James W Oxnam

James W Oxnam

Birth
Council Hill, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, USA
Death 28 Jan 1930 (aged 70)
Ironwood, Gogebic County, Michigan, USA
Burial Ironwood, Gogebic County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 215945281 · View Source
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“A resident of Ironwood for nearly a quarter of a century, James W. Oxnam has been an important factor in developing the business interests of this section of the Upper Peninsula, and through his upright, straightforward dealings has won the esteem and confidence of his fellow-townsmen. A son of William Oxnam, Jr., he was born, July 27, 1859, at Council Hill, Jo Daviess county, Illinois, of English ancestry. His grandfather, William Oxnam, Sr., a landholder and a farmer, was a life-long resident of county Cornwall, England, although two of his family, his sons William and James came to America, the latter settling in Canada. As far back as known his ancestors were English, the family name, says tradition, having formerly been spelled Oxenheim.
Born and bred in Cornwall, England, William Oxnam bade good bye to his own home when he was about twenty years old, embarked on a sailing vessel, and having crossed the Atlantic located in Maryland, where he lived until after his marriage. Migrating then with his bride to the then far Northwest, he passed through Chicago when it was a small hamlet, much of the land now included within its limits being then owned by the government, and for sale at $1.25 an acre. Pushing onward to Galena, Illinois, a new but flourishing town, he was for awhile engaged in mining lead in that vicinity. Subsequently, while prospecting, he struck a rich vein of ore, and in the course of a few years acquired a competency, and thenceforward lived retired, dying at the home of a daughter, near Lena, Illinois, at the good old age of seventy-eight years. He married Elizabeth Mitchell, who was born in county Cornwall, England, and came with her parents to America, locating near Baltimore, Maryland. She died at the age of seventy years, leaving four children, as follows: Eliza Jane, Ellen Matilda, Thomas and James W.
Receiving a practical education in the public schools of Council Hill, James W. Oxnam remained a member of the parental household until twenty years of age, when he started out for himself, traveling through the South and West, being employed at various kinds of labor. In 1880, bearing from a friend in Ontonagon, Michigan, of the good times in that vicinity, he started for the Upper Peninsula, going by rail to Baraga, thence traveling on foot, and carrying a heavy grip in his hand, to Ontonagon, a distance of forty miles. He at once secured work, for quite awhile teaming wood and lumber for Mr. Riddle, whose daughter he afterwards married. Afterwards he was made deputy postmaster and justice of the peace, and was there a resident until 1886. Coming then to Gogebic county, he traveled by boat to the point nearest Ironwood, thence overland to the new town. He soon became active in promoting the material growth of the place, and for many years was a successful contractor for building streets and laying sewers, likewise doing much teaming, and becoming an extensive dealer in wood and lumber. In 1904 Mr. Oxnam began to manufacture temperance beverages, having purchased the business of his brother-in-law, James Riddle, and has continued it until the present day.
Mr. Oxnam married, in 1882, Alice Riddle, who was born in Greenland, Ontonagon county, Michigan, a daughter of -------- and Fanny (Cannon) Riddle. Born and bred in Ireland, Mr. Riddle came to America with the family when young, and lived with his parents until his marriage, when he was but twenty years old. Starting on their wedding journey, he and his bride went up the Hudson river to Albany, thence to Buffalo by the Erie Canal, then by the Lakes to Eagle Harbor, Keweenaw county, Michigan, where he worked in a mine and kept a boarding house until 1851. He then went with his family by boat to the present site of the city of Ontonagon, which was then a wilderness, with only three buildings which had been erected in small clearings. The next morning he started on foot and alone for Rockland, where there was quite a settlement, and was there, three days later, joined by his wife, who made the trip by boat. Taking up government land, Mr. Riddle began the improvement of a farm, residing there several years. Moving then to Greenland, Ontonagon county, he remained there until 1898, but has since been a resident of Rockland. He married, in New York City, Fanny Cannon, who was born in county Derry, Ireland. She died in August, 1894, leaving six children, as follows: James, Edward, Alice, Fanny, Mary, and Robert.
Mr. and Mrs. Oxnam are the parents of two children, Dora and Edward. Dora married Luther Brewer, and has two children, Luther and Alice. A prominent and influential member of the Republican party, Mr. Oxnam has filled various official positions with acceptance to all concerned, having been a member of the first City Council, in which he represented the First ward several terms, and having served five years as street commissioner. He helped to organize the Ironwood Fire Department, which he served as assistant chief eleven years, having since been chief of the department. Fraternally he belongs to Ironwood Lodge, No. 389, F. & A. M.; to Minerva Chapter, R. A. M.; and to Gogebic Commandery, No. 76, K. T.” – From “A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People” written by Alvah L. Sawyer and published by The Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago, 1911.

Married Alice Riddle, daughter of John and Fannie (Cannon) Riddle of Ontonagon County, in 1882.


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  • Created by: Celeste
  • Added: 22 Sep 2020
  • Find a Grave Memorial 215945281
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James W Oxnam (27 Jul 1859–28 Jan 1930), Find a Grave Memorial no. 215945281, citing Riverside Cemetery, Ironwood, Gogebic County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Celeste (contributor 46927489) .