The ability to work hard, the ambition to get ahead in the world and the tenacity to carry out this desire are three qualities that have placed John O'Shea in the successful position he today occupies as one of the successful farmers of Crawford county.
He was born in County Cork, Ireland, about December 25, 1840, a son of Timothy and Julia (Newman) O'Shea. His father was a native of Ireland, where he died about 1847 or 1848, the history of his early life being unknown. The mother was also born in Ireland and was of English extraction. She came to this country and lived with her son until she also passed away in 1892. To this couple the following four children were born: Ann, deceased; John; Abigail, of Dunlap, Iowa; and Jane, of Grand Island, Nebraska.
John O'Shea obtained his early education in the public schools of Ireland and although quite young at the time of his father's death he worked during his leisure hours and for three months received wages which amounted to about two dollars and forty cents in United States money for his labor. Later he was employed for two years at thirty-five dollars a year, every cent of which he saved as he had meanwhile determined to seek his fortune in the new world, and he used his earnings to defray his expenses to the United States, landing in New York city in 1864. As he had a little money left, he went to Salem, Massachusetts, where he worked for four months in order to earn enough to continue his journey westward. This he accomplished, locating in Cedar Rapids, Linn county, Iowa, and as soon as he had accumulated enough money he sent to the old country for his mother and eldest sister, who were followed later on by the remaining two children. His mother resided with him until 1876, in which year he built her a home in Dunlap, Iowa, and there supported her until her death.
When Mr. O'Shea located in Cedar Rapids he secured employment on the railroad section, remaining there for four years, at the end of that period moving to Johnson county, where he purchased land and lived thereon during the next three years. He then went to Shelby county, again buying land, upon which he lived until 1907. In that year he disposed of his holdings, amounting to four hundred acres, and came to Crawford county. Here he bought two hundred and eighty acres of land, building upon it his present residence, and has since added to his possessions one hundred and eighty-six acres located one-half mile out of Denison.
In 1876 Mr. O'Shea was married to Miss Mary Castelloo, who was born in Canada, a daughter of Thomas and Anne (Kilroo) Castelloo, both of whom were natives of County Tyrone, Ireland. They emigrated to Canada in the early '50s and later moved to Clinton county, Iowa, where the father died. The mother then went to Shelby county, Iowa, where her death also occurred. They were the parents of seven children, namely: Anne and Matthew, both deceased; Mary; John, deceased; Kate, of Mapleton, Iowa; Michael, deceased; and Thomas, of Sioux City.
To Mr. and Mrs. O'Shea were born the following eight children: Timothy, thirty-three years old February 1, 1910, is a member of Dunlap Council, No. 1248, Knights of Columbus; Julia, thirty-one years old; John Thomas, twenty-nine years; Matthew Michael, twenty-seven years; Agnes, twenty-five years; William Henry, twenty-three years; Patrick Oliver, twentyone years; and Peter Charles, eighteen years old.
All of the children are living at home and with their parents are faithful members of the Roman Catholic church. Politically Mr. O'Shea gives his support to the democratic party and at one time was elected to the office of justice of the peace but declined to qualify. For four years he has been a director on the school board. Mr. O'Shea is broadminded in his views, is a man whom to know is to respect, ever doing all in his power to upbuild and maintain the good standing of his township.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.