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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
JAMES J. KIERON
Standing out distinctly as one of the central figures in the business history of Waucoma, the subject of this review stamped his individuality upon the minds of all with whom he came into contact for a number of years, took a leading part in directing the commercial interests of the town along lines greatly to the profit of those who have imitated his example. Successful in all of his undertakings and above the suspicion of dishonor in his dealings, his life was filled with good to his fellow men, though dead, he still speaks in the timely counsel and beneficial influence which he left behind.
James J. Kieron, whose birth occurred in New York City, May 28, 1859, was a son of Patrick and Mary (Dolan) Kieron. When he was five years old his parents moved to Iowa and settled on a farm in Fayette county, where they lived for a number of years, finally retiring to Waucoma, where their respective deaths subsequently occurred. Mrs. Kieron survived her husband about eighteen years. James J. Kieron was reared to agricultural pursuits, receiving his educational discipline in the district schools and after the death of his father remained on the farm, which he cultivated jointly with a younger brother until his twenty-fifth year. This brother, Edward Kieron, is still on the place and his two sisters, Anna, wife of Fred McKay, and Mary, who married James McDonald, live at Waucoma and Dubuque, respectively.
About the year 1884 the subject accepted a clerkship in a mercantile house at Waucoma and later, with his cousin, Ed Kieron, now of St. Paul, Minnesota, started a general store in the town, which they conducted jointly for one year, when Fred McKay purchased his partner's interest, forming the firm of Kieron & McKay, under which name the business was continued until 1894. In that year Ed Kieron, the subject's brother, succeeded McKay and the firm of Kieron Brothers, as thus constituted, lasted until the senior members' death, some time after which the stock was sold to another party.
The Kieron Brothers built up a large and lucrative trade and in due time forged to the front among the leading commercial firms in Waucoma Their fine store building, the third floor of which was used for a hotel, was destroyed by fire in January, 1906, entailing a heavy loss, including their entire stock of goods, but, with characteristic energy, they, immediately rebuilt and started business upon a much larger scale than formerly. The firm became widely known and as long as it lasted stood in the front rank of Fayette county's successful commercial establishments, both members earning creditable reputations as sagacious, far-sighted and eminently honorable business men. Since the younger brother disposed of the stock sometime after the death of the subject, C. Webster, the purchaser, has carried on the business, and under his management and care the high reputation of the house has been maintained.
In connection with merchandising, James J. Kieron was also largely interested in the breeding and raising of fine livestock, making a specialty of the Polled Angus cattle, of which he had a large number, including some of the most valuable animals of the kind ever seen in that part of the state. He called his farm the "Riverside farm" under which name it became widely known among stock men, and the sales which he held at regular intervals were largely attended. He manifested great pride in his livestock and at the time of his death was planning to enlarge the business upon quite an extensive scale.
Mr. Kieron was a politician of much more than local repute and for years was not only the recognized Democratic leader of Fayette county but became quite widely known throughout the state as an energetic and successful campaigner. He stood high in the councils of his party and had few equals on the hustings, where his abilities as a public speaker shone with a peculiar luster. A natural orator and a master of assemblages, he became very popular in campaign years and could respond to but comparatively few of the many demands for his services. For a number of years he was known as "The Merchant Stump Orator," and right well did he sustain the reputation before the public, for where he once appeared efforts were invariably put forth to induce him to repeat the visit. Mr. Kieron was a gentleman of pleasing address, easily accessible and a general favorite in the social circles. He was a natural leader and as a politician he exercised a strong influence in directing the policies of his party, as well as in molding public opinion on matters of general interest. His popularity was by no means confined to his party, as he made friends wherever he went and those who knew him best were loudest in their praise. Religiously, he was born and reared a Catholic, and always remained loyal and devoted to the mother church, contributing liberally of his means to its various interests and taking active part in the affairs of the local parish to which he belonged. He was largely instrumental in securing the erection of St. Mary's church at Waucoma, and while the building was in progress he gave it much of his attention, besides subscribing liberally to meet the expenses of the enterprise.
On December 4, 1906, Mr. Kieron was married to Mrs. Allada Schanck, of Sumner, Iowa, but who at the time referred to was living in Waucoma, where for three years she had been proprietress of the Palace Hotel, which popular hostelry she conducted very successfully until its destruction by fire at the expiration of that period. Mr. and Mrs. Kieron had no children of their own, but by a previous marriage she is the mother of three daughters, viz: Maud, wife of Lloyd Farnum, of Mason City; Hazel, unmarried and at home, and Maida, widow of De Witt Schanck of Fredericksburg, this state.
Mr. Kieron's death resulted from a brain tumor, which caused him much suffering, notwithstanding which he continued to give personal attention to his business until seven months before the end came. In the hope of being benefited by an operation he went to Dubuque and died at Mercy Hospital that city, a short time after the surgeon had finished his work, this sad event occurring on the 7th of May, 1909.
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