Neola has been described in recent years a being an area largely occupied by
descendants of Irish settlers. An early Irishman in the area was John
O'BRIEN. Others took claims as early as the 1850's.
This section of the state gained little prominence until the Chicago, Rock
Island and Pacific Railroad came in 1869. The town was platted and three
years later a petition to form a new civil township of Neola was approved.
About twenty families organized a Catholic church which they completed in
1874. The first church, which was twenty-eight by forty feet, was built by
Philip Mooman at a cost of $800. The first priest was the Reverend B.P.
McMEMONY. By 1882 there were 100 families in the parish.
In 1880 there were fully thirty-one persons in Neola township who had been
born in Ireland. There were also seventy-eight persons whose parents were
born in Ireland, but who themselves had been born in Canada or one of the
states. In addition to being farmers, they held such occupations as school
teacher, shoemaker, hotel keeper, cook, saloon keeper, liveryman, lawyer,
grocer, dressmaker and a scattering of laborers.
Calkin, Dr. Homer L. The Palimpsest, "The Irish in Iowa"
Published monthly by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa,