History of James Herron Leonard (1842-1915) of Marion County, Ohio
James Herron Leonard (b. 19 Aug. 1842, m. Martha Wilson 12 Sept. 1865, d. 7 Nov. 1915), raised* in Washington County, Pennsylvania, like his father and grandfather before him, was the eighth of nine children born to William and Mary Van Ort Leonard of Somerset township. Martha "Mattie" Wilson (b. 30 Sept. 1836, d. 23 June 1909) was the daughter of daughter of Samuel and Lovina Wilson, of Marion County, Ohio.
*It's possible that James Herron was born in the brief period when the family apparently lived in Fayette County 1841-42. Jenny Leonard Hutchinson indicates they moved back to the family homestead prior to Daniel Leonard's death (William's father) 28 July 1842.
1840 - The 1840 census shows James Herron's father William living in Somerset township, Washington County, PA. He and wife Mary (Van Ort) have six children: two below the age of five, one between the ages of five and ten, and three between the ages of ten and fifteen. [James Herron wouldn't be born for another two years. There are indications from Leonard historian Jennie Leonard Hutchinson that the family may have moved to Fayette County, PA. for a short period 1841-42 and then returned two Somerset township, Washington County, prior to the grandfather's death in July 1842.]
1850 - The 1850 census is the first to list each individual family member, their age at the time of census, their occupations, and the value of their real estate. The family is residing in Somerset township, Washington County, PA. James Herron isn't listed in the Leonard household, but would've been 8 years old. His absence in the census may have been an oversight, or he may have been living, yet uncounted, with his widowed grandmother two houses away. The one residence lying between Mary and William Leonard and his mother Lucretia Leonard was owned by James Herron, 59, and his family of six. Something remarkable must have happened to make James Herron Leonard his namesake. [James' father would move his entire family, save for older brothers Edmund (b. 1825) and Isaac (b. 1827 or 1830), to Delaware and later Marion County, Ohio, in 1854. The rest of the siblings were Daniel (b. 1830), Lydia (b. 1833), William H. (b. 1836), Joseph (b. 1837), Mary Jane (b. 1840), James Herron (b. 1842), and Thomas (b. 1844).]
1860 - In 1860, James Herron, 19, was one of three children still living with their parents, William, 57, and Mary, 56, in Pleasant township, Marion County, Ohio. Mary Jane, 20, and Thomas, 15, were also at home. Daniel, 30, had married and moved to Taylor County, Iowa. Lydia, 27, married and moved to Waldo township. William H., 24, and Joseph, 23, are both missing in the 1860 census, and are thought to be in Kansas and Indian (Oklahoma) Territories respectively. Their father William, a farmer, is the head of the Marion County household. His is just one of the 13 Leonard households in the Marion and Delaware County area, some having arrived from Washington County, PA., as early as 1823. [James' mother, Mary, died of typhoid in September of 1868. His father re-married Catharine Somerlot eighteen months later.]
1870 - By 1870, James Herron, 27, had moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, and back, married Mattie (Martha) Wilson, 24, clerked and then started his own dry goods store in LaRue, Ohio. The 1870 census finds him living in Montgomery township, Marion County, with his wife and younger brother Thomas. He lists his real estate value as $1200 and personal property at $4000. [Other sources indicate James was appointed postmaster of LaRue in 1870, a position he held until 1881. James founded a Masonic Lodge in 1872, a private bank in 1877, the LaRue elevator in 1878, a local real estate subdivision in 1879, and a local telephone company at some point in the same decade.]
1880 - The 1880 census shows James Herron, age 36, with wife Martha ("Mattie"), 33, and daughter Zoa, 6, on High Street in LaRue, Montgomery township, Marion County, Ohio. He still lists himself as a dry goods merchant, despite the many titles he holds in several local companies. [James Herron's father, William, died on 26 Oct. 1881, making J.H. his executor and naming all nine children in his will.]
1890 - The vast majority of census records for 1890, including those for Marion County, OH.., were destroyed in a 1921 fire at the Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C. [Other sources show James' Bank of LaRue incorporating as a State Bank in 1892, and his hosting a reception for Presidential candidate William McKinley in 1896.]
1900 - By the turn of the century, James Herron, 57, lists himself as “banker.” He and Mattie, 53, have been married 34 years and now have two borders: sister-in-law Elizabeth Stone, 51, (widowed) and her daughter, May, 24. Zoa, 25, has married dentist William James Keyes and moved to Springfield, Springfield township, Clarke County, Ohio. James Herron and Mattie list themselves as the parents of two children, one surviving. [This is the first mention of a second child, only James, Mattie, and Zoa are buried on the family plot in the LaRue cemetery. There is an infant Leonard child, listed as the daughter of J.H. and Mattie Bonner [sic] in the Bowling Green cemetery, no death date listed.]
1910 - The census of 1910 shows James Herron, 67, and Martha, 63, still living on High Street in LaRue, Montgomery township, Marion County, Ohio. James lists his occupation as bank vice president and Mattie once again lists herself as the mother of two children, one surviving. [James Herron and Mattie set off on a long trip in the fall of 1915, stopping in Taylor County, Iowa to visit the surviving offspring of Daniel Leonard (1830-1912), then moving on to visit their daughter Zoa and her husband in Spokane, Washington. James Herron died of a stroke, at his daughter's home, on 7 Nov. 1915, seven weeks after celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary in Spokane. The LaRue News carried the news of his death in a front page article the following week.]
1920 - The 1920 census finds Martha "Mattie"� Leonard, 74, living with her daughter Zoa and son-in-law William Keyes in Baldwin Precinct, Spokane County, Washington. [Mattie Wilson Leonard died in 1925 and is buried in the family plot, alongside James Herron Leonard and daughter Zoa, in the LaRue cemetery, LaRue, Ohio.]
1930 - The 1930 census shows Zoa, 57, divorced and living alone in Ward 3 of Spokane, Spokane County, Washington. She disappears in the 1940 census and died in 1949.
Additional Notes for James Herron Leonard
James and Mattie Leonard's elegant home, which once hosted a future president of the United States, still stands and is still occupied on South High Street, LaRue, Marion County, Ohio.
Notes on the Centennial History and Celebration of LaRue Lodge #463 mention that Mrs. Zoa Keys [sic] still owned a building next to the lodge on March 15, 1925.
James Herron Leonard states that the Leonard family originated in France, brothers Daniel and Edmund said it originated in England, still others say Germany. Depending on the time frame, all three are correct. The name Leonard is as Anglo-Saxon as they come, dating back to sixth-century Europe, long before any of these countries existed.
Jennie Leonard Hutchinson, daughter of Edmund Leonard, James' brother, wrote, in a letter to Harry S. Blaine, that Zoa Leonard Keyes had visited her several times since marrying and moving to Spokane, Washington.
From The History of Marion County, Ohio Leggett, Conway & Co., Chicago, 1883.
James H Leonard, (Montgomery Township) senior partner of the firm of Leonard, Rhodes & Co., at La Rue, was born near Bentleysville, Washington County, Penn., in August 1842. He came to Marion County, Ohio, with his parents, William and Mary (Vanort) Leonard, about the year 1856. Mr. Leonard passed his early years on a farm, and in 1864 came to the village of La Rue, where he found employment as a clerk in the dry goods store of Seffner, Lucas, Green & Co., remaining with them some three years, when, having acquired a sufficient knowledge of the business, he became a partner in a firm known as Myers, Leonard & Hastings. This firm continued one year, when the business was closed and the partnership dissolved. Soon afterward, in 1868, he formed a partnership with Mr. J. J. Hopkins, under the firm name of Hopkins & Leonard, to do a general dry goods business. This business continued fifteen years, and their store became, through the fair dealing and thoroughly gentlemanly characteristics of the firm, the most popular store in the village, and doing the most business. Mr. Hopkins retired from the business in March 1883, when Mr. Leonard associated with himself in the business William A. and Charles P. Rhodes, under the firm name of Leonard, Rhodes & Co. Mr. Leonard was married, September 12, 1865, to Miss Mattie Wilson, of Waldo Township, this county, and a daughter of Samuel Wilson. They have one child - Zoa E., born September 26, 1873. Since Mr. Leonard's residence in La Rue, he has been foremost. in all those public enterprises calculated to promote the general welfare of the village and vicinity, standing up like a man and advocating what he thought was right in the way of public improvements for the general benefit of the public against much opposition, and not sneaking in the dark, like others who could be mentioned, that secretly were in favor of them, but publicly were blatant panderers to the prejudices which existed in the minds of some of the citizens against gravel roads Mr. Leonard was appointed Postmaster in La Rue in 1870, and held that position until September 1881. He is a member of La Rue Lodge, No. 463, F. & A. M., and of the Dayton Chapter, Rose Croix; also of the Ohio Consistory Thirty-second Degree, A. A. S. R., Cincinnati. William and Mary (Vanort) Leonard came from near Bentleysville, Washington County, Penn., to Ohio with their family, including James H in October 1856. They located near Delaware, Delaware County, and afterward in Marlborough Township, of the same county, remaining at the first place about six months; at the latter one year. They then came to Marion County and lived on the Osborn farm in Richland Township four years; then on the Ruppley farm in Pleasant Township for two years, when Mr. Leonard bought a small place one mile west of Locust Grove, in Pleasant Township in 1864. His wife died at this place in September 1868, and, having married the second time, sold this place and bought another small farm one mile further south, where he lived until the fall of 1878, and then came to La Rue, where he lived until his death, which took place in October 1881. His widow still resides in La Rue.
From The History of Marion County, Ohio, and Its Representative Citizens, Edited and compiled by J. Wilbur Jacoby, A.M., Marion, Ohio, 1907, p. 483:
James H. Leonard, vice-president of the LaRue Bank Company at LaRue, president of the LaRue Telephone Company, and prominently identified with, other important business enterprises in this section, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, August 19, 1842, and is a son of William and Mary (Vanort) Leonard.
The Leonard family originated in France [sic]. Daniel Leonard, the grandfather of James H. Leonard., was born in New Jersey and removed to Washington County, Pennsylvania, where William Leonard, father of James H. was born in 1803. The latter died in 1882. The mother of our subject was born in 1804 and died when about 64 years of age, her death being the first break in the family circle, which included nine children. The brothers and sisters of our subject were: Edmond, who died at Uniontown, Pennsylvania: Isaac, who resides, in Washington County,
Pennsylvania; Daniel, who lives in Taylor County, Iowa; Lydia, deceased, formerly the wife of Charles Shafer, a resident of Kansas; William, who resides in Kansas; Joseph, whose home is in Oklahoma: Mary J., wife of John Strine, residing at Waldo; and Thomas L., who lives at Lorain, Ohio.
When James H. Leonard was about 12 years of age, the family moved to Delaware County, Ohio, settling on a farm there in the fall of 1854. Our subject's education was obtained in the district schools and he remained at home assisting his father until he was about 22 years of age. After one year spent at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the fall of 1864 he came to LaRue, where he worked for a year in a grain elevator and for two years clerked in a store and then entered into the mercantile business, in which he remained for some 20 years. After disposing of his mercantile interests, Mr. Leonard engaged in banking and has also invested a large amount of capital in various financial enterprises in which he holds large interests.
In 1882 the LaRue Bank was opened for business and for some years was operated as a private bank, but later was incorporated by James H. Leonard, who conducted it for some 10 years. In 1892 it was incorporated as a State bank, with a capital stock of $30,000, its officers being: W. L. Raub, president; G. C. Allinger, vice-president; James H. Leonard, cashier; and M.. A. Taylor, assistant cashier. Its board of directors were as follows: W. L. Raub, James H. Leonard, Milton Morral, G. C. Allinger and Charles F. Stahle. In the course of years some changes have come about in the officers and directors of this very prosperous institution, and the following capitalists now make up the officers and directing board: W. L. Raub, president; James H. Leonard, vice-president; Lincoln G. Copeland, cashier: and D. H. Clement, assistant cashier. The directors are: W. L. Raub, James H. Leonard, Lincoln G. Copeland, Milton Morral, C. F. Stahle, W. L. Guthery and W. L. Morral.
Mr. Leonard has been a far-seeing business man and has been particularly alive to local opportunities. He was one of the main movers in the organization of the LaRue Telephone Company, which is capitalized at $50,000 and of which he is president, and is also the vice-president of the Union Portland Cement Company, of Rushsylvania, Ohio, which has a capital stock of $600,000. Other less prominent enterprises enjoy his favor and profit by his advice.
Mr. Leonard was united in marriage with Mattie Wilson, a daughter of Samuel and Lovina Wilson, of Marion County, Ohio, and they have one daughter, Mrs. O. E. Keyes, wife of Dr. W. J. Keyes, of Marysville, Ohio.
In political life, Mr. Leonard has been an active supporter of the Republican party since young manhood and is something of a county leader. He is a 32nd degree Mason, holding membership in the blue lodge at LaRue and the consistory at Cincinnati. He is one of LaRue's most representative men. Mr. Leonard's portrait accompanies this sketch.
From The LaRue (Ohio) News, 12 Nov. 1915, p. 1 (portrait included), "James H. Leonard, Foremost Citizen of LaRue, Succumbs to Apoplexy in Spokane, Washington"�:
"Passing of One of the Most Eminent of Marion County's Stalwart Residents - Known and Respected by a Multitude and Recognized as the Grand Old Man of LaRue"
Not in years have the wires conveyed to this village a message so sadly received as that which told of the death of James H. Leonard, which occurred at the home of his daughter, Dr. and Mrs. W.J. Keyes, in Spokane, Washington, last Sunday afternoon at 3)30 o'clock. Apoplexy was the cause of death.
Mr. and Mrs. Leonard started from this village on August 29th on a western trip, expecting to remain away from home for several months. Their first stop of consequence was at Corning, in southwestern Iowa, where they remained for a couple of weeks as the guests of the family of a deceased brother of Mr. Leonard. From that point they went to Spokane, in which city their daughter, Mrs. W.J. Keyes, and husband, reside. Mr. Leonard had been in failing health for a year or more, yet his energetic disposition never weakened, and the long western tour was undertaken with the hope that a change of climate might restore his old-time vitality. While his death was not unexpected here, the fact of his passing cast a gloom about the community here, such as it has not encountered in many years before. Mr. Leonard was a citizen of the stalwart type, a splendid example of a self-made man and one who had won success in business and in private life and constantly maintained the respect and enjoyed the unqualified confidence of his townspeople and those of many outside communities. His was a life well spent, characterizing the achievement of a man who attained prominence and proved himself worthy of his station by his innumerable deeds of accomplishment for the betterment of the community wherein he had spent the major part of a long and eventful career.
Mr. Leonard was a son of William and Mary Leonard and was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania August 19, 1842. He was aged twelve years when his parents came to Delaware county and settled on a farm. He remained with his parents until he had arrived at the age of twenty-two years, when he went west and became a citizen of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for about one year. Late in 1864 he came to LaRue and worked at clerical positions for three years.
At the end of that interval, he embarked in business for himself, that of conducting a dry goods store in this village. The firm of Hopkins & Leonard is still remembered as being one of the most substantial enterprises Marion county possessed a quarter of a century since. After a score of years of mercantile experience, he engaged in conducting a private bank, under the name of the LaRue Bank. A dozen years later, in 1902, he merged his private bank into an incorporated institution and became cashier of the bank, styled The LaRue Bank company. After three years as cashier, he became vice-president of the bank, a position he held at the time of his death. He assisted in the organization of the LaRue Telephone company and for years had held the presidency of that concern. He was financially interested in a number of other important enterprises, in this village and elsewhere. From the start he qualified as a “booster,” and that to in the fullest extent of the term. He liked the citizenship and the community; he made the interest of both his interests, and in personal efforts and in financial aid he manifested his love and affection in no uncertain manner.
In lodge circles, he was ever active, indicating his strong liking for secret society work.
He was a member of LaRue Lodge, No. 463, F & A.M., which he helped to institute. He was a thirty-second degree Mason, holding membership in the consistory in Cincinnati. He was a member of Walter Scott lodge, No. 214, Knights of Pythias, of this village; also a member of the Elk lodge at Marion. He loved the society of his friends and he was always the recipient of the cordial good will of those with whom he came in most frequent contact.
September 12, 1865, Mr. Leonard was married in this county to Miss Mattie Wilson, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Wilson of Waldo township. Their journey as companions in life was along one, as on September 12th of the current year, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in faraway Spokane. Mr. Leonard is survived by his widow, and a daughter, one sister, Mrs. John Strine of Waldo, and three brothers, T.L. Leonard of Lorain, Joseph Leonard of Virden, Oklahoma, and William Leonard of Kansas.
Funeral services were held at the late home of the deceased in this village, at 2 o’clock Thursday afternoon, Rev. F.J. Reinbarth, officiating.
The funeral was in charge of the Masonic lodges. Internment was made in the mausoleum in the LaRue cemetery.
Sources for James Herron Leonard
Some Ancestors and Descendants of Avery Leonard of Seneca County, Ohio, Harry S. Blaine, Press of Gordon A Blaine, 1933. Page 18 contains a list of William Leonard and Mary Van Ort’s children, their birth dates, spouses, and wedding dates where available. Copies available through the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Ind., among others.
Annals of the Leonard-Hutchinson Families, Jennie Leonard Hutchinson, 1949. Page 44 contains a list of William Leonard and Mary Van Ort’s children, birth, marriage, and death dates where available. Jennie was a daughter of Edmund Leonard, William and Mary’s oldest child. She was also the children’s librarian at the Uniontown (Fayette Co., PA.) Free Public Library founded by her brother McClellan Leonard. Jennie exchanged information with Harry S. Blaine and was duly credited for such in his work. Copies of Annals available through the Uniontown Public Library, Uniontown, PA., among others.
Jennie Leonard Hutchinson Special Collection – Family Notes
Jennie left a collection of letters, photographs, and assorted items to the Uniontown Public Library. Other family members have added notes, transcriptions, and information in the years since her death in 1953.
US Census Reports of 1840-1930: Washington and Fayette Counties, PA; Delaware and Marion Counties, OH; Taylor County, IA. Available through LDS Family History Centers, National Archives and Records Administration, most libraries, and online at Ancestry.com.
Leonard Family History, Nine Generations Descending from Solomon Leonard and Sarah Chandler Leonard, Granddaughter of James Chilton, Mayflower Pilgrim, G. Allan Vaughan, 1994-2005. Extensive documentation on the Eighth Generation from Solomon, among others. A work still in progress.
The History of Marion County, Ohio Leggett, Conway & Co., Chicago, 1883
The History of Marion County, Ohio, and It’s Representative Citizens, Edited and compiled by J. Wilbur Jacoby, A.M., Marion, Ohio, 1907, p. 483
The LaRue (Ohio) News, 12 Nov. 1915, p. 1 (portrait included), “James H. Leonard, Foremost Citizen of LaRue, Succumbs to Apoplexy in Spokane, Washington”:
Marion County cemetery inscriptions, marriage and death records. Probate records of William Leonard’s estate, 1881.
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