Builders of the Hawkeye State
From "The Palimpsest; The Irish in Iowa", State Historical Society of Iowa,
February 1964

....Robert FLEMING was born in Tyrone County in 1806. He came to the United
States in 1831 and located in Davenport seven years later.
FLEMING brought a large amount of flour with him with the intention of
becoming a baker in Davenport. He made only one batch of bread and decided
to follow some other business. Flour was a scarce article at the time, and
the large amount he had left was in great demand. He refused to sell more
than a limited amount to any one family. When someone asked for flour,
FLEMING asked how many there were in the family. He then sold only a certain
number of pounds for each individual. When he finished selling his flour, he
bought a piece of land in Davenport Township. He farmed a few years and then
went to Wapello County.

Alexander REED was also born in Tyrone County. He came to America with his
brother Thomas in 1826 when he was twenty-two. REED landed in New York, went
on to Philadelphia and then to Virginia. He ended up in Milton, North
Carolina, where he became a plantation overseer for three or four years. He
worked in the gold mines for about a year and also ran a distillery. REED
came to Jo Daviess County, Illinois, and then to the Dubuque lead mines in
1833. After a few months in the mines, he settled at his home in Bellevue.
He was the earliest settler in Jackson County. When he came, there was
nothing but Indians and deer. The first fall and winter he killed
seventy-five deer.

John TOOLEY was born in County Kildare on October 15, 1847. At the age of
two, his parents, Peter and Ann TOOLEY, brought him to America. After
fifteen years in or near New York City and in Columbia County, Wisconsin,
the family moved to Chickasaw County. His father bought eighty acres of land
at $3.00 per acre. John taught school in Stapleton Township in 1867 for
$30.00. He continued to teach the winter term for the next ten years. In
1884 he started in the grain and livestock business at Lawler. TOOLEY was
elected county treasurer in 1887, and in 1897 President McKinley appointed
him postmaster.

James PORTER was born May 15, 1861, in a thatched roof cottage near the
seashore on the Island of Inch, County Derry. He emigrated with a large
party in 1866. His mother, Rebecca CRESWELL PORTER, was treasurer of the
group. While they were at Castle Garden, the port of entry in New York, all
their money, which amounted to about $800 in gold, was either lost or
stolen. They finally got to Philadelphia where they remained for three
years. The family heard through a friend of the advantages of Iowa. In
December, 1869, they migrated to Waterloo. James' father worked on a farm at
$32 and board for three months. Within two years he was able to buy a small

James PORTER, junior, gathered corn at seventy-five cents a day to be able
to go to Tilford Academy. He taught school and then went to Vinton Academy
and the Keokuk Business College. In 1882 he went to Sutherland, O'Brien
county, to work in the lumber yard. PORTER bought out the owner within a
year. In 1891 he went to Reinbeck and organized the Reinbeck State Bank. The
same year he started the Bank of Ocheyedan. Before long, he owned a line of
lumber yards in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota. He also had several
thousand acres of Iowa and Minnesota land.

J.M. MULRONEY was born in Ireland on November 11, 1832. He came to
Williamsburg, New York, when he was thirteen. He was a student and an
employee in a blacksmith shop while there. Then he went to Connecticut to
work at farming, railroading and in the woods. In 1849 he migrated to
Mineral Point, Wisconsin. For years he operated a flatboat on the
Mississippi, selling cedar posts and pickets. The gold rush attracted him in
1851. He mined for gold and ran a mercantile business in California until
1857 when he returned to Iowa and settled in Palo Alto County.
During the election in 1858, MULRONEY was elected county treasurer and
recorder. Later he served as justice of the peace and was named the first
postmaster at Soda Bar in Palo Alto County on July 22, 1865. That same year
John MULRONEY traded the cattle ranch he had operated for eight years for a
mercantile business in Fort Dodge. There he became interested in building
the Minnesota and St. Louis Railroad and in the construction of the Mason
City and Fort Dodge Railroad. He contracted to do some of the work on the
latter line.

John BRENNAN, who was born in Roscommon County in 1845, came to America
in 1865, friendless and penniless. While working four years as a laborer, he
studied law at night in Omaha. However, he became too deaf to plead cases
before a jury. In 1869 he became a reporter for the Sioux City Daily Times.
BRENNAN was an effective speaker, "especially when dealing with England's
treatment of Ireland." He served as campaign orator with Blaine in 1884.
Later he became associated with Patrick EGAN and John P FINNERTY in Irish
meetings throughout the United States.
BRENNAN wrote a pamphlet, "The Irish-American Citizen, His Rights and Duties
in American Politics," in 1866. He claimed that the Democrats asked the
Irish to battle for "personal liberty" which means "liberty of the saloon."
"This saloon institution is the crowning curse of our race in this country,"
he wrote. He thought no respectable Irishman should be engaged in the liquor
In his later years he gave much of his time to The Northwestern Catholic,
published at Sioux City. BRENNAN died in Sioux City in 1900...

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2001 Cathy Joynt Labath