The architect of his own fortunes, Henry Monroe has builded wisely and well upon the solid foundation of unremitting industry and capable management. To-day the possessor of a handsome competence, he is living retired in the enjoyment of a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves. He was born in county Down, Ireland, July 12, 1823, a son of Robert and Margaret (Grasey) Monroe. The father was a farmer by occupation and both he and his wife spent their entire lives on the Emerald Isle. Their children were William, a soldier, who died in China; Henry, of this review; Elizabeth; and John, who is living in Ireland. The father was a member of the Episcopal church, the mother of the Presbyterian church.
Henry Monroe is the only one of the family that sought a home in America. He was reared upon the home farm and obtained his education in the schools of Ireland. Believing that he might better his financial conditions in the new World, he crossed the Atlantic in 1848, landing at New York. His capital was very limited and it was necessary that he soon secure employment. He made his way to Cleveland, Ohio, where the first work that he did was whitewashing two barns and digging a ditch for Judge Osmond. Later he went to Lorain county, that state, where he was employed as a farm hand for four months, when he returned to Cleveland and was again in the service of Judge Osmond for two months. On the expiration of that period he went to Mississippi, where he engaged in chopping wood through the winter, returning to Evansville, Indiana, in the spring. There he was employed by the month for a year and a half, after which he removed to Springfield, Illinois. There he engaged in teaming, having two carts and horses, which he used in the work of constructing the Springfield & Alton Railroad. When that work was completed he went to Bloomington, where he was similarly engaged on the Illinois Central Railroad for a time. On selling out he removed to Iowa, locating in Poweshiek county. He had saved his earnings and in the Hawkeye state he entered eighty acres of land, on which he built a cabin. He also fenced twenty acres and placed it under cultivation and in addition was employed on the construction of the Rock Island Railroad. Later be engaged in breaking prairie, but in the spring of 1856 he sold his property, preparatory to coming to Kansas.
With an ox team he removed to the Sunflower state and located on Grasshopper creek, where he pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land with Mexican war land warrants which he had bought. After building a log cabin he began the work of developing the farm. There were few settlers in the county at the time and they were located along the creeks. They had to go to the river to buy all supplies and money was very scarce. Mr. Monroe broke his land and soon good harvests rewarded his labors. He had no trouble with Indians or border ruffians, neighbors were friendly and the pioneer life was not unmixed with many pleasures as well as hardships. Soon after his arrival Mr. Monroe purchased three yoke of oxen, used in breaking prairie, also bought two cows and soon began raising hogs and cattle. He worked hard, expended his money judiciously and each year augmented his capital by his well directed efforts. He added to his landed possessions until he had fourteen hundred acres, but since that time he has sold portions of it and given some of it to his children, but still retains four hundred and eight acres. He erected a comfortable residence and substantial outbuildings, and in addition to the raising of grain was successfully engaged in raising cattle, which he shipped direct to the markets of Chicago and Buffalo, as well as selling to the local trade. Both branches of his business proved profitable and his unremitting labor thus brought to him a handsome competence.
In addition to his farming operations Mr. Monroe became one of the organizers of the Fairview State Bank, which was capitalized for twenty thousand dollars. He has since been one of its stockholders and directors and he has also loaned money privately for a number of years, taking good mortgage securities. In 1891 he built a pleasant residence in Fairview and has since lived retired in the town, his attention being given only to the control of his investments.
In 1855 occurred the marriage of Mr. Monroe and Miss Mary Loughlin, who was born in Indiana, in 1837, a daughter of Thomas and Jane (Gordon) Loughlin, the former a native of Ireland, while the latter was born in Ohio, of Irish parentage. Her father was a farmer and removed to Iowa in 1854. Purchasing land in Poweshiek county, he made his home there until 1856, when he came to Kansas, pre-empted land and improved a farm upon which he remained until his death. His wife passed away in 1878 and he died in January, 1894. Both were members of the Catholic church. Their children are: Thomas, now in Colorado; Mary, the wife of our subject; Mrs. Catherine Clark, of California; Matthew, of Colorado; and Mrs. Martha Jonnix. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Monroe seven children have been born, but Robert, the eldest, died, leaving one child; Emma is the wife of S. P. Jones, a farmer of Brown county; William is an agriculturist; Cicely is the wife of Charles O'Rork; Eliza is the wife of William Skinner; Harley is living on the homestead; and Josephine is now Mrs. Yearling, of St. Louis.
In early life Mr. Monroe voted the Free-soil ticket and afterward supported Lincoln. Later he voted for Cleveland, but of recent years has again given his support to the Republican party. He has never aspired to office, preferring to devote his time and energies to his business interests, in which he has met with a high degree of success. He is an excellent financier and his honorable business methods have contributed in large measure to his success, of which he has every reason to be proud.