St. James is a city in Phelps County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,216 at the 2010 census. The settlement was originally known as Big Prairie because of its location on the natural prairie of that name in the area. In 1859, when a man by the name of John Wood anticipated the extension of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, the settlement became known for a short time as Scioto, named after the town of Scioto, Ohio, where many of the town’s early settlers originated. In 1860, the town was named St. James to honor Thomas James, who came from Ohio and created the Meramec Iron Works. The town was intended as a shipping point for the Meramec Iron Works, which had been shipping its products by wagon train. 
St. James was the part-time home of Lucy Wortham James, a wealthy philanthropist who had a love for the area. She was a descendant of Thomas James, a Chillicothe banker who founded the Maramec Iron Works. The James Foundation, a charitable organization she founded, was responsible for the St. James City Park and the James Memorial Library, as well as Maramec Spring Park. The City of St. James now owns both the park and the public library. Mayme Ousley, the first woman elected mayor of a town in Missouri, was first elected mayor of St. James in 1921. The city hall was named after her in 2013.The Maramec Iron Works District, St. James Chapel, and Verkamp Shelter are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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