James McCormick is one of the first settlers and one of the most prominent business men of Redding, Shasta County, California. He is a native of Pennsylvania, born in Philadelphia, November 1, 1831. He comes of good old Scotch-Presbyterian stock. His grandfather, John McCormick, was one of the hardy sons of Scotland who settled in County Donegal, Ireland, and reared his family there. His son James was born at that place, and when he grew to manhood, in 1829, married Isabella Black, also a native of Donegal County. Immediately after their marriage they emigrated direct to Philadelphia to make their and fortune in the United States. They settled in Philadelphia and Mr. McCormick engaged in the manufacture of starch. Of the two children born to them in that city, the subject of our sketch was the second. The family removed to Quincy, Illinois, where the father purchased and improved a farm. The mother died in 1845, and the father lived on the property until his death occurred, in 1886. He lived the life of an upright and worthy citizen.

James was given his fathersí name that he might be an honor to it and perpetuate it in the world. He was reared to manhood on his fatherís farm, went to school in winter and drove the team and held the plow in summer. When he reached his majority, like his parents, he started out for himself. He left his home in Quincy, Illinois, in December, 1852, and arrived at San Francisco, February 5, 1853, making the trip via the Isthmus of Panama. Little did he think when he came to the El Dorado of the West in search of gold, that he was going to help improve and built the grandest commonwealth of the United States. His first venture was to dig for gold in Tuolumne County. Some months later he went to Coloma. The business of teaming was then very profitable and he engaged in that for a time. He afterward purchased a minersí supply store in El Dorado County, and conducted it for two years. After this, and until its collapse, he was in the employ of the Adams Express Company. Then he acted as Wells Fargo & Coís. agent nine years, and purchased millions of dollars worth of gold dust. He removed to Woodland, Yolo County, and worked in the interest of the Western Union Telegraph Company two years. In 1873 Mr. McCormick came to Redding, and the following three years was operator for the Western Union Telegraph Company.

In 1876 he went East to the great Centennial and also visited his father and his friends whom he had not seen for twenty-five years. On his return to Redding the firm of McCormick, Saeltzer & Co. was formed, Mr. W. L. Smith being the other member. They started with $9,000 capital, and conducted the business with remarkable success for ten years. At the end of that time they incorporated under the firm name of the McCormick-Saeltzer Company, their capital having increased to $100,000. They have built a brick store, 70x200, which comprises five departments, each 40x70 feet. They wholesale and retail general merchandise and furnish supplies to Northern California and a part of Oregon. Mr. McCormick has been one of the busy factors in building the city of Redding; was one of those who aided in its incorporation; served two terms on its board of trustees. He was one of the originators of the Shasta County Bank and its first vice-president; also aided in starting the Bank of Northern California, and is its present vice-president.

The day after he was twenty-one years of age Mr. McCormick voted for General Scott for President of the United States. Since the organization of the Republican party he has been one of its consistent adherents. His marriage occurred at the residence of Judge Bush, December 16, 1877, the lady of his choice being Elizabeth Buckingham, a native of Whitestown, New York. He is now engaged in building one of the finest residences in the city.

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler, July 2004.
SOURCE: Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1891. pg. 334-335.

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