He was really rather mean - at least to his wife: They lived in Colorado at some time.A newspaper article seen by some researcher says he wasa "respected citizen of Florence, CO".They had also lived in NE, briefly.
Wild Bill Hickok earned this nickname in a so called fight with what he called the"McCanless Gang".David, brother of James, was killed by Hickok and two others in a massacre in Johnson County, NE.
There are two story versions:one has James going west with his brother, David and the other says he arrived after David was killed. Abt. 1861, James was in Beatrice, Gage Cty, NE.He formed a posse and arrested Wild Bill Hickok, "Doc" Brink and Horace Wellman on charges of murder, but a Justice of the Peace let them off.Supposedly, James moved back to NC durng the Civil War and went to Fremont Cty, Co in 1867 with his father, mother, and all his siblings and their families.He drilled for oil in 1872 in Florence and turned the oil distillery into a hotel/store and office building.A second story: In 1859 in the Little Blue Valley, Jones/Jefferson Cty, NE, he moved his sister-in-law from Carter Cty, TN and bought three farms in 1860 in Johnson County.James farmed in Johnson Cty, NE and decided to run for political office.The story says he was campaigning in Lincoln when a man stood up and said he would not support him and why.Later that night, the man was killed.There wasn't enough evidence against James but he sold everything and took his wife, children, David's widow and his children to Colorado.At this time, he changed the spelling his name to McCandless and adopted a middle name of Alexander.
In 1863, after settling in Pueblo, he sent back to Carter County and had his parents and his three sisters (plus their families) move to Colorado.The Senior James kept a nice diary of the journey.
James then met Catherine J. Bell, widow of a Garrett from KY.She became his mistress and they had three children before James and Sarah divorced.They later had four more.
James established Florence, CO in 1874.He named it for his second daughter by Catherine, Minnie Florence McCandless.He built two homes in Florence for the two women and he insisted they socialize by having meals at each other's homes.Sarah divorced him in 1875.He ran for the state legislature later and won.