Biography of James McKelvy
Adams County, NE Biographies





James McKelvy is an honored veteran of the Civil war, being among the leaders of the old guard who defended the Union during the darkest hour in our country's history. He now resides at Juniata and all through the days of peace he has been as loyal to the flag as when he followed the stars and stripes on southern battlefields. He was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, April 25, 1838, the day on which Queen Victoria was crowned. His parents were Hugh and Margaret (Caldwell) McKelvy, and his grandparents were born in Scotland and came of an old family of that country. The father and mother, however, were natives of the Emerald isle and they came to the United States in 1842, when their son James was but four years of age, making the voyage in a sailing vessel which reached New York six weeks after leaving Liverpool. They became residents of St. Lawrence county, New York, where the father followed the occupation of farming and where both he and his wife passed away. In their family were nine children: John, deceased; James; William N., who enlisted for service in the Civil war under General Gillmore and was killed at Folly Island in South Carolina; Alexander, who also went to the front under General Gilimore and lost a leg at the battle of Chapin's Farm, his death resulting two years later from the effects of his injury; Elizabeth Gray, Ellen Armstrong, Jane Glass and Margaret Johnson, all now deceased; and Mrs. Sibella Armstrong, living in St. Lawrence county, New York.

James McKelvy pursued his education in the common schools of New York and remained at home until he reached the age of seventeen years. He afterward worked out for a time but on the death of his father in 1839 returned home and there remained until the 29th of April, 1861, when in response to the country's call for troops he enlisted as a member of Company G, Sixteenth New York Infantry, to serve for two years. He was honorably discharged May 15, 1863, following the expiration of his term of enlistment. He then returned home, where he remained until the news reached him concerning the battle of Gettysburg, when be again joined the army, becoming a member of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery for a three years' term. He was discharged September 14, 1864, at which time he was first sergeant of his company, and he received a commission as second lieutenant in recognition of his general efficiency. He then served as an officer until the Grand Review in Washington, when he resigned and returned home. He had been wounded in the explosion of the mine in front of Petersburg and was in the hospital for about two months, after which he was granted a sick leave of two months, which he spent at home. Twice during his connection with the army he was taken prisoner, once at the first battle of Bull Run and again in front of Petersburg, but he managed to make his escape both times. He was with the Army of the Potomac in all of its principal engagements except at Gettysburg and he made a splendid record as a brave and loyal soldier. Years afterward he served as a delegate to the reunion of the old soldiers held at Rochester, New York.

After the war Mr. McKelvy remained in the Empire state for a year and then removed to Van Buren county, Michigan, where he engaged in farming and carpentering for four years. In the spring of 1872 he arrived in Nebraska, settling four miles west of Juniata, where he secured a homestead claim on section 8, Juniata precinct. He there built a board shanty twelve by sixteen feet and sodded it up the first winter. He remained upon that farm until 1905 and then came to Juniata, where he still resides, purchasing a fine residence in the town after selling his farm. He now has a house and barn and four lots in the town and his is one of the most attractive and pleasant residences of Juniata. When he first came to Nebraska he worked at his trade, but the greater part of his attention has been given to general agricultural pursuits and through his careful methods in tilling the soil and his well directed energy he won the success which is now his, enabling him to live retired in the enjoyment of well earned rest.

Mr. McKelvy has been married twice. In 1865 he wedded Miss Sarah J. McFadden, by whom he had five children, as follows: Lewrell, who is deceased; Glenn, a resident of Biglake, Washington; Vasco J., who makes his home in California; Lisle, who has passed away; and one who died in infancy. The wife and mother passed away in 1882 and the following year Mr. McKelvy was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Emma Lochmar, who bore the maiden name of Emma Burwell. By her first husband she had a son, Frank Lochmar, who is a resident of Sioux City, Iowa.

Mr. McKelvy has been a lifelong republican and cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln. He once served for a term as township supervisor but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs and leave office holding to others. His religious faith is evidenced in his membership in the Methodist church, to the teachings of which he has ever loyally adhered. He is a member of the Masonic lodge at Juniata, in which he has filled almost all of the chairs, and both he and his wife are connected with the Order of the Eastern Star. He is likewise a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and has filled all of the offices in Geary Post, No. 81, of which he is now commander. In this way he maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades and delights in recounting scenes and incidents of the days when they followed the nation's starry banner upon the battlefields of the south. It was a time that tried men's souls, but from the war there were formed many pleasant associations, and kindred experiences drew men together in strong ties of friendship.

From:
Past and Present of
Adams County, Nebraska
Supervisong Editor: Judge William R. Burton
Assistant Editor: David J. Lewis
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, 1916


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