A. R. JAMES. - A native of Kentucky and reared among its people, also inheriting from ancestors living in that state for two or three generations before him the salient characteristics which have made the inhabitants of that state progressive among themselves and influential in the affairs of the country, A. R. James came to Kansas in his young manhood well qualified to meet in a brave and manly manner the requirements of any situation in which he might find himself and perform with ability the duties of any business to which he was adapted. In this state, where he found a new home while it was still in a somewhat backward condition of development, he has employed the traits of character and training in self-reliance and readiness for emergencies he had acquired in that of his nativity, making them promotive of his own interests and beneficial to the region around him, and has thus built up a career that is at the same time creditable to him and valuable in its results and its influence to the community in which he lives.
Mr. James was born in Scott county, Kentucky, on November 25, 1855, and is a son of Henry and Emeline (Munson) James, also natives of Kentucky. His mother died when he was but three years old, and the home training he might have had if she had lived to rear him was largely neglected, although his father did the best he could for his children and gave them every advantage within his power. When the son was six years old the family moved to Louisville, and there he grew to manhood and obtained his education, remaining until he reached the age of twenty-four years.
The conditions around him at that age were not all he desired for himself in the way of opportunity for advancement, and he determined to seek circumstances more favorable in a new locality and develop his course in life according to his own desires and the bent of his mind. He therefore came to Kansas in 1879 and located in Independence. His father, who died in Scott county, Kentucky, at the age of sixty-six years, was in early life a farmer in that county, although he passed nearly all of the last twenty years of his earthly existence in Louisville.
The son, while he had probably some inclination to farming, was not wedded to the occupation by long experience in it, and gave his attention to other pursuits when he started out for himself. In Independence he was variously employed until 1886, then moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and began operations as a contractor. He followed this line of work for about five years, and prospered at it. But while doing this he saw an opening for something more agreeable in the way of merchandising, and in 1891 became a dealer in all kinds of building materials and also in coal and wood. The need for his commodities was great and pressing in the city, and he found a ready and remunerative market for everything he had to offer. His trade grew in a short time to large proportions, and has kept on growing steadily ever since, until he is one of the leaders in his business in this part of the state in both the volume and the value of his operations. In 1895 he took his son Arthur F., into partnership with him, making the firm name A. R. James & Son. The business is located at the corner of Fourth street and State avenue, with its headquarters in a fine modern structure which the firm built in 1904, the house it previously occupied having been destroyed by fire in 1903. The new building is ninety-eight by one hundred feet in dimensions and one story high, and since its erection cement and cement blocks have been added to the articles handled by the firm.
Mr. James was married in Davis county, Kentucky, on the 28th, of September, 1880, to Miss Pomelia H. Petree, a daughter of E. M. and Pomelia (McClain) Petree. Four children have been born of the union: Arthur F., who is in business with his father; Rollo, who died at the age of four years; a child who died in infancy; and Edith, the wife of William Quinley, of Kansas City, Kansas.
The father has always been active in local public affairs. He is a Democrat in political faith and allegiance, and ardently supports the candidates of his party in national elections. But in local matters he votes independently and for what he considers the best interest of the community, choosing his candidates with a view to this and without reference to partisan considerations. He has been the nominee of his party for city councilman and membership on the school board, but is not ambitious for official station, and has never sought it of his own motion. Fraternally he belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America and the Court of Honor, holding his membership in these orders in the city of his present residence. All who know him esteem him as an upright and estimable man and an excellent citizen of broad views and a progressive spirit, with an abiding and helpful interest in the welfare of his city, county and state.
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