Joy, James F.

Born: 1810-12-02 New Hampshire

Died: 1896-09-24 Detroit, Michigan

Flourished: Detroit, Michigan

James F. Joy, attorney, was heavily involved in the promotion of railroads in Illinois in the 1850s and 1860s. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1833 and finished a law degree at Harvard University in 1836. That same year he was admitted to the bar and moved to Detroit, where in 1837 he partnered in a law firm with George F. Porter. Joy recruited private investors to purchase the Michigan Central Railroad from the state of Michigan in 1846, became the railroad's counsel, and in 1852 was named a director. Beginning in 1850, Joy worked with Abraham Lincoln on several railroad cases, including on litigation securing the use of tracks belonging to the Illinois Central Railroad Company for the Michigan Central as the latter expanded toward Chicago. In September 1850, Joy was practicing law in Detroit and owned $10,000 in real property. Between 1852 and 1857, Joy served as counsel general for the Illinois Central Railroad and represented the railroad along with Lincoln in Illinois Central RR v. McLean County, Illinois & Parke. Joy orchestrated the merger of four short railroad lines west of Chicago into the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and was president of the railroad for four years beginning in 1853. He continued to promote the westward expansion of railroads through the Civil War. Joy had four children with his first wife, Martha Alger Reed, whom he married in 1841, and following her death he married Mary Bourne in 1860 and the pair had three additional children. Politically, Joy was a Whig, then for a short time an adherent of the Free Soil Party, and ultimately a Republican and supporter of Lincoln’s 1860 presidential campaign.

John F. Stover, “Joy, James Frederick,” American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 12:291-92; Ernest Ludlow Bogart, “Joy, James Frederick,” Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964), 5:2:224-25; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Detroit, Wayne County, MI, 238; Illinois Central RR v. McLean County, Illinois & Parke, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),; For all of Joy's cases, search Participant, "Joy, James F.," Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition,; The Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 25 September 1896, 1:5-6, 10:1-4; Gravestone, Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, MI.