a rural area north of Wexford, near the southeast Irish coast, and arrived in New England. The exact site of their landing is unknown, but it is speculated to be New Bedford, Connecticutt, based on references that appear in the history of the Firelands in early Ohio, and notes in an old family bible.

Thomas also married Jane Taylor on Feb 16, 1792, which was recorded in the official Ferns Diocese record book, Wexford, Ireland. view the Ferns record book entry   

Who are these people?

  • Father: Thomas M James, born about 1770 in Ireland. Died 1830, in Bloomingville, Oxford Township, then Huron Co. Ohio, at age 60.      view grave marker

  • Mother: Jane Taylor James, Born in 1773 in Ireland; Died 19 Sep 1823, in Bloomingville, Ohio, at age 50.   read death notice    view grave marker.

  • Son: Peter James, Born 25 Mar 1798 in Ireland; Died 27 Jan 1863, and is buried in Matteson Township, Branch County, Michigan, age 64.   view grave marker   

  • Son: Henry James, Born 5 Nov 1800 in Ireland; Died 7 Dec 1878, in Bloomingville, now Erie Co. Ohio, at age 75.      view grave marker

  • Daughter: Elizabeth James Brockway, Born 22 Jun 1802 in Ireland; Married Michael Leadwidge in 1822.

      Wedding announcement, Sanduskly Clarion, July 17, 1822

    • Michael Leadwidge died in 1823 and is buried in Bloomingville Cemetery, Erie County, Ohio. The gravestone appears to use the spelling Leadwidge, while many of the written reports and documents use the spelling Ledwidge. It is difficult to ascertain which spelling is correct, but I will use the name as depicted on Michael's tombstone, Leadwidge.

      Michael Leadwidge gravestone in Bloomingville Cemetery, Sept 13, 1823, age 29 years

    • Notice about death of Michael Leadwidge, Sandusky Clarion, Sept 17, 1823

    • Elizabeth then married Ira Brockway in 1827. She died 27 Dec 1867, in Bloomingville, Ohio, at age 65. See more info about Elizabeth and Ira Brockway.  

  • Son: William T James, Died at age 16, sometime between 1807 and 1825. No birth information is known. Grave marker is on the same stone as that marking the graves of William's father, Thomas, and mother, Jane.   view grave marker

    • This three-sided monument was erected in Bloomingville cemetery when the family gravestones, but no bodies or remains, were moved to the Bloomingville cemetery after the James family cemetery, near pipe creek and the original homestead site, was acquired by the US Government in the 1940-1950's.

    • George Beatty assisted in the movement of all the affected gravestones, which are now located in the Northwest corner of Bloomingville cemetery.

  • Son: Thomas M James, Born 4 Feb 1805 in Ireland; Died 19 Feb 1887, in Bloomingville, Erie County, Ohio, age 82 and is buried in Bloomingville, Ohio.  read obituary   view grave marker

The JAMES Family trek to Ohio

Thomas & Jane JAMES and their five children left New London, CT, within five years after coming to America, moving to two tracts of land in northwest Ohio, known as the Connecticutt Western Reserve, or the "Firelands". This trip was made with members of the immediate family, other relatives and family friends.

Thomas had purchased land, sight unseen, while he was living in Connecticutt. The land he purchased was near Bloomingville, in Oxford Township. This was in Huron County, which later (1838) was sub-divided with parts of Huron County becoming parts of the new Erie County. The Bloomingville area, still rural today, is south of Sandusky and Lake Erie, a few miles north of I-80.  view map  

The second tract of land, near Hartland, southeast of Norwalk, remained in Huron County. This land was about 25 miles from Bloomingville, in Hartland Township.

This area is known as the "Firelands" & the "Western Reserve".

During the Revolutionary War, when many Connecticut residents were burned from their homes by the raiding British forces. To compensate those residents who had suffered losses, the state of Connecticut granted these "Fire Sufferers" over one-half million acres of the "Connecticutt Western Reserve." The area they settled became known as "The Firelands"

Permanent settlers began coming into the region in 1809, nostalgically giving new towns familiar New England names. For example, in 1815, Elisha Whittlesey, Platt Benedict, and a few others visited the area near the second James tract, intending to establish a town. They found the land suitable, and named their town Norwalk, after the town of the same name in Connecticut.

There are no details available at this time about either tract of land purchased by Thomas.

Excerpts from "The Firelands Pioneer" by Aldrich, Book 1, June 1865, page 11

The first permanent settler in the township was Thomas JAMES, an Irishman, who emigrated here from one of the New England States in 1810 and located in the south part of section four. He had come over to this country several years before. He purchase his land in Connecticut without having seen it. It proved to be a good tract of valuable land. He was accompanied by John BEATTY, Esq., another Irishman, whose object was to explore the country with a view to buy a large quantity of land.

They traveled through the State of Pennsylvania, and there enlisted in their enterprise a brother-in-law of BEATTY, James FORSYTH, who came on with them with his family, and located in the north part of Oxford Township the same year, being assured by his brother-in-law (Beatty) that he (Beatty) would come on with his family in a year or two. FORSYTH's son-in-law was John HARRIS...

...They crossed the mouths of the Vermillion and Huron rivers on sand bars. While FORSYTH and BEATTY, with Jabez Wright and Almon Ruggles went prospecting for lands, JAMES went directly to the lands he had already purchased, which he reached in the same month of July...

...But the largest colony of settlers came on in the fall of 1815. John BEATTY, at the close of the war (1812), having made a large investment in lands in Perkins township, including nearly all of section one, removed his family, and was accompanied by the following persons with their respective families: Julius House, Joseph Taylor, Eleizur Bell and Jesse Taylor. Ross E Parker, from Toledo Ohio in 1932, stated that John BEATTY came to the firelands in 1810 and purchased 40,000 acres near Milan, Huron/Erie County, east of the Bloomingville area.

The "Grain Sack" legend

There was a family story, passed down by Nathan JAMES, son of Henry and grandson of Thomas (told by Dorothy Sherman, Nathan's granddaughter), of how Thomas smuggled a grain sack of money out of Ireland, bringing it with him to America.

The grain sack full of money is said to have sat at the foot of Thomas & Jane"s bed in Bloomingville, Ohio. During the war of 1812, with the possibility of British & Indian forces invading the Firelands, Thomas buried the sack near the residence, to keep it safe while the family evacuated. Upon their return to the family farm, after the threat of hostilities ceased, nobody could find the buried "grain sack".

But, What about Scotland?      It looks like Thomas and Jane were from Ireland

Rumors have circulated that Thomas married Jane in Scotland, but a marriage record was discovered in the Wexford area of Ireland. Another rumor told of Thomas leaving Scotland and moving to Ireland, later returning to Scotland to marry Jane, then they both returned to Ireland. No evidence has been found to confirm this.

Jane Taylor James was given a bible by her father, with an inscription that reads:

"William Taylor of Balwater presents this gift to his daughter, Jane James, of Knockadawk, May the 10th, 1801."

These town sites are in South-east Ireland, north of Wexford, south of Gorey.  view map  It has been confirmed that the James and Taylor families were living in Ireland, with no obvious or confirmed ties to Scotland.

The James Family Expands

  • Peter James, born 25 Mar 1798.
    • Married Betsey White.
    • Peter died 27 Jan 1863.
    • Peter is buried in Branch County, Michigan.
    • more info

  • Henry James, born 5 Nov 1800.
    • Married Abigail Davis.
    • Henry died 7 Dec 1878.
    • Henry is buried in the old James cemetery, north of Bloomingville, Erie County, Ohio, while his monument is in Bloomingville Cemetery.
    • more info

  • Elizabeth James Brockway, born June 22, 1802.
    • Elizabeth married Michael Leadwidge in 1822. Michael died in 1823.
    • Married Ira Brockway in 1827.
    • Ira died in 1879.
    • Elizabeth died 27 Dec 1867.
    • It is not known where Elizabeth may be buried, but at this time there is no documented grave in her name (James, Leadwidge or Brockway) in Bloomingville Cemetery, Erie County, Ohio.
    • more info

  • Thomas M James, born 4 Feb 1805.
    • Married Francis Hill.
    • Thomas died in 1887.
    • Thomas's gravestone is in n Bloomingville, Eire County, Ohio, while his remains remain at the former James family cemetery, just north of Bloomingville, off Pipe Creek, where the homestead once was located.
    • more info

  • William T James, died at age 16.
    • No other data located.
    • William's monument is in Bloomingville, Eire County, Ohio.

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