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James McCourtney, M.D.


Posted By: Annette Lucas (email)
Date: 7/15/2021 at 11:27:28

SOURCE: Biographical History and Portrait Gallery of Scott County, Iowa. American Biographical Publishing Company, H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co. Proprietors. 1895


JAMES McCOURTNEY, a native of Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, was born September 8, 1825, to Arthur and Nancy (Gordon) McCourtney. His father, who was born in Ireland, March 8, 1792, was a man of literary tastes and in early life fitted himself for teaching. Thinking to better his chances in his chosen calling the father left his native land in 1817 and came to America , landing at St. Johns, Newfoundland. Thence he went to New York City, where he had a sister living. At her earnest solicitations he settled there and remained three years and prospered. In 1820, with a friend, McDonough, who came with him from Ireland, he made a trip over the mountains from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and thence to Wheeling, West Virginia, and from there to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where an uncle of McDonough lived. Their intention was to soon return to their native land, but this uncle took an interest in the young men and persuaded them to remain in Waynesburg, promising to secure schools for them, which he did. There our subject's father met and married the estimable and cultured lady above named, and continued to reside there till 1834, and then moved with his family to a farm in Perry County, Ohio, near Somerset.

Young McCourtney attended the public schools taught by his father, under whose preceptorship he received all his preliminary education. In 1848 he began the study of medical works and during the next three years was engaged in teaching, his purpose being to secure means with which to pay his expenses in college. He used all his spare time in study, and in October, 1851, entered the medical department of “ Western Reserve College,” at Cleveland, Ohio. He made rapid progress in his studies and took a high stand and was graduated with honors.

Soon after his graduation he began the practice of medicine at Rehoboth, Ohio, but six months later removed to New Lexington, in Perry County, near his father's home. Here, surrounded by his friends, who knew his abilities and the strenuous efforts he had made to fit himself for his profession, he had a good degree of success, and it was with reluctance that he left them for a new and untried field in the West, a step rendered necessary by the delicate health of his wife, Margaret F., née Green, whom he married on June 30, 1853. She is a native of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and a woman of charming accomplishments and rare womanly virtues. Locating in Davenport Dr. McCourtney soon became well and favorably known, and his practice steadily increased from year to year, yielding him a most satisfactory income. In 1864 he was appointed “ contract surgeon” in the army, and filled that office till the close of the war. In March , 1865, with a small detachment of soldiers he conveyed five hundred and three rebel prisoners of war from Rock Island to Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. McCourtney has always shown a commendable interest in public affairs and in whatever pertained to the welfare of his adopted city, and has been honored by his fellow- citizens with numerous positions of trust and responsibility. In 1885 he was elected coroner of Scott County for two years and reelected at the expiration of his term. He was again tendered the nomination in 1889 but declined it. Two years later he yielded to the persistent solicitations of his friends and accepted a nomination for the same office and was elected, and at the expiration of that term was elected for another two years' term . But Dr. McCourtney is in no sense a politician, being a man of modest, retiring disposition and of domestic tastes. In political sentiment he has always been a Democrat. In his chosen calling and in the quiet retirement and enjoyment of his home he finds his chief delight .

Though in his seventieth year time has dealt kindly with him and he is uncommonly well preserved, a fact to be attributed in large measure to his simple and correct habits of life. He is courteous and genial in manner, and in all his intercourse and dealing with others has the bearing of a high - minded and cultured gentleman.

His estimable wife and devoted helpmeet died November 22, 1892, at the age of sixty-three years, ten months and eighteen days, beloved by all who came within the circle of her benign influence.

Of ten children born to them but three survive, viz : Mary Eugene, known as " Lillie, ” Fannie Claudius and Ella. Of the others who lived to maturity, Eugene, born December 18, 1867, died October 11, 1888 ; Libbie, born October 10, 1865, died May 3, 1890 ; Nettie, born October 25, 1863, died February 18, 1891 ; Gertie, born November 10, 1869, died October 4, 1891.


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