James L. Van Uxem was born ca. 1843 in Dublin, Wayne County, Indiana the only child of James Van Uxem born Pennsylvania, a merchant, and Sarah H. Van Uxem, his wife born in Maryland. On 28 May 1866 he married Annetta Bradley in Indiana.
James L. and his wife moved to Chicago ca. 1868 and he opened his sporting goods store about 1870. They lived in several residences. They had one known child, a daughter Carrie who married 6 August 1896 Hugh Percival Walden in Chicago, IL.
His sporting goods store, located at 101 Randolph Street, was spared in the Chicago fire of 1871 although his residence may have been a different story.
A magazine, The Sporting Goods Dealer, printed January 1906 indicated that James L. Van Uxem sold his business to Bullard and Gormley located at 78-80 Randloph Street in Nov./Dec. 1905. He then bought and sold real estate until his death on 25 October 1918. Information about James L. Van Uxem is as hard to locate as his reels.
Reels bearing his name are very rare. there are probably less than two dozen reels stamped with his name known to exist at the present time. Following are six nice marked examples of the reels he sold.
Donald P. Champion
The above reel is nickel plated brass in a 80 yard size. This example was made by John Kopf and being the only known example by this maker marked Van Uxem - Chicago.
The above reel was made by Montague City Rod Co. and is their four screw german silver model which their was top of the line reel. They made this reel as an answer to competition from the Kentucky reel makers. This reel is marked Jas. L. Van Uxem - Chicago and also marked with the name Geneva. The size marked under the foot is 13 1/2 which coresponds to the jeweled 80 yard model in the 1904 Montague catalog.
The above reel is Montague's raised gear case or "top hat" style german silver reel with jeweled oil caps. The size is marked 1 1/2 and also appears in the 1904 Montague catalog and is an 80 yard reel. This reel is also stamped Jas. L. Van Uxem - Chicago and marked with the name Geneva. Apparently he carried several different reels with the name Geneva.
This is also a Montague reel in the raised gear case or "top hat" style. This reel is marked Jas. L. Van Uxem - Chicago and also with the name Grass Lake. It is an 80 yard example in nickel plated brass. It is not in as good a condition as the other reels shown here and hopefully I can upgrade it someday.
The above reel is marked Jas. L. Van Uxem - Chicago and Green Lake. It is an 80 yard nickel plated brass reel in the semi-Kentucky style. The drag is on the front and the click is on the back. This reel was also manufactured by the Montague City Rod Co.
This reel is marked Jas. L. Van Uxem - Chicago and also with the name Winona. It is a nickel plated brass 80 yard reel manufactured by Montague City Rod Co. This concludes the examples I have of reels marked with James L. Van Uxem. There is one salt water example known to exist.