James Morton Stafford

James Morton Stafford
birth: 25 Nov 1876 in Daviess Co., IN to Mahlon James Stafford (1849-1908) and Nancy Emeline Wallace (1848-1891)
death: 5 Jan 1957 at Washington, Daviess Co., IN
burial: Mount Olivet Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington, Daviess Co., IN

marriage: 23 Dec 1894 at Glendale, Daviess Co., IN
Flora Lenora “Nora” Horrell
birth: 18 Nov 1878, Daviess Co., IN to John Coleman Horrell (1857-1919) and Lucinda Angeline Steen (1858-1925)
death: 5 Aug 1948, Daviess Co., IN
burial: Mount Olivet Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery, Washington, Daviess Co., IN

James Morton Stafford and Nora Horrell on their wedding day, 1894James Stafford on his Wedding Day Nora Horrell Stafford, Wedding Day

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children of James Morton Stafford and Flora Lenora “Nora” Horrell:

  • James Alva Stafford, b. 6 Aug 1896 at Daviess Co., IN, d. 17 Sep 1983 at Berea, Madison Co., KY, m. Vinnie “Olive” Edwards
  • Harley Douglas Starfford, b. 19 Jan 1898 at Daviess Co., IN, d. 18 May 1978 at Petersburg, Pike Co., IN, m. (1) Alma Margaret Brown, (2) Lolita C. Crow
  • John Mahlon Stafford, b. 2 Mar 1900 at Dubois Co., IN, d. 1900, likely in Dubois Co., IN
  • Ralph Mahlon Stafford, b. 2 mar 1900 at Dubois Co., IN, d. 27 Apr 1995 at Washington, Daviess Co., IN, m. Anna Ethel Vance
  • Sadie Elsie Stafford, b. 20 Sep 1901 at Daviess Co., IN, d. 25 Sep 1995, Washington, Daviess Co., IN, m. Martin Luther Allison
  • Esta Emeline Stafford, b. 11 Dec 1905 in Pike Co., IN, d. 5 Oct 1994, Washington, Daviess Co., IN, m. Gene Riker
  • Lucille Irene Stafford, b. 10 Jun 1907 in Pike Co., IN, d. 3 Sep 1935, Washington, Daviess Co., IN
  • Nellie Glenn Stafford, b. 29 Nov 1908 at Washington Twp, Pike Co., IN, d. 3 Feb 1994 at Columbus, Bartholomew Co., IN, m. Herbert John Miller
  • Marie Frances Stafford, b. 25 Oct 1911 at Pike Co., IN, d. 22 Jan 1924 at Veale Twp, Daviess Co., IN
  • Eva Viola Stafford, b. 20 Apr 1912 at Gillett, Arkansas Co., AK, d. 4 Jun 2001 at Jasper, Dubois Co., IN, m. Dale Burris Alford
  • Donald Stafford, b/d. 25 Feb 1914 at Daviess Co., IN
  • Edna Lorena Stafford, b. 3 Mar 1915 at Veale Twp, Daviess Co., IN, d. 10 Jan 1971 at Kankakee, IL, m. (1) Norman Aultman Sharum, (2) William Yarbourgh
  • Lena Nova Stafford, b. 26 Apr 1918 at Veale Twp, Daviess Co., IN, d. 25 Jun 2013 at Washington, Daviess Co., IN, m. James Nelson Martin
  • Dorothy Stafford, b./d. 16 May 1920 at in Veale Twp, Daviess Co., IN

James Morton Stafford Lived In:

  • 1876- Daviess County, Indiana
  • 1880- Clay County, Illinois
  • 1881- Knox County, Indiana
  • 1884- Wheatland, Indiana
  • 1900- Dubois County, Indiana
  • 1901- Union, Indiana
  • 1903- Hazelton, Indiana
  • 1903- Petersburg, Indiana
  • 1910- Pike County, Indiana
  • 1911- Blackburn, Indiana
  • 1915- Washington, Indiana
  • 1920- Veal Twp, Daviess County, Indiana

Other Information:

James Morton Stafford was a mail carrier, a horse breeder, a Presbyterian circuit riding Minister, a miner, an entrepreneur, an inventor with several patents and an author. James held the following patents:

• 740995 Non Refillable Bottle 6 Oct 1903
• 753930 Fire Escape 8 Mar 1904
• 761868 Wrench 7 Jun 1904
• 785186 Coffin 21 Mar 1905
• 806756 Apparatus for Preserving the Dead 5 Dec 1905
• 875567 Mold For Glass Caskets, and Similar 31 Dec 1907
• 930242 Focusing Light Producer 3 Aug 1909
• 1203926 Water Elevator 7 Nov 1916
• 1204605 Device for Locating and Raising Ships 14 Nov 1916
• 1205806 Wood Sawing Machine 21 Nov 1916
• 1207651 Gate Opener 5 Dec 1916
• 1225072 Current Motor 8 May 1917

James rejected an offer of one million dollars for his non-refillable bottle from James Pepper, a whisky distiller of Louisville, Kentucky because as a minister, he did not believe in contributing to the consumption of alcohol.

In 1906, James invented the worlds largest egg incubator which at the time could hold over 2000 eggs. Apparently, no patent was applied for. He managed to strike natural gas in Petersburg and was awarded a contract to supply city of Petersburg a portion of his natural gas find for 25 years. The original purpose of the gas well was to supply gas to fire his glass factory in Petersburg where he intended to manufacture his famed glass coffin. In 1920 the Rev. Stafford owned and operated a family coal mine south of Washington, Indiana supplying coal to that city.

In 1934, the Rev. Stafford shocked the American political scene, announcing that he was considering running for President of the United States. At that time, he was the supreme commander of the Golden Rule Party and party members had rallied to support him, with claims of more than 20,000,000 votes. Newspaper headlines across America read, ” Republicans Ahoy! Man is Loose With 20,000,000 Votes”, “Glass Coffin Inventor Has Eyes On Presidency”, “Indiana Pastor Expects to be the Next President”. It is unclear if he indeed ran for this nation’s highest office, but the headlines can still be found in many newspapers from that year.

Tipton Tribune, 23 April 1934presidential-aspirations-tipton-tribune-23-apr-1934

One of the more interesting aspects of his life was that he loved the automobile. In 1903 he purchased a Zentmobile from the Single Center Buggy Company of Evansville, Indiana. He wrote a check for $750 and the first car in Pike County, Indiana was soon to create a storm. He wrote a story about his escapades with the vehicle and was later instrumental in helping Indiana develop the framework for the rules of the road for the Hoosier state.

Rev. Stafford was heavily involved in the Temperance Movement in the early 1900’s. He worked hard to affect public opinion by organizing and then canvassing the many townships in Pike County, Indiana. He circulated a petition calling on lawmakers to hold a separate elections from all other issues in order to better control the manufacture and sale of intoxicants as merely a beverage.

In April of 1911, Rev Stafford, who at that time was living near Blackburn, Indiana, completed a houseboat. He utilized his automobile to propel the house boat which also towed and additional raft with supplies for his family. He started down the White River with plans to connect to the Ohio River and then navigate to the Mississippi. His plans were to promote his latest invention the light focusing projector to towns along the way and ultimately to end up in New Orleans. He only made it as far as Arkansas, where his daughter Eva Viola was born a year later in 1912.

The Rev. Stafford had quite a following. He was known to not to pass out a collection plate, but rather to share a portion of his wealth with his followers instead. As a circuit riding minister, he routinely helped the needy among his followers, especially during the post depression era. He authored at least two books with deeply religions overtones, on how to solve many of America’s problems. In fact, he composed a paper which was dispatched to president Roosevelt requesting consideration of his ideas to be incorporated as a constitutional amendment, which was designed to help America prosper. Roosevelt’s secretary indicated that the proposal was under consideration. Undoubtedly, it ended up in the round file.

James Morton Stafford was a forward thinking individual who developed his own ideas to link with the future, helping change the way American people would live their lives. He examined his existence and found ways to improve how he and others could better cope with the world at that time. His ideas may not have been absorbed into mainstream America, but the history of his contributions to Daviess County, to Indiana and to the United States, should not be forgotten.

James Morton Stafford and Nora Horrell Stafford, 1934
James Stafford - 1934 nora-stafford-1934

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted by:
Phillip L. Martin
Email: philyroyce@gmail.com

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