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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=cuatroake&id=I140229


MCCANN, James. (Down County, Ireland, Aug. 27, 1840--Dubuque, IA, June 25, 1918). McCann was only five years old when with his parents he crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He was educated in the public schools of Dubuque and at the age of fifteen began working on his father's farm, where he was employed until twenty years of age. (1)

In 1860 McCann abandoned his agricultural business and traveled to Colorado. He mined GOLD for five years and for three and one-half years had charge of the Smith & Parmalee gold mine. In 1865 he returned to Dubuque and resumed farming, which he successfully carried on until 1874. He then operated an agricultural implement store for seven years. (2)

McCann's political career began in 1881 with his election as Dubuque County Sheriff, a position he held during four terms. He later served as Dubuque’s chief of police. (3)

In 1891 McCann was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-Fourth Iowa General Assembly. Reelected, he received his party's nomination for Speaker of the House, but was defeated by the Republican majority. (4)

This was the last official position McCann held, but he remained important politically as chairman of the Congressional Committee of the Third Congressional District. Iowa Governor Boies appointed him as one of a committee of three to investigate the penitentiaries at Fort Madison and Anamosa. In 1893 he was appointed by Governor Jackson as a delegate to the prisons congress held at St. Paul. (5)

In the fall of 1892 McCann assisted in the organization of the EXCELSIOR BRASS WORKS and became president and general manager of the company. He kept these positions until July 10, 1893 when he sold his interest in the company. (6)



1. Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1894, p. 231

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "Hon. James M'Cann," Dubuque Daily Herald Souvenir Edition, January 25 1896, p. 14

6. Ibid.

Irish of Iowa. Online: http://www.celticcousins.net/irishiniowa/irelandbios13.htm#mccann