IAGenWeb Project

Audubon County


1915 Bios Index


So accustomed are we to finding power of sustained effort in the career of every man who has risen above the common level, that the necessity for such a characteristic in this type of citizen has become a truism. It is not possible here to analyze the nature of this quality so essential to success, but two elements are at once obvious and so necessary as to be indispensable. These are perseverance and directive ability. It is not power of incessant work alone that most often brings success, but rather is it this virtue combined with executive faculty, and the combination is always found in the prosperous, self-made man. No less is this true of the occupation of farming than of other occupations or professions. The above characterization is apt in a marked degree in the consideration of the life of George A. Foley, whose fame as a farmer and stock raiser is not limited to the confines of his own county, where he lives on a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres, one and one-third miles east of Audubon on the county road.

George A. Foley was born on May 24, 1858, in Grundy county, Illinois. He is of Irish descent, his father, Simon Foley, having been born near Dublin, and his mother, Ellen Tracy, having been a native of Ireland. His parents came to America when young people and lived for a while at Boston, Massachusetts. A short time later they traveled westward by way of the great lakes as far as Chicago. Going on to Grundy county, Illinois, he bought forty acres of prairie land, at five dollars an acre, cleared and improved it, and built a home there. Later he added one hundred and twelve acres. It was here that he and his good wife, who bravely shared the hardships of pioneer days, spent the remainder of their lives, he passing away in 1871, and she in 1909, at the age of eighty-five. They were adherents of the Catholic faith. Six children were born to them, namely: John C., who came to Audubon county with his mother in 1883, and who lived with her all of his life, having never married, and who died in 1901; Mary, the wife of Edward Thomas, of Elreno, Oklahoma; Michael Tracey, a horse dealer and farmer of Audubon; George A., the subject of this review; Sarah, who never married, and who died in 1883; and Margaret, now Mrs. William Conway of Dexter, Iowa.

Like many other ambitious youths of his time, Mr. Foley, keen and alert mentally as well as physically, was denied the education he coveted because of the limitations of the early county schools, but he attended the common schools as long as it was possible. Afterwards he lived with his parents, working on the farm.

On January 12, 1887, George A. Foley was united in marriage to Anna Conway, of New Ironton, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Patrick and Elizabeth (Black) Conway, who came from Ireland and were early settlers of Melville township, Audubon county, Iowa. They also purchased land in Guthrie county. Mr. Conway continued his interest in agriculture all of his life. Both he and his wife have passed away. Their children were as follow: John C., of Audubon; Elizabeth, who married Daniel P. Repass, of Dexter, Iowa; Ella, who married O. B. Train, of Shenandoah, Iowa; William H., a farmer of Dexter; Anna (Mrs. Foley), and Robert, a dredge operator in the South.

After his marriage, Mr. Foley was fortunate enough to buy the old Foley homestead consisting of one hundred and sixty acres in Viola township, this county, where he and his family lived until 1901, when they removed to the farm which is his present home. The house not being such as to meet the demands of the family, Mr. and Mrs. Foley built a new home, modern in all of its appointments, the house being equipped with gas, electric lights, and hot and cold water. It is not only modern, but spacious, consisting of twelve rooms. In 1907 Mr. Foley purchased eighty acres of land just east of his home place, and four years later, built on it a large block silo. He is also the owner of one-half section of improved land in Hamlin township. With an expenditure of between five and six thousand dollars on the farm where he lives it has become one of the best in that part of the state. Besides general farming Mr. Foley has been a breeder of pure bred Shorthorn cattle, Duroc-Jersey hogs, Shropshire sheep, and Percheron horses, having usually twenty-five head of the latter. It requires all of the grain he raises to provide for his stock, and besides this, he buys large quantities. His consignments of stock for market are among the largest in the county, and he is frequently called upon to give the benefit of his experience to other stock raisers.

Aside from his busy life as a farmer, Mr. Foley has found time for public duties which have made for the betterment of the community in which he has lived. For many years he was a school director and is serving at present as a trustee. He has also been the town clerk, an office in which he made many friends. Politically, he is a Democrat, having always adhered to the principles of that party. He and his wife are members of the Roman Catholic church of Audubon.

Mr. Foley is a self-made man. With what would be called today a meager education, but which was all that his boyhood time afforded, he has worked and planned his future, content to take one step at a time, and confident of the results of his efforts. He has gradually built up his business until it yields him a competency, and yet has not limited his energy or his time to purely personal interests. He has not stopped with the education of his own family, but has given his attention to the improvement of the school facilities of the county, in a sympathetic, whole-hearted way. He is a good friend, a true neighbor, and a loyal citizen. In fact, his career is an inspiration to younger men, whether they be friends or strangers, for it is an example of unselfish industry.

Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 645-647.
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