Lafayette James, late a successful farmer and prominent citizen of Lyon county, Kansas, was born in Paris, Ill., May 30, 1834. He lost his parents at an early age and thus thrown upon his own resources he began the battle of life for himself. Under the circumstances his opportunities for acquiring an education were limited, but through his own efforts he gained a practical fund of knowledge that contributed to his success later in life. In 1857 he decided to seek his fortune in Kansas. Passing the more populous districts of the eastern part of the state he saw that the brightest prospects for the new beginner were in the fertile valleys to the west and located on government land near the present town of Americus, in Lyon county. Mr. James was an ardent adherent of the Republican party and went back to his home in Illinois in 1860 for the purpose of voting for Lincoln. While there he married his first wife, Margaret Hadley, the daughter of a Christian minister. Before he was ready to return to Kansas the Civil war broke out and Mr. James enlisted as a member of Company A, Seventh Illinois cavalry. At the close of the war Mr. and Mrs. James made the trip from Illinois to their home in Kansas in a wagon drawn by an ox team. Here he was so successful that in a few years he had gained a small fortune and in 1882 retired from his farm and lived the rest of his life in Americus, the last ten years of which were spent in complete retirement from active business of any sort. His wife died in 1903, leaving no children.
On Sept. 29, 1907, Mr. James married Josephine Williams, nee Fowler, of Emporia, Kan., a daughter of Luman A. and Eliza (Cochrane) Fowler, who were Indiana pioneers. Mr. James died at Americus on April 29, 1909. He was a charter member of the Amenicus Lodge of the Masonic fraternity. His widow lives at Emporia.
Mrs. Josephine James was born at Crown Point, Ind., Feb. 16, 1848. Her parents were born and reared in New York State. In 1832 her father went to Indiana and located in Lake county, taking up 160 acres of government land in a region where there were very few white people, most of the land at that time being occupied by the Indians. He built a log cabin on the homestead which he had preëmpted and in two years returned to New York and married Eliza Cochrane at Syracuse. Almost immediately after the wedding they started for Mr. Fowler's home in the wilderness. Nine children were born to them: Harriet Ann, Roland D., Arnold Emmet, Josephine J., Luman A., William S., Mary Jane, Alta Estella and May Belle. The eldest, Harriet Ann, was the first white child born in Lake county. Mr. Fowler was a prominent farmer, belonged to the Republican party and took an active part in the politics of the county, having been elected to the office of sheriff for eight consecutive terms, and served one term in the state senate. Mr. Fowler was a succesful farmer and business man. He died in 1870, his widow surviving him nine years. He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Josephine was educated in the public schools of Lake and Porter counties, Indiana, and on Nov. 14, 1866, married Ralph P. Williams, a veterinary surgeon of Valparaiso, Ind. He was a native of New York State and during the Civil war served in Company D, Twentieth Indiana infantry. At the close of the war he went to Chicago, Ill., where he served on the city detective force for sixteen years. On account of poor health he decided to come west and located at Emporia, Kan., in May, 1880, opened an office and began to practice his profession. He continued in active work until his death, which occurred Oct. 3, 1883. Mr. Williams was a Mason. Mrs. Williams remained a widow until her marriage to Mr. James.Pages 459-460 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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