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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Sunday, March 12, 2017

James Tilford Elder

Well I am finding it hard to find the time to set down and write a story about an ancestor, however, I am trying to work on that more.  The man I am writing about this time was from my Papaw Beard’s side of the family and was his grandmother, Louwanda Bigham Elder Daniel’s, brother, so that makes him my second great-granduncle.  Papaw Beard never knew any of his grandparents at least none that he ever mentioned.  Only one grandmother was living when he was born and she died in 1905 and he had a great-grandmother who died in 1903, but I never heard him mention either one of them.  All the rest were dead long before he was born.  I knew all four of my grandparents, three great-grandparents and two great-great-grandparents.  I think it is rather sad that my Papaw Beard did not have the opportunity to know any of his grandparents.  My Daddy was the same way only one grandmother was living when my Daddy was born, but she lived in California and he was in Kentucky, so he never met her before she died in 1939.  That grandmother was Rose Etta Daniel Beard, the niece to the man I am writing about this time.

So on with my little bio about James Tilford Elder who was born December 29, 1850 in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  James was the son of Samuel Henry Elder, 1808-1877, and Sarah Catherine Bigham, 1825-1903, who were married in 1849.  James was the oldest child of the six children of his parents.  The other five children were the following, Newton J. Elder, 1852-1855; Eliza Eunice Elder, 1855-1902; she married Thomas Jefferson Daniel in 1871; Louwanda Bigham Elder, 1857-1880, she married a younger brother of Tom Daniel, named Collin Graves Daniel in 1873 (these were my 2nd great-grandparents); Sue Anthony Elder, 1864-1957, she married Samuel L. Gentry in 1884; and her twin, Sarah Henry Elder, 1864-1921, she married Samuel David Patmore in 1880.   All the girls but Eliza were given middle names that were some of their ancestor’s surnames.

James’ father, Samuel Henry Elder had been married previously to Alsinda G. Hart, 1820-1847, in 1840 and they had five children together before Alsinda passed away.  These five children, half-siblings to James were the following, William A. Elder, 1841-????; Harvey Lycurgus Elder, 1843-1900, he married Sarah Jane Vaughn in 1874; L. L. L. Elder, 1845-1880, I am not sure what all those L’s stood for; Mary Jane Elder, 1846-1922, she married John W. Tiller in 1859; and Esther A. Elder, 1846-1848.

A lot of the Elder family is buried in the Old Marion Cemetery just as you are going out of town in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky.  The tombstones are faded and some are hard to read, but the Elder’s and several others buried in this cemetery are related to me in some way, mainly from my Daddy’s side of the family.

The following two pictures are the only ones I have of James’ parents, Samuel & Sarah.  My Dad received these from someone years ago.  Samuel is when he is younger and Sarah’s is when she is older.  I wish I could see the full picture of Sarah it looks like it could have been a group picture as I can see someone’s fingers right behind her on the chair.

In 1875 on November 10th James was married to Mary Elizabeth Dowell who was his second cousin one generation removed from their common ancestors, on her mother’s side of the family.  The Elder’s and Dowell’s were both well-known and highly respected members of the community there in Crittenden County, Kentucky.  Mary was the daughter of Judge, Robert Alexander Dowell and Mary Elizabeth Hill.  The following is the only picture I have of Mary Elizabeth Dowell Elder, 1861-1951, and it is when she is older, probably long after James had died, as she was a widow for almost 28 years.

James and Mary became the parents of nine children, five boys and four girls, all lived to adulthood except one.  These children were the following, Robert Henry Elder, 1877-1953, (of Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Idaho was a Democrat, Lawyer; member of the Democratic National Committee from Idaho, 1912-28; delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Idaho, 1928, 1936, 1940, 1944 (alternate; member, Committee on Rules and Order of Business), 1948 (alternate), a Presbyterian and a member of the Rotary, Elks and Freemasons); Edgar Samuel Elder, 1880-1945, he was also a lawyer like his brother Robert; Zannie Earnest Elder, 1882-1887; Emil Elder, 1884-1963; Kathleen Alverta Elder, 1887-1967; Homer Hylton Elder, 1889-1940; Faye Valeta Elder, 1892-1983; Kaye Valera Elder, 1892-1982; and Marie Etta Elder, 1895-1987.

James lived and farmed in Crittenden County, Kentucky but he also was a singer and a Sunday School worker.  From the Crittenden Press in 1881 we read, “Mr. J. Tilford Elder, will go to teach a singing school, Mr. Elder is one of the best singers in the county.”  His obituary said that, “Mr. Elder was a great church and Sunday school worker and was for a number of years County President of the Kentucky Sunday School Association.”  From what my Daddy told me about James and others from this side of this family, was that several them were what was called, Singing Evangelists.  Singing Evangelists would go around to the churches in the area and sing praise as their way of teaching and showing their devotion to God and Jesus Christ.  My Daddy and my girls must have inherited their singing abilities from this side of the family.  The following picture of James was probably taken during this time, while he and his family were still living in Kentucky.  He was sure a good-looking man.

In about 1896, James, his wife and eight children along with others from Crittenden County left and moved to Kansas, west of Wichita and east of Dodge City.  James and his family were living in the township of Wellsford in Kiowa County in 1900.  I am not sure why so many people went to Kansas from Crittenden County in the 1890’s but there were several of them that did so.   Mary’s parents and most of her siblings also moved to Kansas and her parents, Robert and Mary died there in Kiowa County in 1917 and 1907 respectively.   James and his family lived there in Kansas until about 1908, when they left and continued west moving to Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Idaho.  Why Kansas and why Idaho?  Again, I do not know that answer, one of these days when I have more than a few minutes I will need to do some digging and figure out why they went to Kansas and then on to Idaho.  There may have been land opportunities there that weren’t available anymore in Kentucky.  It could have even been for more job opportunities.  If someone reading this knows please let me know, I would sure appreciate it.  The following are pictures of Mary’s parents, Robert and Mary Dowell.

By the 1910 census we find James and family living in the Kootenai Precinct of Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Idaho and they are still living there as well in 1920.   In 1910 the census says James has his own income and in 1920 the census says James is a retired farmer.  James’ two oldest sons Robert and Edgar were both lawyers and James and Mary are living next door to Robert in both the 1910 and 1920 census.  The following picture of James is the only other one I have and he does, to me anyway, look older than the previous picture but I am not sure when either picture was taken.

James did not live long past the 1920 census dying on June 14, 1922 in Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Idaho of pernicious anemia, a condition that occurs when your body can’t absorb enough vitamin B-12, which is needed to make healthy red blood cells.  He was buried at the Forest Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene a few days later.  His wife Mary lived almost another 28 years, dying January 25, 1951 in Oakland, California but she was brought back to Coeur d’Alene and buried beside her husband James.

I don’t know a lot about James, his wife and children, but because James was a singer and because my Daddy was a singer, I thought I would write about him and his family.  I hope you enjoy this little bio.


  1. I find it amazing the people that made it possible for us to live. how so much we learn. Enjoyed it greatly!

  2. Enjoyed your story. I am bit of a relative to James Tilford Elder--my aunt married Robert H. Elder's son Robert Nobel Elder. My grandfather came to CdA in 1909,about the same time Robert H. Elder and assorted family came to town, and he and Robert H. were good friends. It was an opportune place for young attorneys.

    1. Thanks for making contact, I always loved to hear from those that read my posts.

  3. My Grandmother was Marie Etta Elder married to Frederick H Williams then after his death Lanta Krider,

    1. Thanks for making contact I always love to hear from a new found cousin.