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A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
WILLIAM J. DONLIN is a native of Union County, Iowa, and for over forty-five
years has been one of the active business men of the City of Creston, a
merchant, real estate and insurance dealer, and banker.
Mr. Donlin was born in Union County in 1863, son of Edward and Mary (Harsh)
Donlin. His father was born in New Orleans, where the grandfather settled on
coming from Ireland. Later the family came north to Peoria, Illinois, where
Grandfather Donlin died. Edward Donlin came to Iowa about 1862, lived on a
farm in Union County and later was in the mercantile business at Xenia and
Hopkins, Missouri, where he passed away in 1887. He married, in Illinois, Mary
Harsh, a native of Pennsylvania. Her father died in that state and her
mother, whose maiden name was Nancy McKay, then took her family to Ohio, from
there moved to Bureau County, Illinois, and about 1860 came to Union County,
Iowa. Mrs. Nancy Harsh was a women of remarkable energy and business ability.
She bought a farm in Iowa, reared her family there and lived to the good old
age of 102, spending her last years with her daughter, Mrs. Donlin. She died
at Hopkins, Missouri. Mrs. Edward Donlin passed away at the age of
ninety-one. Of her six children three are living: Mary, wife of Dr. D. A. Sargent,
a practicing physician at Hopkins, Missouri; William J.; and Cora, wife of R.
L. Hubbard, a member of the bar at Los Angeles, California. Mrs. Mary
Donlin was an active member of the Presbyterian Church. Her husband was a
Democrat and was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity.
William J. Donlin attended public school in Missouri and spent three years
in the University of Missouri at Columbia. He had a good business training
while in his father's store and in 1884 came to Creston, Iowa, and sold out a
stock of goods for the Creton National Bank. He then entered the service of
that bank and for seventeen years was its assistant cashier. In the meantime
he established a real estate and loan business, but later returned to active
work with the bank. He was called upon to settle up the estate of J. B.
Harsh, former president of the bank, who died in 1923. In recent years Mr.
Donlin has carried on a general loan and real estate business.
He married, in 1891, Letta Curtis. She was born in England, but was reared
and educated at Creston and taught school there until her marriage. Her
parents were Thomas and Mary Curtis, her father being a stationary engineer by
trade. Mr. and Mrs. Donlin attend the Congregational Church. He is a member of
the Kiwanis Club. He and Mr. Thomas Hamilton recently organized the Union
County Historical Society and have made this an effective instrument for
preserving local history and arousing a proper interest in the subject.
Debbie Clough Gerischer
Iowa History Site