The subject of this sketch is not the example of a man whom the
inscrutable caprice of fortune or fate has suddenly placed in a conspicuous
position in the business world but he has attained to the same through
careful preparation during long years of toil and endeavor, for he realized
early in his career that success comes to the deserving, and that to be
deserving, one must be industrious and persistent, so he forged ahead,
surmounting obstacles that would have daunted and diverted the course of
less courageous spirits.
O. A. James, the popular and efficient assistant cashier of the Salem State Bank, who has, while yet a young man, left the indelible imprint of his personality upon the people with whom he has come in contact, was born in Salem, Illinois, in 1879.
He is the son of Joshua L. James, a native of Middle Tennessee and the representative of a fine old Southern family. He came to Illinois in 1853, settling in Williamson county, where he lived for twenty-five years, having been reasonably prosperous during that time and becoming known as a hard worker and a man of the best habits. He then came to Marion county, settling near Alma, where he also remained a quarter of a century, developing a good farm and making a comfortable living by reason of his habits of industry and economy. Desiring to spend the remaining years of his life in the city and enjoy a respite from his arduous agricultural pursuits, Mr. James moved to Salem in 1902 and he has since made his home here.
The grandfather of the subject on his paternal side was John Wesley James, a native of Tennessee, and an excellent farmer who passed to his rest about 1893 after a long and honorable life. His death occurred in Williamson county, this state, where he spent the major part of his life.
Joseph L. Wnorowski, the subject's grandfather on his mother's side, was born in Russia and received his education in the city of Moscow. He came to America when thirty years old, finally settling in Salem, Illinois, where he spent his remaining years, dying about 1890.
The subject's mother was known in her maidenhood as Sophia E. Wnorowski, who was born and reared in Salem where she received a common school education and developed many praiseworthy characteristics. She is living at this writing (1908). Six children. were born to the parents of the subject, five of whom are still living, named in order of birth as follows: Mrs. Florence Brasel, of Cartter, Illinois; O. A., our subject; Mrs. Berdie E. Stroment, living in Salem, this county; Guy L., of Wooden, Iowa; Mrs. Jesse Brasel, living at Terre Haute, Indiana.
These children all received a good common schooling and were reared in a home of the most wholesome atmosphere, consequently they have developed characters of a very commendable type.
Our subject attended the common schools of Salem, from which he graduated in 1897. But being ambitious for more learning and to become a teacher, he later attended the Carbondale State Normal School for some time. Not yet satisfied he entered Austin College at Effingham; then took a course in the Eastern State Normal at Charleston, thus gaining a splendid education, for he made a brilliant record for scholarship in all these institutions.
After leaving school he began teaching, which he followed in a most successful and praiseworthy manner for a period of five years, having taught three years in Marion county public schools, one year as principal at Central City, Illinois, and one year as principal of the high school at Kinmundy, in all of which he showed that he not only had acquired a great fund of serviceable knowledge which he had a penchant for readily and clearly dispensing, but that he possessed the other necessary prerequisites of head and heart to make a first class and a high grade educator, and his reputation had overspread the bounds of Marion county, causing his services to be in great demand, when, much to the regret of pupils and school boards he gave up his teaching and accepted the position as assistant postmaster at Salem the duties of which he attended to in a most able manner for a period of two years, when he resigned to become Deputy Circuit Clerk, having been appointed for a period of four years, and here he again displayed his great innate ability as a careful and painstaking business man by handling the duties devolving upon this position with all dispatch and alacrity and in a most satisfactory manner to all concerned, when after a year in this office he tendered his resignation to become assistant cashier in the Salem State Bank, which very responsible and envied position had been proffered by the heads of that institution after they had carefully considered the names of many young and talented business men for the place, believing that Mr. James was the best qualified to handle the work in this connection, and the praiseworthy manner and wonderful technical skill he has displayed in this responsible position since taking up the duties of the same, shows that the managers of this institution were wise in their decision and selection. Mr. James is still thus connected with the Salem State Bank and has given entire satisfaction and increased the popularity and prestige of this already popular and sound institution.
Mr. James is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Woodmen, in his fraternal relations, and he is a faithful and consistent member of the Christian church. He is known to be scrupulously honest, courteous and a gentleman of the highest address and honor and owing to the fact that our subject is yet quite a young man and has achieved such a place of honor and trust the future augurs great things for him.
Extracted 09 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 71-73.