James Kingsbury (1767 - 1847) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Norwich, Connecticut
Death: Died in Newburgh, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
Occupation: Judge
Managed by: Camille Merritt
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About James Kingsbury

From The Cleveland Herald (Dec. 20, 1847)

Sketch of Judge Kingsbury

The following very interesting obituary of Judge KINGSBURY—who was emphatically a pioneer of the Reserve, is from the pen of an old citizen—one who knew the departed well.—Plaindealer.

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OBITUARY

Hon. JAMES KINGSBURY, who died at his residence in Newburgh, on the 12th inst. in the 80th year of his age, if not the last, was among the last of the few remaining pioneers, who bore a prominent part in the settlement of the lake shore. Like most of the early settlers, he encountered hard hips and trials which few of the present day can appreciate. Many of the incidents of his life are not only interesting in themselves, but immediately connected with the history of the Western Reserve; which, it is hoped, will yet be more fully written.

    The subject of this notice, the JUDGE, as he was usually denominated, was born at Norwich, Ct., Dec. 29, 1767.  He was the fifth son of Absalom Kingsbury, who then resided in Connecticut, but soon after removed with his family to Alstead, N. Hampshire.  Several of the Judges’ elder brothers served under Gen. Washington in the army of the Revolution.—Ebenezer, the eldest brother, distinguished himself at the battle of Bennington, as one of the brave fellows who first scaled the breastworks of the enemy.  The same old musket, or Queen’s arm, with which he did such good execution remains in possession of the family at Newburgh as a kind of heir-loom.
    James, being too young to engage in the public service, was employed at home in agricultural pursuits.  In October, 1788, he was married to Miss Eunice Waldo, a lady much esteemed for the amiableness of her character.  She lived to share with him his joys and his sorrows as an affectionate wife, for more than half a century.  In 1793 he received a military commission, with the rank of Colonel, from the Governor of New Hampshire—a mark of public confidence, as well as a distinction of some consequence in those days.  But finding no occasion for the exercise of his military talents, and being stimulated by a love of adventure, he gathered his little family about him, consisting of his wife and three young children, and in June, 1796, with a few articles of household effects, a yoke of oxen, a horse and a cow, commenced a long and weary pilgrimage into the Western wilderness.  After some weeks of toil and hardship, he reached the shore of lake Ontario, near the site of the present town of Oswego.  The facilities of navigation on the lakes at that early period, were comparatively unknown, and nothing better than a flat bottomed boat could be procured.  In this he embarked with his family and household effect, while the oxen, horse and cow, were driven along the shore.  He could only sail in calm weather, following the windings of the coast.  When the emigrants reached the head of navigation on Lake Ontario, the horse and oxen were made very serviceable in transporting the boat across the portage to Buffalo creek, a distance of about 30 miles, where the gallant little craft was launched with due ceremony upon the blue waters of lake Erie.  Here the family were so fortunate as to meet with Moses Cleveland, Esq., agent of the Directors of the Connecticut Land Company, then on his way to join the surveying party who had preceded him.  The city of Cleveland bears the honor of his name.  In company with Mr. Cleveland, the emigrants traversed the southern shore of lake Erie in the same boat which had rendered such good service on the lower lake.  They encountered many difficulties, yet no serious accident occurred except the loss of the horse, which was stolen by the Indians in the night.  They arrived safely at Conneaut Creek about the last of August, and at that place found several persons of the surveying party engaged in erecting a log cabin, the hospitalities of which, the emigrant family were invited to accept.—Here the Judge made his family as comfortable as circumstances would allow, and returned immediately to New Hampshire on business which required his early attention; and the remaining members of the surveying party who had erected the cabin soon proceeded further west, and left Mrs. Kingsbury and her young children the sole occupants of that rude tenement.  Mrs. K. and her children were dependent upon the cow and a scanty supply of provisions for sustenance during the winter.  The Judge assured his wife, on leaving for New Hampshire, that he would be with her again in six weeks; and in order to expedite his return, he attempted a direct route through the wilderness to the granite hills of New Hampshire.  But his guide proved faithless, plundered him while asleep, of his provisions, gun and ammunition and then abandoned him to the uncertain providences of the forests,  The Judge fully appreciated his condition, but resolved to persevere, although danger and hunger stared him in the face.  The Indian had spared him nothing but the clothes upon his person and his compass.  He contrived to subsist upon wild grapes and nuts, and after much suffering reached New Hampshire in safety.
    The territory, within a few years after the Judge had made his location, became settled by the whites to a considerable extent, and his fellow citizens selected him to fill several important offices of trust.  In 1800, the Governor appointed him a judge in the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the county of Trumbull, which comprehended within its limits, at that time nearly the whole of the Western Reserve.  The seat of justice was at Warren, and the first session of the Court, for the want of a more convenient hall, was held with becoming dignity between two corn cribs, and the prisoners of the term, it is said, were placed within the cribs for safe keeping.  At a subsequent period, the Judge held the office of Justice of the Peace and collector of taxes under the district system.  In 1805 he was elected a member of the Legislature, and having served one term was re-elected, and proved himself in all respects, worthy of the trust.
    In his politics, the Judge was always democratic.  He supported the administration of Jefferson, Madison, Jackson and Van Buren, and gave his last vote in favor of President Polk.  In 1812, he was engaged in forwarding supplies to the American forces, and in the communication of intelligence.  Being on familiar terms with Com. Perry and Gen. Harrison, he was frequently admitted into their councils, and his opinions were treated with respect.  On the day pre[c]eding the battle of Lake Erie, while Com. Perry was cruising in quest of the enemy, the Judge went on the flag ship to pay his compliments to the Commodore, who in the course of conversation, asked him what he would do if they should chance to fall in with the British fleet while he was on board?  “What would I do,” replied the Judge, “Why sir, I would fight!”
    Of the Judge, it may be said with propriety, that he was the patriarch of the land—among the last of the brave pioneers on the lake shore.  He possessed a noble heart—a heart that overflowed with kindness like the gush of a fountain.  His generosities were never stinted in a good cause, nor his charities bestowed ostentatiously to be blazoned abroad among men.  He regarded all mankind as his brethren and his kinsmen, belonging to the same common household.  No sectarian views influenced his action.  Heis religious creed embraced, within its scope, the whole duty of man, as derived from the great moral law of universal love, kindness and benevolence.  In truth “His faults were few, his virtues many.”
    His memory will be long cherished by those who best knew him, and his name will be remembered when others of more pretentions are forgotten.

During his absence, afflictions visited the humble cabin of his family on the banks of the Conneaut. The Judge had already absent four months, detained by sickness. His wife remained ignorant of the cause, and was left to painful conjecture. The winter of that year commenced with unusual severity, and her supplies were soon exhausted. The cow, the chief dependence of the children, died for want of forage—and mother and children, the youngest less than a year old, were reduced to the disagreeable necessity of subsisting on the carcass. For want of proper food, the youngest child soon sickened and died. How trying the situation of the mother while performing the last obsequies of her departed infant, in the solitude of the wilderness, with but her surviving children and Heaven, to witness the silent agony of her heart and the gush of her tears! A bough of evergreens marked the spot where she buried her child. Not long after this melancholy occurrence, Mrs. K. having despaired of her husband’s return, resolved to retrace her way back to New Hampshire, and made the best arrangements she could for her immediate departure.—She had hushed her surviving children to sleep for the last time in the cabin, as she thought.—It was a gloomy night, and painful forebodings as to the fate of her husband, and the results of the hazardous journey which she had resolved to commence on the following day deprived her of repose. At midnight, in this excited state of mind, she heard a footstep, and then a rap at the door. The intruder, to her inexpressible joy, proved to be her husband.

    The Judge and his family remained at Conneaut until spring, when they proceeded to Cleveland, and erected a temporary cabin near the present eastern termination of Superior-st.  Here he planted corn.  In the fall of the same year, 1797, he removed to his present farm in Newburgh, and built a cabin in the corner of the orchard, east of his present dwelling.  On the site now occupied by his house, originally stood an Indian lodge.  Mrs. K. was the mother of the first white child born on the Reserve.  The natives and what few whites there were then in the country managed to preserve, in their intercourse, the most friendly relations.  The Judge was regarded by the Indians as a father, sent by the Great Spirit to teach them wisdom, and to arbitrate and settle their disputes and quarrels.  The Chiefs and Judge often sat down together under the shade of the forest oak, of a summer day, and smoked the calumet, and discoursed on grave questions of war and peace, and the philosophy of nature.  He entered into their sports and pastime, and by his superior agility and strength, won their applause and respect.  He always treated them with kindness, and always found them grateful in return, ready to protect him and his family, and furnish them with supplies.  The natives also found in Mrs. K. a kind and benevolent disposition, and a willingness to divide with them in their necessities, the last leaf.
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Judge James Kingsbury's Timeline

1767
December 29, 1767
Norwich, Connecticut
1792
January 7, 1792
Age 24
New Hampshire, United States
January 27, 1792
Age 24
Alstead, NH, USA
1793
July 13, 1793
Age 25
Alstead, NH, USA
1795
January 27, 1795
Age 27
NH, USA
1796
December, 1796
Age 28
Conneaut, OH, USA
1798
September 14, 1798
Age 30
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, USA
1800
May 21, 1800
Age 32
Cleveland, OH, USA
September 22, 1800
Age 32
Cleveland, OH, USA
1802
August 20, 1802
Age 34
Cleveland, OH, USA