L. O. James was born in a farm house near Comstock, Michigan, just
east of Kalamazoo, on March 9, 1871. He had an older sister Jenny
James and a younger sister Jessie James and a younger brother
Harry James. Quite a famous family! Unfortunately Jessie died at
the age of 18 of what was then called galloping consumption or TB,
but it was more likely that it was allergic asthma. Harry lived to be
100 years and four months and had only one physical complaint, that
he was hard of hearing. Jenny had no children, but Harry had five.
Linnís parents were also born in the Kalamazoo area, but his paternal
grandfather had moved from New York State about 1825, and
previous ancestors had come from Wales. Linn's father did not serve
in the Union Army during the Civil War because as a boy he had shot
an arrow into the air and watched its trajectory till it returned to its
source, piercing and blinding one of his eyes.
Just at the end of the 19th century, Linn moved to Racine, Wisconsin, to work at his trade of spring making at the Mitchell Wagon Works which later became the Nash Auto Company and still later American Motors. He met Johanna Nielsina Nielsen, a native of Denmark, in Racine at the Salvation Army, and they were married in 1900. By the time their only child Stella Hattie James was born, Linn had returned to his first love of farming and was the manager of a dairy farm owned by the William Horlick Malted Milk Company. The farm was located at Mygatts Corners which was the intersection of State Highway 20 and County Highway C. This intersection bears no resemblance today to how it looked in 1902. A few years later Linn and Johanna bought a 40 acre farm at the corner of Highway 20 and the Stewart Road, facing the Stewart Road but, farming with no sons and only one daughter required hiring farm hands, and a few years later, they sold the farm and bought a house on Taylor Avenue in Racine, and Linn again worked as a spring maker, this time at J. I. Case Company. When he retired about 1930, he took a retirement job as caretaker of the Wiecker Estate on Highway 38 northwest of Racine, and he and Johanna lived in a cottage on that estate, she working as a maid at the Wiecker house. About 1935 Linn retired from Wieckers and bought a 10 acre retirement farm directly across the road from the farm they had earlier owned. He farmed with two draft horses and two Guernsey cows, and Johanna raised chickens and gathered their eggs. He later sold the horses and sometimes part time and sometimes full time worked as a gardener at the Brux Flowers greenhouse on the corner of Goold and Geneva Streets. They lived on the Stewart Road until Johanna died in 1952 of a heart attack and Linn went to live with his daughter Stella in Racine at 1315 N. Wisconsin Street. He died of pneumonia at St. Maryís Hospital in 1954 at the age of 83, and is buried next to Johanna at Westlawn Memorial Park on Highway 20 just a walk from the two farms he loved so much.