· James Chamellis Potter (1865-1955) ·
Since I will soon be giving an author-blogger talk in Nickerson, Kansas, I decided to do some historical research on my great-grandfather, James Chamellis Potter.
Sadly, I only remember a few things about him: he participated in the Cherokee Outlet land run, was a blacksmith and marshal in Nickerson, and had suffered a debilitating stroke years before his death.
That’s not much information when you consider we have the same first and last names.
“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! Unfortunately, it’s also proof that I keep aging!
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 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!