JAMES AITKIN, lumberman and farmer, Big Rapids , is a native of Albany, N.Y., where he was born July 7, 1831. His parents, John and Janet (Bald) Aitken, were both born in Scotland. The father was engaged in the manufacture of patent leather in Albany, and when his son was but a child removed his family to a farm in Kingston, Can., where the boy was brought up to agricultural pursuits and trained as a lumberman. At 17 he was employed in the Dominion as a "land-looker."
He went to Ancaster, Can., in 1856, where he remained four years, removing thence to Morris, Huron Co., Can., and bought a farm of 102 acres, where he gave his attention to agriculture eight years. His next transfer of home and interests was to Albion, Calhoun Co., Mich. He remained there one year, and in 1867 he came to Big Rapids, where he was engaged some years as a land inspector. He afterwards formed a partnership with Wm. Phippen, in the purchase of pine lands, putting the timber in the river. This relation existed three years, and on its dissolution he entered into a business association with S. H. Gray, and prosecuted the same enterprise until the spring of 1883, when their connection ceased.
On the location of Mr. Aitken, at Big Rapids, he bought two city lots of C.C. Fuller, and built his dwelling house. In 1868 he bought 120 acres of land in the Fourth Ward, all of which is in a state of progressive cultivation. He is also the proprietor of 120 acres of hard-wood land in the southeast 1/4 of sec. 34, and of 40 acres in the northwest 1/4 of sec. 13, township of Big Rapids, besides several tracts of stump land, aggregating between 1,500 and 1,600 acres. He was elected member of the City Council in the spring of 1883.
Mr. Aitken was married in Ancaster, Can., W., Dec. 15, 1856 to Jennett, daughter of Alexander and Dorothy (Wright) Patterson, born at Dundas, Can., June 10, 1838. Robert, eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Aitken, was born Dec. 15, 1857, at Ancaster, and died at Big Rapids, Dec. 5, 1869; Jennie was born at Ancaster, Oct. 18, 1859; David A. was born Nov. 17, 1861 in Morris, Can., and John born in the same place, Aug. 12, 1863. They are all at home.