Donald McCorkindale

“As Time Goes By: Odebolt, Iowa Centennial 1877-1977”
Printed by The Odebolt Chronicle, 1977, Page 51-52

Donald McCorkindale (Jr.), born 1842, in Killean Parish, Argyleshire, Scotland, son of Donald, Sr. and Jeanette (McNevin) McCorkindale. His father was a farmer and emigrated to America in 1865 with his family, settling in Clinton County, Iowa. In 1870 they moved to Illinois. In 1875 they came to Richland township, Sac County, Iowa, due to the fact that nearly all their children lived here. Their children were Donald; Neil; Malcolm; Mrs. Richard Shileto; Mrs. Catharine Stuart; *Angus; and John.

Donald McCorkindale (Jr.) was twenty three when he came to America in 1865. In the spring of 1874, he came to Sac County, Iowa and bought three hundred and twenty acres of land in Clinton Township for four dollars and fifty cents an acre. As early as 1885 Donald began breeding fine draft horses, having been at the time of his death, the largest livestock breeder in the county. He imported Clydesdale stallions, which cost in the thousands of dollars to import. He exhibited his horses at county fairs. He was also a breeder of purebred Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Donald McCorkindale was married in 1876 to Mary Bremmer, also a native of Scotland, daughter of James and Margaret (Kennard) Bremmer, who came to America in 1866.Children of Donald and Mary were Jennie (Mrs. John Morton): Daniel, married Anna Story; Margaret (Mrs.Will McQuiston); Mary (Mrs. Alexander Nickolson): James, married Helen Graham; Isabelle (Mrs. George Mattes); William, married Vinta Clark; and Hannah.Mr. and Mrs. Daniel McCorkindale were parents of Francis, married Margaret Hix, and Mary (Mrs. Byron Swain).Mr. and Mrs. William McCorkindale were parents of Robert and Virginia. *Angus McCorkindale married Florence Maloney, daughter of J.S. and Frances Maloney.*Children of Mr. and Mrs. Angus McCorkindale: Kate, married Dr. H.C. Pelton; Jessie; J. Donald, married Vera McCracken; Florence (Mrs. Robert Miller); William, married Lucy Foard; Dorothy (Mrs. Clark Tilden); Kenneth; and John.

Donald McCorkindale Source: Source: Sac County, Iowa, by William H. Hart B.F. Bowen and Co., Inc, Indianapolis, IN, 1914, p. 658

In Donald McCorkindale, of Clinton Township, we had a true representative of the empire builders and one who accomplished more than the ordinary man since he came into the county nearly forty years ago and purchased a tract of unbroken prairie land. His herds of cattle and droves of horses now feed over thousands of acres of Sac County land where at first it was necessary for him to be content with a few hundred acres purchased on a time contract similar to that of the other settlers in his neighborhood.

He was known far and wide as one of the largest land owners and one of the ablest financiers of the section in a decade – yet, he was just a plain farmer, shrewd and intelligent, a son of Scotland who naturally inherited the excellent traits peculiar to his forbears.

Mr. McCorkindale was born on the 14th day of the month of March 1842, in Killean parish, Argyleshire, Scotland, the son of Donald and Jeanette (McNevin) McCorkindale. His father was a farmer in the old country who emigrated to America in the year 1865 with his family and settled in Clinton County, Iowa. Here Donald, Jr., worked in a sawmill for a period of five years and in 1870 Donald, Sr., removed to White County, Illinois, and purchased a farm. He resided in White County for five years and then moved to Odebolt, Sac County, in 1875. He was doubtless influenced to make this move because of the fact that nearly all of his children were settled in Sac County near Odebolt and he wished to be near them in his remaining days. The father died in 1895. He reared five sons and two daughters, namely: Donald; Neil, deceased; Malcolm, now a resident of Nebraska; Mrs. Richard Shileto, of Alberta, Canada; Mrs. Catharine Stuart of wall Lake, Iowa; *Angus, who died in Clinton Township in June, 1912; John a rancher in Alberta, Canada, deceased in the spring of 1914.

Donald McCorkindale was twenty-three years of age when he came to America, landing in New York City in the month of June 1865. He came west and was employed in the saw mills at Clinton, Iowa, for a period of five years. He went to Illinois in 1870 and spent two years there engaged in farming in White County. In the spring of 1874 he came to Sac County and invested his savings in three hundred and twenty acres of land in Clinton Township at four dollars and fifty cents an acre. During the first two years of his residence here he boarded and then married. Several years after marriage he made his next purchase of land and continued making additions to his holdings until he had over two thousand eight hundred acres in all.

His most recent purchase was a portion of the Cook ranch, which he bought in 1909, and consisting of five hundred and sixty acres at prices ranging from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and thirty-five dollars an acre. As early as 1885 he began breeding fine draft horses and met with wonderful success in this venture, having been at the time of his death the largest live stock breeder in the county. On his farm are two imported Clydesdale stallions, which cost in the thousands of dollars to import; thirty-five head of fine thoroughbred draft animals which have been exhibited at the county fairs and have carried off ribbons on several occasions. He was also a breeder of Aberdeen Angus cattle and had over three hundred and fifty head of pure breds on his home far. In addition he was an extensive feeder and shipper of live stock, handling from three to five carloads annually.

Mr. McCorkindale was the owner of a total of two thousand seven hundred acres of farm lands, two thousand five hundred acres of which is in Sac county and two hundred acres in Crawford County. This land is now being farmed entirely by the sons of Mr. McCorkindale. Practically all of the land is being devoted to the live stock breeding and now is rented out except the Cook and Wall Lake lands. It is the second largest farm in the county which has been cultivated almost entirely by the owner and is at the present time the second largest farm in Sac County in the number of acres devoted to exclusive farming and live stock raising.

Mr. McCorkindale was married in October, 1876, to *Mary Bremner, also a native of Scotland, born December 10, 1856, a daughter of James and Margaret (Kennard) Bremner, who emigrated to America from Scotland in 1866 and settled in Cedar County for seven years and then came to Crawford County in 1873, where both lie buried.

The following children have been born to Mr. And Mrs. McCorkindale: Mrs. Jennie Morton, of Alberta, Canada; Daniel, on one of the home farms; Mrs. Margaret McQuistin, of Nebraska; Mrs. Mary Nicholson, of Jefferson, Dakota; James, at home; Isabel, William and Anna, at home with their parents.

Mr. McCorkindale was an independent in politics and had definite and pronounced views on matters affecting the government of the people. He usually voted for the man who seemed best fitted for the office than for the representative of any political party. He and the members of his family have naturally espoused the religion of their forbears and were members of the Presbyterian church of Odebolt. His devoted and competent wife, who has been a wise and careful mother to her children, is still hale, hearty and intelligent, despite her advanced age. It might well be said of them that they were not old excepting in years. The home is a comfortable and hospitable one and, despite the tendency of the times for the farmer to retire to a life of ease and comfort in the towns, they preferred to remain on the farm, Donald desiring to be near the farm work and his fine live stock, and the mother desiring to care for and look after the welfare of her sons.

Donald McCorkindale passed away Monday night, May 18, 1914, at about ten-thirty o’clock before medical aid could be summoned. On the Sunday preceding he had attended church, as was his custom, and had appeared to be in the best of health. The funeral services were held on the Thursday following, May 21st, from the Odebolt Presbyterian Church in the presence of a large concourse of relatives and friends. Rev. Robert McInturff officiated at the ceremony. Burial followed in the Odebolt cemetery. Rendition of the services with song and discourse was beautiful and impressive and in keeping with the character of the deceased.

This Blog Is Closed.

So it’s not just me. When your favorite blogger says the blog is dead, at least you know you’re not alone.

For the purposes of documentation for the year 2013, I should say that this year has been probably the best year of my life, so it comes as something of a surprise that it’s the least documented year on this blog. Most importantly, I’ve gotten married. We had a lovely wedding party (pictures coming soon). We also went on a delightful honeymoon road trip.

Once upon a time I was quoted as saying “You have to have a life in the first place, in order to blog about it.” A caveat to this, I’ve discovered, is that once life accelerates, there simply isn’t much time to stop and document it. And life is about to accelerate even more.

Life Moves Pretty Fast

So a lot has happened. And every time I tell myself I’m going to sit down and update the blog to recap life events for my own future reference (which is basically the entire purpose of this blog, one that Facebook Timeline seems bent on demolishing), I find myself actively avoiding writing of any kind. Maybe it’s a passing phase, what with all the activity around here (Girlfriend moving in! Band rehearsals! Losing my job! Getting a new one!), but I find myself documenting my life less with words and more with photos (thanks, Instagram). I also find myself wondering about things less, and that was a primary reason for blogging in the beginning. It’s entirely possible that I’ve just figured most things out, I suppose. Anyway, here are the highlights of the last 10 months:

I have a few other bits of writing I need to finish up so hopefully the gap between blog entries won’t be quite so massive as the previous one.

Adventures in Jury Duty

No one seems to like jury duty. It interrupts peoples’ work schedules, certainly, but there seems to be more to it than that – the drudgery of dealing with randomly assembled people, the formal and vaguely threatening institutional setting, the paperwork, the bureaucracy. I don’t know if these things don’t bother me much because I’m generally fascinated by novel societal experiences or because my dad was a judge.

I was summoned to the Brooklyn Supreme Court building last Thursday at 8:30 a.m. As I exited the subway station, I was asked for directions by a guy looking for 320 Jay Street, my very same destination, so we walked together toward the courthouse. He was another prospective juror, a sharp-dressed black dude in a thick cream-colored sweater and Timberlands, named David. We exchanged ideas for getting exempted from jury service and generally commiserated as we entered the building and went through security.

We entered a large room on the second floor filled with rows of seats like pews but made of vinyl. We watched a spectacularly low-budget orientation video featuring historical re-enactments of medieval justice: a group of people in robes and rags tie up an accused person and toss him into a river to see if he floats. Then Ed Bradley from 60 Minutes circa 1992 came on and welcomed us to the world of the US justice system. Perry Mason clips were shown, after which Diane Sawyer appeared, explaining that courtrooms are seldom the high-drama arenas that we see in movies and on television.

The combination of the institutional setting and the irresistibly mockable video meant that I naturally reverted by small degrees to my smartass high school self. After the video, David and I joked around with a guy next to us (I didn’t get his name so I’ll just call him DJ Premier because he looked a lot like DJ Premier) about what might disqualify us: language difficulties, backward caps (Premier had his cocked to the side), hoodies, the sincere principles of our Amish-Rastafarian religious beliefs (Premier later remarked that it might be troublesome that his laptop smelled like weed).

The jury room was a terrific cross-section of New York City. Every archetype was present: Old Hasidic Jewish guy? Check. Three-piece suit dude? Check. Confused Asian and Caribbean ladies who didn’t understand much of what was being said? Check. Starbucks laptop guy doing graphic design work? Check. Rotund ladies with impeccable nails and hair of questionable authenticity? Check.

After a Cheese Danish and terrible coffee, I heard my name called, along with David’s, so we both went to the next room for a roll-call before heading up to the 19th floor along with our group of about 30 or so people.

The 19th floor had a nice view, so David and I stood by the window and talked. He’s 39, with a wife and four boys in Brownsville, and he works as a property manager in Queens. Originally from the island of Dominica in the Virgin Islands, he moved to New York when he was 10. We talked about moving from a rural area to the big city, the state of NY public schools, the real estate market, and raising kids in the city. Brownsville, for those who don’t know, is one of the rougher parts of Brooklyn, and David mentioned a local kid was recently shot in a domestic dispute. So he’s looking into moving the family elsewhere.

We were all called into the courtroom for an initial introduction to the attorneys and the case. The defendant was accused of assault and robbery of a livery cab driver at knifepoint. The briefing was short, as it was already 12:45, so we were dismissed for lunch. David and I went to a pizza place, where we talked about music, in particular the decline of popular hip-hop. He spoke a little bit about New York City in 1982 though the crack era of the late 80s/early 90s, and how his father disapproved of rap music, and how much fun hip-hop used to be then compared to today. He’s the disapproving father these days, as the genre has descended into empty materialism. David didn’t get to see many shows in the 80s, but when I mentioned that I had been to Brownsville last summer to see Special Ed play Summerstage, he said that he once went to a car auction with Special Ed back in the day!

Back at the courthouse, we sat around listening to the dude with the loud earbuds (check!) leaking out tunes by Sade and Journey before we were all called back into the courtroom. Twenty folks were chosen for the initial round of inquiry; David was chosen but I was not. Each one was asked their name, job, living arrangement, neighborhood, criminal history (“have you or anyone close to you been the victim of a crime?”), and whether or not they could be impartial to the case, irrespective of any personal connections to crimes, livery cab drivers, or the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant where the alleged crime took place. It felt something like an AA meeting – getting to know strangers and their personal lives.

The rest of us were dismissed and later told that we would not be needed. We returned to the main jury room on the second floor. The time was around 4 p.m., so everyone in the room was told they could leave. Our obligation was over, and we would not be eligible for summons for another 6 years.

While most folks were all but celebrating their dismissal, I have to say I was kind of looking forward to the job. I was also bummed out by the fact that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to David (and he doesn’t seem to be on Facebook). Looks like I’ll never know how it turned out for the knife-wielding suspect from Bed-Stuy. It’s probably just as well. Dude looked so guilty.


Dalton Trumbo, the screenwriter of such varied films as Roman Holiday, Spartacus, and Johnny Got His Gun, was one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of writers and directors blacklisted in 1947 for refusing to testify at the McCarthy hearings. I recently watched a documentary about him, Trumbo, which is available on Netflix streaming. When I heard the following passage on why he refused to name names in McCarthy’s witch hunt, I knew I had to track down a transcript:

I’ve delivered newspapers, reported for newspapers, peddled vegetables, clerked in stores, waited on tables, washed automobiles, picked fruit, hosed down infected cadavers, shoveled sugar beets, iced refrigerator cars, laid rails with a section gang, and served an eight-year hitch on the night shift of a large industrial plant.

I’ve looked at many American faces. I’ve seen them as flak burst around them nine thousand feet over Japan; in a slit trench on Okinawa watching the night sky to see where the next bomb would fall; in an assault boat as they moved toward a beach that tossed more violently than the surf through which they rode.

I’ve counseled with a paroled prostitute on how she might escape the clutches of a policeman who had caught her and was stealing half her earnings and sending his friends to her with courtesy cards that entitled them to take her without pay. I’ve also counseled with Secretary of the Air Force Tom Finletter on how the secretary of state might better explain his policies to a perplexed people. I’ve been asked by Louis B. Mayer why I had no religion, and by a ranking member of the State Department how I could bring myself to work with “all those Hollywood Jews.”

I’ve seen American faces in a miners’ union hall in Duluth on a night when the wind off the lake blew the snow so killingly and so deep that cars couldn’t be used and everybody walked to the meeting. I’ve seen their faces in the banquet room of a New York hotel when the American Booksellers’ Association gave me a National Book Award; and I’ve seen them again in a jury box as each of them twice said, “Guilty as charged,” and one of them wept as she said it.

I’ve been stripped by Americans and paraded naked with them and before them and obediently bent over on command to present my anus for contraband clearance. I’ve lived with and trusted and been trusted by car thieves and abortionists and moonshiners and embezzlers and burglars and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Quakers.

I’ve stood on a gray day in the Fifth Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima and looked off at the graves of 2,198 Americans. In the center of all those graves on a slim white pole on a concrete pedestal flew the American flag. And I swear it was not the flag of informers. And if I could take a census of all the American faces I have seen and of all the dead whose graves I have looked on, if I could ask them one simple question: “Would you like a man who told on his friend?” – there would not be one among them who would answer, “Yes.”

But, show me the man who informs on friends who have harmed no one, and who thereafter earns money he could not have earned before, and I will show you not a decent citizen, not a patriot, but a miserable scoundrel who will, if new pressures arise and the price is right, betray not just his friends but his country itself.

Sometimes Your Instincts Are Wrong

My birthday falls on St. Patrick’s Day. This would be fantastic if I were the sort of person who enjoys the many drunken activities that police officers file under the category of “disorderly conduct.” Maybe I’m just getting old, but St. Patrick’s Day seems to get less fun each year as more and more people have taken it as an excuse for binge drinking. It feels like one big frat party now. Ordinarily I’m insulated from the holiday by my annual trips to South by Southwest, where everyone is too busy listening to bands to get mercilessly hammered, or even notice that March 17th is a holiday.

So it was with some reluctance that I went downtown to Little Rock’s River Market (epicenter of public drinking) on St. Patrick’s Day to see my old college chum Hayes Carll play a show at Rev Room. It was a good show as usual, but I was really tired after a long day (friend’s wedding at which I was an usher/golf cart driver and then cousin’s BBQ afterward) so I left a little early. Walking back toward the Clinton Library where I had parked my rental car, I came up behind a girl having some trouble walking. She would veer into the wall of the Courtyard Hotel and rebound. I passed her, and I was about to round the last corner to the Clinton Library when I looked back and saw her attempting to get into her car. Fortunately she had become temporarily trapped in the game of drop keys-pick up-keys-drop-phone-pick-up-phone-drop keys, which gave me the time to ask myself if I was going to let this happen. Was I going to walk away? My instincts said to let her fate play itself out by her actions, but after 36 years on this Earth, I’ve discovered that my first instincts are generally wrong.

So I talked to her. I asked her if she needed help or if she had anyone she could call for a ride. She said she had tried to call people but no one was picking up, and her brother had abandoned her about an hour before; she had no idea where he was and it was likely that he was even further gone than she was. Neither of us knew any cab phone numbers or anything, so I offered her a ride home.

Naturally, she lived in Conway (a half-hour drive for you non-Arkansans). To make her feel better about being driven home by a total stranger, I told her I was staying with my sister in Vilonia, so it wouldn’t be too far out of my way (my sister lives Jacksonville). I also said not to worry about the degree of the favor – I told her about my birthday and how I was accustomed to the services that St. Patrick’s Day often requires. So I helped her to my car and off we went.

I’ll leave out her name, but she was a 27-year-old single mother of a 5-year-old with a “douchebag” ex living in Mayflower. She had been working at a local healthcare facility but couldn’t continue there because she’d have had to work some night shifts. This would be impossible for her, as her uncooperative ex would not take his child for any longer than the agreed-upon two weekends per month (he was at least, it should be noted, a dutiful payer of child support). She was considering going back to school for nursing, but the single-parent-with-douchey-ex lifestyle made that tricky. She couldn’t rely on her parents’ assistance, as both of them had died within the last two years (father from alcoholism, mother from a heart attack). Also making her employment difficult was her 6-year probation sentence for “possession of an instrument of crime” (specifically, rolling papers – one of the most egregiously nebulous charges available to law enforcement). So at this point I realized that not only did I prevent the disastrous consequences of her having an accident, but I also prevented her from getting a DUI which would have further complicated her already unnecessarily complex life. Perhaps the most likely outcome for her situation, though, would have been her sitting alone, in the dark parking lot, underneath the freeway – also a scenario best avoided.

She insisted she had not been this drunk in a very long time, as she only drank “once in a blue moon.” She seemed quite shamed by the situation. Her brother, a legitimate criminal miscreant on probation for terroristic threatening, had vanished during the evening’s festivities and eventually did call her; we were already as far as Morgan by then so he was SOL on getting home. Lesson learned: don’t go drinking in Little Rock if you live in Conway and haven’t planned for someone reasonably sober to get you home.

Additional important tip for this sort of thing: get your passenger’s address into your smart phone and map to it beforehand, just in case your passenger passes out. My fear early on was that I would be saddled with a sleeper. But she stayed coherent all the way back to her apartment in Conway, conveniently located close to the Hendrix campus so I didn’t have to worry about navigating any unfamiliar streets at night. I helped her to the door and she gave me a hug. She was probably as bewildered as I was that somebody would lend such a big hand to a total stranger.

Another St. Patrick’s Day, another year older, but for once I feel like I’ve actually grown a little. I’m generally a “no” person, so overcoming my instinct to leave things alone was a big step for me. I’m fairly certain I helped someone avoid a terrible fate, and an hourlong drive at 12 a.m. after a long day is a small price to pay for doing The Right Thing. Thanks, Saint Patrick, wherever you are.