James M. James, banker, Pekin, Ill., was born in New York City February 14, 1849, the son of James M. and Anna E. (Pugh) James, both parents being of Welsh descent. The father died in 1834, but the mother is still living in Pekin, at the age of eighty-two years. The family moved to Chicago in January, 1855, and to Pekin November 26, 1860. James M. attended the public schools of Chicago and Pekin, and in November. 1861, began working in the printing business on a local paper, and later for a short time was employed on the old Illinois River (now Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis) Railroad. In October, 1863, he secured employment as a clerk in the dry goods store of C. B. Cummings and Brother, remaining with them until 1870, when he became bookkeeper for C. R. Cummings, railway contractor and builder. His duties included the caring for the local affairs of his employer, and he still has charge of the Cummings estate. He was a member of the Cummings Harvester Company, and was President of the company while it was in business from 1889; has also been a director of the Farmers’ National Bank since 1883, and for eight years it’s Vice-President. Mr. James is a pronounced type of the self-made man. His standing in the business world has been won by self-effort. His character for integrity has placed him upon a high plane of manhood, and the immense financial interests entrusted to his care bear ample testimony to the confidence placed in his ability by those who know him best. He is a Republican in politics, but has never sought office. However, in 1872, he was Deputy Revenue Collector under Internal Revenue Collector John T. Harper. Then, as now, Pekin was the most important point in the revenue district as then constituted. Unknown to Mr. James Collector Harper expressed a desire to make the appointment and inquired if Mr. James, in addition to the service rendered Mr. Cummings, could not also perform the duties of the office of Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue. Mr. Cummings replied affirmatively, and the position was tendered to Mr. James and accepted. Being an expert accountant, he filled the position most acceptably for a year and a half. It is worthy of further remark that he was the youngest Deputy Collector ever in the service, being then only twenty-three years of age. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity—being affiliated with the Blue Lodge, the Mystic Shrine and Commandery of Knights Tremplar. Mr. James was married August 6, 1870, to Clara M. Briggs, daughter of Robert W. and Charlotte (Becker) Briggs, and they have had three children: Clara E., who died August 18, 1872; Nellie M., wife of Dr. B. F. Greenhow, of Kewanee, Ill.; and Charlotte Mabel.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 1029
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