· James Chamellis Potter (1865-1955) ·
My great-grandfather, James Chamellis Potter, participated in the Cherokee Outlet land run, was a blacksmith and marshal in Nickerson, and suffered a debilitating stroke years before his death.
“Mellis” or “J.C.” was born prior to the end of the Civil War—just barely. As a little kid, five years old, I recall meeting him. A year later, in 1955, he died at age 90.
It’s mind-boggling for me to grasp that I knew someone, anyone, who was alive during the Civil War era! Think about that, over 150 years ago!
Mellis was born February 6, 1865 near Tiffin, Johnson County, Iowa. He spent the first thirteen years of his life on the Iowa farm where he was born.
In 1877 the Potters preempted in Loda Township, Reno County. The following year J.C.’s parents, Adam and Rosannah (Layman) brought their family to work the land. Mellis attended school in a little sod schoolhouse in the neighborhood in which dried corn stalks were used as fuel.
James Chamellis and Eva Belle Dix were married in 1889. Her family had located to Reno County in 1878 and settled on a farm near Haven. They moved to Valley Township in 1884, then to a farm near Lerado in 1888.
On September 16, 1893, land was opened in the Cherokee Outlet of northern Oklahoma Territory. Mellis and his brother Elmer joined the rush to claim land. They selected sites in Woods County, now Alfalfa County. Mellis dismantled his home in Reno County, transported the material by wagon to Oklahoma and erected the new house.
In 1902 the Potters traded the proven Oklahoma farm for 160 acres in Salt Creek Township, Reno County (NW 1/4, Sec 16, Twp 23, R7W).
Mellis was active in his community. He was a Democrat and an elder in the Christian Church of Nickerson. After retiring from farming in 1918, he was a blacksmith, marshal, councilman, and mayor (1937-1939) of Nickerson.
Read a 1939 newspaper article from the town’s official paper, the Nickerson Argosy: mayorpotterissuesstatement
J.C. was an earnest advocate for prohibition and for years was a prominent member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
James and Eva had five children: Edna Alice, Edith Elsie, Clarence Lester, Charles Clifford, and Rhea Irene. Clarence was my grandfather. He was born October 15, 1897, near Jet, Oklahoma Territory.
James Chamellis died March 5, 1955 in Nickerson. Eva, his wife, had preceded him in death, September 13, 1946, in Hutchinson. Both are buried in Memorial Park Cemetery near Hutchinson.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!
Nancy Julien Kopp says
You’re fortunate to have found that amount of information on your great-grandfather. I know about my grandparents but very little about the great-grands. Bits and pieces, no dates as to when they did this or that.
Jim Potter says
Nancy, thanks for your comments. Yes, I’m fortunate to have a family history. It sure helps that JC lived to be age 90 and that my father enjoyed genealogy. Another plus was having some old photos. Jim
Miriam Iwashige says
I’ve made several personal connections to places mentioned in this post. My mother was born and raised in Johnson County, Iowa (near Kalona, in her case) where your great grandfather was born.
I was born and raised in Salt Creek township in Reno County. Our son Shane and his family live now in section 28, which is still labeled H. Iwashige from when we lived there. My brother, Lowell Miller, lives with his family on section 21, where Hiromi and I lived for the first three years of our marriage, just around the corner south and west from where your grandfather lived at the intersection of Centennial Road and 4th street. (I found the section numbers in the plat and directory published by Farm and Home Publishers. We get it in the mail every year.)
The level of detail in your post is a treasure for all who know you and are interested in maintaining a connection with you and your family.
Jim Potter says
Miriam, thanks for your comments. It’s great to know of your family history. One early plat of Salt Creek shows the land owned by N. E. Miller. I wonder, Is this the Miller who traded properties with my great-grandfather when he moved back from the Oklahoma Territory in 1902? Stories are pieces of history. History is fascinating! Jim