by Chip and Mildred James
William James was born in Herefordshire, England, May 24,
1847. He lived with his parents on their farm until he reached
his teens, upon which he was sent to boarding school at Oxford
University, Oxford, England. At Oxford, however, he spent more
time studying boxing than academic subjects. Although standing
only 5 ft. 1 in. tall and wearing size 4 shoe, he became skilled
enough in the pugilistic arts to attain the rank of
professional. His lack of interest in the academic world, plus
the fact that on a visit to his home he was caught poaching
pheasants on a neighbor's farm, put him in an unfavorable
position with his family. At the age of eighteen, he boarded a
cattle boat and came to the United States.
Sometime in 1865 he landed in New York City, his only
possession being the clothes on hhis back, a feather bed, and
one keg of English beer. Feeling that there would be no shortage
of libations in New York City, he promptly gave his keg away.
Shortly afterward he contacted dysentery by sampling New York
City water, and was forced to live on oatmeal soaked in water
till he recovered. Following his recovery, he headed for Canada.
Somewhere near the Niagara Falls area he met a thirty-six
year old Scotchman named Allen McDonald. They decided to work
their way to the South on the railroads, Mr. McDonald as a cook
and Mr. James as a section hand. They got as far south as
Arkansas, where another section hand stole Mr. James' money
while he was taking a bath in a river. The thief was never
caught. Also during their stay in Arkansas, Mr. James was beaned
in the head with a whiskey bottle during a saloon fracas, which
he started by thrashing a local bully who made fun of his
diminutive stature. Finding the atmosphere in Arkansas rather
unhospitable, Mr. James and Mrs. McDonald headed for Texas.
In the early 1870's they arrived in Peters Colony, or what
is now called Carrollton, Texas, where they began to farm. In
1877 Mr. McDonald bought 160 acres of land from a Mr. Witt. This
land was located approximately one mile east of Denton Road,
with what is now called Cemetery Hill Road forming part of its
western and northern boundaries. Both the and Mr. James farmed
this land until 1879, when Mr. James married Laura Smith and
moved to a farm owned by the Reverend Loffie Smith, her brother.
They had three sons, Del, Fred, and William, who died at the age
of one month. Following Mrs. James' death, Mr. James moved his
family back to Mr. McDonald's farm. In April of 1890 Mr.
McDonald died, and after some legal difficulties, Mr. James
inherited his farm. Also in 1890 Mr. James married Alice Isom.
This union produced three sons, Claude, Earnest, and Ray, who
died at birth. In the years to come Mr. James became a very
successful farmer, raising sheep and thoroughbred horses, as
well as cotton. The James family stayed on the farm until Mr.
James became ill in 1921. He passed away on February 25, 1921.
Mrs. James continued to live in Carrollton until her death
August 16, 1943. Both Mr. and Mrs. James are buried in Furneaux