James Brownlow Yellowley (7 Oct. 1848-6 June 1914)

James Brownlow Yellowley was born in NC, the son of James Burroughs Yellowley (1797-1854) and his wife, Margaret (Brownlow) Yellowley (d. 31 Oct. 1848). James Burroughs Yellowley was instrumental in founding Ridgeland, in Madison County, MS. His son, James Brownlow Yellowley, was raised by the Brownlows, his mother’s family, in Greenville, NC, when she died soon after his birth. He attended two preparatory institutions in his early years: Mr. Grave’s School in Brownsville, NC, in 1862-1863, and the Bingham School in Orange County, NC, in 1862 and again in 1864).

He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1866 to 1868, but there is no record of him being awarded a degree from that institution. He then attended the University of Virginia in session 45 (1868-1869) from which he graduated with a degree in French.

Yellowley married, first, Jessie Perkins (1848-1902), with whom he had three children, Edward C. Yellowley, Mary F. Yellowley, and James B. Yellowley. The eldest, Edward C. Yellowley, became an enforcement agent for the Federal Internal Revenue Service, “and in 1925, was assigned to the Chicago Prohibition Enforcment Office. His information on the illicit beer business controlled by the late gang leader, Al Capone, was part of the government’s case when Capone was convicted and imprisoned for income tax evasion.” It was E. C. Yellowley who called in the group of agents who were to be known as “The Untouchables.” (Washington Post, Feb. 9, 1962)

James Brownlow Yellowley’s second wife was named Sadie, and they were married about 1905. [NOTE: Sadie’s identity is uncertain, but because of information from the 1880-1930 U.S. Censuses, it seems likely to me that she is the Sadie Sanford who was born in Wisconsin in Feb. 1873, and was the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Sanford, immigrants from England. – JLC] This couple had no children.

Yellowley was a lawyer and a planter by profession, and practiced in Greenville, NC much of his life, though he continued to maintain a plantation in Madison County, MS. In 1876-77, Yellowley served as a member of the General Assembly of Mississippi in the House of Representatives; as a state legislator he was a fierce advocate for agricultural education. In late 1892, the J. B. Yellowley family moved to Madison County, selling their properties in Greenville. In 1902, at a conference held at what is today Mississippi State University in Ridgeland, MS, he gave a talk entitled “Improvements in Southern Agriculture.” At the same conference, he was also Chairman of the Committee of Arrangement for the Farmers Institute, as well as President of the Horticultural Society. In 1908, he was elected mayor of Ridgeland; in the same year he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Yellowley died  in 1914, and was buried in Ridgeland.


  • 1850-1930 U.S. Censuses. North Carolina, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
  •  Battle, Kemp P., Ed. Sketches of the History of the University of North Carolina, Together with a Catalogue of Officers and Students, 1789-1889. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1889. Accessed via books.google.com.
  • “Family of J.B. Yellowley moved to Mississippi.” Eastern Reflector, Greenville, NC, 7 Dec. 1892.
  • Guide to the Henry T. King Collection, 1799, 1840-1865, 1887-1931 (Manuscript Collection #625). Joyner Library Collection Guides, East Carolina University. Description accessed online at http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0625/.
  • “History of Ridgeland” accessed at City of Ridgeland, MS [official website]. http://www.ridgelandms.org/history.html
  • “The Mississippi Fusion Ticket.” New York Times, September 5, 1881, from the Jackson Clarion, September 1, 1881. Accessed online at http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60F1FF73C541B7A93C7A91782D85F458884F9 .
  •  Nordin, D. Sven. Rich Harvest: A History of the Grange, 1867-1900. Jackson, MS, 1974. Accessed via books.google.com.
  • “Obituary 1 — No Title.” The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), February 9, 1962, http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed April 26, 2011).
  • Perman, Michael. The Road to Redemption: Southern Politics, 1869-1879. Chapel Hill, NC, 1984. Reprint, 1985. Accessed via books.google.com.
  • “Programme of exercises for the ‘Farmers Institute’ to be held at Ridgeland, Mississippi, by professors from the Agricultural & Mechanical College and citizens of the community.” Dec. 11-13, 1902. Digital Collections, Mississippi State University Libraries. Accessed at http://digital.library.msstate.edu/collections/document.php?CISOROOT=/charm&CISOPTR=10177&REC=1 .
  •  Rowland, Dunbar. Encyclopedia of Mississippi history. Madison, WI, 1907. Accessed via books.google.com.
  • Tombstones of James B. Yellowley and Jessie Perkins Yellowley, Jessamine Cemetery, Ridgeland, Madison County, MS.
  •  University of Virginia. Alumni Bulletin of the University of Virginia: Third Series. 1914, v. 7. Charlottesville, 1914. Accessed via books.google.com.
  •  University of Virginia. Catalogue of the University of Virginia, forty-sixth session, 1869-’70. Richmond, VA, 1870.
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