JAMES WILSON LEE, attorney at law, was born at Sharon, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, July 17, 1845, son of Silas and Jane (Holmes) Lee, mention of whom appears in this chapter. His boyhood days were passed under the parental roof, and he received his primary education in the public schools. In 1863 he entered Westminster College, at New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and in 1864 Allegheny College at Meadville, spending in both institutions about three years. In April, 1867, he commenced reading law with Myers & Kinnear, of Franklin, and was admitted to the bar in April, 1869. He immediately began practice in Franklin and continued alone until July 1, 1872, when he formed a partnership with S. C. T. Dodd, which continued until January 1, 1881, when Mr. Dodd removed to New York city to accept the general solicitorship of the Standard Oil Company. Mr. Lee practiced alone until July, 1886, at which time he became a member of the firm of Lee, Smiley & Hastings, of Bradford. One year afterward the present firm of Lee, Criswell & Hastings, with offices at Franklin and Bradford, was organized, and has since been recognized as one of the leading law firms in this section of the state.
In politics Mr. Lee has always been a Republican, and during the past twenty years he has taken a prominent and active part in the political affairs of Pennsylvania. Possessing an affable, engaging, and courteous manner, and being a frank, earnest, and fearless speaker, he soon won a host of friends who still remain his loyal supporters. Naturally he became a leader in local politics, and in 1871 he was elected to the city council, and in 1875 was chosen mayor of Franklin. By this time he had become well known and popular throughout the county, and the way was open for further advancement. In 1878 he was nominated and elected by a very large majority to a seat in the state senate, and was re-elected in 1882. During his first term he served on the committee on new counties and county seats, and also the judiciary committee, and during his second term he served on the judiciary committee and was chairman of the special judiciary committee. In the debates and deliberations of the senate he always took an active part, and was the acknowledged peer of the leading members of that body. Since the expiration of his second term Senator Lee has devoted his entire attention to the large and lucrative practice of the firm of Lee, Criswell & Hastings, all of whom are able and successful lawyers.
Mr. Lee has been twice married. His first marriage occurred Jane 19, 1879, to Miss Laura M., daughter of F. D. Kinnear, of Franklin. She died July 19, 1880, and he was again married October 13. 1883, to Miss Clara V. Kauffman, daughter of Senator C. S. Kauffman, of Columbia, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. Died May 11, 1908.
History of Venango County, Pennsylvania : its past and present, including its aboriginal history, the French and British occupation of the country, its early settlement and subsequent growth, a description of its historic and interesting localities, its rich oil deposits and their development, sketches of its cities, boroughs, townships, and villages, neighborhood and family history, portraits and biographies of pioneers and representative citizens, statistics, etc., etc.
Chicago, Ill.: Brown, Runk & Co., 1890, pages 809-810.