In 1825, while on their way to visit President John Quincy
Adams, a band of Shawnee Indians from what is now the St. James
area, camped on property in Chillicothe, Ohio, owned by Thomas
James, a baker and merchant, identified their red peace paint
as being hematite, an agent of iron ore. The natives then told
James about the beautiful land where they lived and got the paint – what
is today Maramec Spring Park. James then sent his business partner,
Samual Massey, and his brother-in-law to inspect the property.
A favorable report led to the construction of the Maramec Iron
Works in 1826. In 1843, Thomas James' son, William, was sent
to manage the Iron Works.
Around the business grew a community that led to the purchase
of land six miles north of the Maramec Iron Works. The James
family propopsed the town be named "Jamestown." Since
that name was already being used, they followed a custom prevalent
at the time by prefixing James with "Saint."
In the early days, iron was used for kettles, plows and other
utensils that could be hauled by wagons. Bar and pig iron were
later floated down the Meramec and Gasconade rivers.
The area's level terrain offered an ideal spot for a railroad,
which would increase transportation. The first train arrived in
St.James on July 4, 1860. The Town of St. James was incorporated
in 1869. Less than a decade later, in 1876, the Maramec Iron
Works closed when the furnaces grew cold.
Following the death of William James in 1912, Lucy Wortham James,
his granddaughter, acquired ownership of Maramec Spring. Upon
her death in 1938, she made her estate a part of a trust and
authorized the creation of the James Foundation.
St. James experienced significant growth in the mid-20th century.
Route 66 came through St. James, bringing the population up to
about 3,000.Today the population is 3,704. In the 1950's, a tree
planting project began giving the city recognition as the "Forest
City of the Ozarks."
As St.James continues to grow and improve, it also continues
to celebrate its rich history but apart from that is its significant viticultures spread about the region.