James Booge was born in Vermont in 1833. His family lived for awhile in Canada and then moved to Indiana, where he helped on his father's farm. His education was limited.
Soon after making Sioux City his home, Booge bought a steamboat's water-logged load of wheat. He fed the grain to a herd of hogs, butchered the hogs and sold the meat. His customers included the local butcher shops, but most of the meat was sold to Army outposts further west. With this venture, Booge started a meat-packing business that helped make him a wealthy man. His first pork-packing business was little more than a shack located along Perry Creek at the corner of Fifth and Water Streets. By 1873, he had constructed a three-story building on the same site and was slaughtering 123,000 hogs per year.
The city was growing as rapidly as Booge's packing house business. The downtown location was no longer practical for his expanding industry. So, in 1881, Booge built a plant in the stockyards area that began to slaughter 1,600 hogs a day in winter and 800 per day in the summer. Half of the plant's products were sold in Liverpool and London.
Booge became a very prominent businessman and Sioux City promoter. He became involved in the Union Stockyards Company, National Bank of Sioux City, Sioux City and Northern Railroad, the elevated railroad and many other ventures.