James Duane Ireland Jr. - Founder Peerless Eagle Coal Co.

12521 Lake Shore Boulevard
James Duane Ireland Jr.
James Duane Ireland Jr.

James Ireland Jr. claimed to be a descendant of Sir Johannes de Hibernia, who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and from two signers of the Declaration of Independence and the first mayor of New York City after the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Ireland was a longtime member of numerous civic and corporate boards. He served as a trustee of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Museum of Art, Garden Center of Greater Cleveland, Musical Arts Association, University Hospitals, and the Westen Reserve Historical Society.

James “Jamie” Ireland Jr. was born on December 1, 1913, to James & Elizabeth Ireland in Duluth, Minnesota. Raised in Bratenahl, he attended Hawken School, St. Paul's School, and Kent School. He graduated from Cornell University School of Engineering in 1937. His father died when he was eight years old.

Young James achieved a degree of notoriety in Bratenahl. Toting his newly acquired bb gun, Jim went next door. He shot out all the Italian Murano blown glass globes that enclosed the lights at William Mather's Gwinn estate. He had to face Mr. Mather and pay for the damage out of his own pocket money. His bb gun escapade may have caused the introduction of his widowed mother to William Mather. His mother, Elizabeth Ireland, remarried William Mather in May 1929. James became William Mather's stepson.

Interested in mining, Ireland joined the Hanna Coal Co. in St. Clairsville, Ohio, where he became division superintendent by 1945. In 1946, he moved to West Virginia. Jim founded the Peters Creek Coal Co. that became the Peerless Eagle Coal Co., a leader in mechanized coal mining. He sold the company to Fluor Corporation in 1975.

Ireland returned to Cleveland in 1950 and, in 1951, was elected to the board of Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. He chaired the executive committee from 1980 to 1986. He was a director of Society National Bank from 1962 to 1978 and was an original trustee of First Union Realty from 1961 to 1984.

Ireland was a founder and chairman of the Bratenahl Development Corporation that built Bratenahl Place. He was vice-chairman of University Circle Inc. He served on the boards of Cleveland Botanical Garden, University Hospitals, Case Medical Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and Society National Bank.

He was a pilot and flew his plane weekly, but he stopped flying in 1954 after landing upside down in a West Virginia river bed during a thunderstorm. Friends later presented him with a model seaplane with extra pontoons mounted on top of the wings.

He owned a sailboat and constructed model trains and boats as a hobby.

James married Cornelia Wilmot Allen on November 30, 1946. Cornelia was born on April 9, 1923, in New York. She graduated from Chatham Hall in Chatham, Virginia, and attended Barnard College in New York City. They had four children: James Duane III, born on January 1, 1950; Lucy Elizabeth (Weller), born on May 4, 1952; Cornelia Seward (Hallinan), born on June 5, 1953; and George Ring, born on August 2, 1956. James, Lucy, and Cornelia attended Bratenahl School.

Cornelia had a vast knowledge of horticulture and applied her gardening skills at her own home and to Gwinn. She and her husband managed Gwinn and its extensive formal gardens for 30 years. In addition, they oversaw its conversion from a private estate to a conference center for non-profit organizations.

In the early 1970s, she visited Alaska, the purchase of which was negotiated in 1867 by her great-grandfather, William H. Seward, when he was Secretary of State.

James Ireland died in his sleep on January 26, 1991, of an apparent heart attack. On August 6, 1997, Cornelia died from lung cancer. Both are buried in Lake View Cemetery.