Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data and images may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or for other presentation without express permission by the contributor(s).

By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Page 1515

JAMES J. DONELAN, was a life-long resident of Springfield, who became one of its influential citizens, prominent in its business and public life. He was landlord of the Jefferson House for twelve years and chief of police for four years, and in both capacities exercised considerable influence that made him a factor in Springfield's welfare and upbuilding. He was born in this city, September 14, 1858, a son of Thomas and Bridget (Fitzsimmons) Donelan, both of whom are natives of Ireland. They settled in Springfield in an early day and the father worked at the brick mason's and plasterer's trades, following these pursuits until his death. His widow still resides in Springfield, making her home at 531 North Fifth Street. Three of their children are still living: Michael, who is a foreman in the Wabash machine shops; Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Hughes, of Springfield, and Thomas, a practicing dentist of this city.

In the public schools James J. Donelan pursued his education and in his boyhood he began working in the rolling mills, where he won promotion by reason of his ready adaptability and his faithfulness in the performance of the least task assigned him. At length he became rail straightener and held that position for several years, or until the big strike, when he left the mills. Not long afterward he was appointed to the position of chief of police under Mayor Charles Hay and remained at the head of that department of the city service for four years, proving most prompt and faithful in the discharge of his duties.

In 1887 Mr. Donelan was united in marriage to Miss Mary Brennan, who was born in Springfield, on the 24th of July, 1862, and is a daughter of John and Bridget (Havicin) Brennan, both of whom were natives of Ireland and were also early settlers of this city, where the father, a blacksmith by trade, conducted a smithy for a number of years. He afterward retired to private life and continued to make his residence in Springfield until his death. His widow now makes her home with her sons at No. 809 South Eighth street in Springfield. Two children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Donelan: Charles, who was born February 8, 1888, and is now attending the high school, and Mamie, born September 3, 1896.

After his marriage Mr. Donelan took charge of the Jefferson House and was engaged in the hotel business for twelve years or up to the time of his demise. He was also a stockholder in the Sangamon County Building and Loan Association. He took a very active interest in politics as a stanch advocate of the Democracy and he was also deeply interested in the labor situation of the country. He was secretary of a labor union in Springfield for eight years, holding that position at the time of the strike. Fraternally he was also connected with the Royal Circle and with the Royal Arcanum and both he and his wife were members of St. Agnes Catholic Church. He died in that faith November 9, 1900, and thus passed away one who had become widely known in Springfield because of his business activity, his leadership in labor circles and in his prominence as a supporter of the Democracy. Mrs. Donelan now owns a nice home at No. 222 East Lawrence avenue, where she and her children now reside, and she also has residence property at No. 226 and 230 East Lawrence avenue, which returns to her a good rental.

Return to 1904 Biographies Index
Return to Sangamon County ILGenWeb