Saturday, August 23, 2014

James A. McFall Backs Grover Cleveland, 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks

Today I’ll be writing about a southern 2nd great grandfather. I don’t have any family stories to tell about Grandfather but I learned a few personal gems about the man thanks to the Library of Congress’ initiative to digitize newspapers in their ‘Chronicling America’ project. The Staunton Spectator published in Staunton, Virginia has been a tremendous resource for me, especially with the McFall family.

James Addison McFall was born April 27, 1848 in Augusta County, Virginia. He was the third child born to David and Catherine (Todd) McFall with two older siblings, Margaret and Hamilton B., and two younger brothers, Stuart B. and David Chambers. James’ father, David McFall, died March 20, 1854 in Mt. Solon, Augusta Co., Virginia leaving five children and a young widow.

During the ‘War Between the States’ James A. McFall enlisted in Company E, the Virginia 26th Cavalry Regiment with the Confederate Army according to the Virginia Regimental Histories Series online at He had been a farmhand and enlisted as a private. The history included a physical description of James. He was 6 ft. 1 in. tall, had a light complexion, dark eyes and light hair.

Jan. 23, 1870 James married Radie Maria Harman, daughter of Henry Harman and Eliza J. Fifer. A newspaper, the Republican Vindicator, reported their marriage in the Feb. 4, 1870 issue.

   “James A. McFall and Miss Radie M. Harmon, both of Augusta, were married on January 23rd by the Rev. J. M. Follansbee.”

In August of 1870, James and Radie were living in the Mt. Sidney neighborhood next door to Radie’s mother, Eliza Harman. James was then working as a farm laborer. By June 1, 1880 he was employed as a school teacher. His mother-in-law had moved into James’ home by this time. The children arrived beginning with Clara Dean in 1871, Willie Stuart in1873, Flora Belle in 1875 (my great grandmother), Elizabeth Kinzer in 1877, Paul Duvall in1880, Lacy Hamilton in 1884 and James H. in1886.

The Tuesday, November 6, 1883 issue of the Staunton Spectator published an account of 2nd Great Grandfather’s talent craving canes.

   “CANE CARVING—Our venerable friend, Barbee, of the Bridgewater Journal, who has great skill in carving canes, will have to look to his laurels, for Mr. James A. McFall, of Mt. Solon, is reaching to take them from his brow. He showed us a cane last week, upon which he had carved with great skill in the short space of a few days a large number of birds and different kinds of animals—a whole menagerie, and other devices.”

The Sept. 9, 1884 Staunton Spectator reveals Great Grandfather and his brother, H. B. McFall, were among the founding members of the Cleveland and Hendricks Club in Mt. Solon, Augusta Co., Virginia. The Club supported Grover Cleveland for President with Thomas A. Hendricks for Vice President. The Democratic ticket carried the 1884 election. James’ roll in the Cleveland and Hendricks Club was secretary and his brother Hamilton B. served on several committees.

James was appointed an Augusta County Postmaster September 15, 1886. The Staunton Spectator published the announcement Sept. 29, 1886.

   “Postmaster at Mt. Solon—Mr. Jas. A. McFall has been appointed Postmaster in place of Sam’l L. Cootes resigned. This is a good appointment, and we have no doubt that Mr. McFall will give the utmost satisfaction in the discharge of the duties of his office.”

His illness was reported in the Wednesday, February 9, 1887 Staunton Spectator newspaper.

   “Mr. Jas. McFall of this place [Mt. Solon], who has been confined to his rooms for several weeks on account of sickness, we learn, is much better.”

Much too early James Addison McFall passed at the age of 38 years on April 17, 1887. It almost seems like history was repeating itself as his father also died a young man when he was only 35. James and his wife, Radie, both struggled with consumption. Radie would die May 1890 from the same sickness. They were buried in the Old Methodist Church Cemetery at Mt. Solon in Augusta County.

The Wednesday, April 20, 1887 Staunton Spectator had this to say about Great Grandfather’s last moments:

“The many friends of Mr. Jas. A. McFall, will regret to learn of his death. He died April 1st. He was young and had a very interesting family, which would very naturally endear him to earth, yet he certified his willingness to die—his last words expressing his desire to be with his Savior. Rev. Mr. Kibler, assisted by Rev. Mr. Railey, Conducted the funeral services.”

Line of Descent
2nd Great Grandfather James Addison McFall and his spouse Radie Maria Harman
Great Grandmother Flora Belle McFall and spouse Daniel Franklin Joseph
Grandfather James McFall Joseph and spouse Lucy Leora Clemmer
My Father


The Augusta County, Virginia Death Register recorded Grandfather’s death taking place April 17, 1887, not April 1st as stated in the above newspaper account.

The Library of Virginia’s website includes a section titled “Virginia Memory” where Virginia’s digitized newspapers can be searched at

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