James Ford Zediker [RG1567.AM]


RG1567.AM:  James Ford Zediker, 1842-1930

Papers:  1861-1928
Franklin, Franklin County, Nebraska:  Civil War veteran; businessman; state legislator
Size:  1.0 cu.ft.; 1 box & 1 oversize volume; 1 reel of microfilm


James Ford Zediker was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, on December 29, 1842.  In 1845, he moved with his family to Jackson County, Iowa.  The seven Zediker children were orphaned in 1861, the same year that James, the oldest, enlisted in the Union Army as a private in Company I, 12th Iowa Infantry Volunteers.  While in the service, he rose to the rank of Captain and saw action at the Battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh and Vicksburg.  He was captured at the Battle of Tupelo and spent several months in a Confederate prison camp.

Zediker married Julia Douglass on August 15, 1865.  This union produced eight children:  Julia Luella, Wilmot Everest, Lois Jessie, Arthur Burdette, Ida Eldora, Zeno Zee, Zellen Douglas and Elvira Adell.  After the war, Zediker settled in Manchester, Iowa, and worked as a marble worker and penmanship instructor.  In 1871, he moved his family to a homestead in Franklin County, Nebraska.  For the next twenty years, he served variously as a farmer, newspaper publisher real estate agent, banker, church deacon, loan officer, acting probate judge and state legislator.  He was first elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1873, and he held a clerkship throughout his fourteen consecutive years in office.  He also served as a Republican representative of Franklin, Phelps and Gosper Counties at the 1875 Constitutional Convention.

In 1891, Zediker’s business fortunes reversed, and the family embarked on a series of moves that took them across the country.  Between 1891 and 1902, the family lived in Moline, Illinois; Ottawa, Illinois; Lincoln, Nebraska; Gadsden, Alabama; Grand Ridge, Florida and De Funiak Springs, Florida.  Zediker and his wife eventually settled in Yakima, Washington, where he built a profitable practice as an osteopathic physician.  Julia died on July 26, 1907.  Zediker remarried twice.  Rose, his second wife, died in 1920 after less than a year of marriage.  Maryetta, his third wife, survived him.  Zediker, always a faithful member of the Baptist denomination, spent the final years of his life distributing religious tracts.  He died on July 1, 1930, in Orting, Washington.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in three series:  1) Military-Related Items, 2) Career-Related Items and 3) Personal Items.  It also includes several oversized newspapers and a scrapbook.  The materials in the collection relate primarily to the life of James Ford Zediker, a Civil War veteran, businessman and Nebraska legislator.  It is particularly rich in personal and official items relating to Zediker’s Civil War service.

Series 1, Military-related Items, is subdivided into Civil War items (1861-1865) and Post-Civil War items (1872-1921). Subseries 1 is comprised of Zediker’s Civil War diaries and military records, as well as a scrapbook with recopied war letters and miscellaneous information about Zediker’s military service.  The scrapbook is also available to researchers on microfilm.  Subseries Two consists of manuscripts detailing the history of Zediker’s company, Zediker’s correspondence with company members, and materials pertaining to veteran reunions.

Series 2, Career-related items, is divided into subseries based on Zediker’s life moves:  1) Iowa (1861-1870); 2) Nebraska (1871-1890); 3) Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida (1891-1901) and 4) Washington (1902-1930).  Items in this series include business cards, advertisements and letters of recommendation.  Also included is an autograph album with the signatures of early Nebraska politicians.

Series 3, Personal items, is subdivided by document type:  1) Personal papers and 2) Genealogical materials.  This series contains Zediker’s notebooks, correspondence and other writings, which amply illustrate his complex personality.  Family histories for both Zediker’s line and his wife’s line are in this series as well.

Note:  See the photo collection, RG2862.PH, for photos relating to the Zediker and Gunn families.


Series 1 – Military-related items, 1861-1921
Subseries 1: Civil War items, 1861-1865
Box 1

  1. Scrapbook, 1860s (includes clippings, recopied war letters, drawings, misc. military information) [oversize] – also on microfilm
  2. Diaries, 1861, 1862 and 1863
  3. Diaries, 1864 and 1865
  4. Portfolio (used during Civil War) – transferred to Museum
  5. Military records (includes special orders, muster rolls, inventories, death lists, register of deserters, and obituaries)

Subseries 2: Post-Civil War items, 1872-1921

  1. “History of Co. ‘I’ 12th Reg’t. Iowa Volunteer Infty.”
    “History of Co. ‘I’ of the 12th Iowa Infantry Volunteers”
    “Life Sketches of the Members of Co. ‘I’ 12′ Iowa Infty.”
    “Co. ‘I’ at a Rebel Dance”
    “A Brief Account of the Experience in Captivity of the Men Captured at Tupelo, July 1st, 1864”
  2. Company I, 12th Regiment rosters (1880s); Zediker’s correspondence with company members; Notebook belonging to William Fry, member of Co. I, 12th (includes addresses of company members, list of deceased company members)
  3. Veteran reunion programs (1880, 1884, 1888, 1892); Speech delivered by Zediker at 1884 reunion
  4. Veteran reunion programs (1887, 1895, 1901, 1903, 1913 and 1916)
  5. Pension materials (includes paperwork, requests for affidavits, Zediker’s Pension Plan items)
  6. Civil War mementos (includes clippings, programs, souvenir booklets)

Series 2 – Career-related items, 1869-c. 1928
Subseries 1: Iowa (1861-1870)

  1. Marble-working contract, penmanship exercises, certificates

Subseries 2: Nebraska (1871-1890)

  1. Autograph album, 1881 (autographs of Zediker’s legislative colleagues); Nebraska legislative manual, 1883
  2. Business cards, business literature, letters of recommendation
  3. Newspapers [see OB084] published by Zediker (includes Sept. 25, 1880 Naponee Banner and Sept. 1, Oct. 20, and Nov. 10, 1881 issues of Republican Valley Echo) [these were microfilmed for the library collection]

Subseries 3: Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida (1891-1901)

  1. Business cards, letters of recommendation, articles of incorporation

Subseries 4: Washington (1902-1930)

  1. Osteopathy practice materials (includes business cards, advertisements, receipt pads, licenses, clippings about medicine)
  2. Tract work materials (includes tracts, addresses of tract workers, newspapers, farewell letter [c.1928])

Series 3 – Personal items, 1863-1928, undated
Subseries 1: Personal papers, 1863-1928, undated

  1. Scrapbook, late 1860s-early 1880s (includes clippings by and about Zediker, misc. clippings)
  2. Diary, 1867
  3. Notebooks, 18902, 1910s and 1920s (includes addresses, accounts, family history information, donations, gifts to family members, misc.)
  4. Correspondence, 1863-1865
  5. Correspondence, 1872, 1879, 1884-1885
  6. Correspondence, 1898, 1900, 1910-1911, 1913-1914, 1920, 1925, undated
  7. Poems, speeches, essays, 1860s-1920s
  8. Religion lessons
  9. “Biographical Sketch of the Life of Hon. James Ford Zediker from His Pen”
  10. Copies of old wills, 1922 and 1924
  11. Newspaper articles by and about Zediker

Subseries 2: Genealogical materials

  1. “Zediker History and Genealogy,” “McKinley History and Genealogy”
  2. Family clippings (obituaries, birth announcements, wedding announcements, misc.)

Subject headings:

Fort Donelson (Tennessee), Battle of, 1862
Franklin County (Neb.)
Gunn, Edwin Sweeney, 1867-1948
Iowa — Infantry — 12th Regiment — Co. I
Jackson (Mississippi), Battle of, 1863
Nebraska Legislature
Newspaper publishing — Nebraska
Osteopaths — Nebraska
Tupelo (Mississippi), Battle of, 1863
United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865
Vicksburg (Mississippi), Battle of, 1863
Zediker, James Ford, 1842-1930
Zediker, Julia M. (Douglas), 1843-1907
Zediker, Zellen D., 1880-1900

SDM                         10-1995
Revised TMM      11-19-2019


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