Ralston, James H.

Born: 1807-10-12 Bourbon County, Kentucky

Died: 1864-05-XX Nevada Territory

Ralston moved from Kentucky to Quincy, Illinois, in 1828. In 1830, he was licensed as an attorney in Illinois and began practicing law. During the Black Hawk War in 1832, Ralston volunteered for service in the Illinois militia and was eventually appointed adjutant for the entire regiment. Upon returning from the war, he married Jane Alexander in 1832. Ralston, a Democrat, was elected to represent Adams County in the Illinois House of Representatives for one term, 1836 to 1838, where he served alongside Abraham Lincoln. Ralston resigned his seat in 1837 when he was elected as a Circuit Court Judge. He remained a judge until 1839, when he was elected into the Illinois Senate for two terms, 1840 to 1842, and 1842 to 1844, again representing Adams County. After serving in the legislature, Ralston was appointed as assistant quartermaster general for the Illinois Volunteers and was given the rank of captain. He served in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848, and was for a time the quartermaster at the Alamo. His wife, Jane, followed him to where he was stationed but died soon after in 1847. After the war's end, Ralston moved to California, settled in Sacramento, continued the practice of law there, and prospered: in 1850, he owned $15,000 in real estate. In 1852, he was elected as a Democrat to represent Sacramento County in the California State Senate. In 1853, Ralston traveled to New York City, where he met and married his second wife, Harriet Jackson. Upon returning to California, Ralston ran for Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court but was defeated. In 1860, frustrated that Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election, Ralston moved his family to the Nevada Territory and settled near the present-day town of Austin, Nevada, where he owned a large amount of land and resumed the practice of law. Ralston was a member of the Masonic Order.

J. F. Snyder, "Forgotten Statesmen of Illinois: James Harvey Ralston," Papers in Illinois History and Transactions for the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1908 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1909), 215-32; Gravestone, Calvary Cemetery, Lander County, NV; The History of Adams County, Illinois (Chicago: Murray, Williamson, and Phelps, 1879), 679-80; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 206, 208, 210; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Sacramento County, CA, 390; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:150-52, 380-81.