James McDiffit, who has built up a large business as a coal merchant, is a factor in the business and commercial
expansion of Davis City. He was born in Marion county, West Virginia, on the 24th of April, 1837, of the marriage
of John and Elizabeth (Yost) McDiffit, natives respectively of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The father took
up his residence in the latter state many years ago. He devoted his life to agricultural pursuits and died in the
spring of 1865, having survived his wife since 1849.
James McDiffit was reared in his native state and there attended the public schools in the acquirement of an education.
He remained with his father until 1857, in which year he was married. Following that event he removed to Wheeling,
West Virginia, where he worked in the coal mines for ten years, after which he emigrated to Lucas county, Iowa,
and settled on eighty acres of land near Chariton. He worked out small veins of coal upon his place and then removed
to Cleveland, Iowa. He bought a residence there and worked in the mines in that vicinity until 1879, when he became
a stationary engineer and was so employed until 1888. In that year he arrived in Decatur county and purchased eighty
acres of land in New Buda township which he operated for four. years. At the end of that time he sold out and removed
to Davis City. He purchased a good residence there and lived retired for a time but traded that property for a
farm in Wright county, Missouri, in the fall of 1896. He operated that place for two years, after which he sold
out and returned to Davis City, Iowa, buying property here. He has since resided in Davis City and has been continuously
engaged in the coal business. He has met with a gratifying measure of success and during the last fall and winter
sold over eight hundred tons of coal. His early experience in coal mines has stood him in good stead, making him
an expert judge of the quality of coal, and he is able to secure high grades at reasonable prices for his customers.
In August, 1857, Mr. McDiffit married Miss Nancy Haines, a daughter of Reuben and Elsie (Dobbins) Haines, natives
of Pennsylvania, both of whom passed away in Greene county, that state. The father was a carpenter and followed
that pursuit throughout his active life. Mr. and Mrs. McDiffit had two children, both of whom died in infancy,
but they reared three of her brother's children, Martha, Julia and William Fox. Julia passed away in early womanhood,
leaving four children whom our subject and his wife reared. William resides near Davis City and Martha, who is
the wife of John Allen, lives in the state of Washington. Mrs. McDiffit passed away on the 17th of May, 1913, after
but five hours' illness, and her sudden demise was a great shock to all who knew her.
Mr. McDiffit is a republican and has always been willing to place the public good above private interests. At the
time of the Civil war he served in the Union army, enlisting from Wheeling, West Virginia, in October, 1864, in
Company I, Sixth West Virginia Infantry, and being mustered out in June, 1865. He fiends much pleasure in his association
with other veteran soldiers through the Grand Army of the Republic. He is a member of the Reorganized Church of
Latter Day Saints, of which he is an elder, and does much to further the interests of that denomination in his
History of Decatur County, Iowa
And its People
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Decatur County, IA
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