Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb 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. 205-07.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  James H. O'Donoghue

The conscientious and zealous performance of his professional duties, combined with his comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the principles of medicine and surgery, has made Dr. James H. O'Donoghue one of the prominent and successful physicians of Storm Lake.  He was born in Calhoun county, Iowa, July 8, 1868.

His father, Michael O'Donoghue, was a native of New York.  He died in March, 1869, at the early age of twenty-eight years.  He was a college-bred man, a fine mathematician and a capable civil engineer.  In 1863 he went to Illinois and during the period of the Civil war was principal of the schools of Rockford, Illinois.  He was one of a family of fourteen children, twelve sons and two daughters and eight of the sons were soldiers of the Union army.  Michael O'Donoghue gave his political allegiance to the democratic party and was ever loyal in the support of his honest convictions.  At the time of his death he was engaged in teaching in the school at Lake City, Iowa.  Desiring to be at his homestead at Twin Lakes to attend a meeting of the settlers March 1, he closed his school early on Friday afternoon and set out to walk from Lake City to Twin Lakes, a distance of twenty miles across the prairie.  He passed through the Gregg settlement at dusk, having easily made the first eight miles of the journey.  The remaining twelve miles would be across unbroken prairie, no human habitation intervening, but although it was beginning to snow he declined the urgent hospitality of Tillman Gregg and struck fearlessly across the trackless prairie toward his distant homestead and was not again seen alive.  When the three days' blizzard had abated and communication was reestablished between the settlements, the startling tidings was passed from mouth to mouth that O'Donoghue was lost in the snow and soon posses, consisting of all the able bodied settlers of the county, were tramping the prairie seeking for the body, but so thoroughly had the terrific snow storm obliterated every trace that it was not until the 20th of March that the body was found by a hunter, Renaldo Gray.  Mr. O'Donoghue had covered over nineteen miles of the journey through the night, buffeted by the storm, only to perish within a half mile of his goal, the boundary of his homestead.  Such was the fate of a pioneer.  He left a widow and two children.

Mrs. O'Donoghue bore the maiden name of Catherine Cannel' and was a native of the Isle of Man.  When seven years of age she accompanied her mother to Illinois and after the early death of her husband she lived upon the claim which he had entered from the government and proved up the property.  She now makes her home in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of sixty-five years, and is the wife of Rev. Dr. J. B. Trimble, a well known missionary, now acting as secretary of the Kansas City district of the Methodist Episcopal church.  The mother of our subject is also a member of the same denomination.  By her first marriage she had two children but the elder, Ida, died at the age of eleven years.

Dr. O'Donoghue pursued a public-school education, was graduated from the high school of Rockwell City, Iowa, with the class of 1883, and then continued his studies in Epworth Seminary of Epworth, this state, until he was graduated therefrom in 1887.  In that year he came to Buena Vista county and entered upon educational work as principal of the schools of Alta, where he remained for two years.  He then went to Bloomington, Nebraska, to accept the superintendency of the schools at that place and later he accepted a position as one of the faculty of Morningside College at Sioux City, where he remained for a year.  He was likewise superintendent of schools at Correctionville, Iowa, for four years, and during the last six years of his teaching experience he was superintendent of the schools at Storm Lake.  His efforts in educational lines constituted an important element in the intellectual development of the state, for he was a capable instructor and held to high ideals recognizing the value of intellectual training and development as a preparation for life's cares and responsibilities.

His teaching was not continuous however, for at intervals he became a student and made that steady progress which results from close application and thoroughness in school work.  He was graduated from Morningside College in 1892 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and won the degree of Master of Science on his graduation from the State University of Iowa.  With broad literary and general knowledge to serve as a foundation for his professional learning, he took up the study of medicine and spent one year in Sioux City Medical College and one and a half years in Edinburgh University in Scotland.  He is a life member of the Chemical Society of Edinburgh.  In further preparation for his chosen calling he attended the lectures and clinics of the Illinois Medical College of Chicago during five summers, and was there graduated in 1904.  The same year he located for the practice of his profession in Storm Lake and has here since remained as an able physician and surgeon, whose ability is demonstrated in the excellent results which follow his administration of remedial agencies.

On the 30th of December, 1890, Dr. O'Donoghue was married to Miss Jeannette M. Fairburn, who was born in Dubuque county, Iowa, February 18, 1866.  They have three children, Archie, Dorothy and Don.

Dr. O'Donoghue and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he is equally loyal in his allegiance to the Masonic fraternity.  He served as master of his lodge for a number of years and has taken the Royal Arch degrees.  In polities he is independent, voting for men and measures rather than for party, yet he is never remiss in the duties of citizenship and his endorsement and aid are given to many movements for the public good.  In professional lines he is connected with the County, State and American Medical Associations and thus keeps abreast with the progress of the profession, while in the faithful performance of each day's duty he finds encouragement and inspiration for the labors of the succeeding day.