James W. Sturm

Submitted by Dwight E. Sturm, Washington, West Virginia

James W. & Susan Christena (Stemple) Sturm

James W. Sturm and Susan Christena Stemple were married on March 24, 1857 in Barbour County, (West) Virginia by Rev. G. A. Compton. James was born in Randolph County, (West) Virginia in 1838, the son of Jacob and Lettice (Lettis) Ann Poling Sturm. Susan Christena, who was called "Teeny", was born in Randolph County in the same year. She was the daughter of Isaac and Catherine Wilt Stemple.

Prior to the start of the War Between the States, James and "Teeny" became the parents of two children, both born in Barbour County, (West) Virginia. A daughter, Malinda, was born about 1857. Their first son, Isaac (my great-grandfather), was born March 17, 1859. James and Susan, with these two children, are listed in the 1860 Census for Barbour County.

On October 27, 1861, approximately six months after the war began, James arrived at Camp Allegheny which lay astride the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike atop Allegheny Mountain. There he enlisted as a private in Company K, Thirty-first Virginia Infantry Regiment Volunteers, Confederate States Army. This regiment later became a part of the Army of Northern Virginia, under General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, and were part of Jackson's famous "foot cavalry". Company K, which had been organized at Meadowville in Barbour County as the "Mountain Guards", was under the command of Captain Henry Sturm, James's uncle. Henry Sturm was 66 years old and had served in the regular army in the War of 1812.

Either just before or just after James left home to enlist in the Confederate Army, "Teeny" moved with her children to Calhoun County. It is not known if Isaac and Catherine Stemple had already moved to Calhoun County by late 1861. They are listed in the Barbour County 1860 Census and the 1870 Census of Calhoun County. It is apparent, however, that "Teeny" went there to be with, or at least near, her parents.

It is well documented that Calhoun County was a hotbed of Union Home Guard and Confederate Partisan Ranger activity. The Calhoun County Home Guard were relentless in their harassment of families who had a member in the Confederate Army, or even those who merely exhibited Southern sympathies. The homes of some of these families were burned to the ground and their crops and stored foods destroyed. The famlies were given little time to save any treasures, and often, no time at all. These actions made even mere existence a desperate struggle for many. Of course, Southern partisans usually returned the favors which were bestowed upon their own.

It was during this period that Malinda, James and "Teeny's" first-born child, died. Whether the cause was malnutrition, exposure or sickness is not known. Perhaps it was a combination of the three. The previous Fall and early Winter, James had been engaged in the battles of Greenbrier River at Bartow, and at Allegheny Mountain. These battles were followed by the army going into a harsh "winter camp" on top of Allegheny Mountain. As harsh as it was, it was no worse than James's family had to endure. Then, in mid-April, 1862, just before a new season of fighting was to begin, the Confederate Congress enacted a new Conscription Law.

The new law required all volunteers to be re-enlisted for the duration of the war, even if their term of service was nearly completed. On April 19, 1862, James Sturm deserted from the army's temporary camp at Mount View, Virginia near Staunton. He somehow eluded Confederate and Union pickets, roadblocks and patrols, and traveled several hundred miles to get back to his family in Calhoun County.

Though he had deserted the regular army, James did not give up his struggle against what he saw as Northern aggression. He became involved in guerrilla activities in Calhoun County, and on March 17, 1864, was arrested by Sgt. Jasper Ball, and charged with murdering a Federal soldier. Irregular Confederate soldiers were not recognized by the Union Army as legitimate combatants, hence the charge of murder. James was, however, treated as a prisoner of war, thereby being, unofficially at least, acknowledged as an enemy soldier instead of as a common criminal.

He was taken to Atheneum Military Prison in Wheeling, West Virginia on April 27, 1864. From Atheneum, he was transferred to Camp Chase Military Prison in Columbus, Ohio, arriving there on May 27, 1864. He remained at Camp Chase as a Prisoner of War until March 2, 1865 when he was again transferred, this time to City Point, Virginia to be used in an exchange of prisoners between the Union and Confederate governments.

Soon after he was exchanged, James violated his oath by again taking up arms against the Federal government. He was captured and again taken back to Camp Chase. On June 6, 1865, he was given a release by order of the President. And on June 12, just over two months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, James was released for the final time from Camp Chase. He made his way back to Calhoun County and rejoined his wife and son.

James and "Teeny" had two more children. Nancy J. was born about 1866, and Marion about 1869. "Teeny" apparently died between 1870 and 1880. Marion is listed in the 1880 Barbour County Census as living with his older brother Isaac and his wife, Amanda Johnson Sturm. Nancy J. evidently remained in Calhoun County, living with her father or her grandparents, Isaac and Catherine Stemple. As listed in Calhoun County, WV Marriages: 1856-1927, Nancy J. married T.B. Annan, the son of Wash(ington) Annan and Martha Jane Digman.

James is the only parent listed for Nancy J. She and T.B. Annan were married July 25, 1885 in Calhoun County.

Isaac and Catherine Wilt Stemple lived out their lives in Calhoun County and are buried there in the Stemple Cemetery on Sinking Springs Road at Mt. Zion. It is believed that James and "Teeny" are also buried there in unmarked graves.

1. James W. Sturm m. Susan Christena Stemple, March 24, 1857.

2. Malinda b. c. 1857; d. c. 1860's
2. Isaac Sturm b. 3/17/1859; d. 9/13/1935
2. Nancy J. b. c. 1866; m. T.B. Annan; 7/25/1885, Calhoun Co.
2. Marion b. c. 1869

2. Isaac Sturm m. Amanda Johnson, Oct. 26, 1877, in Barbour Co.

3. Albert H. b. 8/3/1879; d. 2/22/1955
3. Tracy A. b. 6/14/1881; d. 2/21/1961 in Wood Co., WV.
3. Cora Jane b. 6/13/1884; d. 4/22/1954
3. Stafford N. b. 4/16/1889; d. 6/17/1957
3. Addie Belle b. 9/22/1894; d. 12/24/1978



Ashcraft, John M. "31st Virginia Infantry". (Lynchburg, Virginia: H.E. Howard, Inc., 1988).
Barbour County, Virginia Census: 1850.
Barbour County, Virginia Census: 1860.
Barbour County, West Virginia Census: 1880.
Barbour County, West Virginia Marriage License Record No. 1 1/2, p. 8, Line 28.
"Calhoun County in the Civil War". Comp. Robert J. Knotts and Robert E. Stevens. Calhoun County Historical and Genealogical Society. Grantsville, West Virginia.
Calhoun County, West Virginia Census: 1870.
"Calhoun County, WV Marriages: 1856-1927". Comp. Wes Cochran, Parkersburg, WV.
Isaac Sturm Death Certificate, copy in family possession.
Military Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
"Randolph County, WV Marriages: 1787-1923". Comp. Wes Cochran, Parkersburg, WV.
Stutler, Boyd B. "West Virginia in the Civil War". (Charleston, WV: Education Foundation, Inc., 1963).

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