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James Madison Girdner

Male 1832 - 1921  (88 years)

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  • Name James Madison Girdner  [1
    Born 14 Jul 1832  Barbourville, Knox, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4, 5
    Gender Male 
    Occupation Surveyor  [6
    Died 7 Jan 1921  Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 7, 8
    Buried 9 Jan 1921  Edgewood Cemetery, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    • James Madison Gridner, one among the best known and honored Livingston county citizens, died shortly after midnight Thursday night, at his home, corner Dickinson and Calhoun streets, of a complication of ailments incident to old age. "Uncle Mat," as he was most familiarly known, had been in ill health for two years when he suffered an attack of flu. The last illness, however, extended over a period of only two weeks. Christmas morning he arose with the intention of attending the annual family dinner, which was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Goodlow Grouse. However, during the morning, he was taken ill and was unable to attend. Since that time he had been unable to leave the house. At the time of his death, which was not unexpected, the wife and all the children with the exception of Mrs. S. V. Ramsey of Birtchtree, Mo., were at his bedside. He was conscious up to a few minutes before he passed away. James Madison Gridner was born July 14, 1832 in Knox county, Ky. He came to Livingston county with his parents, David and Elizabeth Girdner in the fall of 1834, settling in Utica where the family remained some time, afterwards moving to Davies county, residing there one year and then removing to Livingston county settling in Jackson township where Mr. Girdner had resided continuously on the same farm, with the exception of five years, which he spent in California. March 6, 1863 Mr. Girdner married Miss Martha E. Stith. To this union six children were born, all of whom are living, as follows: Mrs. Goodlow Grouse, Mrs. George Campbell, Mrs. J. L. Francis, Mrs. Laura Francis and David Girdner, all of this county, and Mrs. S. V. Ramsey of Birchtree, Mo. Nine years ago Mr. and Mrs. Girdner moved to Chillicothe, location at the corner of Dickinson and Calhoun streets where he had since resided. When 19 years of age Mr. Girdner was seized with the gold fever and made the trip to California where he struck it rich, returning home five years later, well supplied with the yellow nuggets. He returned home by the way of the Isthmus of Panama. In his younger days Mr. Girdner took up surveying and was deputy surveyor of Livingston county several times. He compiled a county atlas, giving the accurate and complete description of every piece of land in the county. The atlas is still in the possession of the family. He also was assessor of Jackson township several years. Notwithstanding his four score years, until he was stricken with the flu, he had been in vigorous health for a man of his age. His splendid personal power was active to the last. A man of commanding figure, over six feet tall, he stood out in any assemblage. His cheery humor and kind philosophy won and bound to him in bonds of sincere fellowship all who knew him. He came of a race of pathfinders and builders did Uncle Mat, a noble breed of old time Americans true to the name in word and thought and deed. The county hereabouts of James Madison Girdner's boyhood was vastly different from the county today. Great tracts of virgin wilderness were to be found in Northwest Missouri, wooded hills and valleys where wild game abounded. Deer were plentiful and wild turkeys, quail, prairie chicken, grouse and water fowls were in abundance. There was an occasional "painter" as the early settlers named the panther. Mr. Girdner started on his career a poor boy. After returning from California he started farming and from that time until nine years ago when he left his farm, he made a success of his undertakings. Mr. Girdner came from a long-lived family. A sister, Aunt Polly White, died near Trenton several years ago and was buried on her 101st birthday. Uncle Davy Girdner, a brother, died in this city March 13, 1918 at the age of 90 years. Other members of the family lived to a ripe old age, Mr. Girdner being the last of a family of thirteen children. Sixty years ago he united with the Mt. Pleasant Baptist church at which place his membership has since remained. Funeral services will be held from the First Baptist church Sunday afternoon at two o'clock, conducted by Rev. Warren P. Clark. Interment in Edgewood cemetery.

      Historical Sketch of the Girdner Family.
      I, James Madison Girdner, of Livingston County, Missouri, now in my 79th year, by request of a number of the younger generations of the Girdners, I propose to give a short sketch of our ancestry as far back as I have been able to ascertain from my father and mother. I have no documentary evidence whatever to write from; all the evidence I have has been handed down from parent to children, and as I am among the oldest of the generations now living, and by said request give as best I can the sketch as follows:
      I will begin with my great grandfather as I learned it. My mother told me that when she was about 3 or 4 years old she remembered of seeing him. She said he was a little Dutchman and stood as straight in the back as a fence rail; said he was so straight he almost leaned back. This was my great grandfather Girdner, and if I remember correctly his name was David. So as far as I know he was the first Girdner that ever came to this county, and was a full-blooded German. I never heard of him having any brothers or sisters, nor any other relatives in this country. This little old Dutchman raised a son, his name was Michael Girdner – he was my grandfather. I never heard of him having any brothers or sisters. This Michael Girdner, my grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War clear through the whole seven years. His home was in Pennsylvania, but he got his wife in the state of Maine. I surmise that he found the woman he wanted up there while he was in the army, and when the war ended in 1783 he got his wife and brought her down into Pennsylvania, where his home was. I surmise this from the fact that my father was born on the 9th day of October, 1784, the next year after the close of the war. And he was their oldest child. My father said his mother was a Yankee woman, but he did not know what her nationality was, but her name was Hulda Beach (or Beech).
      My grandfather on my mother's side was named Parman – Giles Parman, and he was a full blooded Englishman. He went clear through the Revolutionary War. His wife was a German woman, as my mother told me. That is all I know about my mother's ancestry, or as far as I ever heard. They also lived in Pennsylvania. My mother was born about the year 1787. I think my grandfathers were neighbors in Pennsylvania and migrated to Green County, East Tennessee, in about the year 1792. They settled close together in Tennessee and my father and mother grew up and were married there, and their oldest child was born the 12th day of August, 1806. Her name was Mary Girdner, and she lived to be 101 years old, or was buried the day she would hav e been 101 years old. My father's name was David Girdner and my mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Parman. My grandfather Michael Girdner, raised a family of four boys and I think one girl, perhaps two girls. But I think the girl or girls married and went off somewhere – I never understood where they went. They were lost to the family. But of the four boys and my father, David, from these four brothers sprang the whole generation of Girdners in the United States – all the Girdners can be traced back to them in this country, but they are scattered with the four winds. But wherever you find one of the name, it is an easy matter to trace them back to one of these four brothers. My father was in the War of 1812, clear through. He was a drummer and recruiting officer and was where the bullets flew. He went where he was commanded to go and counted one wherever he went. My father was also in the Mormon war and helped drive the Mormons out of this Missouri country. Then they emigrated to Salt Lake. My father was commissioned as Captain of the 89th regiment of militia of the state of Kentucky. I have his appointment by the Governor of Kentucky in my possession, among my father's old papers. I will give it in full in letters and figures as follows:
      "In the name and by the authority of the commonwealth of Kentucky. John Adair, Governor of the commonwealth, to David Girdner, Esq., Greeting: know you that reposing especial trust and confidence in your courage, activity and good conduct, and in consequence of your having been nominated agreeably to the Constitution, you are hereby commissioned Captain of the 89th Regiment of Militia of said state, to take rank as such, according to the date of this commission, and to continue in office during good behavior, and your residence within bounds of our company. In testimony whereof I caused these letters to be made patent and the seal of the common wealth to be here unto affixed. Given under my hand at Frankfort on the 6th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty one, and in the thirtieth year of the commonwealth, by the Governor, John Adair. J. Cabell Breckenridge, secretary. I hereby certify that David Girdner received his commission on the 6th day of January, 1822, as captain of the 89th Regiment and took oath of office on the 23rd of the same month. Certified this 23rd of January, 1822. J. White, J.P."
      My father moved from Tennessee up into Kentucky and settled in Knox county, while his first child was yet a baby. He lived in Knox and Whitly counties until eleven children were born to him, plus one he brought from Tennessee. I made the even dozen, born on the 14th of July, 1832. In the fall of 1834 he moved to Missouri where Livingston Co. was afterward located, to wit, in 1837; and Chillicothe, the county seat, was located the same year. But my father settled where Utica is now located, in Livingston county, and there my youngest sister was born on the 28th of December, 1834. So my father had 13 children born to him. His children all came to Missouri with except one, that were living – 3 died in Kentucky – he went from Kentucky to Alabama. If still alive he was 100 years old the 31st day of December, 1910. He was alive and well 5 or 6 years ago.
      Myself and one brother are here in Livingston County, MO. He is 6 years older than I. His name is David. He is in his 85th year; his son, Wm. M. Girdner, is a doctor. He is our family physician, and he has a lucrative practice. My father died in 1864, in his 80th year; my mother died in November, 1862. I think it very doubtful about any of the family being alive except me and my brother David. My uncle, Joseph Girdner, came to Missouri about the year 1837. He stopped with us awhile and then went on to Mercer county, Missouri and made his stand with his family. My uncle Conrad lived and died in Tennessee; his family scattered from there. None ever came west. One of his sons was a doctor. His name was William Girdner. He had a son that was a doctor. His name was John Harvey Girdner. He is a practicing physician now in New York City. I know nothing about any others of his family. I got this information from the doctor in New York City – Uncle Conrad's grandson. My uncle, Michael Girdner, went south from East Tennessee, as mother told me. But I did not understand where he went, but have learned from one of his grandsons that he went to Monroe county, in the extreme southeast corner of Tennessee near Madisonville, and raised a family there. I got a letter from his grandson, named W. H. Girdner, and he is a doctor in Hunt county, Texas: was born and raised there. I never understood now much of a family Uncle Michael Girdner raised, nor Uncle Conrad. This doctor, W.H. Girdner, in Hunt county, Texas, gave me about all the information I ever got about my Uncle Conrad's family. My father and Uncle Jo Girdner are all the old Girdners that ever came west.
      I will now give the names of all of my brothers and sisters and when they were born, as we have the family record: Mary Girdner was born August 12, 1806; Nancy Girdner, June 5, 1808; Green Berry Girdner, Dec. 31, 1810; Elijah Girdner, Dec. 4, 1812; Michael Girdner, Sept. 28, 1814; Chas. H. Girdner, Fe. 11, 1817; Sam'l Girdner, Jan. 30, 1820; Betty Ann Girdner, Mar. 10, 1822; Mahala Girdner, May 15, 1824; David Girdner, Jr., May 3, 1826; Joseph Girdner, Oct. 13, 1829; James M. Girdner, July 14, 1832; Elizabeth Girdner, Dec. 28, 1834.
      I will now give a sketch of the characteristics of the Girdners generally. They are for the most part agricultural people. However there are a fair percent of doctors and school teachers among them, but generally tillers of the soil – some mercantile men among them. They were not chronic office hunters but they have been honored with office occasionally when it was given to them by the people, such as Justice of the Peace, assessors, sheriffs, etc. I had a cousin who was sheriff of Mercer county, MO, on or two terms. My brother, Michael Girdner, represented Barton county in the Legislature of Missouri in 1870, but was not much given to hunt for office.
      They generally have homes of their own and keep plenty around to live on. I think they average up in that respect with any family I ever knew.
      I never heard of any Preachers among them, nor knew of but one Girdner that was a lawyer. One of my brother Michael's sons studied law at Springfield, MO. I think he was admitted to the Bar when about 21 or 22 years of age, but died soon after.
      I am a surveyor. I am the only surveyor I ever heard of among the Girdners. There might have been more Lawyers and Surveyors among them but I never heard of any. There are no millionaires among them. I think my grandfather, Michael Girdner, was fairly well off, in his day. I understand he owned a number of slaves when he died. His widow married a man named Ball. He started to New Orleans with the slaves to sell them, intending to come back and have it easy the rest of their days. He nor the slaves were ever heard of again, and my grandmother was left in very limited circumstances. I obtained this information from my mother and father.
      I had a brother in California who died about two years ago. His estate was appraised at about 150 thousand dollars. He was worth more than any of the name I know of. This brother was Joseph, next older than I.
      I will state a little incident I have heard my father tell: My grandfather was very broken in talking English. He and my grandfather, Giles Parman, was at a corn shucking, where the Whigs and Tories got into a regular free-for-all fight. My grandfather Girdner got an axe handle and was knocking the Tories topsy-turvy and Grandfather Parman (a quiet old Baptist) would try to pacify Grandfather Girdner, who, when he would see a Tory tearing around, would say: "Tamnation, Gilesy" and go after him and not stop until he would bring him all heels. He kept on until he knocked seven Tories down before they got the racket stopped. "Tamnation" seemed to be all the way my grandfather could swear.
      I think I have given about all I know about our ancestry. There might be some little incidents in which I might be corrected, but I don't think very many. But as to the lineage I am certain I have it as it was handed down to me. The old Girdners, as I have heard my father say, spelled their names Goertner. But I learned from the New York Doctor that they spelled it Goertnez, which I think is better. A good German scholar might be able to give some light on it. Anyway they did not spell it like we do; hence I say all who spell the name like we do can be easily traced back to one of the four brothers in East Tennessee and the little old straight-backed Dutchman which my mother saw about 120 years ago, certainly is the Daddy of us all.
      I have now given in this sketch all that is necessary to give, that I know, so I will lay down my pen and let some one younger take it up, if they see proper. Dated February, 2, 1911.
      James M. Girdner
      R.F.D. No. 3
      Chillicothe, MO

      1860 US Census, Jackson, Livingston, Missouri, J. M. Girdner, 27, farmer, value of real estate 3000, value of personal estate 1600, born KY, David, 75, born PA, Elizabeth, 72, born PA, Susan Brassfield,46, born TN, J.J. Brassfield, 11, born MO

      1870 US Census, Jackson, Livingston, Missouri, James Girdner, 38, farmer, value of real estate 6000, value of personal estate 4000, born Kentucky, with wife Martha, daughters, Mary, Josaphine, Nancy

      1880 US Census, Jackson, Livingston, Missouri, James Girdner, 46, farmer, born KY, parents born PA, with wife Marthy E., 37, born KY, daughters Josyphine, 13, born MO, Nancy A., 11, born MO, Emma C., 9, born MO, Laura E., 7, born MO, laborer Benjamin Rader

      1900 US Census, Jackson, Livingston, Missouri, James M. Girdner, 67, married 37 years, Farmer, owns farm, free of mortgage, born July 1832, with wife Marthie E., son David, boarder Alan Montgomery

      Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Girdner happily celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home at the corner of Calhoun and Dickenson streets Thursday with a big dinner. Children and grandchildren arrived early with well filled baskets and the day was one of great joy for Mr. and Mrs. Girdner. A six-course dinner was served at noon and a beautiful centerpiece of a bouquet of carnations, presented by Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Isherwood, contrasted nicely with the heavily laden table. Mr. Girdner was born in Barbersville, Ky., in 1832 and Mrs. Girdner was born in Branenberg, Ky., in 1841. They were married in Jackson township, at the home of E. R. Dowell on March 6th, 1863, by Rev. W. W. Walden and have been residents of this county ever since. They have six children, Mrs. Goodlow Grouse, Mrs. Lou Francis, Mrs. George Campbell, Mrs. Laura Francis and Dave Girdner, all of this city, and Mrs. F. B. Ramsey of Columbia. They were all present at the celebration except Mrs. Ramsey. They also have twelve grandchildren and one great grandchild.

      Twenty-four children and grandchildren and one great grand child gathered at the home of J. M. Girdner on Dickenson street Saturday and helped Mr. Girdner celebrate his 85th birthday anniversary. The relatives arrived at the Girdner home about 11 o'clock and at noon partook of sumptuous dinner, many of them remaining during the afternoon. The day was greatly enjoyed by Mr. Girdner and his guests. J. M. Girdner was born in Barbersville, Ky., and came to Livingston county with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Girdner when three years of age, settling on a farm in Jackson township, where Mr. Girdner resided until ten years ago, moving to Chillicothe, turning the farm over to his son, David. In 1862, he was married to Miss Emma Stith, also of Kentucky. The first taxes Mr. Girdner paid following his marriage was $1.57. By hard work and careful management he has now accumulated a large acreage of land and his last tax receipt shows an expenditure of several hundred dollars. For the first few years after moving to the city Mr. Girdner was unable to become accustomed to the ways of the city, having been used to hard work, arising early and spending the day in the field, retiring late at night. He is a constant reader and keeps posted upon all the important questions pertaining to every day life. Mr. and Mrs. Girdner are among the city's best known and highly esteemed citizens. Their children and Mesdames Goodlow Grouse, George Campbell, J. L. Frances, Laura Frances and David Girdner of this county and Mrs. Van Ramsey of Bunn, Colo., the latter was unable to be present at the reunion. The great granddaughter at the reunion was Betty Reynolds, daughter of County Treasurer and Mrs. J. M. Reynolds. Seated at the dinner table were four men whose ages totaled 317 years. They were Frank J. Turney, 84; J. M. Girdner, 85; James Frances, 87; and David Girdner 91.

      James M. Girdner, a prominent pioneer of Livingston county, now a resident of Chillicothe is undoubtedly one of the oldest pioneer residents of the county. Mr. Girdner informed a representative of The Constitution today that he landed in Utica with his parents on the 4th day of November, 1834, just eighty years ago and he saw the present site of Chillicothe as a boy before Chillicothe had begun to settle up with people as a town. Chillicothe was founded in 1837. As a young man Mr. Girdner done considerable work as a surveyor over the county and was one of the prosperous young farmers of the early days in Livingston County until he became one of its well-to-do citizens. He was born in Knox County, Kentucky, in 1832, and moved to this county when he was two years old. He would like to know if there are any residents of Livingston County who have been in the county as long as he has and if so to let him know or write him of the fact. He has always taken deep interest in all public questions and has had a great deal to do with the material advancement of the County. He enjoys splendid health and is alive to all of the important public questions and things which will help to develop his home county.
      Alternate birth place: Knox County, KY

      Listed as James M. Gerdner in Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1962, Missouri Digital Heritage, www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/deathcertificates [1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]
    Person ID I20101  Mindrum
    Last Modified 19 Sep 2018 

    Father David Girdner,   b. 9 Oct 1784, Northampton Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Jan 1864, Livingston Co., Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Parman,   b. 8 Apr 1788, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Nov 1862, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 19 Sep 1805  Greene Co., Tennessee Find all individuals with events at this location  [17, 18, 19
    Family ID F14076  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Martha Emily "Emma" Stith,   b. 10 Jul 1841, Brandenburg, Meade, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Mar 1923, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 6 Mar 1863  Jackson Township, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 7, 20
    • Officiator, W.W. Walden, J.P.
     1. Mary Elizabeth Girdner,   b. 28 Jan 1864, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Mar 1941, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     2. Josephine Girdner,   b. Jan 1867, Springhill, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Nov 1957, Boone, Pueblo, Colorado Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 90 years)
     3. Nancy Alice Girdner,   b. 30 Aug 1868, near Springhill, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Dec 1955, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years)
     4. Emma Catherine Girdner,   b. 11 Oct 1870, Jackson Township, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Jan 1964, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     5. Laura Belle Girdner,   b. Sep 1872, near Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Apr 1922, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 49 years)
     6. David Fountain Girdner,   b. 25 Jun 1882, Livingston Co., Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 May 1962, Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
    Last Modified 15 Nov 2012 
    Family ID F14075  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Girdner, James, Goodlou Grouse, William Anderson, Gene Anderson
    Girdner, James, Goodlou Grouse, William Anderson, Gene Anderson

    Girdner, James Madison death certificate
    Girdner, James Madison death certificate

    Girdner, James M. and Martha E. Stith
    Girdner, James M. and Martha E. Stith

  • Sources 
    1. [S1895] Girdner Family Genealogy.

    2. [S1895] Girdner Family Genealogy, date.

    3. [S2009] 1870 US Census, Jackson, Livingston County, Missouri, p. 57, state.

    4. [S2010] Havens-Friend, www.ancestry.com, louiseh@cox.net, date, city, state.

    5. [S6687] James Madison Girdner obituary, The Chillicothe Constituion, Friday, 7 Jan 1921.

    6. [S2012] Historical Sketch of the Girdner Family, James Madison Girdner, 2 Feb 1911.

    7. [S2011] Martha Stith Girdner obituary, The Chillicothe Constitution, Saturday 3 March 1923.

    8. [S2007] The Family Branches for Tom W. and Pauline Dickerson Brumfield, www.ancestry.com, tombrumfield@aol.com.

    9. [S8298] 1860 United States Federal Census.

    10. [S2009] 1870 US Census, Jackson, Livingston County, Missouri, p. 57.

    11. [S2013] 1880 US Census, Jackson, Livingston County, Missouri, Enum. Dist. 161, p. 11.

    12. [S2014] 1900 US Census, Jackson, Livingston County, MIssouri, Enum. Dist. 101, sheet 4B.

    13. [S2015] E-mail from Louise Havens (louiseh@cox.net) 9 Jun 2005, The Chillicothe Constitution, 6 Mar 1913.

    14. [S2016] Chillicothe Constitution, Chillicothe, MO, 19 Jul 1917.

    15. [S2017] Chillicothe Morning Constitution, 4 Nov 1914.

    16. [S2018] Witt Family, www.ancestry.com, Clyde Witt, bigpoppa_wu@yahoo.com.

    17. [S2019] E-mail from Marge Anderson, 8 Jan 2005, year.

    18. [S3049] Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, www.ancestry.com, date and place.

    19. [S2010] Havens-Friend, www.ancestry.com, louiseh@cox.net, date and place.

    20. [S2020] Livingston County, Missouri Marriages, 1837-1863, www.ancestry.com.