James E. Yantis, lawyer and Texas Supreme Court justice, was born in Columbus, Kentucky, on April 13, 1856, the son of J. E. and Martha (Hill) Yantis. He and his family moved to Texas in the 1870s and settled in Collin County. Yantis graduated from Sam Houston Normal School in 1883, read law in the office of John Church in McKinney, and was admitted to the bar in 1887. He practiced law in Sweetwater until 1893, when he moved to Waco. On January 28, 1896, Yantis married Lillie Margurette Sloan of Temple; they had one child who died in infancy. For more than twenty years Yantis was in partnership with George W. Clark in Waco. In 1896 he was elected to represent the Eleventh District in the Texas Senate, but resigned his seat in 1897 to serve as assistant attorney general. In March 1915 he was appointed associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Yantis was reelected to that position in November 1916 but resigned in the spring of 1918 because of ill health. Yantis was a Democrat, a Presbyterian, and a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Elks, and the Odd Fellows. He died in Waco on December 1, 1918, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.