Discovering one’s passion, the driving force that permeates and defines a life, derives from no single formula. Depending on opportunities, it may happen in early childhood, or during one’s college years. And sometimes, much later, as in the case of Sally James of Ogdensburg, the convergence of life experience with a dose of serendipity spawns an awakening — the revelation of a hidden but prodigious talent.
Sally led a privileged life, having been born in 1869 into one of the North Country’s prominent families. (Her given name was Sarah, but she always went by Sally, once a common nickname for Sarah.) Indicative of the James family lifestyle is that many decades after her uncle’s home was built, it became the luxurious Crescent Hotel, with 18 guestrooms.
Sally’s grandfather, Amaziah James, was an attorney, a New York State Supreme Court judge, and later a member of Congress. Her father, Edward, was a colonel during the Civil War and became one of the best-known attorneys in St. Lawrence County. After Edward married Sarah Welles in 1864, they lived in his father’s opulent home, which was tended to by a staff of four servants. Daughters Lucia and Sarah (Sally) were born there, but in December 1879, when the girls were 13 and 10 respectively, Mrs. James died after a lengthy illness. » Continue Reading.