James Madison is the second child of Joseph Colley and Nancy Holloway Harrell. James was born on September 22, 1855, in Lowndes County, Georgia. Very little is known about James. He was dead at the young age of 22. He never married and had no posterity to carry on his name and heritage. James is found in the 1860 census (New River County) and in the 1870 census (Bradford County) with his family. In the 1880 census (Bradford County, James is missing.This can easily be accounted for. Just outside of LaCrosse, Florida, there is a little church that is known as New Hope Baptist. How the Harrell family formed its strong affiliation with this church is unknown, but we know that it was an important bond, for many members of the Harrell family are buried there. So strong was this bond, that Joseph Colley took his family and went to help erect this new church.
The church was constructed in 1876 and early 1877. As Joseph Colley and his sons worked on this church, James became sick. The day was hot, and James had been working on the roof in the heat through the middle of the day. His father suggested that he had possibly just become overheated from working so long on the roof. He sent James off to the river, which runs beside the church, to cool off.
The men continued to work on the church. In a little while, they noticed that James had not returned from the river, they went down to check on him. When they arrived at the river, they found James dead on the bank. It is believed that James had gotten so sick, he had been unable to make it to the river and had died on the bank. It must have been a while after his death before the church and cemetery were finished.
James died on January 1, 1877, near LaCrosse, Alachua County, Florida. He is buried at the Old Bradford Cemetery, which is just across the river from New Hope. This cemetery has not been kept up. It was almost destroyed, but some work has been done recently to restore some of it. May we not forget our Uncle James and the good and honorable man of service that he was.
By Dorothy Sorrells Cox, 1996
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Created April 1999