Sunday, May 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: #18 - James W. Jollett, Jr.

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

James W. Jollett was the son of James and Nancy WalkerJollett making him my third great granduncle.  He was born in Orange County, Virginia, probably 1808.  He lived a long life, but apparently he never married and had no children.

It wasn’t until I met a descendant of his sister Clarissa Jollett Sampson that I ever knew of James’s existence.  Shirley sent me a photo of Clarissa’s tombstone in Indiana and included a notation that James was buried there too and that his name is on the tombstone.  James?  James who?  But Shirley knew James who.

Funny.  I had seen James’s signature on the petition to form Greene County.  There was a James Sr. and James Jr., but I didn’t know if MY 4G grandfather was the Senior or the Junior on that petition.  Shirley solved that riddle for me.

Besides campaigning for the creation of a new county, James  helped develop the town of Dayton in Rockingham County, across the mountain from Greene.  It is the oldest settled community in the county.  At the time, the town was known as Rifesville, named for Jacob and Catherine Rife who held rights to the land and sold lots.  James and his friend Andrew Casebolt went in together on a one-quarter acre lot on the west side of Street No. 6.  They paid one dollar.  I don’t know if that was the full amount or a down payment.   Their deed was recorded on July 21, 1832.  A post office for Rifesville was established on July 24, 1832.

I need to follow that deed to see if James and Andrew made a killing on that one dollar investment.  Just two years later in 1834, Andrew married Clarissa’s daughter, and the Sampsons, Casebolts, and James Jollett Jr. hit the road.  They joined the migration to the Northwest Territory along the National Road to Ohio and later to Indiana. 

When Andrew’s young wife died, he moved on to Missouri.  However, James stayed with his sister.  In fact, he was enumerated along with the Sampsons the rest of his life.  In 1860, he lived with his widowed sister Clarissa Sampson in Dick Johnson Township of Clay County, Indiana.  Working as a day laborer, he claimed personal property worth $1500.  In 1870, he lived with the family of his widowed niece Clarissa Sampson Rodenbarger.  In 1880, he was on his own earning a living as a carpenter next door to his nephew Sanford Sampson. 

James died December 26, 1883 in Indiana, his adopted state for almost 50 years.

photo courtesy Shirley Ziemer
photo courtesy Wabash Valley Genealogical Society
Cemetery Committee
James's inscription is on top
of the Sampson tombstone pictured left

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Wendy, don't you wonder at the strength it took pioneers like James to change the wilderness into a home? Would we have had the determination & the perseverance, to do the same?

    1. It had to be hard to leave family. Other than that, things couldn't be much harder since they didn't have electricity and indoor plumbing. It might have been hard to cultivate new land and build a house though.

  2. James, Jr. sounds like a favorite uncle to the children of his siblings. So nice that you were able to find out about him. His story needed to be told. Well done.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

  3. Interesting! Glad you wrote about him.