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James and Rebecca Maxwell Doran Came to America in 1850 by Robert W. Monier

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James and Rebecca Maxwell Doran

Came to America in 1850

The people that came to Marshall County in the early and mid 1800’s were a strong willed people.  Rebecca Maxwell was one such person.  She was born in County Tyrone, Ireland in 1801.  Her parents had lived in Scotland, and we believed were Presbyterians.  They did not want to worship as the king of England wanted them to, and that is why they left Scotland.  They may have been given a tract of land near Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada to get them out of Great Britain.  This was done to many that objected to the English crown.

In New Brunswick Rebecca married a young man named James Doran who also came from Ireland as the Maxwells had to Fredericton with his parents about the same time.  A story has been handed down of Rebecca walking three miles in the wintertime, carrying a baby on her back, to attend a Presbyterian Church in New Brunswick.

At the ages of 45 and 48 James and Rebecca with their ten children made a journey to Boston, Massachusetts to see James’ brother, also we believe to find a better living for the family.  In Boston they lived in a house owned by a Mr. Howe.  Mr. Howe was an inventor and a big business man, having an interest in a pork packing plant in Lacon, Illinois.  James also became acquainted with Jabez Fisher.  He owned land in Marshall County.  Jabez Fisher and his brothers also had opened a newer, larger pork packing plant in Lacon.  These plants butchered hogs, cured the meat, packed it in barrels of salt and shipped it to Boston and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Mr. Howe and Mr. Fisher both encouraged James and Rebecca to go to Illinois.  Marshall County, Illinois was the place to raise a family.  The prairies were waiting for the plow; the land of opportunity.

In October, 1850, the Doran family with ten children and two aunts arrived in Lacon, Illinois.  In the mid 1920’s Willmina Doran Monier, the second from the youngest of the children wrote a story of her life.  (Willmina Monier Hogg has this story.)  She tells of the boat trip on the Great Lakes, the storms, and coming down the Illinois-Michigan Canal on a barge pulled by horses on a tow path on each side.  The family lived that winter in a two room house in Lacon.  As soon as they arrived her older brothers began working in Fisher Brothers pork packing plant.  The next spring the family moved to the Oak Glade Farm in Sec. 6 Steuben Township that was owned by Jabez Fisher.

In 1856 James and Rebecca bought their first farm consisting of 80 acres in Sec. 11 La Prairie township.  And the 1860 census list their real estate value at $6600, personal property at $400.

The Civil War was on, and this family that wanted freedom and an opportunity for themselves also thought all people should have freedom.  The six sons enlisted in the great struggle.  One day a letter came to the Doran home from Chattanooga, Tennessee, that Andrew had been wounded.  A few days later a second letter bringing news his arm had been amputated.  James set out to bring his son home, but on arrival at Chattanooga he was told that Andrew had died and was buried in the military cemetery.  With a few personal items he returned home to share his sad heart with the rest of the family.

The Doran descendants still have the letters from the other brothers as they heard of Andrew’s death, and how it embittered them against the South as they faced the dangers of war.

The war ending, Congress passed the Homestead Act (giving free land to those that would settle it.)  Horace Greeley was saying to west young man, go west.  The five remaining sons began going west, first to Missouri, then Kansas and western Iowa.  Three of the daughters married and they and their husbands followed, but Willmina married William Monier, and in 1867 bought the Oak Glade Farm from Jabez Fisher and spent the rest of their married life there.  Now sixth generation children of James and Rebecca live on the Oak Glade Farm.

In 1885 James and Rebecca now 80 years of age, still had a wanderlust.  They journeyed to Missouri to visit one son, then on to Chase, Kansas in Rice Co. to make their final home.  On their stop in Kahoka, Missouri, dressed in their Sunday best they had their pictures taken in a studio.  The descendants cherish copies of this picture.  At the ages of 90 and 96 James and Rebecca were laid to rest in a cemetery on the Kansas prairie a mile east of Chase, Kansas.

In the summer of 1910 the Doran children and descendants that were still living met for a two day family reunion on a farm Irwin, Iowa; sixty-five in all attended.  Willmina and Robert Doran came from Illinois, others came from Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.  The men slept in the barn, the women in the house.  The local newspaper carried a front page story of the happy time they had.  Also the newspaper says many chickens met the frying pan in those two days.

One by one James and Rebecca’s children were laid to rest after a long and full life.  Their birth date and year of death are as follows:

1829.1919 Mary Jane Doran Dunlap, buried near Irwin, Iowa
1831.1897 John Doran, buried in Nodaway Cc., Missouri
1833.1911 Edward Doran, buried in Topeka, Kansas
1835.1933 William Doran, buried in Oklahoma
1837.1933 Margaret Doran Brewster, buried in Alta Vista, Iowa
1839.1923 Thomas Doran, buried in Isabelle, Kansas
1841.1932 Willmina Doran Monier, buried in Saratoga Township Marshall Co., Illinois
1844.1864 Andrew Doran, buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee
1844.1914 Robert Doran, buried in Henry, Il. Marshall Co.
1847.1915 Phoebe Ann Doran Holler, buried in Protection, Kansas

The average age of the nine children that died of natural causes was 82 years, pretty good as most of their life was in the nineteenth century.

In August of 1988, 170 descendants of James and Rebecca met for a two day reunion in a very spacious building in Buffalo, Oklahoma.  Many of these people had never met before and the thought that kept running throughout the minds of those gathered were that James and Rebecca must have been a strong-hearted, courageous people to make the journey they did and clothe and raise their children.

James and Rebecca crossed an ocean in a sailing vessel taking 28 days, then after marriage hand in had crossed half a continent with ten children.  What did they leave when they passed from this life?  Not much as their last will and testament shows as it was probated in Rice County, Kansas, but they left many descendants that contributed a great deal in building and making the United States what it is today.  Six sons fought in a war to make all men free, one making the supreme sacrifice.

We would like to call you attention to one.  His name is Kenneth M. Endicott.  He was born in 1916 on a farm in eastern Colorado.  He graduated from a small high school in Canon City, Colorado at the age of 15.  He enrolled in the University of Colorado and graduated from the University’s medical school at the age of 21.  He began working with the National Institute of Health at Bethesda, Maryland.  He was President Nixon’s first appointment to the National Cancer Institute, was director from 1960-1969.  During those years he helped develop the chemotherapy program that revolutionized cancer treatment throughout the world.  He also helped establish the institute’s cancer virus program which led to the discovery of the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  In his memorial service in 1987 the director of the National Institute of Health had this to say about him.  “This nation owes a great debt to Dr. Endicott for his accomplishments in many areas of the health field; increased support of basic research; expansion and development of many programs in cancer research.”

Two others that we want to mention are Bruce and Brian Doran, great, great, great grandsons of James and Rebecca – 6th generations.  They live in Boston, Mass., back where it all started.  Their company’s name is Doran Instruments, Inc. and they manufacture instruments used in examining the human eye.

What did James and Rebecca leave?  Some men and women that we are very proud of.

      Robert W. Monier
      Sparland, Il.


Written by Michael S. Doran

January 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm

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