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The Life of James Henry Leonard

James H. Leonard was the older brother of my great-grandfather, Albert Jay Leonard. They were both sons of Lewis Leonard and Cora (Sherman) Leonard. James was probably named after Cora's father, James Sherman, and Albert may have been named after Cora's brother, Adelbert Sherman, but that's just speculation, of course.


James was born April 21, 1890. There is conflicting information about where he was born - New York or Pennsylvania. I believe he was born in Cayuga County, New York, because his parents were married in Moravia, Cayuga County, in 1886, and were counted on the 1892 census in neighboring Summerhill, Cayuga Count, so it seems logical that if James was born in 1890, he was probably born in either Moravia or Summerhill, New York, but again, that's just my theory. Following is some documentation I was able to find about James Leonard.


First, James was the young boy in the family photo. Here he is shown with his parents and sister, Ethel May. This photo must have been taken about 1894:

Soon after the 1892 census was taken, the family moved to Pennsylvania. James was only about two years old. There, James' younger brother, Albert Jay Leonard, my great-grandfather, was born on December 15, 1895, in Osceola, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Tragedy struck the family two years later, on October 16, 1897, when Lewis died from typhoid fever, in nearby Westfield, same county. After the death of Lewis, Cora took the family back to New York, and they were living in Lodi, Seneca County, when the census was taken in 1900.


In 1905, they were living in Venice, Cayuga County, and in 1910, they were in Moravia:

A few months after the 1910 census was taken, James married Miss Zaida Brown on Sunday, Nov. 20, 1910, in Moravia, although their marriage license was issued in Lansing. They were married by Rev. Walter B. Jorris, pastor of the Congregational Church on Church Street in Moravia. He was pastor there from 1909 to 1913, and from there he was transferred to Rochester.


James and Zaida had at least one child, a son named Charles Lewis Leonard, born Sept. 8, 1912, in Moravia, Cayuga, New York. Charles, better known as "Louis", married Lillian Louise Snover but they appear to have had no children. He remained in Venice and Moravia all his life, working as a farmer, according to the census. He worked as an auto mechanic when the 1950 census was taken and he died on July 1, 1991, in Moravia.


James' mother, Cora, died in 1914, and her obituary stated that James was living in Moravia at the time. I was unable to locate James and his family on the 1915 New York State census, but on June 5, 1917, when James registered for the draft, he was described as being medium height and having a stout build. He had blue eyes and brown hair. His marital status was still "married", but he indicated that he had a child solely dependent on him for support.

Nevertheless, James was selected for the draft and was inducted at Auburn, Sept. 29, 1917, into Battery F 309 First Artillery. He was later a Wagoner in the 30th Supply Co., 78th Division. He served overseas during World War I, from May 25, 1918, to Sept. 21, 1919, and was honorably discharged Sept. 27, 1919.


When the census was taken in 1920, James and his 7-year old son, "Lewis", were boarding in the home of Charles Wallace in Venice, and Zaida was no where to be found. In next week's post, I'll share what I've learned about the Zaida story. You'll be able to find it here.


Two years later, on April 25, 1922, James married Charles Wallace's daughter, Edna Wallace, in Moravia.

James and Edna had three known children together:

  1. James Leonard, Jr. (1925-1987), born June 8, 1925, in Moravia. He had brown hair and hazel eyes, stood 6-feet tall and weighed 150 lbs. when he registered for the draft in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Mar. 14, 1946, and was discharged Feb. 11, 1947. James married Shirley M. Hughes on Nov. 18, 1956 in Scipio, and they had at least two sons: Michael Leonard, who lived in College Station, Texas, in 1987, and Rodney Leonard, who lived in Genoa, New York, in 1987. James died at the age of 62, on Dec. 27, 1987, in Auburn, Cayuga, New York.

  2. Linford C. Leonard (1931-1981), was born Jan. 10, 1931, in Genoa, Cayuga, New York. He served in the Marines during the Korean conflict. He married Luella Zirbel in 1954 and had at least one child, a son named Allen Leonard. Linford died April 2, 1981, at the age of 50.

  3. Wallace Eugene Leonard (1933-1975), was born Mar. 31, 1933, in Venice, Cayuga, New York. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and within months of his return, he married June M. Hughes in Moravia. They were married on July 27, 1955, and they had at least one child, a daughter named Della Leonard. Wallace died Dec. 5, 1975, at Auburn, Cayuga, New York, at the age of 42.

In 1940, James and Edna lived in Venice, with James Jr, Linford and Wallace, while his son, Louis, and his wife Lillian, lived next door. They were both farmers.

When the 1950 census was take, James and Edna still lived in Venice, with their son, Wallace, age 17, being the only child left in the home. The census was taken in April and the Korean War began two months later, on June 25, 1950. On Feb. 20, 1952, Linford enlisted in the Marines and on Feb. 12, 1953, Wallace enlisted in the Army. The war ended five months later, on July 27, 1953. Linford was discharged Feb. 11, 1954, and Wallace was discharged on Jan. 18, 1955.


Following are the obituaries of James Leonard, Jr., and his brother, Wallace. I have yet to find the obituaries of Linford or Charles Lewis Leonard.

James Henry Leonard died on September 2, 1969, at Auburn, Cayuga, New York. At the time of his death, he had twelve grandchildren. He is buried in East Venice Cemetery in Venice, New York. His wife, Edna, died at the age of 92, on Nov. 30, 1991. She outlived her husband by 22 years and she outlived all three of her sons, too. Even her stepson, Charles "Lewis" Leonard, died just four months before she died, at the age of 78.

Stay tuned for more and don't forget to see my Leonard page for more information about James and his family.


In the meantime, can you help update the profiles of James and his descendants on Wikitree?

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