Jackson County

Biography - JAMES DONALY

Although now retired from business life, James Donaly has borne an important part in the development of the resources of Southern Illinois, and his name is well known in the mining world of this section. He spent nearly forty years as an operator and miner at Carterville, where he retired to private life in August, 1911. Mr. Donaly's childhood was spent in Carterville, he having been eight years of age when his father brought the family from Murphysboro to Carterville. He was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, September 27, 1865, where his father was a miner, and four years later the latter came to Illinois and established himself temporarily at the county seat of Jackson county. He is of Scotch-Irish blood, his father being a native of Beath, Scotland, and his mother of county Roscommon, Ireland.

William Donaly, the father of James of this review, was born January 3, 1839, and gave his whole active life to the occupation of a miner. He is now living a retired life, having witnessed an advance in the business of coal mining, the history of which, were it written, would furnish an interesting chapter among the great industries of the country. Mr. Donaly married Mary Ganley, who was born March 17, 1836, and they have had the following children: Ellen, the wife of Henry Phillips, of Carterville; Mary, the wife of Fred H. Koennecke, of this city; Kate, now Mrs. George Phillips, of Carterville; Mrs. Edward Myers, wife of a well-known merchant, of St. Louis; and James.

Beginning work as a child of seven years, James Donaly could not have profited much as a pupil in school. He got merely the rudiments of a few common branches and acquired the remainder of his education from actual experience. He began as a” trapper,’’ in the Bryden mine, the first one opened at Carterville. After nearly ten years of application to his vocation, and having acquired complete knowledge of it, he relaxed his efforts and spent several -months touring the West and South, working in mines at Trinidad, Colorado; Cothridge, New Mexico; Gordon, Texas; and Atoka, Oklahoma. He went on a prospecting tour of New Mexico for the Santa Fe Coal Company, extending his trip to points in California and returning home after an absence of nearly two years. Soon after resuming work in the coal field Mr. Donaly entered the service of Sam. T. Brush to do some development work, completed that and was made a mine manager by Mr. Brush. He became superintendent of the Brush property later on and in 1898 he began the coal business independently. He joined Mr. Fred H. Koennecke under the firm name of the Donaly -Koennecke Company, opened a property near the Brush mine and subsequently sold it. He then transferred his interests in mining to a lease some two and one-half miles north of Carterville, where the Donaly Koennecke Company opened another mine, and after nine years with it Mr. Donaly sold out to Mr. Koennecke and withdrew from the field. He has farming and financial interests, owning a number of business houses in Carterville and being a stockholder in the Carterville State and Savings Bank. His modern home on Main street was erected by Mr. Donaly and there he and his family maintain their residence.

On October 1, 1896, Mr. Donaly was married to Miss Dell Kirk, who died in 1900, leaving one daughter, Ruby. Mr. Donaly’s second marriage was to Miss Margaret Jeffrey, a daughter of Peter Jeffrey, a coal man of Murphysboro and a native of Ayrshire, Scotland. Mrs. Donaly was born in 1871, in Murphysboro, and grew up there. In 1908 Mr. Donaly and the members of his family took a trip to the old Jeffrey home in Scotland, and there the death of his mother-in-law occurred. Mr. Donaly has studied Free Masonry deeply, and has taken the thirty-second degree along the Scottish route. He is a member of Oriental Consistory and of Medina Temple. His political inclinations lead him to support the principles of the Democratic party.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 2, page 1002.

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