Skip to main content

Francis McDermott Family Papers

Identifier: MsC0451

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Francis W. McDermott papers comprise .75 linear feet and cover the dates 1917-1932, with one item from 1978. It is arranged chronologically within alphabetical groupings. While predominantly correspondence, also included are photographs, postcards, and such items as military ID tags, a journal, and a railroad map. The vast majority of his letters are addressed to his mother in Missouri Valley. He also makes mention of his father James and his brother John. Occasionally he wrote of friends in the service and at home.   Also included in these papers are letters from his sisters Mig and Mayme written to their mother. Mig (Mrs. Jay Breusch) was the only married daughter and lived in Philadelphia, where her husband worked as a machinist in the Navy yards. Mayme also lived away from home and was engaged in the nursing profession.


  • Creation: 1917-1932
  • Creation: 1978


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Francis McDermott was born in Waterloo, Iowa on April 8, 1895 and died at Omaha, Nebraska on June 19, 1955, at Veteran's Administration Hospital. He lived most of his life in Missouri Valley, Iowa. He is buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Missouri Valley. He had six sisters: Mayme, Mig (Margaret), Eva, Irene, Mary Jane, and Grace; and a brother John.

McDermott enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 29, 1917. As a former employee of the Chicago-Northwestern Railway, he became part of the 13th regiment of railway engineers. A private in Company E, he was stationed in France until after the armistice. Most of his time in the military was spent as a cook.

Following his discharge from military service, he worked as a traveling salesman in Iowa and Nebraska, selling slicing machines to butcher shops. He married Mabel Pauline of Missouri Valley on November 9, 1920. Thereafter he engaged in several business ventures, mostly successful, in Missouri Valley. For several years, with partner Peter Wright, he operated a set of carnival rides under the name of Wright Amusement Company. When this business was sold, Mr. McDermott set up an ice cream, sandwich, and plate dinner shop on main street in Missouri Valley, called the Soda Grill.

During this time he also bought and operated a sizable popcorn farm, helped found the Logan-Missouri Valley Country Club, founded a small-loan agency, and operated a tavern and card room, called the Smoke Shop, on main street in Missouri Valley. At the time of his death, McDermott was only running the tavern. He died of a coronary occlusion after a brief hospitalization.


0.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Soldier, 13th Regiment of railway engineers, U.S. Army, in W.W.I. Correspondence, picture postcards, and photographs.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Dalton E. McFarland in 1985.

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)