WORLEY, John

James Worley, African American

In John Livingston’s biographical sketch of Montgomery Bell, he wrote of James Worley:
He [Worley] had worked with his master at the hatting trade, and was his most efficient and useful assistant in bringing order out of chaos in which he found the iron business when he commenced it. James frequently carried large quantities of iron and castings to New Orleans and Cincinatti, sold them and received the proceeds, and never a dollar lacking when he made a return of his stewardship… James assisted him [Bell] in selecting ore banks and water powers, and indeed in every branch of his business. James Worley was a very shrewd, sensible, strong thinking man….and his master now states, that he is more indebted to James than to any one else for much of his property. When Bell built his last furnace in 1844, he paid tribute to his faithful assistant by naming it ‘Worley Furnace’. As Bell’s agent, James Worley became Tennessee’s first prominent African-American. Today with Worley’s help, Montgomery Bell is considered Tennessee’s first capitalist and industrialist and is a legendary figure in Tennessees’ folklore.


This information from the book: CUMBERLAND FURNACE: A frontier Industrial Village. Permission of the author:George E. Jackson