The agricultural interests of
Fayette county are well represented by the subject of this review, who is
one of the practical and enterprising farmers of his section of the
county, his residence being in the attractive little city of Oelwein. Like
many other successful, self-made men of northern Iowa, he is an American
by adoption only, being a native of Ireland, from whence has come so much
of the bone and sinew of this great western republic. Wherever known the
Irish type is noted for thrift and enterprise, the subject of sketch being
no exception to the rule.
John Irvine was born near Belfast, county Down, Ireland, on
the 20th day of January, 1836, and was reared on the parental homestead,
receiving his education in the schools of the neighborhood. In 1857, when
twenty-one years old, he came to America, going at once to Ontario,
Canada, where he resided during the ensuing ten or twelve years. He there
followed farming and dealing in livestock and was fairly successful. In
February, 1870, Mr. Irvine came to Fayette county, Iowa, locating two
miles west of Oelwein, though at that time the town had not been laid out.
On his arrival here he bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres of
land, to the cultivation of which he devoted his energies, and from time
to time he added to his original land until he eventually owned four
hundred acres of land in Jefferson township, which is still in his
possession. When the Great Western railway was run through Oelwein, Mr.
Irvine moved to that place and has since resided there. About two years
after locating here Mr. Irvine returned to Canada and brought back with
him to Iowa four thoroughbred Shorthorn cattle, and soon afterwards he
imported a carload of these animals, being the first man in the county to
handle thoroughbred cattle extensively. He now has on his farm a large
herd of milch <sic> cows, which are managed by his nephew, W. J. Irvine.
Mr. Irvine has been industrious and practical in his methods and during
his active years he gave his personal attention to every detail of his
work, that being one of the main secrets of his success. He is known as
one of the most progressive farmers in the county and is considered a
representative of that industry.
On March 24, 1866, Mr. Irvine was married to Isabella C. Wiley, a native
of Canada, her parents having been natives of county Down, Ireland. To the
subject and his wife have been born four children, namely: Louise, who
died December 4, 1905; Florence, who died January 12, 1907; the latter as
the wife of George L. Thompson, of Oelwein, and she is survived by two
children, Marion Isabella and Viola Louisa, one child having died in
infancy; the only surviving child is Albert E., who is now living in
Oelwein, where he is engaged in the practice of law and is a justice of
the peace. Religiously, Mr. Irvine and his family are members of the
Presbyterian church, to which they give an earnest support. While he takes
an interest of proper sort in public affairs of a local nature, he has
never been an aspirant for official preferment. He is ever found in hearty
support of every movement which promises to be of benefit to the
community, morally, educationally, socially or materially. Because of his
sterling qualities of character, he enjoys the highest regard throughout
the community where he resides.