John Charles Donnelly
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

JOHN CHARLES DONNELLY is one of the most prominent insurance men in the city of Troy—a recognized realty expert, and in length of service in his line there are few who equal him. Not only has he served his private interests in a manner wholly successful, but also the interests of his community as a public official. Mr. Donnelly is the son of Thomas J. and Marie E. (Curley) Donnelly, of Troy, both deceased. His father was the senior member of the firm of Donnelly Brothers (James W. Donnelly being the other member), wine merchants, of this city,' which was established in 1869 and was in existence for over fifty years. The firm specialized in sacramental wines, and their business extended to all parts of the United States. They also dealt extensively in real estate, having large property interests in the city. Marie E. (Curley) Donnelly was the daughter of James Curley, a prominent citizen of the Seventh Ward.

Born in the Seventh Ward of Troy, New York, November 7, 1873, Mr. Donnelly was educated in the public schools and later at Fordham University. After completing this preliminary schooling, he entered the Albany Law School and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1896. After graduation, not desiring to embrace the legal profession, he became associated with the firm of Donnelly Brothers, where he remained for two years, until 1898, when he entered the real estate and fire insurance business. In 1905 he established the firm of Donnelly & O'Connell, with offices at No. 14 State street, Troy, New York, This agency is one of the largest in the city and one of the best known in Northern New York.

His activity in political circles began in 1901, when he was elected alderman in the Seventh Ward, of Troy, as an independent Democrat, the first holding such views to be elected to that office in a great many years. He was reelected in 1903 and again in 1905. While serving on the Board of Aldermen he was a member of many important committees. In 1907 he was the Democratic candidate for the office of city comptroller, but sufifered defeat by a narrow margin. In 1913 he was elected general assessor and reelected in 1917, giving him eight years of service in that capacity and two years as chairman of the board.

In September, 1919, Mr. Donnelly was elected chairman of the Rennsselaer County Democratic Committee, and as the executive head of the Democratic organization, he directed the affairs of that body in a conspicuously successful manner until he resigned on account of pressure of business obligations. In January, 1922, Mayor Fleming appointed Mr. Donnelly commissioner of parks, which position he still occupies. On three different occasions Mr. Donnelly was elected president of the Troy Board of Fire Underwriters and represented that body as a delegate to State conventions at different times until that corporation was absorbed by the State Board of Underwriters at Syracuse. Mr. Donnelly is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. At one time he was a member of several local clubs and organizations, notably the Laureate Boat Club, where he was prominent in athletics and amateur theatricals, but of late years he has devoted himself exclusively to business pursuits. In religion he is a Roman Catholic, a member of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Donnelly resides at No. 2179 Fifth Avenue, Troy, New York, and during the summer season at Sandlake, New York.

Mr. Donnelly married Mary C. Burney, a native of Waterford, New York, daughter of Michael and Catharine (Monohan) Burney. Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly are the parents of one daughter, Mildred Donnelly, who was educated in the Sacred Heart Convent, at Kenwood, and the Emma Willard School.

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