Champaign County residents James [sic-Joseph] Vance (1786-1852) and John H. James (1800-1881) were among the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad's first officers, serving as president and treasurer, respectively. Vance emerged as a leader in the War of 1812 and, in the same year, was elected to public office. In 1836, Vance resigned as president of the railroad to become the twelfth governor of Ohio. Finances for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad were obtained in large measure through the efforts of Urbana resident John H. James, a prominent attorney, politician, and banker. As treasurer, James managed a grant of $200,000 provided by the state with the 1832 charter and other state loans of credit. James became president of the railroad in 1836, serving in a dual capacity of president and treasurer until 1842, when James Vance again became president.