James Burns Belford (1837-1910)

James Burns Belford was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1837, the son of Samuel and Eliza Belford. He was a cousin of Joseph McCrum Belford, class of 1871, who served a congressman from New York State. He prepared at Lewistown High School and entered Dickinson College in 1855. He retired from his class in 1857 though not before he had been elected to the Belles Lettres Society. He went on immediately to study law and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1859.

He moved west and set up practice in a small town in Missouri called California. He moved again, however, soon after, to La Porte, Indiana in 1860. His practice was successful and by 1867 he was an elected member of the State House. Three years later he was moving again when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Colorado as an associate justice and served five years till 1875. When Colorado became a state in 1876, he was elected to the Forty-fourth Congress as a Republican and served till December, 1877 when he was replaced in an election dispute with Thomas Patterson. He did gain re-election in 1878 and served from March 3, 1879 to March 3, 1885, chairing the powerful Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury in his later years in the House. He failed to gain renomination in 1884 and returned to the practice of law in Denver. When he had first arrived in the state, he had settled in Central City, Colorado but when his political career ended he moved to Denver in 1883.

He had married Frances C. McEwers from Lewistown in 1860 before he had moved west. James Burns Belford died in Denver on January 10, 1910 aged seventy-two.

Author of Post: 
Dickinson College Archives
Date of Post: 
College Relationship: 
Alumnus/Alumna Class Year: