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Posted By: Jean Kramer (email)
Date: 1/27/2004 at 09:27:36

Biography reproduced from page 158 of Volume II of the History of Kossuth County written by Benjamin F. Reed and published in 1913:

J. R. Laird is well known in business circles of Algona as the proprietor of a furniture and undertaking establishment, which he has conducted successfully for the past quarter of a century. His birth occurred in Carroll county, Indiana, on the 2d of February, 1843, his parents being Alexander and Jane (Miller) Laird. The father, who was born in the highlands of Scotland, was brought to the United States by his parents when four years of age, the family home being established at Mount Carroll, Carroll county, Illinois. About 1845 he removed to Dubuque, Iowa, where he remained for one winter and then took up his abode in Jones county, Iowa, near what was then called Rome but is now the town of Olin. There he spent the remainder of his life, passing away in 1856. General agricultural pursuits had claimed his attention throughout his entire business career. His wife was a native of Ohio and per parents came from England but her grandparents were Hollanders. Mrs. Jane Laird was called to her final rest about 1865. She was the mother of five sons and two daughters, as follows: Thomas, Eleanor and John, all of whom are deceased; J. R ., of this review; Margaret, who has passed away; David, who is a resident of Kansas; and William, living in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

J. R. Laird obtained his early education in Ohio and later continued his studies in Iowa. At the death of his father he began working as a farm hand by the month, being thus employed until the fall of 1863, when he enlisted for service in the Union army as a member of Company C, Twelfth Ohio Cavalry. He remained with that command until the cessation of hostilities between the north and the south and, though often in the thickest of the fight, was fortunate in that he was never wounded. He fought John Morgan at Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and at Kings Salt Works in Virginia and likewise participated in the guerrilla warfare. While in the army he suffered from typhoid fever, dysentery and rheumatism.

After returning from the war Mr. Laird spent one year in Ohio and then came to Iowa, living at Clarence in Cedar county until 1876. In that year he went to Illinois and spent four years at Rock Falls, where he was engaged in the grocery and queensware business, also handling cutlery and notions. Subsequently he lived for a time at Union in Hardin county, Iowa, and thence made his way to Marshalltown, where he was engaged in the furniture business until 1887. In that year he came to Algona, bought the furniture and undertaking establishment of Brunson Brothers and built up the business. For the past quarter of a century he has conducted the enterprise continuously and successfully, being now accorded a profitable and well merited patronage. He is likewise a stockholder in the Algona Manufacturing Company and in the brick and tile works.

In the spring of 1878 Mr. Laird was united in marriage to Miss Alice Fowler, who passed away two years later. In 1882 he was again married, his second union being with Miss Ella Launsbery, by whom he has five children, as follows: Ethel, who is the wife of C. E. Chubb, of Algona, Iowa; W. Ray, who is a veterinary surgeon by profession; Ralph J., who is studying veterinary surgery at Ames, Iowa; Daisy, who is pursuing a course in domestic science at the State Agricultural College of Ames; and Clair, who is a student in the Algona high school. The first four named are graduates of Algona high school.

In politics Mr. Laird is a republican, while his religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Congregational church, to which his wife also belongs. He is also a member of the James C. Taylor Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and has served as its commander. During the long period of his residence in this community the principles that have actuated his life have been such as to win for him the highest esteem and good-will of his fellow townsmen.


Kossuth Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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