James C. Rundell was born about 1770–1775, probably in New York State, but possibly in Canada. A nurseryman in Greene County, New York, he married Cecelia Flowers and started a family. James was a deacon in the Cairo Baptist church. John Mason Peck, a Baptist preacher who lived in Windham, New York, mentioned him in his published memoir, describing him as a “sharp-witted, shrewd man,” who had a large nursery where he raised and sold grafted fruit trees to farmers. That was in the spring of 1811.

Peck migrated to Missouri in 1817 where he co-founded, with James E. Welch, the First Baptist Church of St. Louis, which met at Third and Market Streets. The Rundells followed him to St. Louis and became members of that congregation, which met in the Rundell home at least once after they lost their regular meeting place to the widening of Market Street.

Rundell Signature
Signature of James Rundell
Photo in the collection of John Sullivan
Used with permission

The Rundells appear in church records as “the Rundles.” The church voted to dissolve itself in February 1833 because it had too few members to cover expenses. They started another church, for black members, the Second African Baptist church. Harriet Scott joined that church in 1836, and it was that church which persuaded her husband, Dred Scott, a slave, to sue for his freedom in a St. Louis circuit court (the Old Courthouse). His case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

In 1824, James C. Rundell and his wife, Ann Emerson, purchased eighty acres in St. Louis County from the General Land Office. (NE quarter of Section 1, Twp. 46N, Range 6E) in St. Ferdinand Township, according to the 1830 census. (West Florissant and Stein Roads, now in Ferguson) In 1827, daughter Patience Mary Rundell married Thomas Murray there, on the Rundell plantation. In January 1839, James Rundell sold that plantation to Christian Stein and wife and bought eighty acres in Bridgeport Township, Warren County, Missouri. (west half of SW quarter of Section 19, Twp. 47, Range 4W) Here he raised sheep, cattle, hogs, and horses. An abolitionist, he owned no slaves.

Married at least three times, James C. Rundell had ten children—six daughters: Wealthy Watson, Patience Murray (later Hebert), Huldah Barton, Eliza Ramey, Rebecca Magee, and Fanny Maria Davidson (later Ballard), and four sons: James, Garrett, John B., and Andrew Jackson.

All of his children were living when James C. Rundell wrote his last will and testament in March 1843. He died in Warren County in 1845, survived by his wife Rachel, whose maiden name is unknown, and his children.

(Sources include probate and other legal records, census records, church records, land and property records, and the published memoir of John Mason Peck, D.D.)

Written by John Sullivan
May 2018

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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 22:18