James Hooven was born on the 30th of March, 1808, in Chester County, and when a youth removed with his parents to Upper Merion Township, where he became a pupil of the neighboring district school, but under the watchful care of his mother acquired a more thorough rudimentary education. At the age of fourteen he entered a country store located at King of Prussia, in the same township, and in 1830 embarked in business with a partner, remaining thus engaged for two years, when Norristown became his home.
In Norristown, Hoven formed a co-partnership with Dr. George W. Thomas, and was for seven years interested in mercantile ventures. The business of lime-burning next occupied his attention until 1846, when he sought a wider field of operation, and, in company with Mordecai R. Moore, erected a rolling-mill. In 1870 he extended his manufacturing interests by the erection of a blast furnace, and filter of a pipe-mill. In 1864 he was elected president of the First National Bank of Norristown. He was also the first president of the Stony Creek Railroad. Mr. Hooven was, in 1833, married to Miss Emeline Henry, of Evansburg, Pa. He was a second time married, in 1874, to Helen Cushman, of Norristown. Mr. Hooven was formerly a Whig in his political predilections and subsequently became a Republican, though never in the arena of politics. He was among the earliest advocates of the doctrine of abolition. Mr. Hooven was a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1860, and aided by his vote in the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency.
Hooven built a grandiose residence at 108 West Main Street in 1840. In 1897, the home was purchased and remodeled by the Masonic Lodge and used for fraternal meetings.