James R. Dexter

James R. Dexter was born 1834 in Tioga County, New York.

James left New York and moved west, eventually settling in central Michigan. By 1850 he may have been working as a laborer and/or living with the Richard Hannack family in Irving, Barry County. (That same year one John Dexter, born around 1817 in Pennsylvania, his wife Sarah, born around 1823 in Pennsylvania and their twin sons John and William, born in 1850 in Michigan, were also living in Irving, Barry County.) By 1860 James was probably working as a carpenter and farm laborer and living at J. W. Norton Hotel in Mason, Ingham County.

James stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 27 years old and possibly living in the vicinity of Hastings, Barry County, when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company In April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids to join the Third Michigan then forming at Cantonment Anderson south of the city and its members distributed to other companies. James eventually enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861, but was discharged for “a rheumatic fever of long duration” on August 8, 1861, at Arlington, Virginia. In the opinion of Dr. Zenas E. Bliss, the assistant regimental surgeon, Dexter “did not enjoy good health previous to his enlistment.”

It is not known whether James ever returned to Michigan. It appears he returned to New York where he reentered the service on April 6, 1865, as a private in Company M, Twenty-second New York cavalry and was mustered the same day. He reenlisted in April of 1865 and was mustered out on August 1, 1865 in Winchester, Virginia.

James may have returned to New York after the war, and it is possible that he was boarding with the Clark Smith family in Murray, Orleans County, New York. We do know that he was living in Albion, Orleans County, New York in 1890 when he applied for a pension (no. 828796), for service in both regiments, and which was eventually rejected and subsequently abandoned.

He was reportedly living in Rochester, Minnesota in 1892 when he was listed as a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.