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04/22/2021 11:27 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate

Oliver P James


Session Position District Party
1865 6 Democrat
 Counties   Bucks


1815 - 1894

Son of Benjamin and Nancy (Williams) James, born at Pine Run, New Briton Township, Bucks County, 1815; attended local schools; carpenter in Philadelphia; studied medicine with his cousin, Dr. Robt E. James; graduated from Jefferson Medical College, March 1840; practiced in New Briton Almshouse, 17 years; private practice in Doylestown, 1859; elected as Democrat to the state Senate, 1864; unsuccessful bid for Congress, 1878.  He served as president of the Doylestown Borough Council; Dir. of the Doylestown National Bank; board of directors, Grove Turnpike Co.; passed away on Nov. 19, 1894.  Married Sarah A Gordon of Montgomry Co., 1859.
DR. OLIVER P. JAMES, late of Doylestown, deceased, was the youngest son of Benjamin and Nancy (Williams) James, and was born in New Britain township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1815. He was a descendant in the fifth generation from John and Elizabeth James, who emigrated from Pembrokeshire. Wales, in 1711, as shown by the preceding sketch. On the maternal side he is said to be a descendant of the Roger Williams family of Rhode Island. Dr. James was reared upon the New Britain farm, on Pine Run, and received his education at the schools of the neighborhood. At the age of nineteen, believing that a mechanical trade was his sphere in life, he took up that of a carpenter. He did not bind himself as an apprentice, as was the custom in those days, but, after assisting in building a house erected for his father in 1834, he went to Philadelphia and worked at the trade for two years. Becoming convinced by that time that he had mistaken his calling, he abandoned the saw and plane, and in 1837 entered himself as a student of medicine in the office of his cousin, Dr. Robert E. James, of Upper Mount Bethel. Northampton county, Pennsylvania, father of Robert E. James, Esq. of Easton and read the allotted time with the Doctor, and during the winter season attended lectures at the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, where he graduated in March. 1840. During his studies it developed that he possessed a peculiar aptitude for his chosen profession. During the year succeeding his graduation his cousin and preceptor Dr. Robert E. James, was serving a term in the state legislature and the young doctor took charge of his practice in his absence. He opened an office in New Britain, where he soon built up a large practice. In the first or second year of his practice he was appointed physician at the Bucks County Almshouse, a position he retained for seventeen years. This position attracted attention to the rising voting physician, and assisted in securing him a large practice that soon extended into the far surrounding sections. He continued his residence in New Britain until 1859. when he removed to Doylestown. purchasing the present Ginsley property, on Main street, the former residence of General Samuel A. Smith. Soon after the war he purchased the handsome residence on North Main street, where he spent the remainder of his life, and where his widow and daughter still reside. Dr. James became very prominent in the practice of his profession. Prior to his retirement from active practice, a few years before his death, he was one of the most prominent physicians of the county, and enjoyed an extensive and lucrative practice. He was always closely identified with the interests of his town and county, and in his prime his high ability, courtly manners and kindly nature commanded the highest respect and gave him a wide influence among men. In politics he was a Democrat, and from early manhood he took an active interest in politics. In 1864 he was elected to the state senate over his old neighbor, William Godshalk, by a majoritv of 980 votes. In 1878 he was the candidate of his party for congress from the Seventh District, and, though he ran far ahead of his ticket in many of the precincts, was defeated by his old opponent, William Godshalk. In local societies and institutions Dr. James took a deep interest. He was a member of Doylestown Lodge, No. 245, F. & A. M., and its treasurer for many years, holding that position at the time of his death. He was president of the Doylestown borough council for several terms. He was treasurer of the Doylestown Agricultural and Mechanics' Institute from its organization in 1866 to its dissolution in 1892. He was for twenty years a director of the Doylestown National Bank, and was a member of the board of directors of the Doylestown and Willow Grove Turnpike Company, and treasurer of the company for many years. Dr. James died at his residence in Doylestown on the evening of November 19, 1894. He had been in failing health for some time, being confined to the house for upwards of a month. The cause of his death was valvular disease of the heart. Dr. James was married in 1859, to Sarah A. Gordon, of Montgomery county, who survives him. Their only son, Oliver B., died when a young man, several years ago. Two daughters survive: Martha A., wife of Rev. George H. Lorah. D. D., of Philadelphia; and Sarah M., residing in Doylestown.