Marion County

Biography - JOHN F. DONOVAN

The gentleman to a review of whose life and characteristics the reader's attention is herewith respectfully invited, is among the most progressive professional men of Marion county, Illinois, who by energy and correct methods has not only achieved success for himself, but has also contributed in a very material way to the commercial, industrial, civic and moral advancement of his place of residence. In the course of an honorable career he has established himself in a liberally remunerative enterprise and won the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.

John F. Donovan was born in New York City November 1, 1847, the son of William and Mary Donovan. The lineage of this family, as the name implies, is traced to Ireland, the father of the subject having been born there. He was a longshoreman, and was called from his earthly labors when our subject was young. The mother of the subject was also born in the Emerald Isle, and passed away comparatively young in life. They were Roman Catholics and people of sterling qualities and fine traits. They became the parents of two children.

John F. Donovan, our subject, was placed in the Juvenile Asylum in New York City, where he remained for about five years, or until he was twelve years old. He was then bound to a farmer in Randolph county, Illinois. After remaining in his new home for about eighteen months he took a leave of absence and never returned.

In 1862 our subject, feeling that he could not conscientiously stand idly by and see the nation in the throes of rebellion, enlisted in 1862 in Company I, One Hundred and Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in which he served for six months, when, greatly to his regret, it became necessary to drop his name from the company's roll on account of physical disability; but he later reenlisted in Company C, Fifty-sixth Illinois Infantry, at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and served with distinction until the close of the war, taking part in many hot engagements and famous battles. He was honorably discharged. His regiment was sent to Little Rock, Arkansas, after the grand review at Washington, and was finally mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, in August 1865.

After his career in the army Mr. Donovan came to Centralia, Marion county, Illinois, where he remained for about six years, then came to Kinmundy, where he has since resided. He was always a close observer and a diligent student, and early in life decided that the law should be his profession, consequently he began the study of the same and was admitted to the bar in 1874, since which time he has devoted himself almost exclusively to the practice of law, winning a great reputation throughout this and adjoining counties as a learned, able and careful exponent of this profession, never erring in his cool calculating manner in drawing or presenting a case, whether criminal or civil, and he is also known as an orator of no-mean ability. His success was instantaneous and his office has always been filled with clients.

Our subject was appointed postmaster of Kinmundy, first in 1877, having served in a most acceptable manner for eight years and was removed by President Cleveland. He was reappointed in 1902 and is still ably serving in that capacity. He has been mayor of Kinmundy at different times for fifteen years. He was instrumental in organizing the Marion County Grand Army of the Republic, being at the head of the Reunion Association. He has served as inspector general of Illinois on the national staff, also on the department staff, also chief mustering officer for Illinois. Mr. Donovan was president of the Southern Illinois Emigration and Improvement Association, also officer of the day of the Southern Illinois Reunion Association. He has held various offices in the Grand Army of the Republic.

Mr. Donovan was united in marriage November 3, 1880, to Ellen King, a native of Marion county, the daughter of John B. and Rebecca J. (Evans) King, a highly respected and influential family whose people were from Ohio. Her father was a soldier in the Civil war, from Illinois, having been a member of Company A, Eighty-eighth Chicago Board of Trade Regiment, in which he served throughout the war.

Mr. and Mrs. Donovan have no children.

In his fraternal relations our subject is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias, having filled all the chairs in the local lodges, and he has been representative of these lodges in the grand lodges.

Mrs. Donovan is a member of the Presbyterian church.

Mr. Donovan is a man of distinct and forceful individuality, of marked sagacity, of indomitable enterprise, and always upright in his dealings with his fellow men, loyal and faithful to every trust imposed in him, public-spirited, and in manners courteous and kindly, easily approachable. His career has ever been such as to warrant the trust and confidence of the business world, and his activity in industrial, professional and civic lines and financial circles forms no unimportant chapter in the history of Marion county.

Extracted 07 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 99-101.


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