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"Iron Baron", "Iron King"
James was born in Norwich, Connecticut on January 25th, 1800. His father, Daniel Sterling; a Quaker, married Mary Bradford. She was a descendant of Governor William Bradford, a Puritan.
In 1802 Daniel moved his family to
. While growing up James had little education but lots of work for his father clearing land in the still-wild region. But despite his lack of education he was very intelligent and quickly proved himself a perceptive businessman.
He learned iron-working at
. James heard of some natural iron that had been found on the Hopestil Foster farm near
, and he bought the land which would eventually become his famous iron mines which produced thousands of tons of ore over time. He organized the
Philadelphia Iron Company
in 1840 and built a cold-blast charcoal furnace at
, the village which was named after him. This mine and others produced pig-iron ingots, and which would become known in the market at the time as "Sterling Iron".
Around 1844 he built another blast furnace at
, also near
and also bought a furnace at Wegatchie in
St. Lawrence County
. In 1852 he purchased what would become Sterlingbush (or Sterling Bush, earlier and later names -
James employed as many as a thousand men in his various iron businesses, and the money and business he brought to the area helped to expand both industry and population here.
The man himself stood six feet three inches tall and weighed around 396 pounds, and fathered eleven children. James Sterling died at his home in
on July 23rd,1863 at 63 years old.
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