Born May 12, 1848
|One of the highly esteemed citizens of Richland township is John McLees, who is a native of the Buckeye state, born in the suburbs of Wellsville, in Columbiana county, Ohio, May 12, 1848. He is a son of George and Fannie (Pinkerton) McLees, also natives of Ohio. His grandparents, however, came to this country from Ireland. His parents lived for some time after their marriage in Ohio, but when he was a child of seven they sought a new home in Iowa, locating on the farm which adjoins those fertile acres now owned by the subject of the sketch. His father's farm was purchased from a Mr. Chadwell, who had entered it from the government, and it consisted of about three hundred and sixty-five acres. Besides John McLees, there were five daughters in the family, but only two of these survive at the present. They are Fannie, who resides at Monticello, and Catherine, of Chicago, both maiden ladies. The death of the father occurred some time in the 1880s.
Mr. McLees was reared at home and acquired his education in an old log schoolhouse in the days when a knowledge of the "Three R's" was still instilled with the aid of the hickory stick. At the age of twenty- three years he became a farmer on his own account. His legacy from his grandfather Pinkerton had been a tract of fifty acres of timber land, which he proceeded to clear with all the ardor of youth. At the same time he rented and farmed a portion of his father's land. His adventures with the timber land were sometimes extremely depressing, and while the clearing ultimately cost him more than to have bought tillable land in the first place, it was no doubt well worth it all in experience, a philosophic viewpoint which he was unable to attain until long afterward. He has added to his possessions from time to time until he now owns two hundred and thirty-three acres.
In June, 1873, Mr. McLees was married to Miss Mary Lavery, a daughter of John Lavery, one of the pioneers of Washington township, this county, who had come originally from Ireland. Seven children have blessed this marriage, as follows: George, a railroad man living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Mary, living in Omaha; John, at home; Elinda, wife of Frank McDonald of Kansas City, Kansas, a government meat inspector; Emma, at home; and wins, Earl and Pearl, also at home.
Mr. McLees' specialty is the raising of cattle, and he has successfully realized his aim to keep his herds up to the highest standard. His preference is for the shorthorn breed and for some years past he has divided his attention between this and dairying with gratifying results.
Mr. McLees upholds the tenets of the democratic party, but he has never enrolled himself among those seeking office, and he and his household are communicants of the Catholic Church. His several years service as a member of the school board has served to increase the esteem in which he is held.
Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 287.
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