James Hawthorne was born May 14, 1814, in County Down, Ireland. His father died when he was only one year old. Three years later, his courageous mother, with her four children, sailed to America and settled in Maryland.
James’ schooling was brief and he went to work as a bobbin boy in a factory. He apprenticed as a carpenter and eventually saved enough money to make the journey to Ohio and then on to Indiana. There he married and led a prosperous life, which
included being sheriff of Brookville. He sought opportunities to better himself and his family and arrived in Iowa in 1855. They settled in Nevada and built a home of elm and walnut logs on the site that is now the corner of 7th Street and H Avenue.
He engaged in the manufacturing of razor strops. The majority of his life was spent selling and traveling. He knew the railroad would prove to be
profitable for him in shipping his goods to other areas of the country. He traveled with other community leaders to Cedar Rapids to convince the Cedar Rapids and
Missouri River Railroad to run a line through Nevada. The railroad agreed with this proposal and appointed James director of the railroad until the project was finished.
Politics was also a part of Mr. Hawthorne’s life. He was twice elected mayor of Nevada and also served in the General Assembly in 1867. He was one of a committee of nine men in Nevada to plan the local memorial service for their slain President, Abraham Lincoln. This was held April 28, 1865, at the old south square (present Story County Hospital location).
Mr. Hawthorne outlived three wives. His fourth wife, Jennie Duff, was at his deathbed as were four children, eighteen grandchildren, and five greatgrandchildren. His death occurred on October 21, 1904. Jennie died in 1912.
Pioneer Families >