His father was an English-born plantation owner and his mother a house slave. He accompanied his father, Major Peter Stovall, as his orderly in the Confederate Army. James escaped to the Union where he joined Co F, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry. He served as an officer's cook and participated in the battles of Chattanooga and Chickamauga. Mustered out in Chicago, he worked in the restaurant business before coming to Winona in 1876 and opening his own restaurant. Active in the republican party, he attended many presidential inaugurations. He retired in 1901.
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