James R. Powell (born December 7th, 1814 - died December, 1883) - was born in Powellton, Brunswick County, Virginia. He came to Alabama in 1833 and had initially settled in Lowndes County. In 1836, Powell moved to Wetumpka where he started a career as a stage owner and mall contractor, which lasted for 25 years.
Powell was also known as "The Duke of Birmingham" for his great promotion of the city. The most notable example of his efforts was his invitation to the Press Association of New York to visit the new city. The publicity that resulted from this even turned worldwide attention to Birmingham.
Powell died in December of 1883 in a shooting. At the time he resided on his Mississippi plantation where he was married to Mary J. Smythe of Virginia.