Randolph  County,  Indiana

James  M. Hamilton

            One of the best-known and highly respected citizens of Randolph county is James M. Hamilton, who, for over three continuous decades has been employed as railway mail clerk, his long retention being a criterion of his faithful and able service. He is a scion of one of our best old families, but he has attained his present high standing among his fellow-men almost solely through the impelling force of his personality. He possesses not only those powers which render men efficient in the material affairs of life, but also the gentler traits that mark genial and correct social intercourse. In his daily affairs he manifests a generous regard for his fellows, actuated by principles of altruism and honesty and no man in the county commands and merits more fully the good will of the people.
            Mr. Hamilton was born at Waterloo, Fayette county, Indiana, September 2, 1845, and is the third son of Captain Robert Washington Hamilton and Malinda (Matthews) Hamilton. Captain Hamilton was a prominent man in his day and generation, one of the leading physicians and surgeons of this section of the state. He was born in Montgomery county, West Virginia, March 4, 1818. He was a son of J. S. and Eliza (Courtney) Hamilton, and the third of a family of twelve children. His father was born in Baltimore, Maryland, November 5. 1792, and his mother in Castle Dawson, Ireland, in 1796. When twelve years of age, she came with her parents to America, the family locating in Montgomery county, in what was then Virginia, and there she grew to womanhood, met and married Mr. Hamilton, and in that locality they resided until 1832 when they came west to Fayette county, Indiana, where they bought a farm on which they spent the rest of their lives, his death occurring in 1879, she having preceded him to the grave in 1875.
            Robert W. Hamilton was fourteen years old when he accompanied his parents to the Hoosier state and here he grew to manhood, helping his father clear and develop the homestead, remaining there until he was eighteen years of age. He received his early education in the common schools of his native state and in Fayette county, this state. In 1837 he went to Richmond, Coles county. Illinois, and began life for himself by engaging in the grocery business which he conducted but a short time. While there he married, February 13, 1839. Mrs. Malinda Matthews, nee Lowell. Soon thereafter they came to Waterloo. Fayette county. Indiana, and there located. Four years later they removed to Hillsboro, Wayne county, Indiana; his wife's death occurring in Richmond on August 15, 1854. He subsequently married Mrs. Sarah (Stetler) Bascum, and they located in Lynn, Randolph county, 1855. and here Captain Hamilton engaged in the practice of medicine until his death, August 3, 1891. He was a successful and popular general family doctor, one of the leaders of his profession in his day and generation in this section of the state.

James M. Hamilton and family

 His second wife had preceded him to the grave on May 1, 1881, and on May 4, 1882, he married Mrs. Eliza Laison. As before intimated, his union with his first wife resulted in the birth of three sons, viz.: James Alexander, died in infancy; Wm. A., was a graduate of Ann Arbor. He was rapidly becoming a popular physician at Lynn, but died on October 13, 1874. He was also a soldier, in Company C, Nineteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving three full years in the army of the Potomac; James M., subject.
            Dr. Robert .W. Hamilton began the study of medicine .when seventeen years of age at Brownsville, Indiana, and he completed his studies at Waterloo. He began practice at Hillsboro, in 1848, and from that time until the end of his life, a period of forty-three years, he enjoyed an ever growing and lucrative practice, with the exception of a year and a half spent in the army during the Civil war. He had the remarkable record of never losing a case of diphtheria or scarlet fever. In July, 1861, he enlisted as a recruit in Company C, Nineteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was chosen captain of the same, being the first commissioned officer from Randolph county in the three years' service. Hon. W. E. Murray was the first man enlisted in the company. The doctor proved to be a gallant and efficient soldier for the Union, but after eighteen months he was compelled to resign on account of ill health, receiving a paralytic stroke in September, 1861, from which he never fully recovered. In addition to his duties of commanding officer he was registered as acting surgeon, and rendered a great deal of splendid service in that capacity. After resigning from the army he returned home and resumed practice. He also successfully engaged in the real estate and mercantile business and was a very busy man. He accumulated a handsome competency by his ability and industry. He was first a Whig, then a Republican and was active in public matters. Fraternally, he belonged to the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and for nearly a quarter of a century was honored by the position of worshipful master. He was a public-spirited man and assisted in every way possible in the general improvement of his county and was one of the most influential and popular men in this locality.
            James M. Hamilton was ten years of age when, in 1855, he came with his parents to Lynn, Randolph county, and here he has since made his home, his residence of fifty-eight years bringing to him ever greater esteem from his contemporaries. During that period he has seen great changes and has aided in many of them for the permanent improvement of the town and county. Since 1882 he has been connected with the railway mail service. He received a common school education in the rural schools and in the city of Winchester. When a boy he learned the printer's trade in the office of  The Randolph County Journal  and followed the same until July 15, 1861, when, although but sixteen years of age, be proved his courage by enlisting in Company C, Nineteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, but was rejected owing to his youth. Nothing daunted, however, he went to the front as an officer's servant where he remained nineteen months and was in the battle of Lewisville, Virginia. September 11, 1861. Returning home he went to Vicksburg, Mississippi with the state sanitary committee, to look after the sick and wounded soldiers of Indiana. November 3, 1863, he again enlisted, this time becoming a private in Company G, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Asa Teal, and served the union faithfully until the close of the struggle, seeing much hard service, including the battles of Dalton, Resaca, Altoona, Kenesaw Mountain, Chattanooga, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Columbia, Franklin, Goldsboro and Wise's Fork, North Carolina. He received a furlough at Raleigh, North Carolina, August 31, 1865, and started home. On going to Indianapolis to to be mustered out he was again called to Greensboro, North Carolina; He still has in his possession his description roll and marks thereon made by his captain, which contain the following: Sergeant James M. Hamilton took an active part in the Georgia campaign from Dalton to Jonesboro, was in the battles of Franklin and Nashville, and took a very conspicuous part in the battle of Wise's Fork, North Carolina, March 8, 9, and 10, 1865. He possesses all the qualities of a good soldier. He also has a furlough pass in his possession, given May 3, until June 3, 1865. He was at the organization of the regiment, was commissioned orderly sergeant and held the commission all through his term of service.
            After his military career, Mr. Hamilton worked at the printer's trade at Union City, Indiana and read medicine in the office of Dr. Jayne, until December, 1866, when he came to Lynn, Randolph county, and engaged in reading medicine with his father. Although he would doubtless have made a successful and prominent physician, he finally abandoned the study of medicine and worked at various employments until November, 1884, when he took charge of The Decatur Eagle, at Decatur, Indiana, and continued as foreman of that paper until 1876. He was then variously employed until 1882, when he was given a position in the railway mail service, through the recommendation of General Thomas M. Browne, by Postmaster General Maynard, under President Arthur, on the Indiana Bloomington and Western railroad, now a branch of the Big Four. He has always been on this line and has been promoted from the probationary degree to the highest post in this branch of the service, in consequence has long received the highest salary. His continued retention in this service is evidence of his faithfulness to duty and promptness.
            Mr. Hamilton was married in Union City, Indiana, November 11, 1866, to Catherine N. Ennis, who was born in Winchester, May 25, 1842, and is a daughter of James C. and Isabel (Page) Ennis. To this union four children were born, namely: Malinda I., who was married to Charles L. Heichert, November 30, 1893; Alpheus O., Robert C., and Edward G. These children were given good educational advantages and are well situated in life.
            Politically, Mr. Hamilton raised the first pole and hoisted the first flag, bearing the names of Fremont and Dayton, in Randolph county, in 1856. He has ever been active, and influential in public affairs. He served as president of the town board of Lynn one term, and took the census of Washington township in 1880. He was an active member of the Independent Order of Good Templars, and led in the Murphy temperance movement in 1876, the organization numbering over three hundred members at Lynn. He became a member of Lynn Lodge, No. 223, Free and Accepted Masons, in November, 1867, and served two years as worshipful master. Also member of Randolph Chapter No. 35, and Council No. 20, at Winchester, Indiana. He joined Lynn Lodge No. 294, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at its organization in November, 1887, and served one year as noble grand of that lodge. He was a member of the original organization of the Grand Army of the Republic, and served three years as post commander of Joe Cook Post, No.296. He was a charter member of Lynn Lodge, No.119, Knights of Pythias, at its organization in 1884, and is also a member of the Captain R. W. Hamilton Camp, No.292, Sons of Veterans. He has been an active and faithful member of all these organizations. He and his wife belong to the Methodist church.
            Besides his valuable home property, Mr. Hamilton is owner of eighty acres of well improved and productive farming land in Randolph county. From 1870 to 1872, inclusive, he was engaged in the flouring mill, saw mill and planing mill business, and in 1876, in connection with J. L. P. Frist he established a tile factory, which they operated for two years. He has been very successful in a business way and is one, of the substantial and public-spirited men of Lynn. He is kind, neighborly and charitably inclined. He enjoys the unqualified confidence and esteem of all who know him as a result of his exemplary life, and in every way he merits the high regard in which he is universally held.
Past and Present of Randolph County, Indiana, 1914.
Contributed by Gina Richardson

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