History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by  Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(biographicals transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
Page 494
James Ely, who for nearly a quarter of a century was one of the active and enterprising agriculturists and stock-raisers of Platte township, giving his attention to the development of a farm of two hundred acres about four miles from Lenox, is now living retired, having for the past twelve years enjoyed a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves.  Taylor county numbers him among her pioneer residents in that he dates his arrival here in 1875.  He has now passed the seventy-fourth milestone on life's journey, his birth having occurred in Washington county, Pennsylvania, September 20, 1835.  He is a son of Michael Ely, also a native of the Keystone State, where the days of his boyhood and youth were passed.  On attaining adult age, he was married to Eliza McQuater, who was likewise born in Pennsylvania.  They continued their residence in that state until about 1842, when they removed westward to Ohio, settling in Muskingum county, where Michael Ely carried on farming for a number of years.  He afterward became a resident of Highland county, that state, and died in Greenville, while his wife passed away in Muskingum and Athens counties, all of the experiences and labors of farm life early becoming familiar to him.  His educational opportunities were those afforded by the district schools, which he attended through the winter seasons, while in the summer months he worked in the fields.  He remained with his father until he attained his majority and was married in Athens county, on the 4th of July, 1858, to Miss Julia Sickles, who was there born and reared.  Mr. Ely afterward rented a farm for a few years, during which time his untiring industry and careful expenditure brought him sufficient capital to enable him to purchase a place, which he cultivated until 1869.  He then sold out and went to Knox county, Illinois, where he purchased a farm, the cultivation and development of which further claimed his attention until 1874.  He then disposed of that property and went to Iowa, where he first purchased eighty acres of land, constituting a part of his present place.  He at once began to till the soil here and as he prospered in his undertakings he bought more land from time to time until his holdings now include two hundred acres.  On this he erected a house and barn, cribs and shed so that shelter is afforded to grain and stock.  There is also a grove upon the place of his own planting, while an orchard that he has set out bears its fruits in season.  He has enclosed his fields with well kept fences and carefully watched his crops as the weeks passed until the planting of early spring was rewarded by rich harvests of summer and autumn.  He also raised and fed stock and is a good judge of farm animals.  After cultivating his place for some time he rented the farm and bought a tract of sixty acres to the west adjoining the corporation limits of Lenox.  This he cultivated for a year, after which he sold out and removed to Corning, spending one summer there.  He then removed (page 495) to Lenox and purchased the residence which he now occupies.  He also bought thirty-one acres of land now within the corporation limits of the city and has since sold thirteen acres of this, but yet retains the balance.  He also owns another residence and three lots in Lenox so that his property holdings are quite extensive and return to him a substantial annual income.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ely has been born a son, Charles, who is mentioned elsewhere in this volume.  The parents are consistent and faithful members of the Lenox Methodist Episcopal church, in which Mr. Ely has filled offices, serving at the present time as one of the church trustees. Formerly he was identified with the democratic party but is now a prohibitionist for he believes the temperance question to be one of the paramount issues before the people today.   He is a man of strict temperance principles, honorable and upright in all his dealings and faithful to every trust reposed in him, and as a man and citizen he commands and enjoys the confidence and good will of all who know him.