James Welsey Ireland Sr.
- Born: 20 Jan 1897, Fairbury, Jefferson County, Nebraska
- Marriage (1): Ida Bernice Sandman in Jefferson County, Nebraska
- Marriage (2): Bonnie Eleanor Davis in Jan 1956 in Nebraska
- Died: 7 Feb 1972, Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona at age 75
- Buried: Benkelman Cemetery, Benkelman, Dundee County, Nebraska
Noted events in his life were:
• Census, 1900, Nebraska, Jefferson County, Newton Township, Steel City Village, Image 3 of 21. Age 3 yrs.
• Census, 1910, Nebraska, Jefferson County, Fairbury Precinct, Fairbury City, Image 16 of 56. Age 13 yrs.
• WWI Draft Registration, 5 Jun 1918, Fairbury, Jefferson County, Nebraska.
Name: James Wesley Ireland
Age: 21 yrs.
Address: 1103 J. Street, Fairbury, Nebraska
Birth Date:Jan 20, 1897
Birth Location: Fairbury, Nebraska
Father's Birthplace: Fairbury, Nebraska
Employer: C. R. & P. R.R, Sup Office, Fairbury, Nebraska
Nearest Relative: Ida Bernice Ireland (wife)
Color of eyts: Dark Blue
Color of hair: Light brown
• Census, 1920, Nebraska, Jefferson County, Fairbury Township, Image 42 of 62. Age 23 yrs., Clerk, R.R. Office.
• Census, 1940, Nebraska, Dundy County, Benkelman Township, Image 22 of 40. Age 43 yrs., manager owner, retail dry goods & meat.
• Social Security Death Index, Feb 1972, Benkelman, Dundy County, Nebraska. Name: J. Ireland
Last Residence: 69021 Benkelman, Dundy, Nebraska, United States of America Born: 20 Jan 1897
Died: Feb 1972
State (Year) SSN issued: Nebraska (1951-1952)
• Obituary, Feb 1972. James Wesley Ireland, a prominent merchant and community leader in Benkelman for nearly forty years, passed away at a Phoenix, Arizona hospital on Sunday evening at the age of 75 years. He had been a patient at the hospital for two weeks and had undergone surgery.
James came into the Benkelman scene in 1933 when he established Ireland's store similar to an operation he had at Trenton, Nebraska. As the business here developed from a general store format with groceries, meats and ready-to-wear, he joined the establishment with a merchandising organization, disposed of the food department, and extended the firm's services to a wider selection of clothing, home needs and a variety department.
The store came into prominence during World War II when merchandise was in short supply and Mr. Ireland visited all the big markets of Chicago, St. Louis and New York to search out merchandise supplies to serve the Ireland customers. This method of merchandising: accounted for the fact that customers could always find things; they needed at Ireland's Department Store when other stores were in short supply.
Early in his Benkelman experience, Mr. Ireland realized that the Benkelman store needed his full attention to be successful and he disposed of the Trenton store. That decision proved most beneficial to the Benkelman community because Mr. Ireland was a tremendous booster for the community and could be depended upon to do more than his share in any worthwhile project. He was very active in the Benkelman Chamber of Commerce where his impatience for action was often expressed and those; with projects could always be assured of his enthusiastic support. Wes was never without a project and was always ready to express his interest. His major hobby interests were in sports and he was not content unless Benkelman was fielding baseball and soft ball clubs, had a good golf course and good fishing in the area.
One of his projects was the fair grounds lighting project. He saw the great need and wanted Benkelman to have the best lighted fairgrounds park in the country and so he started out to achieve that end, gathering contributions everywhere until he had sufficient funds to buy the best equipment that was available in 1950. Thousands have profited from his activity in that area of community development.
James served on the Benkelman City Council as a Councilman and as the Mayor but politics on the administrative level was not his way. He liked to work among the people. to find the needs, and then to do what he could to fill them. He always stood in good stead with the City Council and the County Commissioners and when he appealed to them he was heard. He was not a busy-body in community affairs but one who carefully thought out every course of action he took and accepted projects worthy of the community and helpful in determining its strength and character.
James was born on January 20, 1897 at Fairbury, Nebraska, the son of David Ireland and Flora Mitchell Ireland. He entered the business world at an early age, first as a clerk in a Fairbury store and later as a traveling salesman. He operated a general store in Trenton for many years before coming to Benkelman where he was among the first of the area merchandisers to adopt the chain-store management technics and the cash policy which was one of the central supports of the old general store.
Although he suffered a heart attack at what appeared to be the zenith of his career, he faced the problem and won back his health and was to continue his work for many years until retirement. Five years ago he was again challenged by a tremendous health problem which resulted in major throat surgery and the loss of his voice. It was not the end for Wes, however, as he fought brilliantly to overcome his handicap and carried on with great spirit and determination.
James was a member of the Presbyterian Church, Justice Lodge No. 180, AF&AM, Holly Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, the Shrine and the Elks and he enjoyed fellowship with the members of each organization.
James is survived by his wife, Eleanor, son, Jim Ireland of Denver and daughter, Jean Andersen of Omaha; step-daughter Leta Ortiz of Denver; step-sons Harold Stroup of Denver and Kenneth Stroup of Omaha, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends.
James was preceded in death by his parents and a sister.
James married Ida Bernice Sandman in Jefferson County, Nebraska. (Ida Bernice Sandman was born on 1 Jul 1897 in Newton, Jefferson County, Nebraska and died on 7 Jul 1990 in Long Beach, Orange County, California.)
James next married Bonnie Eleanor Davis in Jan 1956 in Nebraska. (Bonnie Eleanor Davis was born on 1 Mar 1907 in Haddam, Washington County, Kansas, died on 8 Mar 1990 in Benkelman, Dundy County, Nebraska and was buried in Benkelman Cemetery, Benkelman, Dundee County, Nebraska.)