James J. Brunkan, who for a number of years has successfully operated his farm
on sections 15 and 16, North Fork township, and is accounted one of the
representative agriculturists of his locality, was born in Dubuque,
Iowa, March 29, 1866, a son of Joseph and Mary Ann (Bonett) Brunkan, both
natives of France. The father was born in Alsace in 1824 and the mother in
Houlsain in the same year. She was housekeeper for Mathias Lorass, the first
bishop of Dubuque, and remained in his employ until his death, which occurred
in 1864. He was a missionary among the Indians, ministering to those tribes
living in that part of Iowa easily accessible from Dubuque, which was his
headquarters. He was sent out and all of his expenses paid by the society
"Propagation of Faith" of Lyons, France.
When twenty-nine years of age Joseph Brunkan emigrated
to the United States and settled in Dubuque county, Iowa, in 1853, being for a
time employed as a blacksmith in the Dubuque & Northwestern Railroad, now a
part of the Illinois Central system. He made his home in Dubuque until the
fall of 1868, when he removed to North Fork town ship, Delaware county.
Before coming to America his life had been an eventful one. At the age of
twenty one years he joined the French army and served for over seven years,
during which time he was sent to Algeria, Africa. For about three years he
remained in that country and narrowly escaped death by the Arabs on more than
one occasion. He was later transferred to the city of Rome and served for over
two years during the siege of that place.
Joseph Brunkan first married Miss Mary Denvarnah, by
whom he had a daughter, Mary, who is now the wife of Samuel Kennedy, of
Chicago. The wife and mother died in 1862 and two years later Mr. Brunkan
wedded Miss Mary Ann Bonett, who passed away in 1900. He survived her about
eight years and at his death was laid to rest by her side in St. Paul cemetery
at Worthington, Iowa. They were both devout members of the Roman Catholic
James J. Brunkan, the only child born of his father's
second marriage, was educated in the district schools of North Fork township
and in the Worthington parochial schools. He has devoted his life to
agricultural pursuits and has no reason to regret his choice of occupation.
After completing his education he lived with his parents until his marriage,
when he purchased a farm of eighty acres, this being the nucleus of his
present extensive holdings. He now has four hundred and forty acres of fine
land on sections 15 and 16, North Fork township, within easy hauling distance
of a number of good markets. The place is known as the Nickel Plate Farm and
one of the valuable agricultural properties of the county. Mr. Brunkan makes a
specialty of raising full blooded mule foot hogs and derives a large share of
his income from the sale of his stock. Everything about his place is kept in
excellent condition and the appearance of the farm testifies to the energy and
thrift of its owner. He has gained much more than a competence and is
considered one of the representative farmers of his locality.
Mr. Brunkan was married in 1887 to Miss Minnie Schockmehle,
who was born in Germany in 1865 and when only eighteen months old was brought
to the United States by her parents, Anton and Caroline (Krogmann) Schockmehle.
They were also accompanied by her grandmother, who passed away before their
arrival in this country. The family settled near Petersburg, Iowa. Mr. and
Mrs. Schockmehle have both passed away and were buried in Dyersville. Ten
children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Brunkan, as follows: Thomas, a
resident of North Fork township; Anton, at home; Emma, the wife of Nicholas
Dunkel, a resident of North Fork township; Barney, who is engaged in the
real estate business at Moorhead, Minnesota; Frances, the wife of Henry Drees,
of North Fork township; and Martha, August, Lorette, Leona and Alphonse, all
The family are communicants of the Roman Catholic
church and gladly aid in the spread of its influence in every way possible.
Mr. Brunkan is a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Knights of
Columbus and also belongs to the Iowa Mutual Protective Association. In
politics he is a republican and for the past twenty years has held the office
of justice of the peace. For six years he has been trustee of his township and
in both connections has been scrupulously conscientious in the discharge of
his official duties. He is well known throughout the county and those who have
been most intimately connected with him are his warmest friends.