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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 W. Orr
To a considerable extent the gentleman whose name forms the caption of this sketch is a creditable representative of that class of citizens who win in the battle of life by sheer force of individual characteristics and not through the efforts of others or by legacies bequeathed him by his forebears, a class which has furnished much of the bone and sinew of the country and added to the stability of our government and its institutions.
J. W. Orr was born on the farm immediately south of where he now resides in Westfield township, Fayette county, Iowa, December 22, 1870, and is the son of John and Martha J. (Douglas) Orr, the father born in Canada and the mother in Virginia, thus uniting two families of a sterling but much different type. John Orr came alone from the northern country referred to above, to Fayette county, Iowa, locating Westfield township in 1858, and here he purchased a fine tract of land, consisting of three hundred and eighty acres, all in one body except ten acres, and, being a hard worker and a good manager, he developed the same in due course of time into an excellent place, and was one of the leading farmers of that early day. He was also the pioneer stock man of Fayette county, for many years handling large numbers and always on the alert and a good observer, he did a thriving business in this connection and became widely known as a stock man, giving his entire attention to stock feeding and buying and selling and farming. He was influential in the affairs of his township and a man whom everybody admired and respected. His wife came with her uncle, Thomas Douglas, to Fayette county, Iowa.
Two sons and one daughter constituted the family of Mr. and Mrs. John Orr. The father was a Democrat in his political belief, but he did not aspire to political favors, being too busy with his personal affairs.
J. W. Orr of this review was educated in the public schools of his native community and the commercial department of the Upper Iowa University. He worked on the home farm and he has continued as a farmer and stock man and has preferred to spend his life on his native heath, realizing that greater opportunities existed for him right here at home. He has a splendid farm here of two hundred and thirty-three acres, and eighty-six and one-half acres elsewhere. His land is well improved in every respect and ranks with the best in the township. He formerly won considerable local recognition as a breeder of Polled-Angus cattle. He has been very successful as a business man and everything about his place shows good management and thrift.
Mr. Orr was married January 9, 1895, to Dora Thomas, daughter of G. C. and Priscilla (McCannon) Thomas, the father a native of the state of New York and the mother of Pennsylvania. They grew to maturity in the East and were married there, and they came to Illinois in 1859, and in 1885 came on to Iowa, locating in Independence. They were the parents of ten children. Mr. Thomas is a veterinary surgeon, still in the active practice, now living at Clear Lake, South Dakota. The following children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Orr; Francis Donald, Lotta May and Dorothy Lavon.
Mr. Orr is a Democrat politically, and, like his honored father before him, takes an abiding interest in whatever tends to the betterment of his community and county.
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