Jackson County

Biography - PATRICK S. McCANN

A citizen of note and a business man of prominence and influence at Herrin, Illinois, is Patrick S. McCann, who is president of the McCann Construction Company, one of the contracting concerns of Southern Illinois. Mr. McCann is also extensively interested in real estate at Herrin, and the splendid business blocks erected by him in this place have added stability and permanency to the city.

In the city of St. Louis, Missouri, December 13, 1865, occurred the birth of Patrick S. McCann, who is a son of James McCann, now a retired citizen of Jackson county, Illinois. James McCann was born in County Cavan, Ireland, in 1830. In 1852, as a young man, he came to America, working at his trade of bricklaying first in New York city and later in Philadelphia. About the year 1855 he migrated west and settled at Dubuque, Iowa, where he joined a party of his countrymen in buying up an area of land under the "bit act" and where he continued to reside until the outbreak of the Civil war. In 1861 he went to St. Louis, there engaging in the retail fuel business, his stock consisting of coal and wood. With the passage of time he developed an extensive business in St. Louis, where he had several yards, which he conducted until late in the '70s. In 1872 he came into Illinois and purchased a tract of timber, the beechwood of which he proceeded to manufacture into charcoal. In those days charcoal was used extensively in the rectifying or filtering of whiskey at the distilleries and that market opened up a good industry for Mr. McCann at Grand Tower. His charcoal was ground and sacked and then shipped in five-bushel bags to points on the Mississippi river between St. Louis and New Orleans. Eventually a cheaper method of handling the crude whiskey was introduced and then Mr. McCann turned his attention to the clearing and developing of his land in Jackson county. At this point his several sons rendered him valuable service as farmers and it was not until they had reached their majorities and gone out into other fields of endeavor that the father gave up farming, too, finally retiring to live upon his competency.

James McCann was married at St. Louis during the Civil war, the maiden name of his wife having been Bridget Harigan. Mrs. McCann was born and reared in Ireland, in County Tipperary, whence she came to America, She was called to eternal rest December 26, 1909, and is survived by the following children, Patrick S., the immediate subject of this review; James, Jr., a member of the McCann Construction Company; Maggie, the wife of "William Hickey, of East St. Louis; Charles, also a member of the McCann Construction Company, and runs a livery and sales stable at Murphysboro, Illinois; Mollie is Mrs. Frank Raddle, of Murphysboro; and Robert is likewise connected with the McCann Construction Company.

Patrick S. McCann was a child of seven years of age at the time of his parents' removal to Jackson county, Illinois, where he passed his boyhood and youth and where he received his early educational training. At the age of twenty -one years he left his father's farm and became a fireman of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad out of Murphysboro. He remained in the railroad service for the following two years, at the expiration of which he formed a little partnership with his brothers to take a contract from the government for getting out piling and riprap stuff for repairing the banks of the Mississippi river. The brothers followed this work for the ensuing nine years and eventually drifted into railroad contract work. The first real contract taken by "McCann Brothers" comprised a piece of grading for the Cotton Belt line at Gray's Point, Missouri. They also contracted for the foundation work for the round house and the excavation for the ash pit there. Since accepting their first contract, in 1899, they have done work for the Frisco, the Illinois Central, the Iron Mountain, the Chicago & Eastern Illinois and the Coal Belt Electric railroads, in addition to which they have also done a great deal of grading for mining companies in this section of Illinois. At the present time, in 1912, they are completing a contract for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company into the coal field between Marion and Herrin.

Early in the history of Herrin Mr. McCann and his brothers became owners of real estate in the new town. After the destructive fire they improved their property with splendid new brick houses, some of which face on Park avenue and Washington street.

In his political relations Mr. McCann is a Republican. "While a resident of Grand Tower he served that place as a member of the board of aldermen, and since coming to Herrin he has served with the utmost efficiency on the board of health. In a fraternal way he is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and with the Knights of Columbus. In their religious faith he and his wife are devout communicants of the Catholic church, in the various departments of whose work they are most zealous factors.

At Bloomington, Indiana, April 26, 1904, Mr. McCann was united in marriage to Miss Ella Kerr, a daughter of Patrick Kerr, of Irish birth. The wedding occurred the day before the formal opening of the St. Louis Exposition and Mr. and Mrs. McCann attended that event. When President Roosevelt let loose the fastenings that held "Old Glory" as a signal that the exposition was open to the world, Mr. McCann was standing where its folds enveloped him and where the real spirit of the occasion was centered. Mr. and Mrs. McCann have two children, Catherine and Ella.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1147-1148.

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