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Cherokee County Biographies

Joseph McCoun

JOSEPH McCOUN, the subject of this biographical sketch, was born March 27, 1828, and is a son of Alexander and Margaret (Townsend) McCoun.  His father was a native of Kentucky, of Scotch ancestry, and his mother was born in Tennessee, of German origin.  Joseph is the second son of a family of seven children, and grew to  manhood in Indiana, receiving his education in the common schools.  Of one school in particular he preserves a vivid recollection: it was a subscription school in his native State, taught by one of those Yankee school-teachers, who in early days were famed as wielders of the birch.  This school was attended by many boys who have since become famous in the history of Indiana.  At the age of eight years our subject was bound out by his father and he remained with the man to whom he was bound for eight years.  On the day after the election of James K. Polk, feeling the impulse of the spirit of freedom, he ran away, and expressed his determination not to return to his master, and he had his own way.

Mr. McCoun was married December 29, 1850 to Miss Mary Lane, of Howard County, Indiana.  After his marriage he learned the trade of wagon making at Eagle Village, Indiana and afterward followed that trade in that town.  In 1854 he removed to Iowa, and settled on the Iowa River, at Steamboat Rock, building the first house in that town.  While there he worked at the carpenter's trade, and in 1858 he went to Davis County, Iowa.  He bought a farm of eighty acres near Drakesville, which he lived upon and improved until the breaking out of the war.  He then went to Black Hawk County, Iowa, and worked on a farm, and dug wells.  He remained there until 1868 when he came to Cherokee County, and entered forty acres of land; he afterward homesteaded 160 acres.  This land he improved, building a house and barn, and setting out a grove.  He was prosperous in his efforts, and has added to his land until he now owns 360 acres of as good land as lies in Willow Township.  Mr. McCoun's residence, a commodious, two-story structure, is situated near the thriving village of Washta, which has sprung into existence as if by magic.  Since his residence in Cherokee County he has worked some at the carpenter's trade, having erected about thirty buildings.  He has not only seen the county grow from its infancy, but has aided directly in its development.  He has raised on an average 14,400 bushels of grain, 100 head of cattle, and 150 head of hogs annually.  He has lost much money of late years from the prevalence of the fatal hog cholera.

Mr. and Mrs. McCoun are the parents of fifteen children, thirteen of who lived to maturity: Charity, wife of John Good; James, who married Cornelia Wright, died in 1874; John married Cornelia (Wright) McCoun, widow of his brother James; Edward married Hannah Jane Wickham; Stockton, Hannah (deceased), Antha Alice, wife of W. A. Mahafy; Isaac (deceased); William married Ida Collins; Joseph, Thomas Sherman, Aaron, and Margaret, who died in 1874.  The parents have given their children a good practical education.  Stockton McCoun, through his own efforts, has gained a very liberal education.  Mr. McCoun and his wife are worthy members of the Baptist Church.  Mr. McCoun is a member of the Republican party, and has been ever since the election of Franklin Pierce to the presidency.

 Source: Biographical History of Cherokee County, IA, W. W. Dunbar & Co Publishers, 1889

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