Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 322-24.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  John Olin Connell

John Olin Connell, carrying on general farming on section 8, Providence township, is one of the enterprising agriculturists of the community.  His place comprises three hundred and sixty-five acres, which he has converted from raw prairie into rich and fertile fields, constituting one of the fine farms in the neighborhood.  A native of Illinois, he was born in Will county, November 26, 1858, and is a .son of James and Sarah (Hayes) Connell, both of whom were natives of County Cork, Ireland.  His father came from the Emerald isle to the new world when a young man and settled in Joliet, Illinois.  He secured employment on the Illinois and Michigan canal, and after a few years, when his industry and economy had brought him sufficient capital, he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, in Troy township, Will county, Illinois, whereon he reared his family.  As the years passed he prospered and added to his original holdings until he was the owner of four hundred acres of land.  About three years prior to his demise he retired from active business life and removed to Minooka, Illinois, where he died, in 1905, at the age of seventy-one years.  His wife passed away in l883 Both were members of the Catholic church.  Mrs. Connell was a daughter of Patrick Hayes, who died in Ireland, as did his wife.  They were parents of five children, three of whom came to the United States:  Sarah, the mother of our subject; Mary, the deceased wife of John McFadden; and Ellen, the wife of Patrick Touhey, of Joliet, Illinois.  The paternal grandfather of Mr. Connell was Charles Connell, who came from Ireland with his family as passengers on a sailing vessel which was several months in making the trip across the Atlantic.  He, too, settled in Will county, Illinois, where he died at the very venerable age of ninety-seven years, while his wife, Mrs. Mary (Mahan Connell, passed away at the age of eighty-five years.  They were the parents of two sons and two daughters:  John, a resident of Odell, Illinois; Elizabeth, the wife of William Maloy, of Fort Dodge, Iowa; James, father of our subject; Maria, now deceased, whose husband, a Mr. Riley, went to the Civil war but never returned.


The family of James and Sarah (Hayes) Connell numbered two sons and four daughters, namely:  Ellen, who is residing in Minooka, Illinois; Elizabeth, the wife of M. J. Pickett, of Dauphin Park, Chicago; John 0.; Charles, whose home is in Channahon, Will county, Illinois; Delia, who has entered a convent and is known as Sister Mary Clarence, in the Holy Cross Convent of Notre Dame, at South Bend, Indiana; and Minnie, the wife of M. F. Riley, of Wilmington, Illinois.


John 0. Connell was reared in his native county upon the home farm and supplemented his district school education by a high school course.  He lived at home until he came to Iowa, and worked with his father.  When twenty-one years of age he came to Iowa, and his uncle, William Maloy, assisted him to select the farm, which he now owns and which comprises three hundred and sixty-five acres.  It was a tract of raw prairie when it came into his possession, but with characteristic energy he transformed it into productive fields.  The land is naturally rich and arable and responds readily to the care and labor which he bestows upon it.  The place has been divided into fields of convenient size by well kept fences and the latest improved machinery is used to facilitate the work of the fields.  The farm is supplied with good buildings and everything about the place indicates the careful supervision, practical management and progressive ideas of the owner.


On the 5th of January, 1886, Mr. Connell was married to Miss Mary Kinsella, who was born in Grundy county, Illinois, about three miles from Minooka.  Her parents, Andrew and Elizabeth (Smith) Kinsella, were natives of County Wexford, Ireland, and came to America in early life and after their marriage settled in Grundy county.  The former was a son of Andrew Kinsella and the latter was a daughter of Thomas Smith, who came to America and settled at Lockport, New York, where he spent his remaining days.  Throughout his manhood, Andrew Kinsella followed the occupation of farming to provide for his family, but died at the comparatively early age of thirty-five years, passing away on the home farm in 1871. His widow still survives him and makes her home in Minooka. Illinois.  They were parents of three children:  Jane, the wife of James Patrick Clennan, of Grundy county, Illinois; Mary, now Mrs. Connell; and one who died in infancy.  Unto Mr. and Mrs. Connell were born eleven children:  Sarah, Andrew, James, Clarence and Clara (twins), George. Francis, John, Charles, Mary Helen and Evalena Marguerite.  The parents were members of the Catholic church, and Mr. Connell belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America. His political support is given the democratic party and he has been township trustee for several years.  He was also township collector and township clerk while in Illinois.  In community affairs he is deeply and helpfully interested, and has given support to many measures of the public good.  He has made a most creditable record in the business world and his success is the visible evidence of his industry and thrift, and indicates his capable management and keen business judgment.