Though not as well known as his younger brother Granville, James Stuart played a major part in Montana history when he and his brother became sidetracked by the Mormon War on their way back to Iowa from California. After several years in what would become Beaverhead and Granite counties, they settled in a mining camp in Gold Creek. James was elected sheriff of the frontier town that grew out of the camp, and later served as physician at Fort Peck and was instrumental in the creation of the Montana Historical Society. Granville went on to become a cattleman, and organized the notorious vigilante group known as Stuart's Stranglers, who lynched a number of cattle rustlers. Though both men had beards, James had an impressive head of long, straight hair that complemented his frontier-worthy facial hair.