Biography of Edward F. Donovan

Edward F. Donovan, supervisor of the State Hospital for the Insane in Yankton, is a native of Michigan and the son of Jeremiah and Margaret Donovan, both born in Ireland. With a successful business career and remarkable management skills, he has earned recognition and trust in his community. Holding the position of supervisor since 1891, Donovan’s undimmed record and dedication to duty have made him an esteemed custodian of one of the people’s most important institutions. Beyond his political involvement and faithfulness to his responsibilities, he is a proud citizen who believes in the future growth and prosperity of his city and state.

EDWARD F. DONOVAN, supervisor of the State Hospital for the Insane, Yankton, is a native of Michigan and the son of Jeremiah and Margaret Donovan, both parents born in Ireland. The father, a native of the county of Wicklow, came to the United States when a young man of eighteen years and located at Marquette, Michigan, where later he became captain of the Gwinn mine, which post he held for a number of years. Resigning his position, he engaged in the mercantile business at Independence, Iowa, and after spending ten active and prosperous years in that city, he disposed of his establishment and retired to a farm nearby, where he has since followed agricultural pursuits and stock raising. Jeremiah Donovan is a man of fine business ability and great energy and has been remarkably successful in his various lines of endeavor, being at this time the possessor of a large and valuable landed estate, consisting of two hundred and forty acres in one of the finest agricultural districts of Iowa, besides owning considerable city property and extensive personal interests. He has been an influential factor in the civic and public affairs of the different communities of his residence, served two terms as county auditor, one term as county commissioner, besides filling various minor official positions. He has long been a staunch Republican and a leader in his party, and it was in recognition of his valuable services to the same as well as on account of his peculiar fitness that he was honored with the different public stations referred to above. In religion, he is a Catholic and has always been loyal to the mother church, having been born and reared in the same and descended from a long line of Catholic ancestors. He has reached the age of sixty-seven and retains to a marked degree his physical force and mental power, being as ever a leader of thought and a molder of opinion in his community. Mrs. Margaret Donovan, who before her marriage bore the maiden name of Kilfy, was born in Ireland and at the age of fifteen accompanied her parents to America, the family locating at Marquette, Michigan, where she subsequently met the gentleman who became her husband. She is still living, as are six of her seven children, their names being as follows: Michael, of Deadwood, South Dakota; Daniel, a resident of Independence, Iowa; Edward F., whose name introduces this sketch; Peter, of Yankton; Henry lives in Deadwood, and James, whose home is in the state of Iowa.

Edward F. Donovan was born in Marquette, Michigan, on the 16th of December, 1868. His early life, devoid of striking incident, was spent under the parental roof in his native city, in the public schools of which he received his preliminary educational discipline. After the family moved to Iowa, he further pursued his studies in the high schools at Independence, but at the age of sixteen, he laid aside his books and, investing his means in an outfit for drilling wells, followed that line of work during the ensuing three years. At the expiration of the time noted, he accepted a clerkship in a general store at Independence, and after holding the position for a period of eighteen months, resigned to engage in the produce business upon his own responsibility. Mr. Donovan followed the latter business about one year, during which time he bought and shipped large quantities of country produce, building up an extensive trade from which he realized handsome profits. With means thus acquired, he purchased a fine stock farm in Iowa, but after living on the same for a limited period, he abandoned agriculture and stock raising, and for two years thereafter, he was connected with the Independence State Hospital, Independence, Iowa. In 1891, he came to Yankton, South Dakota, where he was shortly afterwards appointed supervisor of the State Hospital for the Insane, a responsible position which, with the exception of a part of 1900 and 1901, he has held continuously ever since.

Mr. Donovan’s business career, as already indicated, has been eminently successful, and his management of the important institution of which he is now the supervisor has been honorable to himself and creditable to the state. His record throughout is undimmed by the slightest suspicion of disrepute, and his long retention as custodian of one of the people’s most sacred interests demonstrates not only business capacity and executive ability of a high order but also faithfulness to trust and a consecration to duty which the public has not been slow to recognize and appreciate. Mr. Donovan has been prominent in political affairs both in Iowa and Dakota, and while a resident of the former state, he was a Republican nominee in 1901 for sheriff of Buchanan County but declined to make the race. He has been active in party councils since coming to Yankton but is not a partisan in the sense the term is usually understood, nor has he been an aspirant for leadership in his place of abode.

Like all enterprising citizens, however, he manifests a pardonable pride in his adopted city and state, has unbounded faith in the future growth and prosperity of each, and lends his influence and encouragement to all laudable agencies for the promotion of these ends. Religiously, he is a Catholic and fraternally a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, belonging to Yankton Lodge No. 101. Mr. Donovan, on June 19, 1896, was united in marriage with Miss Mathilda Vinatien, the union being without issue.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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