Friday, June 9, 2017

James Benton Church

James Benton Church, son of Robert Church and Lucinda Murphy, was born December 12, 1882 in Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia. He was the 3rd child of 11—George Church, Samuel C. Church, James Benton Church, Jennie F. Church, Anna B. Church, Dessie Church, Charles Cleveland Church, Martha Church, William Henry Church, Donald Roy Church, and Presley Church. James was my husband’s grand uncle.

James’ brother George died sometime between 1880 and 1900 but I’ve been unable to find any record of his death.

On June 9, 1900, James and his family lived in the Church District of Wetzel County. His father was a farmer. At age 16, James worked as a farm laborer. Samuel and Charlie were also farm laborers. His mother was enumerated as the mother of 11 children, 10 of which were living. Samuel, James, and Charles were helping work the farm.

On May 29, 1904, James married Louisa Virginia (Jennie) Kiger, daughter of Nicholas Kiger and Martha Elizabeth Watson. The marriage was performed at her parents’ home in Littleton by James Vanhorn, Minister of the M.E. Church. James already had a connection to Jennie—his brother Samuel married her sister, Rhoda M. Kiger, in 1901. Together James and Jennie had two children—Mary Lucile Church and Sue Ella Church. Mary was born on March 5, 1905; Sue was born on October 14, 1908. Both of their daughters were born in Wetzel County.

On April 28, 1910, James, Jennie, and their daughters lived on Sugar Run Road in the Center District of Wetzel County. James and Jennie had been married for seven years. James was “working out” as a laborer. Both he and Jennie could read and write.

James registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918. His permanent address was 1 Glover Gap in Marion, West Virginia. James was a self-employed farmer. He was of medium height and slender build, had blue eyes, and light brown hair.

Marriage License, Wetzel County, West Virginia
On January 7, 1920, James and Jennie lived in the Church District of Wetzel County. James’ brother Samuel and his family lived next door. James was a farmer on a general farm. Daughters Mary (age 14) and Ella (age 11) were attending school and could read and write.

On April 3, 1926, daughter Mary married Armond Tustin, son of Doctor Columbus Tustin and Elizabeth Bessie Hart, in Mannington, Marion County, West Virginia.

On April 16, 1930, James and Jennie were still living in the Church District of Wetzel County. His brother Samuel and his family lived two doors away. James owned his home which included a radio. James was a laborer at Manufacturers Light and Heat Gas Company.

The 1930s was a hard decade for the Church family. On June 22, 1931, James’ brother Samuel died at age 50 in the Church District of Wetzel County. His father Robert died on November 29, 1932 in Littleton of an organic heart lesion contributed by a blocked left coronary artery. He lost his mother Lucinda on January 13, 1933 (in Littleton). All three were buried at Thomas Chapel Church Cemetery in Wetzel County. James’ sister Martha Church McIntire died in Clarksburg on August 6, 1936. She was buried at Elkview Cemetery in Clarksburg beside her two husbands, twin brothers Lester and Chester McIntire.

On April 30, 1940, James and Jennie lived alone in the Church District of Wetzel County. Both had an 8th grade education. James was a laborer for a gas company. They had been living in this house since at least 1935. Thanksgiving Day that year (November 21) would have been a sad one for James as his sister Dessie died at home in Littleton on November 20 after suffering from stomach cancer. She was only 51 years old and left five children behind—the youngest my father-in-law at 12 years old. Dessie was laid to rest with her parents in the front row at the base of the hill at Thomas Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Wetzel County.

James Benton Church and his wife Louisa Virginia (Jennie) Kiger

James registered for the World War II draft in 1942. He lived in Hundred, Wetzel County, West Virginia but his mailing address was Burton, West Virginia. At age 59, he was still working at the Manufacturers Light and Heat Gas Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His telephone exchange was Rose Line.

On May 31, 1949, James’ daughter Sue Ella married Edward P. Brethold, son of Henry D. Brethold and Katherine A. Schurr, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This was a second marriage for Sue. She had previously been married to a Mr. Smith, first name and date of marriage unknown. Sometime between the time James registered for the World War II draft and his daughter Sue’s marriage, they moved to Lisbon, Ohio.

The Church family decline continued in the 1950s. James’ brother Charles died in Littleton on April 12, 1955. He was buried at Anderson-Bethel Cemetery there in Littleton. His sister Anna died of occlusive arterial disease at Weston State Hospital in Weston, Lewis County, West Virginia on March 29, 1959. She was buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Clarksburg. Another sister Jennie died of a cerebral hemorrhage and arteriosclerosis on February 26, 1963 at Weston State Hospital in Weston. She was buried beside her parents at Thomas Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery.

James’ wife Jennie died in Ohio on February 3, 1968. She was buried at Hope Cemetery in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. Daughter Sue Ella was named executrix of the estate. A year and a half later, James died at North Columbiana County Community Hospital in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio on August 9, 1969. He was buried with his wife Jennie at Hope Cemetery. Sue Ella was named executrix of his estate as well. James’ estate of household goods, antiques and old items, and tools and miscellaneous was sold at public auction on May 9, 1970.

Gravestone photo by BMK, Find A Grave member #47156952
My father-in-law often spoke of his aunts Jennie and Anna and uncles Charlie, Henry, Donald, and Presley but I don’t recall him ever mentioning James. Neither does my husband.

James is a descendent of Henry “Old Hundred” Church for whom the town of Hundred, West Virginia is named.

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