Biographies of Those Who Came From Belfast, Ireland


From the book "The History of Clinton County Iowa" by L. P. Allen (1879)

W. J. YOUNG, of the firm of W. J. Young & Co., manufacturers of lumber; is one of the most enterprising business men of Clinton; he is a native of Belfast, Ireland, and was born Feb. 27, 1827; he came to Clinton June 7,1858 ; before coming here, was engaged in railroading, and held the position of General Freight Agent of the Cincinnati, Logansport & Chicago Railroad; after coming here, he opened a lumber yard, and continued that for two or three years; in May, 1860, he commenced to remove their saw-mill from La Crosse to Clinton, and the 15th of August, he was cutting lumber; in August, 1866, he began building what is known as his large lower mill, which, with one exception, is the largest mill of the kind in this country; the mills of this company have a capacity of manufacturing yearly 50,000,000 feet of lumber, 30,000,000 shingles, and 10,000,000 laths, employing 350 hands in the mills and yards at Clinton, beside the men employed in their own logging camps and their interest in the Mississippi logging camps; he gives his personal attention; has the entire management of his business, which is of great magnitude, his sales of lumber extending over the West, Northwest and South. When Mr. Young began life, he says he had all the capital he required, which was good health; and, by constant attention to his business and good management, he has built up the extensive business of W. J. Young & Co. to its present magnitude. Mr. Young is actively identified with the interests of the city of Clinton; he is one of the Directors of the Clinton National Bank, and is President of the Clinton Savings Bank. He has held the office of Mayor of Clinton, being elected without any opposition.


Biographical History and Portrait Gallery of Scott County...1895; American Biographical Publishing Co.

     One of the old and highly respected citizens of Princeton is the venerable gentleman who heads this sketch. He was born near Belfast, Ireland, June 10, 1810, received a common school education and learned the wagon makers' trade. He immigrated to America in 1832 and settled in Galena, Illinois, where he was employed at the glass smelting works.
     In 1850 he crossed the plains to California in search of gold, and remained on the Pacific coast three years, when he returned to Iowa, his venture not having proven a financial success. He acquired a farm of four hundred acres in Jackson County, which he sold in 1867 and purchased a home in Princeton, where he still resides.
     Mr. Mayne married Miss Mary Hubble, and they have one son, Samuel, who now lives in Davenport.


The History of Des Moines County, Iowa; Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1879.

     (Burlington City Directory) Gorman, J.H., meat market & provisions, N. boundary St. between Washington & Columbia streets; he was born June 23, 1852 in Belfast, Ireland; came to America in 1862 and to Burlington in 1872.


History of Crawford County, F. W. Meyers. 2 vols. Chicago: S. J.
Clarke Pub. Co., 1911.

     It would be difficult to designate a name more honored in Crawford county than that of Dr. John J. McWilliams. For twenty-eight years he has been identified with a medical profession in this county and during the last twenty-four years has been a resident of Charter Oak. He was born at Denison , June 5, 1860, a son of Dr. David McWilliams, who practiced in Crawford county for more than forty years, passing away at Denison in 1898 at the age of eight-one years. He was a native of Belfast, Ireland, and after coming to this country spent several years at Pontiac, Illinois, but removed to Crawford county, Iowa, in 1857, eight years after the first permanent settlement was made in this county. He became one of the most noted physicians in this part of the state. He was twice married, and by his first marriage two children were born: Hugh C., who engaged in farming and is now living retired at Denison; and David H., a large landowner and druggist who is living retired at Charter Oak. The second wife of Dr. McWilliams was Mary Cleghorn before her marriage. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and became the mother of seven children, namely: Charles, who died at the age of two years; John J., the subject of this review; Elizabeth J, now the wife of J.S. Nesbit, a farmer of Missouri; Charley M., who is in the government service at Denison; Maria A, now the wife of Henry Slater ,a farmer of Denison; Emma, the wife of Albert Healey, who is in the furniture business at Oto, Iowa; and Lillian, the wife of Rev. L.C. McCuen, of Kearney, Nebraska.
     John J. McWilliams received his preliminary education in the common schools, and having decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, entered the Keokuk (Iowa) Medical College, at the age of nineteen, completing the course available in that institution, after which he matriculated in Rush Medical College of Chicago, from which he was graduated with a degree of M.D. in 1883. Immediately after leaving college he began practice at Denison but four years later removed to Charter Oak, where he has ever since made his home. Of the three physicians now in this place he was the pioneer and he is recognized as one of the foremost medical practitioners in the county. He opened the first drug store in Charter Oak, which he maintained for twenty years, disposing of it in 1904 in order to devote his entire time to a large and growing practice.
     On the 15th of April 1883, Dr. McWilliams was united in marriage to Miss Ada C. Lyon, who was born at Morrison, Illinois, in 1862, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. N.J. Lyon, both of whom were natives of Vermont. There were five children in their family, namely: Nellie, now the wife of Daniel Fegan, of Clinton, Iowa; Julia, who died at the age of fifty-one years; Harley, of Morrison, Illinois; Ada C., now Mrs. John J. McWilliams; and Frank, also of Morrison. Two children came to bless the union of Dr. and Mrs. McWilliams: Nellie L., who was born July 2, 1884, and is now attending business college; and Homer D., who was born February 1, 1889, and is a graduate of the high school. He is living at home.
     Dr. McWilliams and his wife are faithful members of the Methodist church and active workers in its behalf. Politically he has ever since arriving at manhood given his support to the republican party and his voice has often been heard in its councils. He served for nine years as postmaster of Charter Oak under Presidents Cleveland and McKinley. He has been a member of the city council ever since its organization and is now serving his third term as mayor of the town. He has been from the beginning of his professional career a close student not only of the best books relating to the science and art of healing but also of the best magazines and reviews. He has learned much in the course of an extensive practice that is not to be found in print, and as he is a thinking man of original views he is not closely bound by tradition but often uses his independent judgment to excellent advantage. He possesses the entire confidence of the community and also of the medical profession in Crawford and adjoining counties.


Brewer, Luther A. and Barthinius Wick. History of Linn County, Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time Vol II. Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911.

     A well improved farm of one hundred and sixty-seven acres, located partly in Jackson township, Linn county, and the remainder in Delaware county, has been in possession of William F. Webb since 1900 and has been his home since 1902. He was born in Defiance county, Ohio, November 9, 1855, a son of Joseph and Susan (Claw) Webb, the former a native of Belfast, Ireland, and the latter of Holmes county, Ohio. The father was brought to this country when but two years of age, the family home being established in St. Lawrence county, New York. As a young man he went to Ohio and was married in that state to Miss Claw, their union being blessed with eight children. In 1864 he came west with his wife and eight children and located in Buchanan county, Iowa, where he was engaged in the cattle industry, buying and selling stock on an extensive scale. During the Civil war he also purchased horses for the cavalry. He made his home in Buchanan county until the date of his death, September 26, 1876. His wife had passed to the home beyond a few years previously, her demise occurring August 22, 1871.
     William F. Webb was a little lad of nine years at the time of the removal of the family from Ohio to Buchanan county, Iowa, and it was in the schools of the latter place that he acquired his education. At the age of twenty-three he began an independent business venture, farming rented land for ten years. In the meantime he lived frugally and economically and in 1900 was enabled to purchase land, becoming the owner of his present tract of one hundred and sixty-seven acres. Two years later, in 1902, he took up his abode on this place, which has been his home to the present time. The farm is supplied with modern buildings, and the land is in a productive state. Mr. Webb follows diversified farming and, meeting with success in his undertakings, is classed among the substantial farmers of Jackson township.
     Mr. Webb was married on the 11th of March, 1885, to Miss Hattie Swezye, of Linn county. Her father, John Swezye, was a native of New Jersey but lived in Michigan prior to his settlement in Linn county. Mr. and Mrs. Webb have no children of their own but have reared an adopted daughter, Nettie Scism, who is now the wife of George Wilmot, a resident of Jackson township.
     Although Mr. Webb gives his political support to the republican party he has never been active as an office seeker, preferring to give his entire time to his private affairs. He and his wife are members of the Congregational church. They are people of the highest respectability and worth, fully meriting the esteem in which they are uniformly held.


Biographical Record and Portrait Album of Webster and Hamilton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1888.

     Malcolm McKeig, farmer, section 17, Fremont Township, was born in Belfast, County Down, Ireland, November 18, 1836, a son of William and Nancy (Johnson) McKeig. When he was twelve years old his parents came to America and located in Connecticut where they passed the rest of their lives. They had a family of ten children, six sons and four daughters. One son enlisted in the British army and participated in the Crimean war, but never returned home. Another son died in Ireland; two sons died in Connecticut; a daughter died in Fort Wayne. When our subject was eighteen years old he went to Chautauqua County, New York, and engaged in butchering several years. In August, 1862, he enlisted in the service of the United States, and was detailed butcher of his regiment, and served in that position three years. He was discharged in New York and remained in that State until 1868, when he came to Hamilton County and bought his present farm, which was partly improved, and on it was a small log house. He has replaced the log house with a fine frame and has made his other improvements in proportion until he now has one of the best farms in the township. He is a practical farmer and by good management has secured a competency and is now counted among the substantial men of Fremont township. Mr. McKeig was married in 1857 to Ann Fleming, and to them have been born three children- Anna, wife of Charles Clifton; William and Agnes, wife of Sheldon Tatam, of Wright County. In politics Mr. McKeig is a supporter of the principles of the Republican party.


Harlan, Edgar Rubey. A Narrative History of the People of Iowa. Vol III. Chicago: American Historical Society,  1931

p. 188

   WILLIAM D. MEEK. Prominent among the well established and substantial business houses of Des Moines devoted to the craft of printing is the Success Composition and Printing Company, of which the president and treasurer is Wiliam D. Meek. Mr. Meek during a long and active career has traveled the difficult self-made road to success, having started upon his independent life when he was a child of only thirteen years. With but a limited public school education and determination to make the most of his opportunities, he faced the world courageously, and since then has met and overcome obstacles with persistence until he has reached a prominent place in the business world, and has obtained the confidence and respect of those with whom he has been associated.
    Mr. Meek was born at Peoria, Illinois, January 25, 1875, and is a son of John and Lou (Bell) Meek. His father, a native of Belfast, Ireland, came to the United States as an immigrant lad at the age of fifteen years, and secured employment in a commission office at Chicago, where he was working at the time of the great Chicago fire of 1871. Following this great disaster Mr. Meek made his way to Peoria, where he was employed as an expert accountant, and died at that place about 1887 or 1888. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, while Mrs. Meek, also now deceased, who was born on a farm near Farmington, Illinois, was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Of their three children two are now living; William D., of this review; and Mrs. H.M. Davis, of Des Moines.
    William D. Meek attended public schools but when he was about thirteen years of age his father died and it was necessary for him to give up his studies and seek employment in order to contribute to a family income. He first secured work in a cracker factory, but at the age of fourteen years received his introduction to the printing business, of which he has since been a devotee. For several years after his arrival at Des Moines, in 1889, he was employed on newspapers in various  capacities, and at one period in his career owned a half interest in the Shelby County Republican, which he held for two years. Eventually he entered the Success Composition and Printing Company, in which he has since worked his way upward, step by step, until he is now president and treasurer of the concern, one of the substantial enterprises of the Des Moines. This concern specializes in catalogue and book work, and has a modern and fully equipped plant at 607 Third Street. Mr. Meek is thoroughly familiar with every detail of the business, and gives his personal attention to every order, with the result that the company's patronage is constantly growing and the business is enlarging its scope and taking in new territory. Mr. Meek is a member of the Central Church of Christ, in which he belongs to the Board of Deacons. He is a Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Knights of the Macabees, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Homesteaders. He has belonged to the Kiwanis Club for some years and for two years has been a member of the Board of Directors of that body, which he has accomplished much in a civic and commercial way for the city. He was elected to the presidency of the club in 1930.
    On September 18, 1901, Mr. Meek was united in marriage with Miss Carolyn Shank, who was born and educated at Red Oak, Iowa, daughter of William Shank, and to this union has come one son: John W., born January 3, 1910, who is now a student at Grinnell College.


Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Union Counties...Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1887.

     David Carlton, a successful farmer and stock-raiser of Lincoln Township, residing on section 21, is a native of Ireland, born September 15, 1841. At the age of seven years he, in company with his parents, Daniel and Nancy (McArvy) Carlton, sailed from Belfast for America, landing at New Orleans, January 1, 1848, and after remaining there a short time went to Connecticut, and from that State removed to Indiana, where he grew to manhood. He was reared to the life of a farmer which he has always followed. He left Indiana for Illinois in 1863, remaining in the latter State until coming to Ringgold County, Iowa, in 1871, when he settled on the farm where he has since made his home. By his persevering energy and good management, he has been successful in his agricultural pursuits, and has now a fine farm containing 160 acres of cultivated land with good residence and farm buildings. He is one of the public-spirited citizens of Lincoln Township, taking an active interest in all enterprises for the advancement of the same, and during his residence here has gained all the confidence and respect of all who know him, by his honorable and upright dealings. For his wife Mr. Carlton married Miss Florence Jackson, a daughter of William and Phoebe (Myers) Jackson, who were natives of Indiana. Mrs. Carlton was born May 4, 1858. Mr. and Mrs. Carlton have two children- G.A. born August 2, 1872, and J.R. born August 7, 1884. In politics Mr. Carlton is identified with the Democratic party. Mrs. Carlton is a member of the Christian church. Their postoffice is at Clearfield.


Harlan, Edgar Rubey. ; A Narrative History of the People of Iowa. Vol IV. Chicago: American Historical Society,  1931

p. 38

   ADAM PICKETT, who is serving as county attorney of Union County, with executive offices in the courthouse at Creston, has been a resident of Iowa for more than forty years, has the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was long and prominently identified with educational work in the state, and finally, in 1919, he initiated the practice of law at Creston, where he continued to give his attention to his private law business until he was elected county attorney, in which office he is now serving his second term.
    Mr. Pickett was born on a farm twenty miles distant from the City of Belfast, Ireland, March 13, 1862, and is a son of Robert and Ellen (Fraser) Pickett, who likewise were born in Ireland but both of whom were of Scotch lineage, on which score they were zealous members of the United Presbyterian Church, in the faith in which they were reared. Robert Pickett continued his activities as a farmer in Ireland until his death, in 1870, and in 1884 his widow and children came to the United States, where Mrs. Pickett soon made settlement in Greene County, Iowa. She was venerable in years at the time of her death, in July, 1908, in Missouri. Mrs. Mary Ann Gray, eldest of the children, is a widow and now resides in New York City, she having come with other members of the family to the United States and she and her husband  having resided many years on their farm in Missouri. Her daughter, Miss Irene Gray, was actively identified with Government war services in the World war period, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and later at Columbia University, New York City, where she and her widowed mother now maintain their home. Robert, Jr., eldest of the sons, resides at Sullivan, Indiana, and is a foreman in coal mines near that place. Adam, of this review, was next in order of birth, and Joseph, youngest of the children, resides in Detroit, Michigan.
    Adam Pickett was a lad of eight years at the time of his father's death, and his early education was obtained in the schools of his native land. He preceded his widowed mother and the other children to the United States, in 1882, and in coming to Iowa he advanced his education by attending the Normal School at Dexter; Highland Park College, at Des Moines, this state; and the Illinois Wesleyan University, at Bloomfield, Illinois, from which last named institution he received his degree of of Bachelor of Philosophy, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy having later been conferred upon him by the same university. His law studies were prosecuted in the University of Chicago and in the law department of the University of Drake University, Des Moines.
    During the long period of thirty years Mr. Pickett was a successful, influential and popular teacher in the Iowa public schools, and during the final twelve years of this period he was superintendent of the public schools of his present home city of Creston. After his retirement from the pedagogic profession, in which he had made a splendid record, he here engaged in the practice of law, in 1919, and his ability and popularity soon brought to him a substantial and representative law business that engrossed the major part of his time and attention until he was elected county attorney, in November, 1926, the election of November, 1928, having marked his reelection to the office, in which he continued to give a characteristically loyal, vigorous and acceptable administration. It is to be noted that he gave seven years of service as justice of the peace at Creston, a position to which he had engaged in the practice of law in this city. Mr. Pickett is a stalwart advocate and supporter of the cause of the Republican party.
    In August, 1893, Mr. Pickett was united in marriage to Dora L. Nichols, nee Clayton, who was born in Jones County, this state, and who received the advantages of the Iowa public schools. Mr. and Mrs. Pickett have no children. They are zealous and loved members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in their home city, of which he is a trustee, and it is to be recorded also that he gave thirty-four years of faithful service as a teacher in the Sunday School. In the state in which they have lived and wrought to goodly ends Mr. and Mrs. Pickett may truthfully be said to have a circle of friends that is limited only by that of their acquaintances.


The History of Wapello County, Iowa.Chicago: Western Historical. Co., 1878

     LILBURN, SAMUEL, capitalist; born near Belfast, Ireland in 1830; he came to America in 1864 and settled in St. Louis; was engaged in the commission of business, and wholesale dealer in butter and eggs, which business he continued after coming here in 1871. He married Isabella Lilburn in 1852; she was born in 1834; have two children, Sarah Jane, born April 1, 1860, and Annie Isabella, born March 6, 1869. Mr. Lilburn has property valued at nearly $50,000; is a member of the Presbyterian Church.


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