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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
A highly valuable and well cultivated farm of one hundred acres on section 28, Jackson township, Livingston county, stands as a monument to the industry and energy of Captain James J. Stith, who since September 1, 1865, has made his home in this county. Born in Meade county, Kentucky, on July 12, 1938, he is a son of William and Anna (Hayden) Stith, the father coining with his family to Livingston county in 1865. A purposeful man, he was successful in his life's labors and passed away in June, 1880, at the age of seventy-three years, deeply mourned by his family and a large number of friends, his burial taking place in the Guthridge cemetery. The mother died nearly four decades earlier, in 1841, and is buried in the Hayden family graveyard in Meade county, Kentucky.
James J. Stith attended school in Kentucky, laying aside his textbooks at the age of sixteen years. In 1856 he came to Chariton county, Missouri, and in 1857 removed to Kansas, where he worked out by the month, making his home there until 1860. During that time, however, he made a trip to Pike's Peak, where for a short time he engaged in gold mining and also freighted lumber and helped to saw blocks and make shingles. which were the first ever brought into Denver. In the spring of 1860 he returned to Kansas, but shortly thereafter came to Jasper county, Missouri. On November 1, 1860, however, he left with his father's family for Davis county, Iowa, where he stayed for a short time, then buying a farm in Scotland county, Missouri. When the war broke out, however, he joined the Confederate army under General Harris and was a member of Company C in the Second Regiment of General Harris' Brigade and fought in the battle of Athens, which was the occasion of his first baptism of fire in the war, his regiment fighting its way through all the way from Springfield to Pea Ridge, where he participated in the engagement. He later was assigned to Forrest's cavalry and then to Wheeler's cavalry and surrendered at Waterproof, Mississippi, returning via Kentucky to Chillicothe with seventy-five cents in his pockets and no place to lay his head. The first night after his arrival here he slept on his trunk and during the fall and winter found work, being remunerated at the rate of twenty dollars per month. In the spring of 1866 he leased a farm, engaging in agricultural pursuits, an occupation which he has followed ever since. In 1874 he purchased his first twenty-eight acres of land and as his financial resources increased added to his holdings until they reached their present extent. Captain Stith engages in general farming and also raises considerable stock. When he came here the brush and timber was so thick that he had to cut his way through to get to the place where his handsome residence now stands. Gradually, however, he cleared his land and put it under the plow, bringing his acres to a high state or productivity. A number of improvements are evidence of his labors and he has installed such implements and machinery as he has deemed necessary to profitable cultivation.
On December 6, 1866, Captain Stith was united in marriage at Springhill, Missouri, to Miss Irene A. Moseley, a daughter of James S. and Eliza (Jones) Moseley, who is mentioned at greater length in the article on A. S. Moseley. Mr. and Mrs. Stith became the parents of eight children. Nora L., the wife of C. P. Venable, a farmer in Jackson township; William A., a ranchman of Montana; J. C., who also follows agricultural pursuits in Jackson township; E. Myrtle, the wife of T. J. Carpenter, a farmer of Chillicothe township; Annie, whose husband, A. L. Smith, follows agricultural pursuits in Jackson township; T. Everett, who farms in Craig county, Oklahoma; Gertrude, who is engaged in school teaching in Jackson township and has been following that profession for the past two years; and Junius, who died in infancy.
Public-spirited and interesting himself in the welfare of Livingston county and his nearer neighborhood, Captain Stith has with distinction served in the office of justice of the peace for fifteen years. His political affiliations are with the progressive party, in the platform of which he finds embodied those principles which he believes will bring about that purification from corrupt practice, so long countenanced by the two older political organizations. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and takes an active and helpful interest in its work. A resident of Livingston county for nearly five decades, he has seen pioneer conditions give way before the onward march of civilization and has not only been an interested witness of the changes that have occurred but a helpful and cooperant factor in bringing about general advancement, especially along agricultural lines, in which connection he has been instrumental in raising standards of farming in these parts. Mr. Stith is also a well known member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association, with which organization he has been affiliated for twenty-five years. His right-mindedness and sincerity of conviction is evident in the valiant service lie did in the Civil war, for, being convinced of the right of his cause he stood for his principles and offered his life in defense of his convictions, Brave in war and brave in peace, he has fought the battles both ably and well, and today, as a man of seventy-five years, stands high in the regard of his fellowmen, who esteem him for his many manly qualities.