- Terry S. Reynolds
Leffel, James (19 April 1806–11 June 1866), inventor and manufacturer, was born in Botetourt County, Virginia, the son of John Leffel, a sawmill operator, and Catherine (maiden name unknown). About all that is known of his parents is that they moved from Virginia before his first birthday, settling near Springfield, Ohio, on Donnel’s Creek, where his father erected and operated a sawmill and gristmill. In Leffel’s youth, he worked in his father’s mills and developed an interest in waterpower. He received a limited formal education. In the 1820s, just outside Springfield on the Mad River, he built a sawmill, installing a waterwheel of his design. It operated well and brought Leffel further millwrighting jobs in the region. Leffel’s success as a millwright, a career he pursued for around fifteen years, enabled him to marry Mary A. Croft in 1830. They were to have six sons and three daughters....