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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
John J. Fennell
A man who has long been extensively identified with the livestock and agricultural interests of Fayette county is J. J. Fennell, who was born in Illyria township, this county, January 13, 1861, the son of William and Ellen (Dywer) Fennell, natives of Ireland, where the father received his education and remained until 1856, when, having heard of the vaster opportunities that awaited the conscientious workers in America, he set sail for this country, and, penetrating to the interior, located near Wadena, Fayette county, Iowa, where, for some time, he worked at various things until he could get a foothold. He married here and, having saved his money, was able to buy a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, also another farm of one hundred and thirty-three acres and thirteen acres of woods. He developed this land and became very well fixed, having started with practically nothing and with no one to aid, but he rose rapidly nevertheless, gradually increasing his holdings. Later in life he became an extensive breeder of Chester White hogs, owning about the first of this breed in this community. Politically, he was a Democrat and was active in the affairs of his party. He was a man of much influence, and was always truthful, reliable and careful of his attitude toward his fellow men. He belonged to the Catholic church. He and his wife were the parents of six children, five of whom were living at the time of his death. They were, John J., Catherine C., Ellen (died when four years of age), Minnie, who is a teacher, and in Chicago, where she has made a great success as an educator; William V. is a farmer on the old Fennell homestead; Anna married Frank Hartwell, a ranch foreman.
John J. Fennell, of this review, was educated in the public schools of Wadena and Pleasant Valley, this county, and after leaving school he farmed for one year in Pleasant Valley township on one of his father’s places; then he went West and after one year of varied experience there, returned to Fayette county and rented the home place north of Wadena and also a place near the old home; then he rented a place in Illyria township.
Mr. Fennell was married in November, 1887, to Mary E. O’Harren, the daughter of a highly respected family here, and this union has resulted in the birth of the following children: Maggie Genevra, Demarion Daniel, Marcella Mildred, Maria Winifred, Johnnie James, Evangelin Kathryn.
After his marriage Mr. Fennell farmed and began dealing in livestock, especially calves, later adding various grades of cattle. After farming four or five years, he purchased a part of the place and later the entire farm; then added forty acres, which then made him one hundred and seventy-three acres in all, located in Pleasant Valley, where he lived until 1907, when he came to West Union, having devoted the previous ten years very largely to cattle buying, coming to West Union in September, 1907.
On January 1, 1908, he became a partner of his cousin, E. C. Fennell, of Wadena, and from 1902 to about 1905 he was a partner with R. W. Helms. Aside from these partnerships, Mr. Fennell was an individual buyer of all kinds of stock. Being an excellent judge of all grades and varieties of livestock, he has been unusually successful and is known as one of the leading stockmen of Fayette county.
He and his wife are members of the Catholic church. He is liberal in his political views, preferring to vote for the man instead of the party. He has been too busy to take much interest in political affairs, but he served very ably as trustee of Pleasant Valley township for two or three years. He is well known throughout the county and, having always been a good mixer, a jolly, kindly disposed man, is popular with all who know him.
~transcribed by Claudia Meyer for Fayette County IAGenWeb
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