IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co.

James Holahan


Waukon numbered James Holahan among its capitalists. He became a factor in its business circles as a pioneer implement dealer and eventually developed his business to include the manufacture of wagons and carriages. His trade extended throughout northeastern Iowa and southwestern Minnesota and his well merited success made him one of the substantial and respected residents of the state.

Mr. Holahan was numbered among the worthy citizens that Ireland furnished to Allamakee county, his birth occurring in Kilkenny. He was but a child in years, however, when the family emigrated to America, making settlement at Naugatuck, Connecticut, where the years of his youth were passed. He made his initial step in the business world by learning the trade of a decorator and painter. He was employed in that capacity in a clock factory of Naugatuck for some time but eventually the family came to Iowa, settling at Decorah, so that from that point onward to the time of his death Mr. Holahan was a resident of this state. In 1863 he took up his abode in Waukon. The Holahan homestead consists of a magnificent forest park fifty acres in extent, planned and planted by Mr. Holahan, and surrounds a stately, old-fashioned mansion. It is one of the show spots of the city. After becoming a resident of Waukon Mr. Holahan opened one of the first implement establishments of the town, becoming a pioneer in that line of trade. He was not long in winning recognition for his business ability in a growing patronage. He also began the manufacture of wagons and carriages, conducting an extensive enterprise along that line. The trade not only covered Allamakee county but extended into adjoining counties until it had covered northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota, and throughout the entire district his name was household word for more than a generation. He was known as a most enterprising and progressive business man, carefully formulating his plans and carrying them forward to successful completion. Obstacles and difficulties in his path seemed but an impetus for renewed effort that never faltered until his purpose was achieved.

Mr. Holahan was united in marriage to Miss Kate Fenelon, a native of Carlow, Ireland, and they became the parents of five sons and four daughters, namely: W.J., who is now living in Mason City, Iowa; John, who is located at Havana, Cuba; M.F., a resident of Atlanta, Georgia; L.J., living in Dixon, Illinois; James, who is located at Victoria, Illinois; Nellie M., the wife of the Hon. William S. Hart, a prominent lawyer and legislator of Allamakee county; Anna; Gretta, and Mamie, who is Sister M. Benoit in St. Xavier's Academy of Chicago.

Such in brief is the life history of James Holahan, one of the most worthy and highly esteemed pioneer citizens of Allamakee county. He early recognized the fact that there is no royal road to wealth and that there is no excellence without labor. He, therefore, put forth effective effort to secure his advancement and the methods which he followed and the course which he pursued commended him to the confidence, good-will, and honor of all with whom he came in contact.

-source: Past & Present in Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Cathy Joynt-Labath

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