Born into a prominent family in Pittsford, NY, he married a wife descended from English nobility and would serve in the Union Army duing the Civil War. James Bellows and his company were drawn to Dakota Territory to help with the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
James Bellows was born on December 30, 1829, the oldest son of Ira and Mary (Buck) Bellows. He was named after his grandfather Colonel James Bellows who led Colonial troups and served in the Fifth Company of the Connecticut Regiment during the Revolutionary War. His father had a promenent law practice in Pittsford, NY. He was served as town Superintendent of Schools and the NY state militia for decades, retiring as Brigadier-General.
James married Lavina [sometimes listed as Laura] Amelia Worthington on May 9, 1850 in Homer, Michigan. The couple had three children; a daughter Minnie Amelia Bellows (b. Nov 4 1851 in Pittsford, NY); son Ira Worthington Bellows (b. Jan 11, 1857 in Pittsford NY) and Mary E. born 1852 who died sometime between the ages of 3 and 8 likely in Buffalo, NY.
He served briefly in 1863 in the Civil War in the New York 148th Infantry, Company S, listed with the officer rank of "Surgeon" but with less than 5 years of service equates to a lieutenant's rank.
His father Ira died on January 5, 1855. As oldest son, the family estate at 109 Plymouth Ave in Rochester, NY was left to him and he moved his family there from Buffalo, NY. His wife Lavina died March 16, 1867. His sister Jane and brother-in-law James Roswell Chamberlin moved into the family home to care for his 2 remaining children and mother Mary while James left to direct the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad across western Dakota Territory.
His company Walker, Bellows and Company (later to become Bellows, Fogarty and Company) was awarded a contract with the railroad on December 27, 1878 to build the westside river dike in support of the Missouri River railroad bridge between Bismarck & Mandan. The company was later awarded both approaches to the bridge as well as the rail line from Mandan to the east bank of the Yellowstone River at Glendive Montana.
He found life in Mandan to his liking, permenantly settling his children and widowed mother Mary here. In 1881 while the NP Railroad bridge was under construction, James purchased rural property just north of the city; 160 acres in the NE corner of Township 139-Range 81-Section 21 and grew celery he likely learned from his father-in-law while courting his wife in Homer, Michigan.
James gained the respect of his fellow citizens, was elected in 1882 as the village of Mandan's first president (i.e., mayor) and helped to establish the First National Bank of Mandan. He operated Bellows Landing (was later known as Rock Haven.)
Eventually, James decided to permenantly relocate to Mandan. He moved his mother and grown children to Mandan.
His mother Mary would die in Mandan on May 12, 1889.
James died unexpectedly in Mandan on January 7, 1890 after suffering for only a week from lagrippe (i.e., acute pneumonia) at age 62. He is buried beside his wife in the family plot in Pittsford NY.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org