Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


An esteemed and honored resident of Washington township, Des Moines county, is Robert A. McElhinney, who was born in the city of Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 12, 1840. His parents, Samuel and Ann (Elder) McElhinney, were both born in Ireland, and came to America in early pioneer times, settling in Philadelphia, where Mr. McElhinney was engaged for a number of years in the buying and selling of stock. In 1840 they came to Iowa, and located in Louisa county, where they remained for a few years and then removed to Des Moines county, purchasing a farm in Yellow Springs township, upon which he was actively engaged in farming and stock-raising till his death, which occurred when he was seventy-three years old. He was a member and elder in the Reformed Presbyterian church. In politics he gave his vote and hearty support to the Republican party. The devoted mother of our subject died a few years before her husband. They were the parents of eleven children, six of whom are still living.

Robert McElhinney, subject of this review, received his early education in the common schools of Yellow Springs township and in the district schools of Louisa county, Iowa. He assisted upon the home farm till he was twenty-one years old, when he moved to a farm of one hundred and sixty-three and one-half acres on Section 12, given to him by his father, and which is located in Washington township. Here he has lived ever since, having made all of the many improvements on the place, building a good and substantial building for a residence, and other necessary outbuildings for the protection of stock and grain.

He is a progressive and successful farmer and stock-raiser, and has his farm well under cultivation, using all modern machinery and implements. Since coming to this township he has seen a great many changes for the betterment of the county, and he certainly deserves credit for always being ready and willing to assist and do his full share in any undertaking that would bring about a condition that would in any way tend to improve the township.

On Feb. 12, 1861 Mr. McElhinney was twenty-one years of age, and celebrated the day by being united in marriage to Miss Margaret Jane McClurkin, who was a daughter of Matthew McClurkin who settled in Louisa county at an early day, and died on the road to California during the gold excitement. Unto Mr. and Mrs. McElhinney ten children were born, eight of whom are living: William J., a farmer of Louisa county, Iowa, Married Lizzie Chambers, and they have one child, Willetta; Samuel F., a farmer residing in Washington township, married Miss Mary Chambers, and they are the parents of three children, Elbern, Clyde, and Isabelle; Annie, wife of Thomas Robb, a farmer of Yellow Springs township, and the mother of one child, Mary Margaret; Ella May, married J. M. McCloy, a farmer of Colorado; Margaret, at home; Mathew, lives in Minnesota; Robert W., at home; Winnie L., a teacher in the public schools in Yellow Springs township, at home. All of their children were born in Washington township, and two died there.

The beloved wife and mother of this large family passed away at the home place, Feb. 25, 1899. She was a consistent member of the Covenanter church, where her husband still holds membership. Mr. McElhinney was reared in the Republican faith, and in early manhood shared his father’s political opinions, but never was an aspirant for public office. He has lived a just and helpful life, the position which he now holds in the esteem of his fellow-citizens being the result of faithfulness in every duty which has become his as a resident of the community. We take great pleasure in being able to place before the public the life history of so prominent a man.


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