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James Jamison


Posted By: C. Diamond IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 1/3/2011 at 18:08:35

Biographical Souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan.
Chicago: F. A. Battey & Company. 1890.
pp. 595-6.

JAMES JAMISON. The name of James Jamison deserves mention in this volume. He was one of the first lawyers of Buchanan county, both in point of time and ability. During his life he was well and favorably known all over this section of the state, and is now most pleasantly remembered by his former associates and many of the older citizens, especially of Buchanan county. He was born February 14, 1828, in Armstrong county, Pa. Of his father we can learn but little, except that he was very poor, and died when James was two years of age, leaving a widow and two children. James was given to his uncle, with whom he lived until he was eighteen years of age, working on the farm summers and attending school winters. At eighteen he cut loose from his uncle and commenced the struggles of life alone and unaided.

Like so many others, in the vast army of self-made men, he gained discipline and money by teaching district school winters. His summers were devoted to study. In 1850 he entered Allegheny College, at Meadville, Pa., where he remained for two years, working his way. He then commenced the study of law with the Hon. David Derickson, at Meadville, and was admitted to the bar August 18, 1853. He immediately took his diploma and started for the West. With no particular point in view, he threw himself into the great wave sweeping toward the West, trusting more to chance than to design, as to where he should land.

Independence was the place, and without hesitation, but with an assurance that success awaited him, he at once opened an office. His first law case was tried for Orrin Lewis, October 18, 1853, for which he received a fee of $3. His business for the first month amounted to $5.75.
A more uncouth, awkward, unpromising young man in personal appearance than Jamison was, at that time, never threw his shingle to the public. Tall and angular, with light hair, a face not moulded for beauty, awkward in every move, a gesticulation that defied all rules, a hesitancy of speech that was painful, he was at once, by superficial observers, set down as a failure. To the young men he was a subject of ridicule; to the young ladies a curiosity.

The public soon began to observe that, from early morning until late at night, he never left his office except for meals. People soon learned that if they ever should want anything of Jamison, they would always know where to find him. The value of the adage, “Keep your office and your office will keep you,” was well known and appreciated by him. Clients began to drop in. Their business was dispatched with wonderful promptness and accuracy. His knowledge of the law, his sound judgment, and his keen insight into the affairs of men, amazed the people. Beneath that ugly exterior, a broad, comprehensive mind was discovered. Clients thickened around him; business accumulated, and he was soon in the midst of an extensive and lucrative practice. Fortune and fame increased. But few cases were tried in Buchanan county in which he was not interested. He was largely engaged in the real estate transactions of the county. As a counselor he had but few equals in the state. The quaint and witty sayings of Jamison would fill a volume. One must be preserved. One of his objections was overruled by the court in a trial of a case. Jamison very dryly remarked, “your honor is right and I am wrong, as your honor most always is.”

As a citizen he was just and honest. He set a noble example of filial attachment. His widowed mother presided over his home (for he never married), and her life was made happy by his constant love and devotion. But for one enemy, Jamison would have been living to-day; would have been in the front ranks of his profession, and a highly honored and wealthy citizen. Having no family to call forth and cultivate his domestic nature, his social qualities gradually found relaxation in the society of those whose tendencies were downward. The sequel need not he told. It is useless to follow him down the road so many have traveled. It is the same old path; once entered it is seldom forsaken. It leads all classes to the same goal. The talented, noble James Jamison died a victim to intemperance the second day of August, 1878.


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