JAMES B. DONNELL, M. D. While successfully engaged in the practice of medicine at Kinsley for several years, Doctor Donnell has always lived in close touch with the agricultural interests of Western Kansas. His home has been here since early childhood, and he knows the people of Western Kansas as few other physicians do. Before entering his profession he was in the drug business at Kinsley, and he owns considerable land in the state. On May 19, 1917, Doctor Donnell received his commission as a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps of the United States Army.
He was born at Fremont in Sandusky County, Ohio, August 16, 1875, and was three years of age when he first saw Kansas. In 1878, his parents, James L. Donnell and wife moved from Northwestern Ohio to Edwards County, Kansas, and located two and a half miles northwest of Lewis. His father took up a tree claim. The first home was a two room sod house twelve by twenty-four feet, covered with shingle roof. Another early improvement was a sod stable. James L. Donnell's first equipment in starting life in Kansas was a yoke of oxen and three cows. In a few years these had increased to seventy-five or eighty head. His first crop was some thirty acres of wheat land, and he had a good yield. In seven years he was able to prove up on his tree claim, thereby demonstrating that trees could be grown in south central Kansas. The parents lived on the old homestead for eighteen years. In the meantime the sod house had been replaced with a five room frame structure.
When the Donnells came to Kansas the community was much more thickly settled than a few years afterward. Doctor Donnell recalls that when he first attended school there were fifty or sixty pupils in the district, but in five years the same district was able to enroll only fifteen or twenty. In order to keep the wolf from the door his father worked out at any employment he could find and frequently received fifty cents a day for his hard labor, boarding himself. In 1897 James L. Donnell having rented his farm moved to Kinsley and spent the rest of his years there. His death occurred in Ohio in 1909, and he was buried at Kinsley.
James L. Donnell was born in Baltimore, Maryland. About 1830 his parents drove an ox team over the intervening district to Northwest Ohio. Grandfather Donnell had come from Ireland when about twenty-four years of age. When a young man James L. Donnell enlisted in the Union army, in the Third Ohio Cavalry, and saw four years of active service. He was in the great campaign under Sherman from Chickamauga to Atlanta and saw many other battles and campaigns. Though he was never wounded or captured, he acquired the seeds of disease that remained with him all his life.
James L. Donnell married Charity Campbell, a daughter of Alexander Campbell and of Scotch ancestry. The Campbell family moved to Ohio about the same time that the Donnells went from Maryland to that state. Charity Campbell had three brothers: William, who died at Fremont, Ohio; Alexander, who for thirty years was a soldier in the United States Regular Army, was a veteran in both the Cuban and Philippine wars, and died at Guyman, Oklahoma, in 1914, only a few years after being placed on the retired list; Fred, who lives at Guyman, Oklahoma. Mrs. Charity Donnell also had a sister, Elizabeth.
The children of James and Charity Donnell were: John, who died in Edwards County, Kansas, September 15, 1915, at the age of fifty-six, leaving children named Tom, William, Ruby, George, Don and Jane; Chester, who is unmarried and is in the cement business at Riverside, California; Anna, wife of George Gilson, an onion grower at Asherton, Texas; and Dr. James B.
Doctor Donnell grew up on the old farm in Western Kansas, attended the country schools and also the Kinsley High School. He took a professional course in Valparaiso University in Indiana, and then engaged in the drug business at Kinsley. In 1915 Doctor Donnell was graduated from the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery, and has since applied his talents to the profession of medicine. As a land owner he has a quarter section seven miles from Ensign and another quarter section ten miles from the same place. He also has an interest in a drug store at Offerle. Doctor Donnell is now serving as county coroner of Edwards County. In politics he is a republican, and gave his first support to McKinley for president. He is a past master of Kinsley Lodge No. 196, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, has served as a member of the Grand Lodge of Kansas, is a Chapter and Knight Templar Mason, and a member of the Mystic Shrine. He also belongs to the Knights of Pythias lodge at Kinsley.
Doctor Donnell married Lucy Koehler, who was born February 27, 1880, a daughter of August Koehler. Her parents came from near Leipsic, Germany, and were early settlers in Edwards County, but now live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mrs. Donnell received her education in the high schools of Edwards County and Oklahoma City. They are the parents of three children: Charity, Lewis and James.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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