An Ulster History Circle plaque in memory of an industrialist and philanthropist originally from Strabane is to be unveiled in the town this Friday.
Ezekiel J. Donnell was born in the townland of Ballee, near Strabane, in 1822 and arrived in America when he was eighteen years old, following the example of several of his brothers who had earlier made the same journey.
Donnell settled in Montgomery, Alabama, becoming a successful merchant before moving to New York in 1854 where he established himself as one of the foremost cotton merchants in the United States. In 1872, he published a Chronological and Statistical History of Cotton and became an acknowledged authority on the industry. Donnell believed strongly in individual freedom in trade as elsewhere in life. He was an advocate of a strong public education system that would enable individuals to contribute more effectively to the general good. Indeed, he was one of the earliest advocates of a comprehensive public education system. He died in 1896.
The unveiling ceremony will take place on Friday at 12 noon at Strabane Library, Railway Street.