James Box Stephens

James Box Stephens was born 20 December 1857 near Tipton, St. Clair, Missouri. His parents were Peter Stephens and Elizabeth Moore Dallis.1

On 11 July, 1880, James married Laura Jane Shrout in Cooper County Missouri.2

According to Louise (granddaughter of James) claims that the marriage between James and Laura was disapproved of by Laura's family - so much so that her father Hiram Shrout disowned her. Her brother Oliver Porter Shrout was very fond of his sister however, and helped the young family through financial difficulty twice.3

In 1900 James and his family were living in Palestine Township, Cooper County, Missouri.4 His occupation is listed as "farmer". Six children were born to James and Laura while living in Missouri; Maud (1881), Ernest (1883), Mary Lou (1885), Oscar (1890), Harold (1897) and Alice (1901).5

The exact timing is uncertain, but around 1907 the family moved to Tucumcari, New Mexico.6

According to a story told by Mary (Ballenger) Fristad, on a certain occasion the Stephens family went to a camp church meeting. Loading up the wagon with everything needed for a short term stay in the wilderness, the family joined other members of their church. Upon their return from the outing, they found their home burned to the ground. With nothing holding them in Missouri, the family moved west. It is also possible that the frail health of their youngest daughter Alice contributed to the move, as the drier climates of the Southwest states were considered beneficial to one's constitution.7 It is likely that eldest daughter Maud stayed behind in Missouri, establishing her own home and business as a seamstress.

The ox-wagon trip from Missouri to New Mexico was apparently a "horror" - James temper flaring more than once.3 Arriving in the dry desert of Tucumcari, James put the farming profession behind him, and became a carpenter.7 James seems to have made an attempt at homesteading near Tucumcari in 1913, applying for a land patent of 320 acres at the General Land Office in Tucumcari.8

James and Laura lived in Tucumcari for the remainder of their lives. At the age of 78, on 1 January 1936, James died of pneumonia. Laura passed away a year later, at the age of 74, on 12 January 1937.6

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James Box Stephens c.1900