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. 280-84.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  J. Hamilton La Grange

J. Hamilton La Grange is known in business circles of Storm Lake as a real-estate, loan and insurance agent and abstracter, while in the public life of the community he is prominent, his influence being a factor in political circles, while his efforts in behalf of municipal progress along the lines of a clean and straightforward administration of city affairs is widely acknowledged.  He is now filling the position of alderman and in other places of official preferment has manifested his public spirit and unfaltering devotion to duty.


Mr. La Grange is a native of Albany, New York, born September 30, 1849.  In the paternal lines he comes of French ancestry, although the family was founded in America in colonial days, and was represented in the Continental army in the Revolutionary war.  His father, Isaac J. La Grange, was born in Albany county. New York, and devoted his life to farming and stock raising, his well managed business affairs bringing him a goodly measure of prosperity.  He wedded Mary E. MeCormack, who was born in Albany, New York, and was of Scotch descent.  She held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and was a devoted mother to her four children.  The death of the father occurred in 1853, while the mother passed away in 1874 at the age of forty-nine years.


J. Hamilton La Grange was the second in order of birth in the family and was partially reared upon the farm in the east, while the country schools afforded him his educational privileges.  He came to Iowa in 1865 at the age of sixteen years, .settling in Winthrop, Buchanan county, where he secured a clerkship in a store in 1873.  He had spent the intervening years upon a farm, rendering active aid in the work of the fields.  Thinking, however, to find commercial pursuits more congenial and profitable, he sought employment in that line and remained in the service of others until 1880, when he engaged in business on his own account at Winthrop, conducting his store there until 1886.


In the latter year Mr. La Grange removed to Storm Lake and was connected with Senator Edgar E. Mack in his abstract office for four years, thus gaining the practical experience which constituted the basis for his present success in that line.  In April, 1890, he was appointed a clerk in the United States Census office at Washington, District of Columbia, and there continued for sixteen months, after which he returned to Storm Lake and purchased a set of abstract books.  He has since engaged in that business and also conducts a real estate, loan and insurance agency, having secured a good clientage in all departments.  His enterprise is an essential factor in his success, and laudable ambition has prompted him to put forth unremitting efforts in the attainment of the prosperity which he now enjoys.  He may justly be called a self-made man for, with no pecuniary advantages at the outset of his career, he has steadily worked his way upward by his own efforts.


On the 6th of December, 1877, Mr. La Grange was united in marriage to Miss Maria L. Goodell, who was born in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, in 1857.  They have four children:  Don G., who is in partnership with his father; F. L., a pianist, who is with the Katherine Ridgeway Concert Company; Zoe M., at home; and Wynn C, also under the parental roof.  Mrs. La Grange and the children are members of the Presbyterian church, and the position of the family is one of social prominence, while the hospitality of their own home is one of its attractive features.  Mr. La Grange has taken the degrees of the lodge, and chapter in Masonry and is in thorough sympathy with the beneficent principle of the craft.  In politics he is a republican, recognized as one of the leaders of the party in this county, and upon its ticket he was elected in 1892 to the office of county auditor, in which he served until the 1st of January, 1903, or for a period of ten years.  He then retired from the office as he had entered itówith the confidence and good will of all concerned, having made a most creditable record in that capacity.  He served for twelve years as a member of the school board and did effective work in upholding the standard of public education.  He is now serving as a member of the city council from the fourth ward, and in this as in the other offices which he has held, he is discharging his duties with promptness and fidelity which are winning him high commendation.