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John Edmund McNamara


Posted By: Connie Swearingen- Volunteer (email)
Date: 12/6/2015 at 22:52:59

Northwestern Iowa
Its History and Traditions
1804 – 1926

John Edmund McNamara, editor of the Castana Times and associate editor of the Mapleton Press, is one of the best-known newspaper men of the northwestern Iowa, as well as one of its renowned public speakers. For many years a successful and popular minister of the Congregational Church, he has been equally successful in the field of journalism, and today he is uniformly regarded as one of the representative men of his section of the state. Mr. McNamara was born in Lambertsville, New Jersey, September 6, 1857, a son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Burns) McNamara, both of whom also were natives of that state. After the father’s death, in 1859, the mother came to Sioux City, Iowa, where she resided until her demise, which occurred in 1888.

John E. McNamara attended the public schools of Lambertsville and an academy at Asbury, New Jersey. He also studied theology four years under private instructions. His first active work was in the newspaper field at Racine, Wisconsin, where he remained about one and a half years, and then went to Garner, Iowa, where he worked on the Hancock Independent and the Hancock Signal about four years. He next entered the ministry at Rock Rapids, Iowa, where he served as pastor of a church four years, at the end of which time he became editor of the Pioneer at Sanborn, Iowa. Thence he went to Jerauld, South Dakota, as editor of the Jerauld County News, which later became the Wessington Springs Republican, remaining there three years, during which time he led the contest to have Templeton made the county seat. Mr. McNamara then came to Sioux City and was ordained to the ministry as pastor of the Pilgrim Congregational Church. He later organized the Mayflower Congregational Church there and served as its pastor five years, at the end of which time he went to Sloan, Iowa, where he was pastor five years, followed by a seven-year pastorate at Onawa. On the expiration of the latter period Mr. McNamara re-entered the newspaper field at Soldier, where he remained a short time, and then went to Castana as editor of the Castana Times, which is now connected with the Mapleton Press, of which he is associate editor, retaining his relations with both papers. He is a forceful writer, his special articles being read with great interest, while as a general newspaper editor he ranks high, the two papers with which he is identified being popular and largely circulated in their respective localities.

Mr. McNamara has been twice married, first in Rock Rapids, Iowa, to Miss Martha Thompson, the daughter of T. C. and Mary Thompson, of an old and well-known family of that section. She died in 1888, leaving two children, Royal Thomas and Leo E., both of Buhl, Idaho. On November 28, 1903, Mr. McNamara was married to Miss Edith B. Hathaway, daughter of Julius M. and Clara (Normand) Hathaway, a sketch of whom appears on another page of this work. Mrs. McNamara is county chairman of the Welfare Association and is member of the number of prominent clubs. To this union have been born two children; Dorothy M., who is the wife of Owen Sammon, of Onawa; and Esther K. the wife of Wyman Forker, of Castana.

Politically, Mr. McNamara is a democrat, while fraternally he is a member of Castana Lodge, NO. 648, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Sioux City Consistory, No. 5, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, in which he holds the office of orator; and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a member of the Congregational Church, in the various activities of which he is greatly interested. He is also a member of the Iowa Editorial Association. For many years he has displayed a keen interest in local public affairs, taking part in the campaigns of his party, and has served as mayor of Castana and as postmaster there nine years. During the World War he was one of the most effective four-minute Speakers in the County, taking an active part in the Liberty loan and Red Cross drives, and was the representative of the food administrator at Castana. He is an orator of much more than ordinary ability, being sought for on all occasion of prominence, and he delivered the farewell address to the Monona County soldiers who went to the World War as well as the address on their return. His reputation as an orator has spread far-beyond the confines of his own county and he has been heard in many parts of the northwest at various public functions and conventions. Through a man of unpretentious demeanor, he possess to a marked degree that silent but powerful force that attracts men and throughout the range of his acquaintance he has a host of warm and loyal friends, who esteem him not only for his ability and attainments but also for his splendid character and fine personal qualities.


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