James Mapes was born in 1817 or 1820 in New York City, the son of Samuel and Rebecca (b. 1783).
James’ parents were possibly both born and raised in New York and if so were presumably married there. They resided in New York for some years.
James was married and had at least one child, a son Joseph (b. 1843).
James may have been living in New York City’s Third Ward in 1840. In any case, he moved from New York and settled in Michigan by 1843, and was either divorced or widowed by 1850 when he was working as a farmer in Sparta, Kent County and living with his son and mother Rebecca. (James may have been the older brother of both Jesse Mapes, who was born in New York in about 1825 and would also settle in Sparta, and William Mapes also of New York. Both these men had settled in Michigan by 1840.)
He may have been the same James Mapes who was charged with theft in December of 1859. On December 29, 1859, the Grand Rapids Enquirer wrote that Officer Peter Bogardus (who would enlist in Company F) “returned last evening from the north woods, bringing with him two prisoners whose names are James Mapes and Henry Ansenor. They are charged with stealing lumber sleds and a variety of useful farming implements from J. M. Lane of Solon.” It is unknown whether Mapes was convicted or not.
James remarried to Michigan native Mary J. (b. 1838) and they had at least two children: Charles (b. 1857) and Samuel (b. 1859).
By 1860 James had settled his family on a farm in Sparta.
He stood 6’0” with blue eyes, red hair and a sandy complexion and was 41 years old and probably still living in Sparta when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. He was reportedly employed as a pioneer, probably detached to the Brigade from July of 1862 through September, and by October absent sick in the hospital. He remained hospitalized until he was discharged on December 8, 1862, at the Patent Office hospital in Washington, DC, for chronic diarrhea.
After his release from the army James returned to Sparta. He and Mary were apparently divorced and by 1880 Mary had remarried one George Cacklin and she and her two sons, Samuel and Charles Mapes were living with George Cacklin in Allegan County.
In January of 1863 James applied for and received a pension (no. 20270).
James died a single man of consumption on September 25, 1882, in Sparta Township, and was buried in Greenwood cemetery, Sparta.