James Alexander Counts
"Whatever is, is best" wrote the poet Longfellow. Evidently he did not believe in destiny or good fortune; rather, any man who blames destiny should blame himself. Good fortune simply means good opportunities that come to every man if he has the sagacity to see and accept that which is offered. Providence rules, but not to the advantage of the lazy and inefficient. Every man must be the architect of his success. If he has the right mettle in him he cannot be kept down. If he is made of inferior material he cannot be kept up, though all the world try to elevate him. Benjamin B. Counts knew at the beginning of his career that if he succeeded he would have to be industrious, capable and conscientious, and so he has forged ahead because of these qualities.
Mr. Counts was born on March 22, 1874, at Indianapolis, Mahaska county, Iowa. He is a son of James Alexander Counts, a native of West Virginia, where he spent his boyhood and attended school, coming West before the breaking out of the Civil War, but was in Ohio when Lincoln called for troops to suppress the Southern rebellion, so he at once cast his lot with the Union and enlisted in the Forty-fifth, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in which he served as a private for
three years, taking part in many of the most important battles of the war. In early life he learned the blacksmith's trade, at which he became an expert and owned and operated a large shop of his own until three years before his death, when he retired from active life. He died at Afton, Oklahoma, in 1910 at the age of sixty-nine years. Politically he was a Democrat. He belonged to the Masonic order and to the Baptist church.
He married Margaret L. Houghton, who is living at the homestead in Afton, Oklahoma, being now sixty-seven years of age. To these parents five children were born, namely: John Vester, formerly a section foreman on the Santa Fe road, is now farming in Oklahoma; Benjamin B., of this sketch; Claudius is a printer by trade and lives at Alhambra, Colorado; Erma is the wife of Oscar Byers and they live at Afton, Oklahoma; Joat is an electrician and lives at Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Benjamin B. Counts received his education in the public schools, leaving school when seventeen years of age and went to work for his father at blacksmithing, remaining with him until he was twenty years of age, then married and began working for himself, following his trade, at Seneca, Missouri, where he ran a shop two years, then worked in the lead and zinc mines at Webb City for eight years. He came to Springfield on October 5, 1908, and began working in the Frisco's south side shops as fireman, later being promoted to assistant engineer, which position he held until the spring of 1915, when he resigned and moved to his farm of forty acres near Republic. Mr. Counts was married on February 25, 1893, to Sarah S. Westfall, a daughter of William and Sarah F. (Linger) Westfall, of Afton, Oklahoma. The father was a native of West Virginia. To our subject and wife six children have been born, namely: Bertha is the wife of William F. Hartney, a machinist in the north side Frisco shops, Springfield; the second child died in infancy unnamed; Mildred lives in St. Louis; Ralph, Cecil and Harold are deceased.Politically Mr. Counts is a Democrat, fraternally he belongs to the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America; he is a member of the National Order of Stationary Engineers and religiously he holds membership in the Methodist
From Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri, Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records of Many of the Representative Citizens, Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck
According to the roster, James Alexander Counts enlisted in the 45th OVI as a corporal on June 14, 1862, at the age of 21. He mustered into Company A on August 19, 1862. He was listed absent from detached duty at Camp Nelson, KY, with the date not specified. He was reduced to the rank of private on March, 15, 1863 and mustered out on May 29, 1865.