James Biddle was born and died in Detroit, Michigan. His father John Biddle was one of the founders of Detroit and a one time Captain in the US Army.
James lived at 730 Jefferson Avenue, Detroit for most of his life, with his wife Margaret and two daughters Louisa and Katherine. One of his granddaughters, Mary Lydia Barrette, wrote this in her memoirs: 
Grandpa James Biddle had a big, brownish red sandstone house with a wide veranda and lots of porch chairs, a lawn in front and back, and a fancy cast iron fence around the front yard. The back yard had a stable, no longer used, a pergola, flower and vegetable gardens, and of course a croquet set. Grandpa would watch us play outside dressed in his black suit, his white hair and mustache well trimmed, and with a cigar in his mouth or hand."
In the center pf the house was the front door and a large entrance hall with its winding staircase and stained glass window. Inside to the left was Grandpa's library and the new telephone which Aunty always answered at the top of her lungs. To the right was the formal parlor for guests, back of which lay the dining room with an ample table and leather-seated chairs. Further to the right of these two rooms was the long parlor with chairs, the handsome mahogany table, and the piano where we young struggled with scales. Here we quietly played games of cards, grab and hearts and casino. Sometimes we sat on the dining room floor and were noisier.
He attended L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and studied architecture. During the Civil War he served as an officer in the Regular Army and attained the rank of Major. He fought in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia with the 16th US Infantry and participated in the siege and capture of Atlanta in August and September of 1864. He wrote many letters home to his wife during the war. These letters have survived and are now in the possession of Henry Chadwick.One of the most interesting is his account of the siege and capture of Atlanta that is given in this letter to his wife. The letter is strangely impersonal, especially considering that his daughter was born just a few weeks earlier, but that may have been the style of the time. A few days later he was transferred to Chattanooga, and then to Lookout Mountain, where he seems to have stayed for the rest of his service.
After the war, he returned to Detroit, where he remained for the rest of his life. There is no record of his having practiced his training in architecture, but his family was well-off and he seemingly did not need to work. He had several hobbies and he painted a series of china plates with scenes from Alice in Wonderland, one of which survives
He is shown in the 1870 US Census, living in Monquagon . Mochigan with his wife and two daughters.
In 1873 he applied for a passport to travel in Europe with his family.
He died in Detroit on June 10, 1905 and is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery there.
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.