Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Biography ~ Daniel and Mary (Gallagher) Doughtery
The First Settlers in Doughtery Township


It is a conservative statement to say that no one is more closely and prominently identified with the history of Dougherty township, Cerro Gordo County, than is Daniel DOUGHERTY, pioneer and retired farmer, now residing in the town of Dougherty. When it is known that he was the first permanent settler within this tract of country is will be easy to see how Dougherty township received its name.

During the early days he was the best informed man concerning land in the southern part of the county. He acted as land agent for years and was instrumental in getting many settlers to take up land here. He employed no half-way methods, and to secure the first family to locate in the township he went one hundred miles to Clayton county and moved them here.

He brought a great many people from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and often helped them to get started after they came.

Daniel DOUGHERTY is a self-made man, and his interesting life should be an inspiration to every youth whose ambitions to get on in the world are not matched by his worldly fortunes.

As he graphically puts it, he landed on American shores with nothing but a pair of hands, good health, and the determination to win. And he has succeeded in every way.

Before he partially divided with his sons, he owned all of section thirty-six. He enjoys the consideration of his fellow citizens and he has held various offices.

Daniel DOUGHERTY was born in county Donegal, Ireland, February 18, 1829. He is the son of Hugh and Mary (MALLOY) DOUGHERTY. His father died in his native land, but in 1884 when Mr. DOUGHERTY was in Ireland on a visit, he persuaded his aged mother to return with him and she made her home with him until her death, April 21, 1895.

The spark of ambition burned in his breast and in 1851 he severed home ties and came to the United States, landing at Philadelphia after a voyage which had been of six weeks duration. He probably did not foresee, even in his wildest flights of imagination, that when he went back on a visit in 1884, he would make the voyage in six days.

For a short time after arriving, Mr. DOUGHERTY made his livelihood by working in a foundry, and in 1853 he moved to Montgomery county, and found employment in the iron works at that place. In 1856 he came to Decorah, Iowa, where the United States land office was located, and surveyed the northeern tier of counties to Hancock and southeast to Cerro Gordo county, and located one hundred and sixty acres in section thirty-six, in what is now Dougherty township.

Having secured the land direct from the government at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre he returned to Decorah and entered it and then went back to Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he resumed his old work. In the fall of 1858 he returned to Clayton county, Iowa, where he farmed, and while there he was elected county supervisor and served two terms.

In the spring of 1863 Mr. DOUGHERTY took up his residence upon his own farm in Cerro Gordo county. He began at once upon the work of improving the wild land and put up a log house, in which he lived until 1869. In the latter year he erected a frame house, hauling the lumber from Charles City.

He prospered steadily and, as said before, at one time owned all of section thirty-six. Although he had been warned that apples could not be raised in Iowa, in 1871 he set out an orchard of one thousand trees and has demonstrated that this luscious fruit can be raised here, for he has sold from twelve hundred to sixteen dollars worth of apples in a season. He has also been successful in the raising and feeding of stock.

Mr. DOUGHERTY brought all his influence to bear to have a railroad built through the township, and when the Chicago and North Western was built he sold the company the town site for a mere song.

The first school house was built in 1864 near Mr. DOUGHERTY'S old homestead, and in 1869 was moved to its present location.

His desire that a Catholic church be built in Dougherty township was not second in any degree to his ambition to improve Cerro Gordo county in a material way. He, therefore, from the beginning sought every opportunity to secure the services of the priest in order that he might afford his own family and the early Catholic population a chance to assist at Mass, to hear the Word of God and to receive the Sacrements.

Of all the long line of Catholic missionary priests the first of whom we have record was Father SHIELDS. We know that Father SHIELDS was the pastor of Waverly in July 1863 from the fact that immediately after coming to Dougherty township it was learned that Mr. DOUGHERTY and his family would have the privilege of assisting at Mass at the O'BRIEN home in what was then known as the lower Coldwater. Father SHIELDS celebrated Mass and on this occasion baptized John DOUGHERTY who was born in July 1863.

All his life Mr. DOUGHERTY has held aloft the Democratic standard and has taken an active interest in the affairs of township and county. He has held numerous offices and upon the occasion of the incorporation of Dougherty as a town he was elected its first mayor and served in this capacity for two terms. From 1868 to 1871 he was a member of the county board of supervisors, was school director for twenty-five years, justice of the peace for an extended period and served at different times as township trustee and assessor.

He takes great interest in the affairs and projects of the Rockwell and Dougherty Farmer's Co-operative Society. He is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus in their organization at Mason City, and he and his family are faithful members of St. Patrick's Catholic church.

In 1898 Mr. Dougherty purchased eighty acres of land near Rockwell, built a home, and moved to that town. In 1902 he removed to his home in Dougherty where he now resides and enjoys the blessings of a fine old age.

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Obituary ~ Mary (Gallagher) Dougherty Died 7 Jan. 1916

Mary GALLAGHER was born of Patrick and Mary GALLAGHER, in Clooncarney [Cloncarney], Parish of Conwall, Trenta, County Donegal, Ireland, March 1, 1829. May 10, 1848, she was united in marriage with Daniel DOUGHERTY of her own townland in Ireland, and for sixty-four years these two traveled side by side over life's pathway, bearing each other's sorrows and joys.

Mr. DOUGHTERY was called away in death March 26, 1911.

In 1852 they came to America and lived at Norristown, Pennsylvania, until 1856, at which time they came to Iowa, locating in Clayton county. In 1863 they moved to Cerro Gordo county and settled upon the farm, the place that has been their home through all these years and where the dear woman closed her eyes in the last long sleep.

Of her sixteen children, the following survive: Hugh, Minot, N.D.; Charles, Daniel, James, John, Bernard, Margaret, and Teresa, Dougherty, Iowa; Mrs. John F. WADE, Des Moines, Iowa; Joseph, who has charge of the express business on the Great Northern Railraod at Willliston, N.D., and Reverend E. J. DOUGHERTY, Pastor of Holy Family Church, Mason City, Iowa.

~ ~ ~ ~
Excerpts from Daniel DOUGHERTY'S Obituary

Daniel DOUGHERTY died on March 26, 1911. He was married in 1848 to Mary GALLAGHER, a native of county Donegal, Ireland. To this union were born sixteen children, twelve of whom are living: Patrick, attorney of Chicago, formerly of Mason City; Daniel, who resides on a farm near Dougherty; James, Dougherty; Mary, wife of John WADE, Member State Board of Control, Des Moines, Iowa; John, Dougherty; Margaret, Dougherty; Bernard, who resides on a farm near Dougherty; Edward, pastor of the Holy Family Church, Mason City; Catherine T., better known as Teresa, who owns and operates a millinery shop at Dougherty; Joseph, of Williston, N.D.; Annie, wife of Dr. F. E. McGLONE of Dougherty, died in 1904. Three children, William, William N., and Margaret died in infancy.

~ ~ ~ ~
Dougherty, Iowa

In 1863 an Irishman named Daniel DOUGHERTY came from Clayton county, Iowa, to Cerro Gordo county and bought some land, then known as Section 36, Township 94, Range 19 west of the fifth Principal Meridian.

He left Ireland in 1851, coming to Philadelphia, and as early as 1856 he visited Cerro Gordo county which had recently been surveyed and put on the map. In 1856 he came with his family to live in Clayton county. The journey took four days by railroad to Dunelith, Illinois (now East Dubuque) and four days by steamboat to McGregor. In 1863 he moved again, this time to Cerro Gordo county where he built a log cabin near the southeast corner of the county and he was the first settler in what is now Dougherty township.

His son, John, was the first white child born in the township. This was on July 1, 1863.

Other settlers came, many of them Irish, but the DOUGHERTY family dominated the township because there were sixteen children born to Mr. and Mrs. DOUGHERTY, twelve of whom grew to adult age, and eight of whom were boys.

Dougherty township was organized in 1870 and was named Prairie, but in 1871 the name was changed to Dougherty in honor of its first settler, Daniel DOUGHERTY.

The first general election was held October 11, 1870, when the following officers were elected: Daniel DOUGHERTY, Hugh DOUGHERTY, and T. H. HARRIS, trustees; John McMANUS, township clerk; R. CONNAUGHTON, road supervisor.

The first school was built on Section 36, in 1864, and was taught by Miss Elizabeth IRVIN of Clayton county, the families of John HUMPHREY and Daniel DOUGHERTY furnishing the scholars. Today there are nine public schools and a parochial school in the township, the latter presided over by five Sisters of the Presentation Order of Dubuque.

The first Mass in Dougherty township was offered by Father MURPHY in 1865 in the school house which was built upon a portion of Mr. DOUGHERTY'S first purchase from the government, the exact location being just north of the road running in fron of the old homestead, on the north bank of the Coldwater, a few rods to the southeast of the home now occupied by Bernard DOUGHERTY and his family.

For three years Father MURPHY administered to the spiritual wants of the few scattered Catholics in the territory between Cedar Falls, Hapton, Mason City, and Charles City. In the latter part of the year 1868, Father MARTIN was appointed pastor of Charles City, and about this time also, Father MURPHY was succeeded by Father FLAVIN as pastor of Waverly. In 1870, Father FEELEY succeeded Father MARTIN as pastor of Charles City, in charge of Mason City and Dougherty.

During Father FEELEY'S pastorate, the church was begun in Dougherty, Iowa, but before its completion Father FEELEY was succeeded by Reverend D. J. FLANNERY, who was appointed pastor of Mason City, with Rockwell and Dougherty as outside missions.

In 1875 the settlement had grown so large that Father RILEY, who succeeded Father FLANNERY, enlarged the church so as to accommodate the increasing numbers. Meanwhile a pastor had been appointed to Rockwell and Dougherty, Iowa, Reverend James KELLY, who, in turn, was succeeded by Reverend L. H. BURNS.

In 1887, Reverend Martin HOGAN was appointed first resident pastor of Dougherty and in 1890 he erected a magnificent frame church, parochial school, and priest's residence. In the fall of 1896, both church and school were completely destroyed by fire, but within two years, thereafter, a larger church and a better school were erected under the direction of Father HOGAN.

In September, 1898, Father P. D. O'REILLY was appointed pastor of Dougherty to succeed Father Martin HOGAN. Father O'REILLY was pastor of the old home place when Mr. DOUGHERTY was called to his eternal reward.

Meanwhile a close personal friendship existed beetween everyone of these priests mentioned above and Mr. DOUGHERTY. They used to say of him that he was "generous to a fault", and no wonder, for when one recalls the number of times he opened his house to any one or all of them, and placed his household and his property at their service, when one remembers the days and nights, in storm and in sunshine, in the deadly snows of winter and the heat of summer, he went upon the road, regardless of the demands at home, to meet the priest at the railroad station, to drive him twelve to twenty-five miles, and to bring him back when the Sunday services were over; no wonder we say that he had the undying friendship of the early priests of Floyd and Cerro Gordo counties.

In 1865, with Father Murphy, Mr. DOUGHERTY went on horseback the long distance from Waverly to Mason City over the trackless priarie to meet, what Mr. DOUGHERTY considered at that time, a great demand. An attack was being made upon the Church through the malicious activities of a local preacher in the place that is now Mason City, at that time a very small village. Having arrived in Mason City, the court house was placed at their disposal for the evening service, and a boy carrying a banner and ringing a bell gave the signal for a meeting and an invitation for all to attend. The occasion brought forth a crowd sufficent to fill the court room to overflowing and the next day six hundred dollars were subscribed by the citizens of Mason City for a new Catholic church in that town. This was the first visit of a Catholic priest to Mason City.

Needless to say, Father MURPHY successfully answered the attack made against the Church by the preacher and put him to flight.

The first railroad train passed through tht township in 1900 over the Chicago and Northwestern road, and gave the people a station where the new town of Dougherty now stands.

E. M. WILSON owned and edited the first newspaper in 1902 and did the printing in James DOUGHERTY'S barn, naming the paper the Dougherty World.Some years later Oscar LATHROP purchased the paper and changed the name to The World.

The first lawsuit was held in the school house, R. CONNAUGHTON being the justice, and Daniel DOUGHERTY and T. H. HARRIS, the attorneys on either side of the case.

The first mayor of Dougherty was Daniel DOUGHERTY.

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Cerro Gordo County Records ~ Mason City, The Globe Gazette

At one time Daniel DOUGHERTY owned twelve hundred acres of land. Several of the sons settled on or near the home farm and the name DOUGHERTY appears almost continuously in township and school offices from then on to the present day.

At one time the homestead had an orchard of about fifteen hundred apple trees, mostly Duchess.

Daniel DOUGHERTY, Sr., was a democrat and a Catholic and he stamped both his democracy and his Catholicity on the township and it remains to this day. The first Mass was said in 1865 and the first Catholic church was built in the township in 1870.

It is related by old-timers in Dougherty township that there was at one time only one family that voted the Republican ticket in the township. From this it was very natural that the first name of the township, Prairie, should be changed in a year to DOUGHERTY and when the railroad came through there was only one logical name for the station which they located in the township, and that was DOUGHERTY.

Dougherty, Iowa,
Main Streeet circa 1908

SOURCE: The History of Dougherty, Iowa ~ A little bit of Ireland ~ and they called it Dougherty!

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2011



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