Biography of James Monroe Cleveland


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JAMES MONROE CLEVELAND, the greater portion of whose long and active business life has been spent in the thrifty town of Adams, and who during that period through his enterprise and capacity furnished to the farmers of that locality an additional and profitable means of livelihood, was a native of Brookfield, Madison county, N. Y., and was born June 5, 1820. His parents were Elihu and Lucretia Cleveland, direct descendants of sturdy New England stock, and both of whom lived to be octogenarians. Indeed, several of Mr. Cleveland’s ancestors lived beyond their eightieth year, thus indicating both temperate lives and hardy ancestry. The pioneer of the family in America was Moses Cleveland, who emigrated from Suffolk county, Eng., in 1635 and settled in Woburn, Mass., and from whom have descended all persons in the Northern States bearing the surname Cleveland. The pioneer of the family in Jefferson county was Elihu Cleveland, who settled in Adams in 1834.

The young life of Mr. Cleveland was spent on a farm, and when he started out upon his own career farming was his chosen pursuit. He was an earnest, industrious toiler, year by year adding to his accumulations, yet the period was uneventful until about 1851, when he conceived the idea, and at once put it into practical operation, of growing peas, beans and other seeds for the market. His personal experiments in this production began in a small way, and as his seeds were of superior quality and found a ready sale, the business gradually increased to large proportions. At length he began furnishing seed to other farmers in the locality, agreeing to take their products at a stipulated price, on condition that the same be of standard quality. At one time, when the industry was at its height, Mr. Cleveland had contracts with two hundred farmers, and his annual sales not infrequently exceeded $40,000.

As many as thirty varieties of peas and eighteen of beans were grown, and were sold to dealers throughout the country. To meet the requirements of his business, Mr. Cleveland established (about 1868) a large seed house in Adams, and thus was the founder and successful owner of one of the most profitable industries for the farmers of his locality, while he, too, deservedly acquired a comfortable fortune. But throughout his long business career Mr. Cleveland’s operations were always characterized by honesty and straightforward dealing.

In 1877 the business was removed from Adams to Cape Vincent, after which its founder practically retired from active work, still retaining, however, a part of his land interests and devoting his attention to their care and management. He erected and occupied one of the most substantial dwellings in Adams village, and so beautifully adorned its surrounding grounds as to attract attention from all over the region. But Mr. Cleveland has not confined his energies entirely to personal concerns, for in many ways, especially in agricultural circles he is known throughout the county. He has long been an active member of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society, and his suggestions for the general welfare of farming interests have been accepted and followed. In politics he has ever been a consistent and conservative Democrat, and once yielded to the persuasions of his party convention in a candidacy for the Legislature in a district overwhelmingly Republican. Eight times he was elected president of Adams village, and has always taken an active interest in all that pertains to its welfare.

Mr. Cleveland has also been an extensive traveler, having visited at one time or another nearly all the principal cities of the Union, and extending his journeys to the extreme south and the Pacific slope; but now, full of years, and in the enjoyment of a full measure of health and the reward of a life of industry, he is content to live in comfortable retirement surrounded with friends who respect him for his acknowledged integrity and worth. In 1841 Mr. Cleveland was married with Levina, the daughter of Artemas Bates, one of the substantial men of Adams. Of this marriage four children were born, ofily one of whom, Artie Bates Cleveland, is now living.

Our County and it's people
A descriptive work on Jefferson County, New York
Edited by: Edgar C. Emerson
The Boston History Co., Publishers 1898

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