William D James began making metal stanchions in his father’s blacksmith shop. He supplied a few other dairy farmers in Wales, Wisconsin with his product. C P Goodrich had established Kent Manufacturing in Ft. Atkinson in 1905 to manufacture corn and potato planters. After seeing one of the stanchions, he looked up William to secure his invention. James became a salesman for Kent while developing new products. William and his father bought the company in 1912 forming the James Manufacturing Company.

The company began making a complete line of sanitary metal products for farm animals. The line included nesting boxes, feeders, water troughs, stalls, and incubators. Ventilators became an important line for the company. Metal ventilators lead to building complete metal barns and silos in 1934. They published the James Barn magazine featuring plans for hog, cattle, poultry, and sheep barns. Dozens of styles were featured. The James experimental barn was established to torture-test new products. They advertised in every farm related publication in the 1920s and 30s.

Three children of Cyrus McCormick established the Cyrus Hall McCormick medal of recognition for exceptional and meritorious contribution to agriculture in 1931. William James was the 1942 winner of the award.

James Manufacturing was sold to Rockwood & Company in 1958 and then to Butler Manufacturing in 1964.

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