REED, JAMES FRAZIERwas born Nov. 14, 1800, in county Armagh, Ireland. His ancestors were of noble Polish birth, who chose exile rather than submission to the Russian power, and settled in the north of Ireland. The family name was originally Reednoski, but in process of time the Polish termination of the name was dropped, and the family was called Reed. James F. Reed's mother's name was Frazier, whose ancestors belonged to Clan Frazier, of Scottish history. Mrs. Reed, and her son, James F., came to America when he was a youth, and settled in Virginia. He remained there until he was twenty, when he left for the lead mines of Illinois, and was engaged in mining until 1831, when he came to Springfield, Sangamon county, Ill. He served in the Black Hawk war, and at its termination returned to Springfield, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits, made money, and bought a farm near the latter city. Mr. Reed was for several years engaged in manufacturing cabinet furniture at a point on the Sangamon river, seven miles east of Springfield. He employed a large number of men, and a village grew up there, which, in honor of his first came, was called Jamestown. It has since been twice changed, first to Howlett and then to Riverton, the present name. He was married, in 1834, to Mrs. Margaret W. Backenstoe, whose maiden name was Keyes, a daughter of Humphrey Keyes. See his name. Mrs. Reed had one child by her first marriage. In Apr., 1846, Mr. and Mrs. Reed, with many others, started overland for California. See Reed and Donner party. Mr. Reed settled at San Jose Mission, California, and invested in land from time to time. He was among the first who tried their fortunes at gold hunting, in which he was very successful. Of Mrs. Reed's child by a former marriage - E. Backenstoe, born in Sangamon county, Ill., was married in San Jose, California, in 1850, to John M. Murphy, who was born Jan. 8, 1824, in Canada, and went to California in 1844. They had nine children, three died young. Of the other six: MARY M., born Oct. 1850 in San Jose, was married there, in June, 1869, to P. McAram. They have two children, THOMAS P. and MARY V. Mr. McAram is a Banker in San Francisco, California, and resides there. JOHN M. was born March 1858. VIRGINIA, born April, 1860; JULIA A., born Feb., 1866; DANIEL J., born Dec., 1867, and THADEUS S., born July, 1874 they are natives of San Jose, California, and the five latter live there with their parents. Mrs. Virginia E. Murphy writes me, in Dec., 1875, that she never was taught or made to feel, during Mr. Reed's lifetime, that she was a step-child or half sister, and that he was the most loving and indulgent step-father that ever lived. So thoughtful was he of her feelings that he took occasion, after the death of her mother, to assure her of his continued affection, and that he knew no difference between herself and his own children, as she came to him with her mother, a little babe. He made no distinction between Mrs. Murphy and his own children in his will.
Mr. and Mss. James F. Reed had six children; one died in infancy. Of the other five -
MARTHA F., born Feb. 26, 1838 in Springfield, Illinois, accompanied her parents to California, and was married there, at Santa Cruz, Dec. 25, 1856, to Frank Lewis, who was born in Lancaster, Worcester county, Mass., Sept. 15, 1828. They had eight children; one died in infancy. KATE, born Oct. 6, 1857; MARGARET B., born June 6. 1860; FRANK, Jun., born March 22, 1862; MARTHA J., born April 6, 1864; JAMES F., born August 25, 1866; CARRIE E, born September 15, 1870 and SUSAN A., born Dec. 31, 1873 live with their mother, in San Jose, California. Mr. Lewis enlisted, in 1846, in the 1st Massachusetts Vol. Inf., for the Mexican war, and served to its close. He spent the next two years in New Orleans, and three years in Central and South America, went to San Jose, California, in June, 1852, and was for many years a member of the city council of that place. He was a wholesale and retail grocer, and died June 18, 1876, mourned by a large circle of acquaintences. The Mayor and city council acted as pall bearers at his funeral.
JAMES F., Jun., born March 26, 1841, at Springfield, Ill., accompanied his parents to California, and has been engaged in mining in Idaho, Nevada and California, until the last two years. He lives now - 1876 - in San Jose, California.
THOMAS K., born April 2, 1843, in Springfield, Illinois, accompanied his parents to California, has been engaged in mining, is unmarried and lives in San Jose, California.
CHARLES C., born Feb. 6, 1848, under the Mexican flag, in San Jose, California, was married there, Aug. 12, 1872, to Imogene Bergler. They have two children, CHARLES C., Jun., and WILLIE F. Charles C. Reid is a farmer and stock raiser, and resides in San Jose, California.
WILLIANOSKI YOUNT, born Dec. 12, 1850, in San Jose, Cal., died June 12, 1860.
Mrs. Margaret W. Reed died Nov. 25, 1861, and James F. Reed died July 24, 1874, both in San Jose, Cal. He was a man of great energy, warm and genial in his friendships, social and entertaining in his family. He made money fast, and used it liberally. He was one of the most active men in trying to make San Jose the capital of the State, circulating documents and trying to impress the members elect to the State Convention, of the importance and value of that place as a seat of government, and spent not less than twenty thousand dollars in behalf of that place. Mr. Reed left his family in good circumstances, with a possibility of immense wealth for them in the future, as he owned mines in Idaho, on Reese river, and at White Pine. For a more full account of his sufferings and almost superhuman efforts to relieve others, see the following sketch of the "Reed and Donner emigrant party".
This is the Reed family involved in the Reed and Donner tragedy of 1847. For more information
see Nov 19 & 26, 1847 James Reed Diary.