JAMES FRANCIS LONG. Almost coexistent with the little city of Sunset, Texas, is the business career of James F. Long, whose name introduces this personal record. When he came to it the town was still in its infancy and was only a hamlet, nestled among the scattered oaks, marking the untamed wilderness of a few years before. With more experience than years and more courage than capital Mr. Long grasped the opportunities to establish a business which was destined to grown and become one of the leading if not the chiefest mercantile enterprise of the place. From his humble beginning has come the largest hardware and implement concern of Sunset, and since that eventful day its proprietor has achieved the most substantial success of his active life.
In 1879 James F. Long acted upon the advice of Horace Greeley, the noted American journalist, and came west. He had but little more than begun his business career and it was with the view of planting himself in a field of greater opportunity that he sought the Lone Star state. The public schools of his native state had treated him to a liberal education and the brief years of his then business experience had established confidence in himself and stimulated his ambition to become a positive force in the world’s affairs and to win success by his own efforts. Locating at Aurora, in Wise county, the principalship of its public schools furnished him the stepping stone to the career in which he was destined to win his success. That he was an efficient teacher is evidenced by his employment for three years in the one place, and his compensation of one hundred dollars a month little more than maintained him while at work and carried him through each long vacation, so that when he decided to embark in mercantile pursuits his capital amounted to a small surplus above the actual freight on his stock.
In a little wooden building on Front street in the unpromising village of Sunset our subject shelved a handful of hardware and its accompanying sundries and announced himself ready for business August 10, 1882. For six years he catered to his trade from that point and he then established his business on the site of his present store. The history of his growth is the duplicate of the story told of all men who win success behind the counter, and the key to it all lies in the makeup of the man himself. Honesty and uprightness are universally recognized and its practice in business brings its reward as surely as in politics or the law. While this has been Mr. Long’s cardinal trait another significant one has been, in a large measure, responsible for his material growth. Without energy of mind and body no personal victories can be won and with this element, and that of industry strongly intrenched [sic], Mr. Long has proven himself master of his situation.
James F. Long was born in Spencer county, Kentucky, September 15, 1851, amid rural scenes and under the environment of a country home. His father, M. J. Long, was born in the same county in 1825, became a large farmer and fine cattle grower and was widely known. The same energy that pushed him by his competitors in the race of life won him prominence as a citizen, and it is not surprising that he should do his modest share in controlling the politics and the politicians of his county. He was a rugged example of honesty in all things and gauged his life along the virtuous teachings of the gospel and maintained his church home with the Missionary Baptists. He was a son of Thomas Long, born in Virginia in 1780, who sent into Kentucky at a time when he could have bought land on the site of Louisville for a dollar an acre. The latter died in Spencer county in 1870; his wife was Nancy Jackson, a cousin of General Stonewall Jackson.
Micajah J. Long was one of the family of ten children and married Miss Kate Beauchamp. He died in Sunset in April, 1893, and his widow now resides in Sunset, the mother of: Lula, wife of W. O. Yeager, of Sunset; James F., our subject; Nancy, wife of W. T. Dale, of Chico, Texas; Michael B., who died at Aurora, Texas; Lillie, who married J. W. Chenoweth and resides in Oak Cliff, Dallas; Vessie, wife of W. W. Barber, of Bridgeport, Texas, and Mary, Mrs. S. C. Sneed, of Fort Worth.
At eighteen years of age James F. Long separated from his father’s home and took up the business of buying and shipping stock, with Louisville as his chief headquarters, and in this channel of commerce he got his first practical business experience, and in it he remained some four years. Concluding his efforts in this vocation he acted upon his desire to try his fortunes in the west and he came to Texas in 1879. With what resources he began his career in Montague county we have already noted. His brick store, with its immense stock, and his farm near town where he is bringing up his young family, together with other substantial assets show, when contrasted with his original condition, the results of his labors and the achievement of his early ambition.
April 25, 1889, Mr. Long was united in marriage, in Montague county, with Miss Alice Vowell, only daughter of the late Dr. J. L. Vowell, who grew up in Missouri, fought in the Confederate army form that state, came to Texas in the early seventies and married, in Grayson county, his cousin’s widow, Mrs. Martha Vowell, now a resident of Sunset. Dr. Vowell was the father of Charles L. Vowell, of Sherman, besides Mrs. Long, and died in Bowie, Texas, December 19, 1904.
Mr. and Mrs. Long’s children are: Bulah, Robert, Lucile, Pauline, Thomas and an infant son.
In his political relations, limited as they have been, Mr. Long is a Democrat. His only public official service has been as road overseer and on the school board, but in his sincere and earnest citizenship he has rendered even greater service than in public life.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 202-204.