James H. McCoy Biography


 This biography appears on pages 1276-1277 in "History of South Dakota" by Doane Robinson, Vol. II (1904) and was scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger, mkrueger@iw.net.


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JAMES H. McCOY, who is now serving on the bench of the fifth judicial circuit of the state, was born on a farm near Oakley, Macon county, Illinois, on the 14th of July, 1855, the son of Benjamin F. and Minerva D. (Helm) McCoy, the former of whom was born and reared in Greenbrier county, Virginia, where he devoted his active life to agricultural pursuits. He is now a resident of Oakley, Illinois, of which state he is an honored pioneer. His wife was born near the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1830, and died at Oakley, Illinois, in 1889. The subject of this sketch pursued his studies in the district schools during his boyhood days and then entered the high school at Decatur, Illinois, where he fitted himself for matriculation in the Illinois Wesleyan University, at Bloomington, being graduated in the law department of that institution as a member of the class of 1880. During the following two years he gave his attention principally to teaching in the public schools of his native state, and in 1883 he was appointed special field examiner for the United States pension department, with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.


In July, 1885, he was dismissed from this position on account of "offensive partisanship," and the following month he opened a law office at Britton, Marshall County, Dakota territory, there continuing in active practice until 1893, when he removed to Webster, Day County, South Dakota, where he built up a large and important law business, remaining in practice there until January, 1900, when he transferred his residence and professional headquarters to the city of Aberdeen. His practice was of general character, and from 1890 to 1901 he probably tried as many civil cases as any other attorney in the circuit, this fact standing in unmistakable evidence of his ability and the confidence reposed in him by the public. In 1887 Judge McCoy was appointed county auditor of Marshall County, and two years later was elected county judge of that county, being re-elected in 1892. In 1901 he was elected to his present exacting and responsible office of judge of the circuit court of the fifth judicial circuit, embracing the counties of Brown, Beadle, Day, Grant, Marshall, Spink and Roberts. His rulings on the bench have shown him to be possessed of a clear, judicial mind, a thorough knowledge of the minutiae of the law, and a desire to subordinate all else to the ends of justice, so that he has but augmented his hold upon popular confidence and esteem. On April 27, 1904, at the judicial convention held at Webster, the Judge was re-nominated by acclamation for a second term of four and a half years as judge. The Judge is an uncompromising advocate of the principles of the Republican Party, in whose cause he has rendered effective service, having served as chairman of the central committees of both Marshall and Day counties. Fraternally he is identified with the Masonic order, having served two years as senior warden of Coteau Lodge, while a resident of Webster; he is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.


In Springfield, Illinois, on the 27th of June, 1883, Judge McCoy was married to Miss Hanna F. Heath, and they have two children, Lelah K., who was born March 11, 1886, and James C., who was born October 18, 1892.