Biography of James McNab
Kalamazoo County, MI Biographies



Kalamazoo County

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Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

JAMES McNAB was born in Johnstown, Fulton Co., N. Y., May 14, 1826, and is a descendant of an old Scotch family. His father, Archibald McNab, was born in Scotland. His family came to America in 1800 and settled in Johnstown, where he married a Miss Christiana Walker, who was also of Scotch descent, her parents having been born in Scotland. When James was two years old his parents moved to Caledonia, Livingston Co., N. Y., where he grew to manhood, and where his parents lived and died. His education was limited to a few weeks' attendance in the winter at the district school, working on the farm summers as soon as old enough. In 1856 he bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres. On this farm he remained until 1868, meeting with marked success. He then sold and came to Kalamazoo County, and bought, in the town of Cooper, the farm known as the Governor Throop, or Springbrook, farm. The farm contains four hundred and eighty acres, and is pleasantly situated on Springbrook, which runs through it. Governor Throop bought the farm in 1848, improved two hundred acres, and set out orchards, ornamental trees, and arranged the finest flower-garden in the region. The locust grove still standing on the farm is a souvenir of the Governor, who is still remembered by the older inhabitants as a gentleman of the old school. In 1856 he sold the place and returned to his Willowbrook farm, near Auburn, N. Y., where he died, Nov. 1, 1874. Governor Throop filled many important offices, both State and national, and it seems strange that at his time of life he should settle on a new farm in a new country. He thus explains it in a letter to Mrs. MeNab:

"It may perhaps be an enigma to my friends, as well as my Springbrook neighbors, that I should retire to an uncultivated region and undertake to cultivate, or rather create, a farm from its wild condition. My tastes are perhaps peculiar. I have been in the public service in various offices with few intervals soon after I commenced the buiness of life, and I finished my official life at Naples. Freed from public responsibility. I spent two years in Paris to make my severance from political affairs complete. I always had an inclination for farming or rural pursuits, and I returned to my farm at Owasco Lake, near Auburn, and cultivated it for five years. Having no family to provide for, and moved by a desire to share in the labor of a frontier life, and to put myself in the column pretty far advanced, moving West with civilization and empire, and having always fancied that the territory surrounded by the lakes would be an agreeable residence, with a mild climate, and having a nephew with a large and growing family and an ample fortune who would like to occupy the old homestead, I left him in possession, and pitched my tent, fortunately, on the bank of the beautiful pebbly stream which you so graphically describe."

The farm is now in a fine state of cultivation, with well constructed buildings, erected by Mr. Potter. In the house, which stands on the site of the Governor's log house, is the old fireplace, and one log of the old log house is left in the present house.

Mr. McNab is a Republican in politics, though he has never taken an active part in political matters. He married, April 29, 1868, Miss Mary Shaw, daughter of James and Anna (McCall) Shaw. Mrs. MeNab is a lady of fine accomplishments, having graduated at Ingham University, Leroy, N. Y., where she afterwards taught several years. She also taught in Dr. West's seminary, at Brooklyn Heights, N. Y., Since coming to Kalamazoo she has taken a deep interest in the Ladies' Literary Club, and was its president one year, during which time the membership increased from fifty to one hundred and fifty. Mr. and Mrs. MeNab have no living children.

History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of its Men and Pioneers.
Everts & Abbott., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.