This biography appears on pages 558-561 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. IV (1915)
Hon. James Halley is the president of the First National Bank of
Rapid City and has left the impress of his individuality for good upon the financial history of his state. He was born in Stirling,
Perthshire, Scotland, January 7, 1854, and when but two years of age was brought by his parents to the United States, settling in
Washington, D. C., where he lived to the age of sixteen years, pursuing his education in the meantime in the public schools. He afterward
learned telegraphy and was employed in various places in the south for a year, after which he returned to Washington and after a brief period
removed west to Cheyenne, Wyoming, there becoming chief operator for the Western Union Telegraph Company. He remained at that place for
three years and then went to the Pacific coast, afterward returning to Omaha, where he spent a few months. Once more he went to Cheyenne and
in 1876 he opened a series of offices between that place and the Black Hills for a company composed of Cheyenne and Deadwood capitalists. He
arrived in Custer in August and at Deadwood late that year. He continued in the employ of the company until 1879, when he entered
banking circles through appointment to the position of teller in the First National Bank of Deadwood. The following year, 1880, in
connection with Mr. Lake of Deadwood and Mr. Patterson of Rapid City, he organized the banking house of Lake, Halley & Patterson at Rapid
City and was largely responsible for the management of that institution until September 1, 1884, when it was merged into the First National
Bank of Rapid City, of which he became the cashier. On the 13th of January, 1898, he was elevated to the presidency and has since remained
at the head of the institution, bending his efforts to administrative direction and executive control. He has closely studied progressive
methods of banking and he is also identified with the Bank of Hot Springs as its president and is president of the Keystone Bank of
Keystone, South Dakota, and treasurer of the Rapid River Milling Company.
While his business connections are extensive and important, he
has never been neglectful of the other duties and obligations of life. In polities a republican, he has been actively interested in both
territorial and state polities and has done not a little toward shaping the policy and guiding the destiny of his party. He served for one term
in the upper house of the territorial legislature, which was the last before the division of the territory into the two states of North and
South Dakota. He served for two terms as mayor of Rapid City and was chosen as a delegate to the republican national convention at
Minneapolis in 1892 and to the one in Philadelphia in 1900. For years he acted as state central committeeman and was also chairman of the
county committee. Outside of his banking interests and his public activities he is known as the owner of large landed holdings and is one
of the principal owners of the Box Elder ranch.
On the 13th of September, 1878, at Cheyenne, Wyoming, Mr. Halley
was united in marriage to Miss Lottie Smith, a daughter of S. L. Smith of Cheyenne. Their wedding journey was made by stage from Cheyenne to
Deadwood. Their children are nine in number, as follows: Albert, Helen, James, Francis, Lottie, Sarah, Samuel Russell, Walter and Donald, and
all have a college education.
Mr. Halley belongs to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and
is also identified with Gate City Lodge, No. 8, K. P. A hunting trip, a fishing excursion or a tour in his automobile constitute his chief
sources of recreation. He possesses a genial. social nature which has won him personal popularity and it has been well said of him that he is
never too busy to be cordial nor too cordial to be busy.