Gone Too Soon

He braved the weather and hardship of the Klondike but came home to Skidmore family and friends and to the business of the Skidmore Standard. James Skidmore, Junior Publisher of the Standard, passed away on this date in 1899. May he rest in peace.

From the columns of the front page of the December 8, 1899 Skidmore Standard, rimmed in funereal black:

James Skidmore Dead
Junior Publisher of the Standard Died Saturday Morning at 12:30 o’clock.

The saddest duty which constantly confronts the local newspaper man is the chronicling of the deaths which occur among his friends. Thus it is with ineffable sadness that we write the words, announcing to our readers the death of one whom we have known from early childhood, and with whom we have been especially closely associated during the past year.


James Skidmore, the junior publisher of the Standard, passed quietly out of the affairs of this world last Saturday morning at 12:30 o’clock, December 2, 1899. Bright’s disease was the cause of his demise, but as the poet has said, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Then James Skidmore lives – lives not only in the hearts of his mother, sister and brother who loved him and now mourn for him, but he also lives in the hearts and memories of a legion of friends who knew him as a man – a true man in the fullest sense which the word implies.


He was born in the home where he died, thirty-three years ago – April 3, 1866 – and was the youngest son of Marteny and Rebecca Ann Skidmore, pioneer settlers of Nodaway county and founders of our town which will perpetuate their name. Nearly the whole of his life was spent here, because of his fondness for his home and home-life. As a boy, he was quiet, studious, thoughtful; as a man, charitable, considerate, public spirited and the soul of honor.


March 24, 1899, in company with George Gilliland, he went to Alaska and remained several months more for the uniqueness of the experience than because of any expectation of finding gold. It is thought by his friends that the exposure which he underwent while on this trip in that land of snow and ice brought on the disease which culminated in death last Saturday morning. Since the early part of last July until death came, he suffered much pain but endured it with stoic silence. A loving mother and sister and a fond brother are the only ones remaining of his immediate family, and their grief is almost inconsolable.


The funeral service occurred at the grave in the Masonic cemetery, Sunday at 2 o’clock p.m. The band, of which he had been a member, led the funeral procession playing a solemn march, and songs were sung by four young men, Messrs. James Lawton, George Manchester, A. C. Dodds, and F. N. Campbell, and a short and impressive eulogy was delivered by Mr. William M. Howden, a long-time friend and neighbor. Mr. Howden’s words voiced the sentiments of each one present precisely and completely that we could do nothing better than to publish them. He said in substance:


“My friends, we are assembled on this sad occasion to pay the last tribute of respect to a departed friend. I come to you my friends not with the words of a minister of the gospel for such you know I am not; but in the humble capacity of a neighbor and a friend. I, with many of you, have been intimately acquainted and associated with the deceased for more than twenty-five years past, we have known him as a boy, as a lad and as a man, and in all these long years we have never known an act of dishonesty to darken that fair name of his. In him we recognize the true elements of manhood, so necessarily essential to good and honest citizenship of the state and nation in which he lived. In his business transactions he was scrupulously honest and fair between man and man. As a neighbor, he was kind and obliging; as a friend, true and steadfast; as a son and brother, gentle, affectionate and considerate; as a man, honest, virtuous, sober and true.


As we stand here and gaze into this open grave which now contains all we can see of our departed loved one, we are led to ask the question, “what is death, what is life?” Men of all climes and ages have been trying to solve these mysteries, but in fact we know but very little about what they are as yet. We have been able to learn some things about them – we know life is a great principle, an organic force, a power which clothes itself upon with flesh and blood, and comes and dwells among us. We look upon it, we handle it, we learn to love it, and we find from its very nature when it wears the garb of man. It exercises a great influence for good or for evil over other like principles or lives with whom it comes in touch or contact, and that man only makes life a success who by his influence makes this old world of ours better by his having lived in it; who helps men and women up to a higher, better and nobler plane of living. Happy indeed is that man who directs his dealings with his fellow man in such a way as that it may be said of him when he is gone, “He went about doing good.” I am glad, my friends, to recognize in this life that has moved from among us the great principles of morality, honesty, sobriety, integrigy and virtue. Peculiarities he had, but who is there of us that have not. And I would say to all, let us imitate whatever of good we behold in this life and I can do no better.


In conculsion then in the language of the poet, Bryant, I admonish you to “So live that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan which moves to that mysterious realm, where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death. Thou go not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed by an unflatering trust, approach thy grave like one who wraps the drpaery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams.”


The St. Joseph Daily (Sunday) Gazette contained the following article written by the editor, Frank Freytag, an old time friend and acquaintance of the deceased:

A telegram received in this city yesterday conveyed the intelligence of the death of James Skidmore, which occurred at his home in Skidmore, Mo., yesterday morning at an early hour. The news of his demise was received by his many frineds in this city with deep regrets as the deceased was well and favorably known here. His death was the result of Bright’s disease, with which he was stricken some time ago. Until a few days ago it was thought that he might be spared for some time to come as he was possessed of a vigorous constitution, but last week a change occurred and his friends sadly realized that he would soon depart from their midst. At 12:30 yesterday morning the end came and he closed his eyes in dreamless sleep.


The deceased was the youngest son of Marteny Skidmore and wife. His father was one of the pioneers of Nodaway county, and was the founder of the present progressive little city which stands as a monument to his name. The father died several years ago in this city. While returning from a trip to Kansas he was taken ill and when he reached St. Joseph was too ill to proceed further and was taken to the Sisters Hospital here, where he died two days later. He was one of the best known and most highly esteemed resident of Nodaway county and his son who died yesterday, was a most worthy representative of his name.


The deceased was 33 years of age and had lived all of his life in Nodaway county. He leaves a mother, a brother – William J. Skidmore, a well known banker and business man of Skidmore – and one sister, Miss Ella Skidmore, all of whom reside at Skidmore. Two years ago the deceased went on a trip to the Klondike, going only for the novelty of the trip, and it is supposed that while on the journey his system was inculcated with the malady which caused his untimely death.


The funeral services will take place at Skidmore at 2 o’clock this afternoon. A number of friends from this city went to Skidmore last night to pay the last tribute of love and respect. With the death of James Skidmore passes away a noble and generous young man who was esteemed and respected by all. He was honest, conscientious and just to all and left this world leaving no enemies, but a host of sorrowing friends to mourn his taking away in the full blush of a young and happy life.