James Hunt Signor


1st Lt James Hunt Signor, Co H, 10th Kansas Infantry

At the opening of the Civil War, James Hunt Signor had been living in Humboldt, Kansas.  He had been working as a surveyor, with a little farming on the side. He’d left his home in upstate New York in part to ensure Kansas became a free state and in part to seek his fortune. He was an abolitionist, prohibitionist and a Republican who cheered the election of Abraham Lincoln. In June of 1859, he was elected to be a representative to the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention held 5 July 1859 that, in turn, led to Kansas being admitted to the Union as a free (and dry) state.

On September 8th, 1861, a ragtag gang of Missouri guerillas, Osage and Cherokees swept into Humboldt, Kansas, and pillaged the town. The Confederate irregulars also captured 8 former slaves and returned them to captivity. Citizens immediately raised two companies of Home Guard to protect against further raids. James Hunt Signor joined one of these companies under the command of Captain Miller. When a Confederate regular cavalry regiment visited the town only six weeks later, on 14 October 1861, the Home Guards were surprised and Humboldt was again sacked and, this time, burned to the ground. James’s newly built home was among the structures destroyed. 

Lt. Signor transferred into Captain Blanton’s company (later Co. G) of the 4th Kansas Infantry on 26 Nov 1861 with his commission effective from 15 September. Muster rolls indicate he was placed on detached duty until the 4th Kansas was merged with the 3rd to form the 10th Kansas Infantry. His company remained intact through the transition and was still commanded by Capt. Napoleon Blanton. Following Capt. Blanton’s resignation in 1863 the company’s 1st Lt. was promoted to Captain and 2nd Lt. Signor as assigned the rank of 1st Lt. In addition to his duties in the company, Lt. Signor was also designated the acting regimental quartermaster and remained so until the expiration of his service on 18 Aug 1864. 

During the first two years of the war the 10th Kansas was heavily involved in protecting the state from Confederate incursions from Missouri and Arkansas. In the final two years the regiment served in the St Louis area as Provost Guards and as guards for the Alton, Illinois, POW prison. 

Following the war, Lt. Signor returned to upstate New York to pursue several different professions, including the mining and manufacture of iron, as secretary to the Dannemora State Prison and as postmaster in Saranac, New York. He was active in the GAR and rose to the rank of Colonel in the SUV. On September 14th, 1914, still working at his post office at the age of 81, James suffered a heart attack and died a few hours later. He is interred in Independence Cemetery, Saranac, near the Civil War Monument he helped erect.


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Notice: The information in the biography above has been researched and provided by the author and has not been verified by the SUVCW or the ASUVCW.