James Hamilton was born in 1816 in Killybegs, Co.Donegal, Ireland. His father, also named James Hamilton, was a revenue boatman, and his mother was Mary Wilson, also of Killybegs. James had a brother John, who was a sea captain, another brother Alexander (Sandy), also a mariner, a brother Thomas, and sisters Elizabeth and Anne.
James went to sea at a young age; in 1833 he was Mate on The Endeavour of London and kept a journal of a voyage from London to Madeira and Teneriffe.
In 1838 he came to America, traveling via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to Greenwood Township in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, where his widowed aunt, Mariah Cook had a farm near (at) Porters' Corners. Her husband John Cook had died in a blizzard. James took over the farm and cared for his aunt until her death in 1858. In 1857 he married 17 year old Margaret WIlliams who had just come from Branchville, New Jersey with her parents. They raised a family of 7 children on the farm at Porters' Corners. He was a very religious man (He was fired from a job on the Great Lakes for refusing to work on Sunday.) He was one of the founding members and an elder of the Presbyterian Church in Atlantic. PA.
He had beautiful handwriting and worked at the county courthouse in Meadville. (copying legal documents?) He was certified to teach school, but it is uncertain whether or not he actually taught. He died in 1887, leaving all his property to his wife.
Picture of Killybegs
Map of Ireland showing Killybegs and Portrush