Biography of James L. McCoy

James L. McCoy has for many years been identified with the lumber industry both in Kansas and Arkansas, and manages his extensive interests from his home and headquarters at Coffeyville.

Nearly all his active career has been spent in the West and in the early days of Oklahoma he went there as a pioneer and opened a farm. James L. McCoy was born in Atchison County, Missouri, May 21, 1862. Four generations of the McCoys have lived in this country, having come originally from Scotland, and the family were early settlers in the State of Ohio. Mr. McCoy’s grandfather, Andrew Cartwright, who was born in Maryland and followed farming in Ohio, was a consin of Peter Cartwright, the famous Methodist evangelist of the early days in Southern Ohio and other states.

William McCoy, father of James L., was born in Pike County, Ohio, in 1836, and died at Coffeyville in 1905. He came out to Kansas and located at Coffeyville in 1886, and for many years was in the general merchandise business with store at the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets. He built the fine business block known as the McCoy or Junction Building at the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets. That building is still included in his estate, as are also two dwelling houses, one at 601 Willow Street and another at Third and Union streets.

Reared and receiving his early education in Pike County, Ohio, James L. McCoy came west in 1885, and in 1887 went to Arkansas, where he engaged in the lumber business a few miles out of Fayetteville on the Frisco Railroad, about the time that railroad was constructed. Some five years later he went to the southern part of the state and established his mills in Horatio. He still owns extensive interests in the pine lumber districts of that section. Since 1906 Mr. McCoy has had his home in Coffeyville, and has operated extensively as a retail lumber dealer. His yards are on Eighth Street near the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. Mr. McCoy also has sawmills at Horatio, Arkansas, and another lumber yard at Angola, Kansas.

He is executor of his father’s estate and individually he owns a row of flats on Maple Street, forty acres of farm land east of Coffeyville, and one of the most attractive modern brick residences in Coffeyville at 410 Elm Street. Mr. McCoy for the past two years has been a trustee in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a democrat, a member of the Masonic order and belongs to the Lumberman’s Fraternity, the Hoo Hoos.

Mrs. James L. McCoy has for a number of years been one of the recognized leaders in women’s affairs at Coffeyville, and has accomplished a great deal in making woman’s influence effective in behalf of a cleaner and better city and more wholesome conditions throughout the community. Mrs. McCoy, who married Mr. McCoy in 1891, at St. Paul, Arkansas, was before her marriage Miss Katie Bretz. She is in the fifth generation from her ancestor Bretz who came from Holland and settled in Pennsylvania in colonial times. This ancestor was Philip Bretz, who located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1765. Mr. McCoy has a complete and authentic record of all the generations subsequent to the Bretz family on American shores.

Mrs. McCoy was born at Moccasin, Effingham County, Illinois, was educated in the public schools there, was a teacher in the schools for three years, and then for two years before her marriage was connected with the schools at St. Paul, Arkansas, where she met Mr. McCoy.

Mrs. McCoy is one of the active workers of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Coffeyville, teaches a class in the Sunday School and is conference treasurer of the Home Missionary Society. She is a member of Coffeyville Chapter No. 112 of the Order of the Eastern Star. Her name is especially familiar in connection with woman’s club affairs. She belongs to the Culture Club, which is affiliated with the State Federation of Woman’s Clubs, and is a member of the City Federation of Woman’s Clubs. Again and again her work and influence have been helpful in promoting many movements for the advantage and improvement of her home city.

All this she has accomplished together with the rearing and training of a large family of promising children, many of whom are already on their own responsibilities and making good in the business world. Mr. and Mrs. McCoy have one grandchild. The oldest of their ten children is Clarence, who was born December 20, 1892, is manager of his father’s sawmill at Horatio, Arkansas, and at Horatio married Ethel Millwee, by whom he has one child, J. L. McCoy, Jr., born March 9, 1915. Lawrence, the second son, was born December 24, 1893, and conducts his father’s lumber yard at Angola, Kansas, he being a graduate of the Coffeyville High School. Katie Ray was born August 18, 1897, and died December 10, 1902. William was born November 20, 1899, and is a junior in the Coffeyville High School. Elizabeth was born June 8, 1901, and died in early infancy. Ruth, born August 26, 1903, is making rapid progress as a scholar and is now in the eighth grade of the public schools. Esther, born November 18, 1904, is also a remarkably bright child and is in the eighth grade. Frank was born October 9, 1906, and George on January 9, 1909, both being in the grammar schools. Ralph, the youngest, born November 19, 1912, and died October 3, 1914.

Mrs. McCoy’s father is John Bretz, who was born at Akron, Ohio, June 12, 1836, and is now living at the venerable age of eighty years at Abbott, Arkansas. He grew up and married his first wife in Ohio, was a farmer for a number of years, moved to Illinois in 1862, where he followed farming and the drug business, and in 1887 entered the sawmilling industry in Arkansas, where he is still living, being now retired. Mr. John Bretz is a democrat, and has held the various lay offices in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a Royal Arch Mason. His first wife was Julia Hoffman, and her two children were: Jennie, the widow of Thomas Kramer, who was an Illinois farmer and died in 1915; and George, a farmer at Shields, Kansas. For his second wife John Bretz married Angeline Mahin, who was born in Illinois in 1845 and died at Moccasin in that state in 1879. Her children were: Sarah and Lizzie, both deceased; Mrs. James L. McCoy; Edward, deceased; Bertha, who lives in Louisiana, the widow of William Shanklin, who was in the mining business in Missouri associated with his uncle Nathaniel Shanklin, who still lives there; Frank, a sawmill man at Horatio, Arkansas; and Effie, now deceased. John Bretz married for his third wife Mary Culler, and the only child of that union is Fannie, who is unmarried and lives at Massillon, Ohio. For his present wife John Bretz married Lizzie Lucas.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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