A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
THOMAS J. HENNESSEY maintained his home at Missouri Valley, Harrison County, more than thirty years, and during that period he was continuously identified with the undertaking and funeral directing business, in which he was engaged in an independent way during the last twenty years of his life. In his character and his communal service he meant much to this city, and in his chosen sphere of business he maintained the utmost loyalty and highest ideas, while his ministration in the hours of sorrow were ever marked by abiding human sympathy and kindly consideration. The death of Mr. Hennessey occurred in February, 1927, and it is fitting that in this publication he entered a tribute to his memory.
Mr. Hennessey was born in Clonmel, Ireland, November 21, 1867, and his death
occurred in the Nicholas Senn, Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska, February 3, 1927,
he having gone from his home to the Nebraska metropolis to receive treatment
at the hospital mentioned. The rudimentary education of Mr. Hennessey was
acquired in the schools of his native land, and he was a lad of but fourteen
years when he severed the home ties and set forth to seek his fortunes in the
United States. From the port of his disembarking he forthwith proceeded to
Des Moines, Iowa, where he learned the upholstering trade in the establishment of the Harbusche Furniture Company, with which he was thus connected a few years, his arrival in Des Moines having occurred in the year 1882. In that
city likewise he advanced his education by attending night school, and there also he learned the undertaking and embalming business under the direction of a man named Nelson, who was connected with the Newlen furniture and undertaking establishment and who was one of the first licensed embalmers in Iowa. After his marriage Mr. Hennessey continued his residence in Des Moines until
January, 1893, when he removed to Missouri Valley and found employment in the undertaking establishment of T. Foss. While thus engaged he ingratiated himself deeply in the confidence and esteem of this community, and this fact proved an asset when, in 1907, he here engaged independently in business as an undertaker and funeral director. For his new place of business he obtained the
building that had up to that time been occupied by the T. M. Gilmore Grocery Company, at 507 East Erie Street, and this he fitted up consistently for the uses to which it was to be applied. Here later additions and improvements to the building were made, and here the business has been continued since the death of Mr. Hennessey, who had brought his establishment up to the best standard in equipment and service. His gracious and devoted wife proved his faithful and efficient assistant in conducting the business, and in 1925 he admitted to partnership Darwin A. VanCleave, whereupon the present firm title of Hennessey & VanCleave was adopted. Mr. VanCleave is represented in the following
sketch and has continued in the management of the business since the death of his honored partner. Mr. Hennessey continued his active association with the business he had founded until death set its seal upon his mortal lips, and
it is pleasing to record that his nephew, Harold Hennessey, has been connected with the business since 1927 and is ultimately to be admitted to the firm, as the virtual successor of his uncle, whose widow still retains the latter's interest in the firm, though she now maintains her home in Sioux City. The religious faith of Mr. Hennessey was that of the Catholic Church, of which he was an earnest communicant, as is also his widow, and he was affiliated with the Knights of Columbus as a fourth-degree knight, and also with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights and Ladies of Security, the
Brotherhood of American Yeomen, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Knights of the Maccabees.
On the 27th of November, 1888, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Hennessey
to Miss Nellie E. Schultze, of Chariton, Lucas County, and after his death
she removed to Sioux City, which likewise is the home of their only child,
Mr. Hennessey was true and faithful in all the relations of life and his
name shall long be held in gracious memory by the people of the city in which he
maintained his home many years - until the time of his death.
*Check your facts, don't know how accurate.
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