Autobiography of James F. D. Lanier
James Franklin Doughty Lanier was born November 22, 1800 in Beaufort County, North Carolina and died August 27, 1881 in New York .
He was a entrepreneur who lived in Madison, Indiana prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–1865). Lanier became a wealthy banker
with interests in pork packing, the railroads, and real-estate.
He and his family moved to Madison, Indiana in 1817, the year after it became a state. He married his first wife, Elizabeth Gardner, in 1819. He studied
law at Transylvania University and began practicing in 1820. During the 1820s he was assistance clerk to the Indiana Legislature and later Clerk to the
Indiana House of Representatives where he was involved in assisting to move the capitol from Corydon to Indianapolis in 1825.
In the early 1830s, Lanier became involved in banking. He became president of the Bank of Indiana in 1833 and eventually became a large shareholder
of its Madison branch and was also on the board of directors that oversaw all branches. In the later 1830s, Lanier was involved with construction of the
state's first major rail line connecting Madison and Indianapolis. He became a major stockholder in the line, which was finally finished in 1847. The line
turned out to be very profitable.
The same year, Lanier represented Indiana in a meeting with its European creditors. The state was on the verge of bankruptcy due to extreme
overspending on internal improvement over the previous decade and was liquidating its assets. Lanier was able to negotiate the transfer of ownership
of most of the Indiana canals to their bond holders in exchange for a 50% reduction in the value of the bonds.
His sudden wealth allowed him to build a large mansion in Madison; it was completed in 1844, located at 601 West First Street in the Madison Historic
District of Madison, Indiana. The home was designed by architect Francis Costigan of Madison. Lanier only lived at the property for seven years, afterward
he moved to New York. In 1861 his son Alexander moved into the home, and lived there until 1895. It would remain with the family until 1917 when
James' youngest son Charles gave it as the Lanier Memorial Museum to Jefferson County Historical Society. In 1925 the society, with the family's blessing,
gave control of it to the state, which promptly opened it publicly as a historic house museum.
His wife Elizabeth died in 1846 and he was remarried to Margaret Mary McClure in 1848.
In 1849 Lanier began trading railroad shares in New York in a bank he started there in the same year with Richard Winslow called Winslow, Lanier & Co..
In 1851, Lanier moved out of the state to New York, where he would manage his new business. He never moved back to Indiana.
Lanier, at the request of Gov. Oliver Morton, loaned the Indiana government over one million dollars without security to help the state avoid bankruptcy
during the American Civil War. The money was used to pay interest on the state debt and outfit troops. It was all repaid by 1870. The state, gratef ul for
his help, has preserved his residence in Madison, the Lanier Mansion, as a state historic site
Sketch of the life of J. F. D. Lanier New York: Hosford & Sons, printers, 1871.
This is his autobiography.
From various Indiana counties histories which I think are based on this comes many references to the man and some
biographical sketches. I have combined all to make one clear and maybe
concise biography of this intreging man
. Also a listing of his land purchases of Lake Maxinkuckee is here. T
Thus far from what has been found it seems very probable that J. F. D. Lanier ever stepped foot on any of the land
he purchased around Lake Maxinkuckee.