Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
From: Interior Journal, Stanford, Ky. March 2, 1906
Obituary of Mr. J. W. James
Crab Orchard, Ky. Feb 27, — on February 25th, near the somber hour of midnight, the noble and generous spirit of J. W. James, the noblest man that ever lived in all the tide of Time, took its flight from his elegant home to a far more splendid mansion in the skies.
He was not yet 45 and no man, not even his lamented father, the late G. W. James, will be so sadly missed by the poor and humble. He has had many work hands in his service, and when any servant or ex-servant died, he always gave him appropriate burial at his own expense. When some poor black woman, sick and out of coal and provisions, both would be sent at his own expense in his own wagon.
On one occasion, a poor destitute man, (William Kidd) with a withered arm, passing his place of business with an empty meal sack on his shoulder, and a coffee-sack in which he had three hens, the only property he had in the world, stopped in to warm. Willie said, what have you there, Bill, a “possum”? No. How are “possums”? Mighty scarce. How are times with you? Might hard. I have in my coffee-sack my only three hens. The only things I have in the world. I am taking them to the store to buy me some meal and coffee. Look here at this paper and see what your hens are worth in the market – 68 cents a piece. Take them back home to lay you some eggs, and take this dollar to buy you some coffee and meat, and take your meal sack up to my miller and tell him to fill it as full of meal as he can tie it. He gave more to preachers, churches, Sunday schools, Christmas trees, and to feed and clothe the poor, than any other man in Lincoln county.
Alas! how sad that one who had so often fed the hungry, should die hungry himself-because he could not eat! His donations to churches, Sunday schools, and to charity amounted annually to the hundreds.
Frank Brooks said on the train today, “The death of Will James is the breaking up of the noblest family that ever lived in Lincoln county.” His place here can never be supplied. His fortune was ample, his cash capital in the thousands, and his pockets always full to meet the demands of the borrower and the beggar. How much better this than millions to libraries for ostentation only, which do not benefit the poor people.
I never saw such universal sorrow expressed in all ranks of life. At his burying were the proud aristocrats and the poor tenant, working men and their wives and their little children shivering in the snow. At Stanford, Monday morning, much grief was expressed by such men as Cicero Reynolds, County Clerk George L. Cooper, and the editor of the Interior Journal, all of whom had business relations with him.
He was for some time clerk in the J. B. Owsley bank in Stanford, and was a devoted friend of this venerable financier, whose confidence he enjoyed. He was educated at Georgetown College, and though not gifted with the divine inflatus of lofty oratory, yet in a debate in that college when no doubt, he was competing with the Georgetown or Lexington bar, he took the prize of discussing whether or not circumstantial evidence should be admitted in courts. His side of the debate was the affirmative. He was a fluent talker, an excellent penman, and an accurate and rapid accountant. He was the fond idol of his mother and his relatives, male and female, loved him to idolatry. His aunt, Mrs. M. V. Stigler adored him as her own darling “Willie.” Deceased was twice married. His first wife was Mattie Owsley Evans, daughter of the late George W. Evans, and his present wife was Margaret, daughter of the noble old Scotchman, the late John Buchanan. His wives were both most excellent women of the first families, and his last wife is noted for her domestic qualities. Lik the great Washington, the deceased left no children, but all the poor of this community will ever regard him as a father, brother, and friend. His grand old father, G. W. James, and devoted mother, Lizzie P. James, preceded him to the tomb years ago. He leaves a most devoted wife to mourn his untimely death. His sisters, Mrs. Louanna Holdan, of Stanford, Mrs. Scott, of Somerset, and Mrs. Berta Morris, of Crab Orchard, are broken hearted with grief, fresh wounds no time can heal; and he left male and female relatives and friends who will never cease to mourn for him who never gave cause to mourn before. He was in many qualities the grandest man that ever moved in the track of time. Brave and noble, gallant and true! His poor little niece, Sue Beth James, and nephew, George Andrew James, dual orphans, whose father gave his life in service as a soldier in the far away Philippines, came up from Stanford to mingle their tears of the grave of the dear departed. All relatives and friends who are good enough will meet him again. Oh, shall we not strive to do so!
Rev. O.M. Huey made most beautiful and appropriate remarks at the residence to the large crow assembled there, which at first fanned the flames of grief in talking of the noble dead and cruel Death, til it was almost unbearable, but at the close, with his soft expressions (sic) and beautiful language, he assuaged our grief to soft, soothing, sacred billows of sorrow, which we hope will softly slumber there forever!
One by one our friends depart,
Who has not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts,
But that union has an end.
Farewell, dear Willie, we leave three
With the new-fallen snow for a winding sheet,
And cold, bleak winter for a bier;
And every clod beneath the mourner’s feet
Moistened with a tear.
FONTAINE F. BOBBITT
John William “Willie” James 1861-1906 & Margaret Buchanan 1867-195-
. George W. James 1823-1888 & Elizabeth R. “Lizzie” Bobbitt 1841-1896
.. Rev. Joseph Martin James 1791-1848 & Martha “Betsy/Patsy” McAlister 1795-Bef.1930
… John M. James & Clara Nall
RELATED BANKERS among the James family.
- Rep. John Graves James, Robert Lee James, David Hunt James of Second Agricultural Bank of Kentucky, Second National Bank & Trust Company of Kentucky, and Commerce Bank, all in Lexington, Kentucky
- Franklin Pierce “Frank” James, Henry Clay Fire Insurance Company, Lexington, Kentucky; Mercer National Bank, Harrodsburg, Kentucky together with John Pendleton “Black Jack” Chinn; State Auditor for Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Judge Andrew Jackson “A.J.” James, Farmers Bank of Pulaski County, Farmers Bank & Deposit Company of Frankfort, Kentucky
- Rep. Drury Woodson James, San Luis Obispo Bank, San Luis Obispo, California
- Judge James Randall Ross, great-grandson of Jesse James; Independence Bank, Los Angeles, California
- David Daniel James & John Duke James, Bank of Commerce, Nashville, Tennessee
- Daniel Lewis Shouse 1827-1873, National Bank of Kansas City
- John James 1709-1778, financier to Gen. George Washington in the American Revolution
- Rep. John “Old Wisdom” Bradford, Kentucky Insurance Company
- Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames, financier to his enslaved made freedmen prior to the Civil War