Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

M.V. (Michael Valentine) Gannon


"M.V. GANNON . . . was born in Dublin, Ireland, February 14, 1846. He was educated principally in the common schools of the country, and emigrated to America in October, 1866; remained in the city of New York until July of the following year, when he joined his friend, Mr. M. Johnson, now deceased, who left Ireland at the same time. Mr. Gannon taught school in Rock Island, subsequently in Scott County, Iowa, and for five years and a half was principal of the parochial schools at St. Marguerite, Davenport, Iowa. He was admitted to the practice of the law in April, 1873, but did not go into active practice until 1876. He made his studies chiefly with P.T. McElherne, lately of Chicago, now deceased. Mr. Gannon contributed prose and poetry to the old Rock Island Argus, the St. Louis Western Watchman, New York Freeman's Journal, and other papers east and west. He was early drawn into politics, and is now, so he says, doing penance for all his indiscretions in that particular. He is at present head of the National League in America."

[Nebraska Poets. One Hundred Pages of Prairie Poems (Omaha, Nebraska: MeGeath Stationary Company, Columbian Edition, 1893)] [no author or editor indicated]

Obituary, Davenport Democrat and Leader; March 8, 1926

M.V. GANNON, WELL KNOWN LAWYER AND ORATOR, DIES HERE SUNDAY AFTERNOON Possessed "Golden Voice" Which Was Often Used in Espousing Cause of Irish Freedom Before American Public - Practiced Law Both in Davenport and Chicago - Was President of National Land League - Came to America Following Work to Free Prisoners.

Hon. M.V. Gannon, dean of the local bar, prominent Democratic politician, and one of the most eloquent of all the eloquent orators who pleaded the cause of Irish freedom before the American public a score of years ago is dead. He passed away at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon at the family home, 913 Charlotte avenue. On Feb. 14 he celebrated his 80th birthday.

Born in Ireland he came to America in young manhood, studied law and subsequently became a lawyer of national prominence practicing both in Davenport and in Chicago. Those who knew him in his younger days declare that he was one of the most brilliant and powerful orators that the city has known. He was also the editor and publisher of the first Catholic paper published in this section.

It was following an episode in which he and a group of young Irish patriots succeeded in freeing Fenian prisoners from Castle Kilmain that he came to America. An active Irish patriot, he became as intense a patriot for the land of his adoption.

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Michael Valentine Gannon was born in Dublin, Ireland, on Feb. 14, 1846. His father, Michael Gannon, died when he was only  three months old, leaving a widow and three children of whom he was the youngest. He lost his only sister in infancy, and his brother, John, died in Ireland in 1872.

His mother was before her marriage Miss Catherine O'Brien and was a member of the noted and gifted Irish family the McGeorghegans of West Meath and the O'Briens of Limerick. The boy often declared that he was indebted for any talent he might possess to his mother, whose earnestness, untiring true religious spirit and thoro patriotism were his highest inspiration.

Family Was Prominent.

The family of the father had long resided in West Meath near the city of Kilbeggin and it was in the Irish National School of Kilbeggin that the young man received his education. In addition to his ordinary studies the boy, who had a passion for learning, was intensely interested in historical and biographical subjects  as well as travel, and devoured every book of the kind he could find. He also took a delight in outdoor sports and in amateur theatricals and public meetings.

On Oct. 6, 1866, he emigrated to the United States and came to the Tri-Cities, finding employment as a school teacher first in Rock Island and then in Davenport. He was for a time principal of the old St. Marguerite's school and prepared many well known Davenporters of today for college.

In the seventies he established the Iowa Catholic Advocate which flourished for a few years but was allowed to die in 1873 when he took the bar examinations and commenced the practice of law.

Was District Attorney.

A Democrat by conviction and a sagacious party leader, he was not an unswerving partisan. In 1877, he was chosen as a member of the Davenport City Council. In the following year he was nominated for district attorney, but defeated. However, he was renominated and elected in 1882. In 1884 he was the Democratic candidate for attorney general of Iowa but went down with his party in the state election. He moved to Omaha in 1887 and in 1891 was chosen president of the National Land League.

Moving to Chicago he became a noted figure at the bar in that city. He continued his practice in that city until 1905 when he returned to Davenport.

Married Three Times.

Mr. Gannon was married three times. His first wife, Miss Addie Hodges of Geneseo, Ill., died four years later, leaving no children and several years after he married Miss Cecelia Jordan of Davenport, a teacher at Washington school. Five children, all now living, survived her death in 1884.

In 1894 he married Miss Mary Johnson of Cable, Ill, daughter of his oldest and best friend, Michael Johnson, who had arranged for the departure from Ireland  in October, 1886, of a group of young men who had taken part in the freeing of Fenian prisoners from Kilmain Hall. Mr. Gannon was one of the group of young Irish patriots who accomplished the liberation.

He was fond of telling the story of having carried his wife, then a child of five, to this country, on his knee. Mrs. Gannon died suddenly in 1898.

Back to Davenport.

In 1905 Mr. Gannon and his family returned to Davenport and resumed his partnership with A.P. McGuirk. The firm as at one time one of the best known in the middle west. Three years ago he retired from active practice and took a long planned trip to Ireland. Upon his return he often told of conditions in "My Ireland" from the lecture platform, his last appearance as a speaker being in Iowa City two years ago.

Eight children survive. Those are Miss Ada Katherine and Miss Rosemary Gannon at home, Mrs. J.H. Finch and Mrs. J.E. Amos and Miss Genevieve and John D. Gannon, all of Chicago, Lieutenant M.V. Gannon, USA, now stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii,and Sister Mary Cecelian of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now at Cresco, Ia. The first child, Vincent Bradley Gannon died in infancy.

[Obituary courtesty of Cathy Joynt Labath, Irish in Iowa][]