Biography of Patrick J. Dinneen

Patrick J. Dinneen was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1834. After spending fifteen years in England, he emigrated to America in 1866. Settling in Yankton County, South Dakota, he homesteaded 160 acres of government land, transforming it into a prosperous farm through his hard work and dedication. Despite setbacks such as crop losses and river floods, Dinneen thrived in his new home and became a respected member of his community. Known for his industry, economy, and civic engagement, he is considered one of the self-made men who achieved success and prosperity in their adopted country.

Patrick J. Dinneen.— The subject of this review is one of the many self-made men who have sought homes on this side of the Atlantic and who, by their industry, economy, and thrift, have become well-to-do citizens of their adopted country. Mr. Dinneen was born in County Cork, Ireland, March 17, 1834, his parents being Timothy and Hannah (Conklin) Dinneen, who were also natives of the Emerald Isle, where they made their home throughout life.

In the land of his birth, the subject grew to manhood and for fifteen years prior to coming to America, he made his home in England. In 1854, he wedded Miss Mary Walsh, a daughter of Kane and Margaret (Donovan) Walsh, the former of whom died in England and the latter in Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Dinneen have become the parents of nine children, all still living: Daniel, who married Fannie Gill and is engaged in farming; Margaret, wife of Bert Aman, an agriculturist of Yankton County; Timothy, also a farmer, who married Johanna Finn; John, who married Fannie Roberts; Hannah, wife of Otis Kessey, a wealthy fruitman of California; Patrick, who is running a barber shop in Irene, South Dakota; James, who assists his father in the operation of the home farm; Mary, wife of Thomas Garvey, whose sketch appears on another page of this volume; and George, who married Millie Walsh and lives on his father’s farm.

In 1866, Mr. Dinneen bade goodbye to home and family and sailed for the new world. Here he began work as a laborer in New Jersey, and from there went to Illinois, where he was employed for nine months. Going south, he spent some time in Mississippi and Louisiana, and in 1867 went to Houston, Texas, where he worked two months. During the following five months, he herded cattle in the Panhandle mountains of Texas, and then came up the Mississippi River and entered the employ of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

On the 7th of May, 1869, Mr. Dinneen took up his residence in Yankton County, South Dakota, and the same year sent for his family, whom he had supported in England up to this time. He homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of government land, on which there was not a stick of timber, and he set out twelve acres in trees, from which he recently cut ten thousand feet of lumber to build a barn. It is now a beautiful grove, and the trees which he has cut down can hardly be missed. Mr. Dinneen has made all of the improvements upon his place and today has a fine farm of three hundred and twenty acres under excellent cultivation. His first home here was a little log cabin, twelve by sixteen feet, which sheltered a family of eight for some time. The grasshoppers at times have destroyed his crops, and when the Jim River has overflowed its banks during the spring and summer rains, he has met with losses to the amount of five thousand dollars. But notwithstanding these misfortunes, he has prospered in his new home and is today accounted one of the substantial men of his community, as well as one of its most highly esteemed citizens. He is a Catholic in religious faith and a Democrat in politics. For fifteen years, he has filled some school office, and his support is never withheld from any enterprise calculated to promote the social and moral welfare of his county.


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

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