IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

James H. McLaughlin

James H. McLaughlin.—Within the pages of this publication will be found individual mention of a goodly contingent of the native sons of Clayton county who have here found ample field for productive achievement and the winning of success and prestige of unequivocal order. Such an one is the well known citizen of McGregor whose name initiates this paragraph, who has given his earnest co-operation in the furtherance of civic and material enterprises that have worked greatly to the advancement of this picturesque little city, who has been prominent in business life and in the public affairs of the community and whose course has been so ordered as to retain to him the fullest measure of popular confidence and good will.

Mr. McLaughlin is a scion of staunch Scotch Irish stock and is a representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of Clayton county. He was born in Highland township, this county, on the 22d of July, 1857, and is a son of John and Winifred (Hanaghan) McLaughlin, who here established their home more than sixty years ago and who continued as honored citizens of the county until the close of their long and useful lives. John McLaughlin was born in the town of Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, where he was reared to adult age and where his early educational advantages were those afforded in the parish school. In his native county he continued his association with agricultural pursuits until he had attained to the age of thirty years, when he manifested his ambition and self-reliance by severing the many gracious ties that bound him to the fair old Emerald Isle and by coming to America, where he felt assured of better opportunities of winning independence and prosperity through his own efforts, as he was entirely relying upon his own resources in making his way to this worthy goal. After passing a few weeks in New York city he determined to cast in his lot with the progressive west, which offered superior attractions to the man of vigor and earnest purpose. He made his way to De Kalb, Illinois, and soon afterward found employment on a railroad that was being pushed forward in construction westward. He was signally fortunate also in having thus made DeKalb his headquarters, for there it was that he met and won as a wife the gracious young woman who was his devoted companion and helpmeet during the remainder of his life. For a period of twelve years Mr. McLaughlin found employment as a teamster, principally in connection with railroad construction, and by his frugality and well ordered saving of his earnings he provided the means by which he made secure advancement toward the mark of substantial independence. He finally purchased a team of horses and with his wife set forth for Clayton county, Iowa. They crossed the Mississippi river at Dubuque and then made their way by easy stages to Elkader. They arrived at the site of the present thriving county seat of Clayton county at a time when virtually the only building in the place was the old-time Davis mill—an historic and substantial old structure that is still in an excellent state of preservation and that is still operated as a flour mill, the property being owned by Schmidt Brothers, who are representative business men of Elkader.

Soon after his arrival in Clayton county, which was then virtually on the frontier, Mr. McLaughlin purchased eighty acres of government land, in what was then known as the Scotch settlement of Highland township. He reclaimed this farm to effective cultivation and there was maintained the family home until 1869, when this industrious and sterling pioneer sold the property to advantage and purchased another farm, of one hundred and twenty acres, in the same township. On this latter homestead, which he made one of the valuable farms of the county, he passed the remainder of his life, his death having occurred March 15, 1887. His cherished and devoted wife passed to the life eternal nine days previously, both having been earnest communicants of the Catholic church. Their marriage was solemnized in 1853, at DeKalb, Illinois, where Mrs. McLaughlin had established her residence upon coming to America, in the early ‘40s, in company with her uncle and his family, she having been born at Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland, where she was reared and educated.

Mr. and Mrs. Mc Laughlin became the parents of five children: John, who was born in 1854, is now residing at Elkader, the judicial center of Clayton county; Mary A., who was born in 1856, is the wife of Thomas Mulligan, of Aberdeen, South Dakota; James H., of this review, was the next in order of birth; and Margaret, who was born in 1859, and who passed to eternal rest in 1895, was the wife of William Kelleher; she became the mother of four children, two of whom were reared in the home of her brother James, of this sketch. Of the two children thus reared and educated by Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin, the elder is Stella, who is now the wife of Thomas Grady, of Monona, this county, and the younger, Katherine, is the wife of Joseph Roerig, who is, in 1916, serving as postmaster at Adrian, Minnesota.

James H. McLaughlin was reared under the influence of the pioneer farm and early began to aid his father in the work of the same, the while he profited duly by the advantages afforded in the district schools of his native township. At the age of twenty years he left the parental home and initiated his independent career by turning his attention to railroad construction work, in the employ of Flynn & Williams, contractors in connection with the extending of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. He remained with this firm four years, and his sturdiness and competency then gained to him the position of foreman with James Brooks, a contractor in railroad grading. Two years later Mr. McLaughlin resigned this position to accept a similar and more remunerative post with the firm of Foreman & Prockelton, with whom he remained one year. He severed this alliance to avail himself again of a better opportunity, as at that time he entered the employ of the Michel Brewing Company, of La Crosse, Wis., in the responsible and confidential position of auditor. That his efficient services and broad executive ability have not lacked appreciation is vouchsafed by the fact that he has continued his active association with this company during the long intervening period of twenty-eight years, and his fidelity and close application are significantly shown in the fact that during this entire period he has never missed earning his diurnal salary.

In all that makes for loyal and liberal citizenship Mr. McLaughlin has always accounted splendidly for himself, and his earnest co operation has been given in the furtherance of movements and enterprises projected for the general good of the community, and while he is well fortified in his political convictions and has been an influential figure in the local councils and activities of the Democratic party. He is serving in 1916 as a member of the municipal council of McGregor. He was the leading promoter of the movement that resulted in giving to McGregor, in 1899, the modern and well conducted Zimmerman Hotel, which was erected at a cost of about twenty-five thousand dollars and which is recognized as one of the best hotels in Clayton county. He is affiliated with the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, and both he and his wife are zealous communicants of the Catholic church, prominent in the work and support of the parish in their home city, where their circle of friends is limited only by that of their acquaintances.

On the 25th of October, 1881, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. McLaughlin to Miss Sarah Gilmartin, daughter of John and Mary Gilmartin, of Toledo, Tama county. Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin have had no children, but in their home have been reared two daughters of his sister, as has already been noted in this review.

source: History of Clayton County, Iowa; From The Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present; by Realto E. Price, Vol. II; page 266-268
-OCR scanned by Sharyl Ferrall


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