James J. Rooney, contractor and builder of Muskogee, who died July 8, 1922, was well known throughout the state. His building operations carried him into various cities where there stand as monuments to his skill and ability some of the finest structures found within the borders of the commonwealth.
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Mr. Rooney was born in Iowa City, Iowa, January 2, 1864, and was a son of Lawrence and Maria Rooney. The father devoted his life to merchandising. The son obtained a public school education and then started out to make his own way in the world. He first learned the trade of a stone cutter and mason and thus laid the foundation for his future progress and success. In 1886 he made his way to the Indian Territory and one of his first contracts was for the building of the stone culverts for the Valley Railroad. Soon afterward he began the construction of buildings and today some of the finest structures of the state show the skill of his handiwork. He was awarded the contract for the Marshall County courthouse, the Ottawa County courthouse, the high school building at McAlester, the County courthouse in Girard, Kansas, the high school buildings of Maysville, Oklahoma, the schools of Wagoner, Oklahoma, and he rebuilt the Creek Nation capitol building, also built the first courthouse in Ottawa County. The First National Bank building at Checotah, Oklahoma, is another of the structures which he erected and he built some of the finest buildings of eastern Oklahoma as well. In fact he erected more buildings than any two men in eastern Oklahoma. The Pryor courthouse, which he built, was erected at a cost of two hundred thousand dollars.
Mr. Rooney was married to Mrs. Frances O’Hare Hart, a former teacher in the public, schools of Muskogee, the wedding being celebrated in 1910. He was a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in which he was a trustee, and to which his widow also belongs. Mr. Rooney gave his political support to the Democratic Party and served as a member of the Muskogee city council through the Bennett administration. His support and influence were ever on the side of advancement and improvement, and in his own career was shown that steady progress which results from capability, thoroughness and reliability in business. His word was as good as his bond and he was known for his great honesty and generosity, the poor and needy always finding in him a friend.