Michael L. Houlihan, Sr.
To attain success in life it is not necessary to possess either money or influence, as is evidence by the career of Michael L Houlihan, Sr, who, beginning with nothing, has acquired an independent competence which he is now enjoying after many years of industry.
Born in county Clare, Ireland, in August, 1840, he is the son of Patrick and Bridget (Hoogan) Houlihan, both of whom wee also natives of County Clare, where they died, the mother at the advanced age of ninety years. They were the parents of nine children, of whom four survive, as follows: Mary, who is at home; Michael L, Nora, who lives in Ireland; and Cornelius, retired, who resides in Kansas City, Missouri. Those deceased are John, Patrick, Bridget, Austin and Thomas.
Through force of circumstances Michael L Houlihan was not enabled to obtain any book education, but the knowledge he has secured in the school of experience has served every purpose as far as his mental qualifications are concerned.
Thrown upon his own resources at the early age of nine years, he began life as a stock-herder, combined with other kinds of labor. At the age of twenty-seven he emigrated to the United States, arriving here in 1865 and locating in Davenport but only remained there two weeks and then went to Waukon, Iowa, whence he made a trip on the Mississippi river. Later he engaged in railroad work and coal mining, after which he took up farming near Grinnell and there spent two and one-half years.
He married Miss Mattie Kraemer, by whom he had one child, John Patrick, who cost the mother her life, and the child died at the age of three months.
Mr Houlihan rented his father-in-law's farm, upon which he remained for four years, and then came to Crawford county, living in Hayes township for one year. He subsequently located in East Boyer, continuing his residence there for nineteen years, after which he removed to Soldier township, and lived there for twenty years.
In 1907 he came to Denison township, where he purchased land to which, as his circumstances would permit, he added at intervals until he became the owner of eleven hundred and thirty-nine acres, which he has developed to a high state of cultivation, giving to it the benefit of his wide experience in agriculture, acquired in former years, and today he has one of the most valuable pieces of property in Crawford county, upon which he has made three sets of improvements that go to make it one of the most modern and up-to-date farms in this section of the state. Here he has continued to carry on general farming and stock-raising on an extensive scale, and that he has met with success is attested to by the flourishing condition of his estate and stock.
The second wife of Mr Houlihan was Mrs Michael O'Brien, whose maiden name was Bridget McMahon and who by her first husband, had two children: Mary, deceased, and Dennis, now living in Denison township.
To Mr and Mrs Houlihan have been born the following children: John and Martin, who reside in Denison township; Cornelius, who gives his time to assisting his father on the home farm; Thomas, a physician, who is practicing in Ida Grove, Iowa; Michael, who is cashier and manager of the bank in Vail, Iowa; Ellen, who became the wife of Edward Houston, of Boyer township; Bridget, Bryan, Frances, Margaret, who are living at home; Marjory, Nora Francis and two others, who are deceased.
In politics Mr Houlihan casts his ballot for the democratic party but is liberal enough to vote for a friend if he thinks he is deserving of his support. He has never sought political favors but has most efficiently filled the offices of township trustee, supervisor and school director. In every respect Mr Houlihan is a self-mad man, one who has relied upon his own ability to make a place for himself in the world and is a most encouraging example to the younger generation of what well directed industry and determination will do for him who makes up his mind to succeed in life.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.