Daniel Willis James

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Daniel Willis James
Born (1832-04-15)April 15, 1832
Died September 13, 1907(1907-09-13) (aged 75)
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Resting place
Green-Wood Cemetery
Nationality American
Alma mater Amherst College
Net worth USD $26 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/1169th of US GNP)[1]
Spouse(s) Ellen S. Curtiss
Children Arthur Curtiss James
Parents Daniel James; Elizabeth Woodbridge Phelps
Relatives Sisters: Elizabeth & Olivia. Brothers: Henry & Anson. Paternal half brothers: Frank Linsly James; John Arthur James; William Dodge James.

Daniel Willis James (April 15, 1832 – September 13, 1907)[2] was born in Liverpool, England, the son of a merchant, Daniel James.[3] James's maternal grandfather was Anson Greene Phelps of Phelps, Dodge, and Company.[4] He attended Amherst College and wed Ellen S. Curtiss, with whom he had a son, Arthur Curtiss James.[2]

James eventually headed Phelps, Dodge and Company, and served on the board of other large U.S. corporations, including the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, the Arizona, El Paso and Southwestern Mining Company, and the Ansonia Clock Company.[2] He also served as vice president and director of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company in Bisbee, Arizona.[2]

Williston, North Dakota, was named for him by his friend, Northern Pacific Railway owner James J. Hill.

According to one historian, James was "a genuinely good man of impeccable character, a secret philanthropist, whom Charles Parkhurst said loved everything in the universe 'from God down to the newsboy.'"[5] He donated the Union Square drinking fountain in New York.[6] In 1885, his family built a summer home in Madison, New Jersey, and James there built a park and a free library, believing the latter would be "a means of public enjoyment and benefit."[7]

James died at the Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in September 1907, one of the hundred wealthiest Americans, having left a large fortune estimated at $977,497 (more than $26 million in inflation-adjusted 2008 U.S. dollars).[1][8] The library James built in Madison, New Jersey, is the home of the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.


  1. ^ a b Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xi, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143 
  2. ^ a b c d New Jersey Historical Society. Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society. Trenton, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Society, 1909.
  3. ^ Daniel James (1801-1876) moved from Liverpool to Baltimore, Maryland, and eventually settled in New York City.
  4. ^ James's mother was Phelps's eldest daughter, Elizabeth Woodbridge (1807-1847).His sister, Olivia Phelps James, married Robert Hoe III.
  5. ^ John Matzko, Reconstructing Fort Union (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2001), 166.
  6. ^ "James Fountain. Union Square Park." New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. No date. Accessed August 17, 2008.
  7. ^ Newark Star-Ledger, March 27, 2011. James endowed the library with a trust fund created from income received from a commercial building across the street on Green Village Road.
  8. ^ "D.W. James Pays Inheritance Taxes." New York Times. December 24, 1908.

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