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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
James J. Guernsey

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 556-559 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Portraits | Illustrations | Maps

Portrait of James J. Guernsey

Portrait: James J. Guernsey

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In the demise of James J. Guernsey the city of Rome lost a valued and highly esteemed citizen, a veteran of the Civil war who was long active in the field of journalism as editor and publisher and who during the last decade of his life devoted his attention to the job printing business as head of the Republican Printing Company. He was in the seventy-eighth year of his age when called to his final rest on the 8th of March, 1923, his birth having occurred at Charlton, Saratoga county, New York, July 7, 1845. His parents were John C. and Jane A. (Ely) Guernsey. About 1848 the family home was established in Rome, where the father was successfully engaged in business as a carpenter and contractor throughout the remainder of his life.

The youthful days of James J. Guernsey were devoted to the acquirement of a good practical education in the public schools. At the age of seventeen years he joined the Union army as a member of Company E, One Hundred and Seventeenth New York Volunteers, serving as musician and private from 1862 until the close of the war. A contemporary biographer said in this connection:

"It was a rude introduction to the realities of life but Private Guernsey was a young man of sturdy character and fixed determination to win an honorable name in the world, so the cessation of hostilities between the north and the south found him thoroughly prepared to face any responsibility that might present itself, with courage and great faith."

After receiving his honorable discharge he returned to Rome and until 1870 was foreman of the Rome Citizen. He then went to Waterville, New York, and purchased the Waterville Times, which he published for eleven years. On the expiration of that period, in 1881, he again came back to Rome and established the Rome Weekly Republican, which he conducted so successfully that in 1895 it was changed to a tri-weekly, its title being the Rome Tri-Weekly Republican, which under his editorship became one of the prominent and influential newspapers in central New York. On the 1st of May, 1913, he discontinued its publication in order to devote his entire time to the job printing business, which claimed his attention throughout the remainder of his life and which is now conducted by his two sons, Fred Jewett and William H. Guernsey, under the name of the Republican Printing Company.

On the 1st of January, 1868, in Rome, New York, Mr. Guernsey was united in marriage to Miss Jennie Scott, a daughter of James and Keziah (Smith) Scott of Rome. Their two sons, Fred Jewett and William H., have succeeded their father in the printing business. Mrs. Jennie (Scott) Guernsey passed away August 8, 1915.

James J. Guernsey, who joined the Masonic fraternity in 1873, was a member of Roman Lodge No. 223, A. F. & A. M.; Warren Chapter, No. 29, R. A. M.; and Zeba Grotto, M. O. V. P. E. R. He was likewise identified with the Knights of Pythias for a number of years and belonged to the Masonic Club and to the Editors Association. He was a member of Skillin Post, No. 47, of the Grand Army of the Republic and devoted a great deal of time to assisting Civil war veterans in obtaining relief and pensions when they had failed through other sources because of incomplete records. Mr. Guernsey took an active part in politics and civic affairs but never sought nor desired office as a reward for party fealty, preferring to concentrate his efforts upon his business interests. His record is an integral part of the annals of Oneida county, for practically his entire life was spent within its borders.

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