James B. Rhodes was born on July 12, 1841, in Tioga County, New York, the son of James (b. 1808) and Rachel (b. 1812).
His parents were both born in Pennsylvania and presumably married there sometime before 1837 when their daughter Lucy was born. In any case, they moved from Pennsylvania to New York sometime before 1837, then moving on to Michigan while James (younger) was still a boy, eventually settling in Allegan County, and by 1860 he was a lumberman living with his family in Manlius, Allegan County.
James stood 5’9” with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion was 19 years old and probably still living in Allegan County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861. James was reported sick in the hospital from October of 1862 through January of 1863, and was discharged for chronic diarrhea on February 4, 1863, at a hospital in Germantown or in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
James returned to Allegan County where he reentered the service in Company B, Eighth Michigan cavalry on August 8, 1864, at Saugatuck for 1 year, crediting Saugatuck, and was mustered on August 12 at Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County. He joined the Regiment on September 21 at Lexington, Kentucky, was promoted to Corporal on November 1, and was reported missing on November 23 at Henryville, Kentucky. James returned to the Regiment on May 11, 1865, and honorably discharged on June 11, 1865, at Pulaski, Tennessee.
After the war he returned to his home in Allegan County. By 1870 he was working as a plasterer and living at Whitney’s Hotel in Saugatuck (he was probably sharing a room with William Furgeson, another plasterer who was born in Kentucky). That same year his mother was still living in Manlius, Allegan County.
He eventually settled in Fennville where he engaged in the lumber business.
He was married to Helen Fogg (1845-1906) on September 10, 1872, possibly in Whitehall, Muskegon County, and they had at least one child, Harry. James was married a second time to New York native Catharine (b. 1843).
He settled in Holton, Muskegon County in 1876, but around 1888 came to Grand Rapids where he founded the “Rhodes Furnace Manufacturing Company.” For many years James lived on west Bridge Street on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids; in 1908 he was living at 421 Bridge Street and in 1916 residing at 1039 Bridge Street. He was living on west Bridge Street in 1906, in Grand Rapids in 1909 and 1911. By 1920 he was living in Grand Rapids’ Seventh Ward with his wife Catharine.
James was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1874 he applied for and received a pension (no. 358548), dated January of 1885.
He died of aortic regurgitation on Tuesday morning, November 3, 1924, at his home at 1039 Bridge Street in Grand Rapids, and the funeral service was held at the residence at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, November 5. He was buried alongside his first wife in Greenwood cemetery: section P lot 39;