History of Linn County, Iowa - 1911 - M

Linn County >> 1911 Index

History of Linn County Iowa, from its earliest settlement to the present time
by Luther A Brewer and Barthinius L Wick. Vols I & II. Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911.


Frank P. McNamara submitted by Becky Teubner

Frank P. McNamara, a well known farmer and prominent citizen of Buffalo township, has spent his entire life in Linn county, his birth occurring here on the 18th of February, 1866 . His parents, John and Ann (Slattery) McNamara, were natives of Ireland and on their emigration to America in 1849, located in Buffalo , New York , where they spent two years. At the end of that time, however, they came to Iowa and for five years made their home in Jones county. The father then purchased forty acres of land in Buffalo township, Linn county, whereon the family took up their abode, As an agriculturist he steadily prospered and bought more land from time to time as his financial resources increased until he had accumulated five hundred acres in this county, one hundred acres in Jones county, and six hundred and forty acres in South Dakota. His Linn county property he placed under a high state of cultivation and improved by the erection of good, substantial buildings. He continued the operation of his farm for many years but finally deeded eighty acres to each of his children as they became of age. After a useful and well spent life he passed away May 10, 1900 , and his wife, who had been a faithful helpmate to him throughout her, life, died February 25, 1903 . They were communicants of the Catholic church and were laid to rest in Castle Grove Catholic cemetery.

Frank P. McNamara was feared in much the usual manner of farm lads, acquiring his literary education in the schools near his boyhood home. He was twenty-five years of age when he left the parental roof and settled on the eighty acres of land given to him by his father and to its improvement and cultivation he has since devoted his energies. He has extended the boundaries of his farm from time to time, however, and now has two hundred and forty acres of very valuable and productive land which has been improved by himself and is now one of the best farms of the county. He has always devoted considerable attention to the raising of fine stock but has never made a specialty of any particular breed except the Hereford cattle, Mr. McNamara was married January 24, 1894, to Miss Katy Drummy who, like her husband, acquired a good common school education in her youth, Her parents are W. F. and Lizzie (Kehoe) Drummy, the former a native of New York and the latter of Delaware county, Iowa. They were married on the 25th of October, 1875 , and located upon a farm in Delaware county. Both are still living. Eleven of the fifteen children born to them also survive. To Mr, and Mrs. McNamara have been born ten children, as follows: Francis P., who was born October 26, 1894, and died August 2, 1896; Thomas E., born February 26, 1896; John W., born August 8, 1897; Elizabeth B., born December 21, 1898; William Joseph, born July 4, 1900; Emlin A,, born May 16, 1902; Bernard A., born May 15, 1903; Anna M., born May 30, 1905; Frances D., born June 4, 1907; Bernice M,, born June 30, 1909, The parents are faithful members of the Catholic church and in his political views Mr. McNamara is liberal, supporting the men and measures he believes best calculated to promote the public welfare. He is a progressive and public spirited citizen and gives his earnest support to those measures which he believes will advance the general welfare of the community in which he resides.

James Mitchell submitted by Dick Barton

James Mitchell, one of the three surviving charter members, and who now resides at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was born March 3, 1821, in Buchlyvie, Stirlingshire, Scotland. He came to America in 1851 and settled in New York state. July 8, 1853, he was married to Margaret McArthur and in July, 1855, came to Linn county, Iowa. Mrs. Mitchell was born June 8, 1823, and died June 20, 1904, at the age of 81 years and 12 days.

At the time Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell came west, in 1855, the railroad ran no farther west than to Rock Island. At this point they, in company with Margaret and William Ure, were compelled to cross the Mississippi river on the ice. It was here that they received their first initiation into the life of hardship and peril that fell to the life of the early pioneer. While crossing the river, the wheels of their dray began to cut through the ice. There was danger of the ice giving way and all being drowned, but by means of levers and props they were able to reach the Iowa shore in safety.

When Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell reached Scotch Grove, they took for their home a small log house some five or six rods southwest from the present church building, and with the munificent sum of ten dollars with which to furnish their home, started to carve out their career in the new country. With Mrs. Mitchell there was little thought of what her spring hat would be like, or what she should serve when it came her turn to give a Kensington to the ladies of the community. It would probably be some days before any money would find its way into the family purse, and those ten dollars must be guarded with jealous care. True, potatoes could be had, and Mr. Ure and his family had proven that the potato could be used as the sole article of diet for at least three months.

In 1898 they removed to Cedar Rapids, where four years ago Mrs. Mitchell died. She was buried at Fairfax cemetery. Mr. Mitchell is now eighty-seven years of age. He was elected to the office of ruling elder in December, 1879, which he filled till the time he removed to Cedar Rapids. July 8, 1903, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell celebrated their golden wedding.

William A. Mohrbacher submitted by Dick Barton

William A. Mohrbacher, chief of the Cedar Rapids fire department and well qualified for the position, has during his incumbency brought the department up to a high standard of efficiency and organization, his service being of such a character as to win uniform commendation and approval. He was born in Caledonia, Wisconsin, on the 15th of May, 1871, and is a son of Peter and Katherine (Severa) Mohrbacher. The father was a native of Pennsylvania and of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, while the mother's birth occurred in Bohemia. In his boyhood days Peter Mohrbacher removed with his parents to Wisconsin and settled on a farm near Caledonia, about twenty miles from the city of Milwaukee. It was in that locality that Katherine Severa had taken up her abode on coming to America and there the parents of our subject were married. While living in that district Mr. Mohrbacher responded to the country's call for troops to serve for ninety days in the Civil war. He adopted farming as his life work and followed that pursuit until his removal to Cedar Rapids in 1886, at which time he went to work in a packing house and for the past four or five years he has been on the city pay roll.

William A. Mohrbacher was reared at home and the public schools afforded him his education. He was thirteen years of age when in 1884 W. F. Severa, his mother's brother and a manufacturing chemist of Cedar Rapids, sent for him and his sister Frances to come to this city. After their arrival here they continued their education in the Cedar Rapids public schools and when sixteen years of age William A. Mohrbacher began working in his uncle's chemical laboratory, where he was employed for two years. He then went west to Wilber, Nebraska, where he occupied a position in a general store for eighteen months. On the expiration of that period he returned to Cedar Rapids but soon went to Racine, Wisconsin, where he was employed in a sales and feed barn for one year. Again coming to Cedar Rapids, he secured a situation in the Sinclair packing house, where he remained for six or eight months, after which he was appointed a member of the city fire department, his appointment being made on the 1st of June, 1894. On the 1st of December, 1897, he was promoted to the rank of captain in charge of hose company No. 2, and on the 17th of March, 1902, he was promoted to assistant chief and captain of the central fire station. Since the 13th of December, 1909, he has been chief of the fire department, his appointment coming to him from the city council.

Prior to his connection with the paid fire department of Cedar Rapids he had served for eight years as a member of the volunteer fire department under Chief L. M. Ayers, so that his service in connection with the fighting of fires in Cedar Rapids covers a period of a quarter of a century. He has closely studied the best methods of handling conflagrations and is placing the present department on a plane with the most efficient fire fighting systems of the country. Modern apparatus is in use and each company is well drilled, while the system is so carefully organized that the companies reach the place of conflagration with the least possible waste of time and effort.

Mr. Mohrbacher was married in 1891 to Miss Susan M. Louvar, of this city, and they have many friends here. Mr. Mohrbacher is non-partisan in his political views. Fraternally he is connected with John Hus Lodge, No. 151, I. O. O. F.; Sovereign Camp of the Woodmen of the World; Court Cedar Camp of the Foresters of America; and the Fraternal Aid. His has been a somewhat varied experience, bringing him eventually into a position of prominence where his service is of value to his fellow citizens.