JAMES W. SHIRLEY, a stock farmer and real estate owner of North Fort Worth, was born in Abbeville county, South Carolina, while his parents, Mason and Rachel (McAdams) Shirley, were natives of Virginia. They removed from South Carolina to Pontotoc county, Mississippi, in 1854, and the parents both died in that state.
James W. Shirley, however, was reared upon a farm in Mississippi and after attaining his majority was engaged in farming pursuits there. He first came to Texas in 1876 upon a prospecting tour, and in 1880 he removed to Fort Worth, where for two years he was employed in a grocery store. He afterward engaged in the grocery business for himself at Roanoke, Denton county, for three years and in 1885 again came to Tarrant county and bought a farm of about one hundred acres where North Fort Worth now stands. At that time, however, the surrounding country was so sparsely settled that there were not enough children to form a school district.
Mr. Shirley has lived upon his original place continuously since, although since that time he has divided his farm into city lots, comprising Shirley’s Addition to North Fort Worth. He has sold many of these lots but still retains some and the growth of the city, consequent upon the opening of the new stock yards and packing houses, has greatly enhanced the value of his property. He also owns a fine stock farm of five hundred and twelve acres near Benbrook in Tarrant county on the Clear Fork, where he carries on a general stock farming business, being very successful in this undertaking. For several years after locating on his original place at North Fort Worth he conducted a dairy farm. His business interests have been well directed by sound judgment and been discernment and these qualities in connection with his executive ability have gained for him a gratifying measure of prosperity.
Mr. Shirley was married to Miss Belle Darter, a sister of W. A. Darter, of Fort Worth, and a daughter of Francis and Mary (Boyd) Darter, the father a native of Virginia and the mother of Kentucky, where they were married and raised a family of nine children. They came to Tarrant county in 1859. She is a representative of one of the pioneer families of western Texas. Seven children have been born of this marriage: Lottie May, Fred, Marietta, Jim Bob, Mark, Mittie Belle and Violet. Mr. Shirley and most of his family are members of the Christian church and he is one of the substantial citizens of the country. He has been greatly interested in the establishment and success of the public school system of North Fort Worth and has seen the schools developed from their earliest nucleus to their present advanced state, demanding the employment of twenty teachers in the different districts of the city. He has acted as a school trustee of his district in which his home is situated. He is pre-eminently public spirited and his co-operation has been of marked benefit in the promotion of public measures of progress here.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 119-120.