The life record of P. E. C. Lally is an excellent illustration of what may be accomplished when ambition and determination point the way. He has never feared to venture where favoring opportunity has led the way nor has he failed to use any means whereby he might develop and strengthen his native powers and talents. In this way he has become well qualified as a lawyer and today occupies a prominent position at the Crawford county bar.
He was born in County Mayo, Ireland, June 8, 1856. The genealogy of the Lally family can be traced for five hundred years in Ireland. John Lally, the paternal grandfather, a native of that country, devoted his life to farming but died at an early age, his death resulting from an accident. He had wedded Mary Hester and they had become the parents of nine children, six sons and three daughters, Peter, Thaddeus, John, Patrick, Thomas, Frank, Mary, Ellen and Kitty. All of these children with the exception of Peter, Thaddeus and Thomas came early to America and settled in different parts of the country. One of the sons, John, was killed by a rebel sympathizer at Covington, Kentucky, at the outbreak of the Civil war.
Peter Lally, a member of this family and the father of P. E. C. Lally, was born in Ireland and devoted his life to general farming. He was married in his native country to Nancy Corcoran, whose parents were farming people of County Mayo, Ireland. Mrs. Lally died on the Emerald isle in 1876, when about sixty years of age, and in 1881 Peter Lally crossed the Atlantic to America and made his home with his son Patrick in Vail and later in Denison, Iowa. His death occurred when he had reached the age of seventy-nine years. Both he and his wife were members of the Catholic church. Their family numbered four sons and two daughters: John, who died in Chicago; Sarah, the wife of Henry O’Neill, of County Mayo, Ireland; Michael, a resident of Manchester, England, who was superintendent of the street car system there for twenty years; Patrick E. C., of this review; Frank, who died in New York city; and Mary, who died in infancy.
P. E. C. Lally spent his youthful days upon his father’s farm in County Mayo, Ireland, to the age of eighteen years and during that period attended the country schools in the acquirement of his education. He afterward began clerking in Westport, Ireland, and later in Newport. In 1874 he sailed for America, attracted by the tales which he heard concerning opportunities here offered. He did not bring with him any false ideas, however, that wealth should be had for the asking but realized that diligence and determination are the forces which will swing open the portals of success. For a short time he lived in Chicago and then removed to DeKalb county, Illinois, after which he worked upon a farm and engaged in teaching school. In 1877 he came to Iowa, settling in Greene county, where he was employed at farm labor and on the railroad. He also taught school and with ambition to direct his efforts into professional channels took up the study of law under the direction of Hon. J. J. Russell, who directed his reading until his admission to the bar in 1880. He then located for practice in Vail, where he remained until his removal to Denison in 1887. Here he practiced alone until 1889, when he formed a partnership with Judge Conner, and since that time they have been associates in law practice under the style of Conner & Lally. This is one of the strongest law firms of the city and its position is indicated in the liberal clientage accorded them. Mr. Lally has proved himself a strong and able advocate and safe counselor. He prepares his cases with diligence and care, and in the presentation of his arguments his deductions follow with logical sequence.
On the 1st of September, 1880, Mr. Lally was united in marriage to Miss Kittie Hughes, a daughter of Frank and Margaret (McGrath) Mungon Hughes, of Greene county, Iowa. This marriage has been blessed with eleven children. Margaret E., the eldest, is the wife of Qem M. Mahan, residing on a ranch near Kansas City, Missouri, and they have two children, Catherine Qaudine and Addis Clement. Thomas A. E. is practicing law in Spokane, Washington, as a member of the firm of Cannon, Ferris, Swan & Lally. Frank H. is now a senior in the Creighton Medical School. Genevieve A. is the wife of Dr. P. J. Brannan, of Denison, and has two children, Joseph Lally and Robert King Brannan. Beatrice is a graduate of the musical department of Drake University and of the musical department of Denison College. Blanid Marie and Inez Qare are pursuing a classical course in Mount St. Joseph College at Dubuque and both are graduates of the Denison high school. Rachel, Mary Alexes, O’Connell Lincoln and Patricia Katharine are all at home. The eldest son is a graduate of Denison College, of the University of Notre Dame and of the law department of Harvard University.
Mr. and Mrs. Lally hold membership in the Catholic church, in the faith of which they are rearing their family. Mr. Lally is a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus, and his son Thomas is a member of the same order, and both are members of the Catholic Who’s Who in America. Mr. Lally likewise belongs to the American-Irish Historical Society. He occupies an eminent position as a representative of the Crawford county bar, is an eloquent pleader and strong in argument. His friends at different times have strongly urged him to become a candidate for district judge, but he has always refused. His political allegiance was originally given to the democratic party, and upon its ticket he was elected county attorney, filling the office for two terms. He is now an advocate of republican principles, however, and he stands at all times a firm supporter of his honest convictions. He belongs to the library board and is ever a recognized supporter of measures and movements for the general good. He is an influential member of the Knights of Columbus and a popular speaker at their gatherings. His social qualities, his keen intellect and his genuine worth make him a favorite wherever he is known, and he has long since established himself as a representative and valued citizen of Denison, seeking at all times the public good rather than personal advancement.
Source: Meyers , F. W. History of Crawford County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1911.