Parentage and siblings of James has not yet been determined. The story passed down through generations: James' father was Peter Gordon who was born in Scotland. Peter boarded a ship (probably late 1700s/early 1800s) somewhere off the coast of France as a stow-away, landed in Nova Scotia and settled "near" Montreal. He married a Fr-Canadian by the name of Margaret. Peter and Margaret had a large family, James being one of the oldest of the children. To this date no information has been found on Peter and Margaret in Canada nor any of James' siblings.
James GORDON was born
on 15 May 1806 in Canada, died on 11 Dec 1893 in Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin
and was buried in Dec 1893 in Waldwick Cemetery, Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin.
James Gordon's grave marker is in the Waldwick Cemetery, Waldwick, WI. His two wives, Emaline and Dorcus, are buried there also. All of the children of James were born to Emaline. Emaline died with the birth of Mary and Mary's twin. The children were raised by Dorcus.
James, one of the oldest sons of Peter and Margaret, left his home in Canada and traveled to Wisconsin mostly by foot. He spent a year in or near Green Bay before settling in Mineral Point. He came with a little fellow called Frenchy. James was a large man skilled with an axe, working in logging camps prior to settling in Mineral Point. He had little schooling but was especially bright in math. He spoke French probably due to having been raised in a French-speaking community. The land he settled on was all prairie. It is said that the prairie grass was as high as a horse's thigh. A man named Duke Burris won a lot of land playing cards and was looking for someone to run the land and take care of some horses. James took the job and later purchased the land and made it his home. The first home James built was a log cabin. All of his children were born in that log cabin. He later built a large seven-bedroom home. (This home burned down in 1907.)
James was a horse breeder and trader. During the "gold rush" days, James took a team of horses and went to California. Apparently he made some good money. James became ill while there and let another fellow use his team of horses. This man stole James' horses. James returned to Wisconsin saying he'd never leave home again.
James is remembered as having a long red beard. In later years, James and his wife Dorcus needed looking after. His son Joseph built a small two-room house for them so they could have some privacy. They would eat their meals at the big house with Joe's family. Joe said, "We had to get Dad someplace because he got to chewing tobacco and couldn't hit the spittoon all the time."
James rarely ever mentioned his family. The little that has been pieced together is that he came from a large family and they loved music. James never heard from his parents and he never tried to contact any of his family.
After Dorcus died, every once in a while James would wander off. When he was 87 years old, his son Joseph found him barefoot in the snow walking away from his home. When Joseph asked James where he was going, he replied that he was going to see his mother.
Items of interest:
1. History: "1880 History of Iowa County, Wisconsin" James Gordon, farmer, Sec. 18; P.O. Mineral Point; he owns 160 acres of land, valued at $30 per acre; born in Canada in 1806; came to the United States in 1833, and located in Green Bay; removed to this county in 1834, and settled on his present farm in 1845. Married Dorcus Boles in 1860; she was born in Ohio. Mr. G. had seven children by a former wife.
2. Newspaper Article:4 Mineral Point Tribune - July 26, 1956 "Duke's Prairie Farm - The family bible shows that James Gordon was born in 1806 and legend has it that he walked to Green Bay from Canada and proceeded the rest of the way as best he could until he reached that section later to be known as Duke's Prairie. It is further told that James Gordon could speak nothing but French when he arrived for although his name denoted Scotch descent he had evidently been raised in a French-speaking community of the Province of Quebec. But, if he left home at 16, as reported, and arrived in this area in the early 1820's, he would have had little use for English as there were few other than Indians and French fur traders here at that early date. James Gordon bought 80 acres of land from the government and although he was himself more horse-breeder and trader than farmer, this 80 acres formed the core of what his son, Joseph Gordon, later built into some 600 acres of fertile farmland.
The name Duke's Prairie came from a man named Duke who had a bunch of horses and sat down with some of the early settlers one day and won all of their land in a card game. It was called Prairie because there was hardly any timber in this whole region and what trees are on the open prairie today were planted there. To get a better view of this region one must picture a dividing ridge between the two Pocatonia rivers starting just south of Dodgeville. Old timers used to say that if the early settlers hadn't gone to Blanchardville, Argyle, Jonesdale and other communities in search of water, a railway could have been run along the ridge from Dill to Dodgeville without it being necessary to put up a single bridge. Such is the unbroken lay of the land in this region where Gordon farms stretch 2-1/2 miles east and west and one mile north and south. So it is no wonder that out here County Highway S is often called 'Gordon Road.'"
(Note: 1880 History of Iowa of County states that James arrived here in 1833 which would have made him 27 years old when he arrived in this region.)
James married Emaline FOWLER, daughter of Edward FOWLER and Malinda HALE, on 18 Jan 1844 in Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin. (Emaline FOWLER was born in 1827 in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, died on 15 Apr 1858 in Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin, buried in Apr 1858 in Waldwick Cemetery, Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin.) Emaline died with the birth of her daughter, Mary. Mary was a twin and the twin died at the same time also. James also married Dorcus BOLES in 1860 in Waldwick, Iowa County, Wisconsin. Dorcus BOLES was born in Ohio.