from Frank W. Johnson. A History of Texas and Texans. The American Historical Society. Chicago, 1914. Vol. IV, p. 1645.
The career of James Rooney briefly told in the following paragraph is a story of a man who started out as a boy in subordinate capacity, becoming clerk and general utility man until he had acquainted himself with every detail of the business, and since then his progress has been such that the Rooney Mercantile Company of which he is the head is the largest establishment of any kind in Pecos county. It is in fact a regular city department store, and offers the people of Fort Stockton and vicinity a larger stock of goods and better selection than can be found anywhere outside of the largest cities of the state. Another noteworthy fact in connection with the career of Jim Rooney, as he is popularly known, is the "good-will" which has been hardly a less important factor in his success than his ability as a merchant. He possesses completely the confidence and esteem of every citizen of any consequence been accompanied by envy on the part of his competitors.
James Rooney is one of the oldest native sons of Pecos county, where he was born September 27, 1873, about seven years before the first line of railroad was constructed through this portion of Texas, and several years before the Indians had finally ceased their hostilities in west Texas. His father, Francis Rooney, was a pioneer whose name deserves to be long remembered in Pecos County. Francis Rooney was an Irishman by birth, and when a young man came to Texas in 1868, went out to the extreme west frontier, and became identified with cattle raising and farming in Pecos County. Throughout his career there he was active politically and at one time served as county commissioner. He was a loyal member of the Catholic church and popular both as a businessman and citizen. He was a member of the first commissioner's court of Pecos County and during his administration the first jail and courthouse were built in the county. He was an Indian fighter. Residence in this section of Texas during the sixties and seventies necessitated service as a militiaman, and more than once he joined the state rangers in pursuit and battle with the raiding savages. His death occurred in 1890 when he was sixty-three years of age and he was buried in Pecos County. He married Miss Jennie McCarthy, who was also native of Ireland, but they were married in Texas. She makes her home in Fort Stockton with her son James, and is a venerable old lady, and a devout member of the Catholic Church. Of the eight children in the Rooney family, six are now living, all married and all having their homes in Fort Stockton or vicinity, as follows: John Rooney, in the drug business; Frank Rooney, who is county and district clerk; William Rooney, cashier of the First State Bank of Fort Stockton; Mrs. Joseph Richardson; Mrs. H. H. Butz; and James.
James Rooney has been a resident of Pecos county all his life, and his early education was attained in the local schools, after which he entered St. Mary's College at San Antonio. Returning from school to Fort Stockton, he began his career as a school teacher, an occupation he followed for two years, and at the age of twenty took a place as clerk with Mr. H. Koehler, and remained a salesman in his store for about one year until the proprietor's death. He then went to Alpine and worked for C. H. Larkin in a similar capacity for another year. Returning to Fort Stockton he and H. H. Butz formed a partnership and bought the old Koehler store, conducting it under the firm name of Rooney & Butz until 1904. In that year Mr. Rooney bought out his partner, and continued the establishment alone until 1910. In that year was organized and incorporated the Rooney Mercantile company, easily the largest concern of the kind in this part of the state. The Rooney Mercantile Company occupies with its stock of goods a floor space and warehouses, including many thousand square feet, employ a large number of clerks and other workers and does an extensive retail and wholesale business. Everything to be found in a first class city department store is included in the stock, and the policy of the concern which has brought it so much success is the giving of an adequate service in return for every purpose. Mr. Rooney besides being the head of the Rooney Mercantile Company is also vice president of the Fort Stockton State Bank.
He was married in Fort Stockton to Effie McDonald, of Pecos County. Their three sons and three daughters are: Phillip M., Annie B., Jennie L., Donald W., Dorothy, and James, Jr. Mr. Rooney is a broadminded and liberal Catholic in religion and gives his support generously to all religious and philanthropic enterprises. He is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Woodmen of the World, the Masons for Blue Lodge to Chapter, and is president of the Fort Stockton Commercial Club. A worker for Democratic success, Mr. Rooney has the distinction of being the first citizen chosen to the office of the city of Fort Stockton, and he is now mayor as the first and only executive of the city. He has served as a member of the school board and has also been on the board of county commissioners. Among the diversions he is very fond of baseball, and enjoys everything in social life that is wholesome and entertaining. He is owner of large real estate properties in the city and vicinity and without doubt is the most influential man either in business or public affairs in Fort Stockton.
submitted by Regan Jernigan.