Hugh McCabe

Hugh McCabe

Hugh McCabe has been a resident of Allamakee county since 1848 and has, therefore, witnessed its entire growth and development, for few settlements had been made within its borders at the time of his arrival and al the evidences of frontier life were to be seen, while the hardships and trials incident to pioneer existence were to be met. Mr. McCabe was at that time only a child, but even then he bore his share in the general burden and through many active, honorable and worthy years since that time has worked his way upward to success. His record may well serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement, showing what may be accomplished by energy and determination, intelligently directed, for it has been by his own efforts that he has gained the prominent position which he now occupies as a substantial agriculturist of this county.

Hugh McCabe was born in County Armagh, Ireland, in March, 1839, and when he was still a child crossed the Atlantic with his uncle, who was first mate on the ship Abbie Blanchard, sailing between Liverpool and New York. Mr. McCabe spent a few years in the latter city and then came west to Iowa, settling in Allamakee county in 1848. He remained, however, only a few months, later taking a steamer down the Mississippi to St. Louis, where for three months he worked in the employ of Pat McCann. Returning to Allamakee county, he worked upon a farm for three years, earning one hundred dollars per year. He also drove stage for some time but abandoned both occupations at the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted in the Union army, joining Company B, Twelfth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Earle. The regiment was sent to St. Louis, where it drilled for a time, and then was transferred to the seat of war, participating in the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. In the latter engagement Mr. McCabe was taken prisoner and held for six months and eleven days, first in Macon, Georgia, and afterward in the famous Libby prison, from which he was paroled and sent to Benton Barracks at St. Louis. Having secured a thirty day furlough, he returned to Waukon and spent time recuperating and visiting old friends, later returning to Benton Barracks, where his company was reorganized and sent south to Vicksburg. Mr. McCabe there worked on a canal and with his comrades fought his way to Jackson, Mississippi, where he took part in the battle of that city and also in the engagement at Black River Bridge. Under General Sherman his regiment participated in the Vicksburg campaign and siege and was present at the fall of the city. It was later sent down the river to New Orleans and Mobile and thence to Spanish Fort. In 1864 Mr. McCabe took part in the battle of Tupelo, Mississippi, and was there wounded by a piece of shell but not disabled. He served until the close of the war and was mustered out at Memphis, Tennessee, afterward returning north, where he received his honorable discharge at Davenport, Iowa, in January, 1866. In that year he returned to Waukon and, on April 2, married Miss Lydia Alice Gates, a native of Ohio, born in Butler county, near Cincinnati. She is a daughter of Samuel and Mary Ann (Montgomery) Gates, who moved from Ohio to Indiana, where they resided in St. Joseph county. They afterward moved to South Bend and then to Iowa, driving through with two ox teams and settling in Allamakee county in 1857.

Mr and Mrs McCabe began their domestic life on a forty acre tract of wild land, which Mr. McCabe proceeded to break, fence and improve. He built upon it a cabin, in which they made their home until he traded the farm for a one hundred and twenty acre tract, slightly improved. He fenced this property, added to it more land and now owns two hundred acres, constituting one of the finest farms in this section of the state. At one time he held title to over three hundred acres. Throughout the years he has steadily carried forward the work of development, building a fine residence, a good barn and substantial outbuildings and installing all the machinery and equipment necessary to the conduct of a model agricultural enterprise. His success is the more creditable to him because it has been attained entirely through his own labors, for he came to America a poor boy, penniless and without friends, and he has made each year of his activity since that time a period in his advancement until today he is one of the most substantial and representative citizens of the county, which he has aided in upbuilding. Mr .and Mrs. McCabe became the parents of six children, four of whom are still living. Mary Ellen grew to maturity and married Ed Howe. She passed away leaving three sons. Lizzie lives at home. Alice, who is deceased, was the wife of Cornelius Sullivan. John Emmett is married and makes his home upon his farm. Katherine lives at home. Thomas Henry also resides upon the home farm. The family are members of the Roman Catholic church.

Few men in Allamakee county are more widely known than Mr. McCabe, who is numbered among the original settlers in this section of the state. In his youth he helped to build the first log cabin in Waukon for Scott Shattuck, who gave forty acres for the town site. For sixty-five years he has lived in the county and is one of the few who have so long witnessed its growth and development. Throughout a great portion of this period he has made his home on the farm which is yet his place of residence, but he has not confined his attention and efforts to it alone, although he has made it a valuable property. From time to time he has given hearty cooperation to many movements for the public good and has been one of the great forces which have transformed the county from a wilderness and reclaimed the region for purposes of civilization.

-transcribed by Cathy Joynt-Labath

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