Thursday, October 16, 2014

52 Ancestors #43: James Larimer of "Pioneer Stock" and a Democrat

Hubby's 3d great-grand uncle James Larimer, 3d son of Isaac M. Larimer of Pennsylvania, married Asenath Cornwell (1808-1897) in Fairfield county, Ohio (in the 1830s?).

James and another Larimer brother soon bought land in Middlebury, and the families became pioneer farmers in Indiana. James and Asenath had five children: John, James, Nancy, Anderson, and Amos. Later they sold some land to his brother-in-law, Abel E. Work (1815-1898), who married James' sister, Cynthia Hanley Larimer (1814-1882).

James Larimer was tall and known for his strength, which he needed to split rails for farm fences. In fact, he won a local reputation for his speed with an axe.

But James also had a political side: He served as one of Middlebury's delegates to the Democratic convention of Elkhart county in Goshen, Indiana, on May 29, 1840. At left, a snippet from an article in the Goshen Democrat of June, 1840. James's name appears under "Middlebury."

It was a presidential election year, and Martin Van Buren was running for reelection against Whig party nominee William Henry Harrison, an 1812 War hero. Despite the support of loyal Democrats like James Larimer, Van Buren lost the popular vote by a small margin--and lost the Electoral College vote by a wide margin (234 to 60). William Henry Harrison was inaugurated in early 1841, then developed pneumonia and died just weeks later. His vice-president, a former Democrat named John Tyler, succeeded to the Presidency and pushed the "states' rights" view of government.

Back to ancestor James. He died on a cold winter day when his horse stumbled and James was thrown, hitting his head hard. James's grave in Middlebury, Indiana has this inscription:
"Type of Pioneer stock that, for one hundred years, pushed Government, School and Church into the Wilderness."

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