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Daniel Dougherty


Posted By: volunteer transcriber
Date: 3/5/2004 at 18:20:33

Daniel Dougherty

It is a conservative statement to say that no one is more closely and prominently identified with the history of Dougherty township, Cerro Gordo county, than is Daniel Dougherty, pioneer and retired farmer now residing in the town of Dougherty. When it is known that he was the first permanent settler within this tract of the county it will be easy to see how Dougherty township received its name. During the early days he was the best posted man concerning land in the southern part of the county. He acted as land agent for years and was instrumental in getting many settlers to take up land here. He employed no half-way methods, and to secure the first family to locate in the township he went one hundred miles to Clayton county and moved them. He brought a great many people from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and often helped them to get started after they came. Daniel Dougherty is a self-made man, and his interesting life should be an inspiration to every youth whose ambitions to get on in the world are not matched by his worldly fortunes. As he graphically puts it, he landed on American shores with nothing but a pair of hands, good health, and the determination to win. And he has succeeded in every way. Before he partially divided with his sons he owned all of section 36. He enjoys the consideration of his fellow citizens and he has held various offices.

Daniel Dougherty was born in county Donegal, Ireland, February 18, 1829. He is the son of Hugh and Mary (Maloy) Dougherty. His father died in his native land, but in 1884, when Mr. Dougherty was in Ireland on a visit, he persuaded his aged mother to return with him and she made her home with him until her death. There were eight children, two of whom are living. Mr. Dougherty and James also a resident of Dougherty township [sic]. The subject of the biography was reared on a farm in the Emerald Isle and received only a meagre education. Although circumstances were adverse the spark of ambition burned in his breast in 1851 he severed home ties and came to the United States, landing at Philadelphia after a voyage which had been of six weeks and three days duration. He probably did not foresee even in his wildest flights of imagination that when he went back on a visit in 1884 he would make the voyage in six days. For a short time after arriving Mr. Dougherty made his livelihood by working in a foundry, and in 1853 he moved to Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and found employment in the iron works at that place. In 1856 he came to Decorah, Iowa, where the United States land office was located, and surveyed the northern tier of counties to Hancock and southeast to Cerro Gordo county and located one hundred and sixty acres in section 36, in what is now Dougherty township. He returned to Decorah and entered it and then went back to Montgomery, Pennsylvania, where he resumed his old work. In the fall of 1858 he returned to Clayton county, Iowa, where he farmed while there he was elected county supervisor and served two terms.

In the spring of 1863 Mr. Dougherty took up his residence upon his own farm in Cerro Gordo county. He began at once upon the work of improving the wild land and put up a log house, in which he lived until 1869. In the latter year he erected a frame house, hauling the lumber from Charles City. He prospered steadily and as said before at one time owned all of section 36. Although he had been warned that apples could not be raised in Iowa, in 1872 he set out an orchard of one thousand trees and has demonstrated that this lucious fruit can be raised here, for he has sold from twelve hundred to thirteen hundred dollars worth of apples in a season. He has also been successful in the raising and feeding of stock.

Mr. Dougherty brought all his influence to bear to have a railroad built through the township and when the Chicago & North Western came through he sold the company the town site for a mere song. The first school house was built in 1864 near Mr. Dougherty's old homestead and in 1869 was moved to its present location. All his life Mr. Dougherty has held aloft the Democratic standard and has taken an active interest in the affairs of township and county. He has held numerous offices, and upon the corporation of Dougherty as a town he was elected mayor and served in this capacity for two terms. From 1868 to 1871 he was a member of the county board of supervisors, was school director for twenty-five years, justice of the peace for an extended period and served at different times as township trustee and assessor. He takes great interest in the affairs and projects of the Rockwell and Dougherty Farmers' Co-operative Society. He is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus in the organization at Mason City, and he and his family are faithful members of St. Patrick's Catholic church.

Mr. Dougherty was married in Ireland May 9, 1848, to Miss Mary Gallagher, born March 29, 1829, (as her husband puts it) "just across the fence from him." About three years later they came to America. They have outdone even the usual pioneer record in the matter of large families, their union having been blessed by the birth of sixteen children. They are: Hugh, living in North Dakota; Margaret, who died in infancy; Charles, who makes his home in Dougherty; as do the four following, Patrick, Daniel J., James and Bernard; Edward J., pastor of the Holy Family church in Mason City; William and William, both of whom died in infancy; Joseph and John, who live at home; Mary, wire [sic] of John H. Wade, of Des Moines; Margaret, at home; Annie, deceased; and Theresa, at home.

In 1898 Mr. Dougherty purchased eighty acres of land near Rockwell, and here built a home and moved to it, this step being made for the benefit of the younger children that they might be nearer the Rockwell schools. In 1902 he removed to his home in Dougherty, where he now resides and enjoys the blessings of a fine old age.

- source: History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Ed. and comp. by J. H. Wheeler. 2 vols. Chicago: Lewis Pub Co., 1910
- transcribed by by Kay Ehlers


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