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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
William A. Magner
One of West Union's enterprising and successful merchants is William A. Magner. He has been prominently identified with industrial enterprises of considerable scope and importance and the name which he bears has long been one which has stood for progressiveness. Owing to his business relations with the people of Fayette county, and the high confidence in which he is held, it is imperative that he be accorded recognition in a publication of the province assigned to the one at hand. Mr. Magner was born at Elkport, Clayton county, Iowa, March 23, 1868, the son of Stephen and Honora Fitzgerald Magner, both natives of county Cork, Ireland, and both born in the year 1830. They came to America when young and were married in Boston, Massachusetts. About 1855 they came to Elkport, Iowa, and lived in that town until 1883, when they moved to West Union and remained here four years. In 1887 they moved to Dubuque, Iowa where they both died, the mother in 1903 and the father in 1905. Ten children were born to them, two of whom died in infancy and Robert died when seven years old. The living are, Edward, Anna, John, Thomas, Elizabeth, Stephen and William A.
The father, Stephen Magner, was a cabinetmaker and he followed that and carpentering throughout his productive years.
William A. Magner was educated in the Elkport and West Union public schools and when only a lad he decided to devote his life to the mercantile business, and when fourteen years of age he began clerking and for two years remained in the employ of John Owens, who conducted a general merchandise store. For four and one-half years he was employed in a like capacity with G. H. Thomas & Sons, during which time he mastered the "ins and outs" of the business, then went on the road as a salesman of dry goods for a Chicago wholesale house, remaining with the same for a period of nine years, giving the utmost satisfaction and selling an enormous amount of goods. Then, returning to West Union to make his permanent home, he purchased a half interest in the large mercantile business of G. H. Thomas & Sons, being associated with Ed H. Thomas for six years, when he bought out his partner and has been alone ever since, having built up a large and increasing business, his customers coming from all parts of the county. This store has been in constant operation at its present site for over a half century and is one of the best known in this part of the state. Mr. Magner always carries a full and carefully selected stock of up-to-date goods and his store is neatly arranged in every detail. He carries dry goods, cloaks, ladies' and misses' shoes, etc. He has a natural genius for this line of business and has been very successful.
Mr. Magner is a Republican in politics and he has very ably and faithfully served in the council of the city of West Union for the past twelve years. He is a member of the Roman Catholic church, as were his ancestors. Fraternally, he belongs to the Knights of Columbus, Oelwein council.
On June 20, 1894, Mr. Magner was married to Helena Wonnenberg, daughter of Henry Wonnenberg and wife, a prominent family of West Union, and to this union two children have been born, Robert, born May 21, 1895, and Marian, the daughter, born April 24, 1899, who are both living at home.
Magner is emphatically a self-made man, having begun his life career
without a dollar and he is now rated as one of the leading merchants of
Fayette county. He employs regularly six people and in busy seasons
fifteen or more. He is a very pleasant gentleman, generous, kind,
courteous and straightforward and honest in all his relations with the
world, consequently he is deserving of the high esteem in which he is
held by all who know him.
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