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Alexander Orr


Posted By: Marilyn Holmes
Date: 2/24/2015 at 14:05:59

Past and Present of Appanoose County, Iowa
Vol. 2

Page 278


Alexander Orr is a retired coal operator of Mystic. He was not always a mine owner, for in early life he was himself an active worker in the mines and there through his determination, perseverance and intelligently directed efforts that he gradually advanced until he became the possessor of certain valuable coal bearing properties which were operated successfully, bringing to him a substantial measure of prosperity that enabled him at length to live retired. He was born in Ayshire, Scotland, March 25, 1844, and is a son of Robert and Margaret (Nicol) Orr. His father was also a native of Ayshire, while the mother's birth occurred in the highlands of Scotland. She died in thaat country in 1859 when about fifty-three years of age, after which the father came to the United States with his son Alexander in 1863. He made his way to Colchester, McDonough county, Illinois. The following year they removed to Bushnell, Illinois, and in 1875 established their home in What Cheer, Iowa, where the father spent his remaining days, passing away June 19, 1881 at the age of seventy-two years. In his early life he learned and followed the weaver's trade and later was employed in connection with the operation of coal mines. In his family were three children: Robert, who died in Bushnell, Illinois; William, who died in Mystic, and Alexander.

In 1854, when a little lad of ten years, Alexander Orr began trapping in the mines, and from that time forward until his retirement from active business life he was connected with coal mining. After arriving in America, when nineteen years of age, he engaged in coal-mining in different sections of Illinois and in other places, and in 1887 he and his brother William came to Mystic. In the meantime their industry has secured them advancement in the business world and the measure of prosperity which they had attained enabled them, on coming to Mystic, to open the Iowa and Missouri mine which they operated continuously and successfully for three years, or until 1900. This was the first mine opened in Mystic on land belonging to D. Vankike. The brothers had opened what became known as the first railroad mine at What Cheer, operating it until 1879, when they sold to the railroad company. Those were the largest coal works in Iowa at one time. In 1900 Mr. Orr and his brother opened another mine a mile and a half east of Mystic, known as the Orr Brothers mine. They found there a good grade of coal which they took out in large quantities, operating the mine until 1907, when the brother died and Alexander sold out. The mine, however, is still being actively and profitably worked. The two brothers entered into partnership in 1875 and were closely identified in all their business interests from that time until the death of William Orr, following which Alexander Orr retired from active life and has since rested from further labor.

On the 25th of December, 1876, occurred the marriage of Alexander Orr and Miss Harriet A. France, who was born in Kendall county, Illinois, on the 7th of April, 1857, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Farrow) France, who were natives of England and were married in Newark, New Jersey. The mother died in Seattle, Washington, where the father still resides. In his younger days he was a miner and weaver. Mr. and Mrs. Orr became the parents of five children: Margaret E., the wife of Abner Harris, of Mystic; Alexander, living in Centerville; George James, also of Mystic, Robert William, of Aberdeen, South Dakota; and Minnie N., at home. The last named was born in Mystic and the others in What Cheer.

The family is well known here and is prominent socially, their home being the abode of a warm-hearted and cordial hospitality. Mr. Orr is a stalwart republican in politics, serving the party since he became an American citizen. He made out the first poll books in Mystic and served on the first city council. His fraternal relations are with the Masons and the Odd Fellows, being a charter member of Walnut Lodge, No. 588, A.F. & A.F., and of Merriam Lodge, No. 555, I.O.O.F. He is also connected with the Order of Rebekahs. He is among the worthy representatives of his native land who through the national characteristics of strength, industry and reliability, have won success. He never had any false ideas as to the best methods of attaining prosperity but early recognized that industry is the basis of all business advancement and accordingly he worked persistently and energetically in order that he might gain that prosperity which is the legitimate goal of all business endeavor.


Appanoose Biographies maintained by Renee L. Rimmert.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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