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Appanoose County >> 1903 Index

Biographical and Genealogical History of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, Iowa.
New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1903.


Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.

Conrad DeRoss

Conrad DeRoss, who is living on section 15, Mantua township, Monroe county, has resided here since 1867. Pennsylvania is the state of his nativity, his birth having occurred in Meadville, Crawford county, July 20, 1836. His father, Alexander DeRoss, was born in Germantown, near Philadelphia, and comes of French ancestry, his father having crossed the Atlantic to America with General LaFayette, and aided the colonies in their struggle to secure independence at the time of the Revolutionary war. He was pleased with the new world and after the cessation of hostilities returned to his native country and brought his family to Philadelphia.

Alexander DeRoss served a seven years' apprenticeship at the shoemaker's trade, and in Meadville, Pennsylvania, was married to Susan Cole, a native of that state and a daughter of Conrad Cole, who was also born in Pennsylvania and represented an old Pennsylvania Dutch family. Conrad Cole served as a soldier in the war of 1812 and was present when Commodore Perry achieved his famous victory on the lakes. His wife bore the maiden name of Mary Magdalena Deeter, and among their children was Mrs. Alexander DeRoss, who by her marriage became the mother of seven sons and a daughter: Helen, a resident of Meadville, Pennsylvania; Henry, also of that state; and six sons who were in the Civil war as defenders of the Union cause. William was a member of the Forty-fifth Missouri and is now living in Louisiana.

Alexander H. belonged to the One Hundred and Eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry and went with Sherman on the celebrated march to the sea, and died in 1900. Conrad was a member of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Regiment, known as the Bucktails. Jonathan G. belonged to the same company and regiment and after being four times wounded in battle was killed at Hatches Run, south of Petersburg. Hiram C. was a member of the One Hundred and Eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry and afterward a lieutenant of the Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, and at Fortress Monroe he had charge of the guards over Jefferson Davis, who was confined there after the close of hostilities. Eli was a member of the Third Missouri Light Artillery, Battery L, and was afterward an Indian agent who became well known in the west and is now a physician in Wichita, Kansas. The father of this family passed away at the age of sixty-four years. In politics he was a Republican and he belonged to the English Lutheran church. His wife, who also held membership with that denomination, died at the age of eighty-four years.

Conrad DeRoss is indebted to the public school system of Crawford county, Pennsylvania, for the educational privileges he enjoyed. He learned the mason's trade in early life and followed that pursuit until after the beginning of the Civil war, when, in August, 1862, he responded to the country's call for three hundred thousand and joined Company H, of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, known as the Bucktails, under the command of Captain James W. H. Reisinger and Colonel Langhorn Wister. The first lieutenant was C. T. Shaw, a veteran of the Mexican war and the second lieutenant with George D.V. Sheldon. The subject of this review was in the service for three years and was then discharged on account of disability.

In the fall of 1867 Mr. DeRoss came to Iowa and afterward went to the territory of Nebraska, where Indians were numerous, both of the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes. These went upon the warpath against each other, and there were exciting times in that section of the country. On account of poor health Mr. DeRoss removed to White Sulphur Springs, Missouri, and later to Monroe county, Iowa. Here he has an excellent farm of fifty-five acres, supplied with all modern equipments and underlaid with a rich vein of voal [coal]. There is a good orchard upon his place, and substantial buildings, and the whole is enclosed with well kept fences.

On April 17, 1861, five days after Fort Sumter was fired upon, Mr. DeRoss was married at Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Sarah E. Prall, who has been to him a good wife. She was born in Meadville and is a daughter of John and Phebe ( Smith ) Prall; the latter was a daughter of one of the soldiers of the war of 1812 and she died in Pennsylvania; Mr. Prall, however, is now living in Nemaha, Nebraska. His children are: Mrs. Rosetta Seid, of Nebraska, Mrs. DeRoss and John H., who is living in Oregon. To our subject and his wife have been born eleven children: Mrs. Laura E. Green, Belle Prall, Frank, of Louisiana; George, who is one of the successful carpenters and photographers of Oklahoma; Henry, a carpenter and photographer; Mrs. Phebe Rhodes, Mrs. Orpha Lukey, Mrs. Myrtle Kirkendall, Frederick, Magretta E., who died at the age of eleven years; and John Alexander, who died at the age of eighteen months. Mr. DeRoss has provided his children with good educational privileges, realizing how important this is a preparation for life's work.

An earnest Republican in his political views, Mr. DeRoss has never wavered in his support of the principles of the party and has been honored with a number of township offices, in which he has served with capability and fidelity. He belongs to the Grand Army Post at Avery, and three times has served as its commander, a fact which indicates his popularity with his old army comrades. For twenty-eight years he has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and his wife has taken the Rebekah degree. He is a man of intelligence, a progressive farmer and an honored old soldier, and as one of the worth citizens of Monroe county we gladly present the record of his life to our readers.

Wesley Donegan

Among Iowa's native sons residing in Monroe county is Wesley Donegan, who was born in Jefferson county, this state, on the 18 th of February, 1842, his parents being John and Margery ( Roberts ) Donegan, both of whom were natives of Ohio. The father died in Monroe county at the age of eighty-six years and thus a life of usefulness and uprightness was ended. His wife, however, passed away in Jefferson county in 1848, when her son Wesley was a little lad of six years. The family had been established in this state in 1836, at which time John Donegan became a resident of Burlington, Iowa, and three years later he went to Jefferson county, where he resided continuously until 1853. In that year, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, he made his way to the Pacific slope and for twenty years resided in that section of the country. To him and his wife were born ten children, of whom three are yet living.

Wesley Donegan may well be termed a self-made man, for all that he has in life has been acquired through his own efforts and he has not only a competence, but has developed a character which is in every way worthy of respect. When only eleven years of age he was bound out, and for two years worked with a man whose services he had entered. He then ran away and from the age of thirteen years was employed as a farm hand by the day or month, working in the fields from early morning until evening. After the inauguration of the Civil war, believing that his first duty was to his country, he joined the army in August, 1862, and was assigned with Company A, Tenth Illinois Cavalry, under the command of Captain Anderson. He then served until June, 1865, and was discharged by reason of the expiration of his term and also of the close of the war. Investigation into his war record shows that he was a loyal defender of the Union, faithfully performing his duty whether it called him into the thickest of the fight or stationed him upon the lonely picket line. He was always with his company and regiment in the various battles in which the command engaged, with the exception of a period when he was on detached service, and although frequently ill and unfit for duty he always reported each day.

At the close of his military service Mr. Donegan returned to Illinois and in the fall of 1865 came to Iowa, settling first near Eddyville, in Monroe county, where he worked by the month. When his earnings enabled him to make investment in property he purchased a tract of land in Mahaska county, which was partly improved. He then further continued his arrangement for a home of his own by his marriage, which was celebrated February 6, 1870, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary P. Templeton, who was born upon the farm where she is now living, a daughter of Adolphus D. and Mary ( McGlothlen ) Templeton. One of her paternal uncles was the first recorder and treasurer of Monroe county. Her father was born in Indiana and about 1843, when Iowa was still a territory, came to this section of the state, his death occurring on the farm across the road from our subject's home when he was seventy-six years of age. His wife, who was also born in Indiana, died at the age of eighty-one years. In their family were ten children, of whom four are yet living.

To our subject and his wife have been born eight children, five of whom yet survive, namely: John A., who is married and has two children; David H., a resident of Colorado; Mary Grace, Laura May, and Viola Pearl, all at home. They have been provided with the educational advantages of the schools of this locality and the members of the household are widely and favorably known in this locality.

After his marriage Mr. Donegan carried on farming in Bluff Creek township, Monroe county, for one year and subsequently spent two years in Mahaska county, Iowa, after which he removed to Colorado, where for ten years he conducted a ranch. On the expiration of that decade he again came to Iowa, but later spent a winter in Kansas, and then once more established his home in Monroe county on the old Templeton farm of two hundred and thirty-eight acres, which has since been his place of residence, where his time and attention have been devoted to its further cultivation and development.

Aside from his farm work Mr. Donegan has been quite prominent in local political affairs and has filled a number of offices. He has been a staunch Democrat since casting his first presidential vote for Seymour, and while living in Colorado he served as county assessor for one term of two years. He maintains relations with his old army comrades through his membership in Wilcox Post No. 138, G.A.R., of Eddyville, and while not a member of any church, he attends the services of various denominations and has contributed to their support. With interest in his county and its progress, he has co-operated in much work for the general good and at the same time has carried on his personal business affairs in a manner that has made his work successful, returning to him a satisfactory income.

John Doner

The lives of some men are simply told. They have been reared to one pursuit and have followed this with unflagging industry throughout their active careers, perhaps in one locality, and their history must detail solid worth, devoid of the striking features that adorn the course of other men. And there are those, equally successful, whose lines have been cast in both pleasant and unpleasant places, who have been switched from one track to the other and journeyed far from that calm starting point, so that it is often difficult for the subject himself to thread the devious ways by which he has arrived at his present destination; such is the case with the life of Mr. John Doner, who, as one of Monroe county's popular officers and citizens, deserves an account in this work of personal history.

Michael and Mary ( Allen ) Doner, the father and mother, were both born in Ireland and when past twenty years of age came to America, where they were married in Utica, New York; they resided here about five years and then came to Elburn, Kane county, Illinois, which continued to be their home until 1888; in this year they removed to Marshalltown, Iowa, and both passed away here, Mrs. Doner dying in 1891 and her husband just one week later. In this country Mr. Doner followed railroading and for three years served in the Civil war in the One Hundred and Forty-sixth Illinois Infantry.

Of the eight children, six boys and two girls, born to the above parents, John Doner was the eldest and was born in the city of Utica, New York, March 8, 1848. He passed his early youth in Elburn, Illinois. He was just fourteen years old when the Civil war broke out, and fired by the spirit of patriotism he one day left the school room, ran away from home and coming to Chicago volunteered his services to the United States army; he was accepted and on June 9, 1862, was enrolled in Company H, Sixty-ninth Illinois Infantry, from which he was discharged September 28, 1862, his term having expired. On January 15, 1863, he re-enlisted in Battery D, First Illinois Light Artillery, under McAllister, and served in this company until the close of the war, being discharged July 28, 1865. He took part in the following well known conflicts: Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hills, the siege of Vicksburg, Nashville and the Atlanta campaign. Being still in his ‘teens when he returned home, he spent one year in school at his home town and then, following the example of his father, he began railroading; in 1867 he entered the employ of the Chicago and Northwestern in the capacity of brakeman and the next year came into Iowa, braking for the same company from Dunlap to Council Bluffs.

In 1870 he was promoted to the position of conductor, but in 1871 voluntarily left that company and obtained a similar position with the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad in Iowa, running a train from Ottumwa to Creston; in the fall of that year he became conductor on the Iowa Central form Albia to Northwood, in charge of a passenger train. In 1873 he suffered one of the many accidents that are incident to this dangerous calling and lost a hand, after which he retired form the business.

During his last engagement he had made Albia his headquarters and he now made this his home. For four years he was a hotel clerk; for three years was the editor and publisher of the Albia Democrat, which he then sold, and entered into the hotel and restaurant business. For four years he served as deputy sheriff under F. S. Miller, and in 1884 he went west to McCook, Nebraska, and in Hayes county of that state he remained five years, in which time he proved up and worked a claim. On returning to Albia he was for three years deputy sheriff under C. M. Forrest and for the next three years was night watchman. In 1895 Mr. Doner became the Populist candidate for sheriff of Monroe county, and in the face of the strong opposition of the Republican and Democratic candidates overcame the majority and was elected. In 1897 he was the fusion choice for the place of the Democrats and the Populists and was successful, as also in 1899 and 1901, being four times elected in a Republican county.

Mr. Doner is a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Mystic Toilers. On August 3, 1874, in Albia, Mr. Doner was married to Miss Anna Cramer, and they have one living child, a daughter, Frances. Mr. Doner had a brother, Thomas, who was a soldier in the Civil war, serving three months in the same company as his father, and another brother, Michael, was on the flag-ship Pensacola of the United States navy, for three years; both these brothers are now dead.

James Drury

One of the boys in blue of the Civil war, and at all times a loyal citizen, true to the interests of county, state and nation, James Drury is numbered among the representative citizens of Monroe county. He was born in county Clare, Ireland, on the 15 th of August, 1835, and is a son of Michael and Mary ( Sullivan ) Drury, also natives of the Emerald Isle. When our subject was but eleven months old his father died, and in 1845 the mother and son joined an older brother in America, the latter, John Drury, residing in Chester, Vermont. The mother's death occurred in Springfield, that state, at the age of seventy-five years.

In 1861 James Drury offered his services to his adopted country, enlisting in Company C, Fourth Vermont Regiment, under Captain Farr, and at the close of his three years' term he re-enlisted and served until the close of the war, receiving his discharge on the 6 th of August, in Montpelier, and was mustered out of service at Brattleboro, Vermont. He was made color bearer and sergeant of his regiment, was in many of the hard fought battles of the war, and was at all times a faithful and intrepid soldier. After a long service he applied for a furlough, and his application was endorsed by his captain in the following words: “I have the honor to request that a furlough of twenty-five days be granted to Sergeant James Drury, Company C, Fourth Regiment, Vermont Volunteer Infantry, and I will beg leave to represent that on making this request I have a desire to promote the interest of the service, as well to pay a well earned tribute to existing merit. This veteran soldier, the color bearer of the regiment, has served from the commencement of the war until the present time, with a singleness of purpose—a heart ever faithful to the great principles for which we have been contending. Ever foremost among his comrades, he has carried the colors through victory and defeat. Disregarding danger, he has led his regiment in all the battles it participated in from May 5, 1864, to October 19, 1864. In the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, his coolness and bravery in action commanded the respect of his officers as well as the faith and confidence of his comrades. In the engagement near the Weldon Railroad, when misfortune overtook the greater part of his regiment, he saved its colors. But more particularly did he distinguish himself in the battles in the Shenandoah valley, Charleston, Berryville, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek being names impressed upon the memories of his comrades in common with his. Charles G. Fisher.”

The application was approved as follows: “Approved for twenty-five days, and respectfully forwarded. Sergeant Drury has proved himself one of the best soldiers of the brigade, under every specification mentioned in said order and on every battlefield which his regiment has served upon, and especially in saving the colors of his regiment June 23, on the Weldon Railroad, when almost the entire regiment was captured. George P. Foster.” The furlough was granted as follows: Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 27, 1865.—Sergeant James Drury, Company C, Fourth Vermont Volunteers, is granted a furlough for twenty-five days as a reward for soldiery conduct.—By command of Major General Parke.—(Signed) Chas. E. Pease, Assistant Adjutant General. For his bravery at the battle of Weldon Railroad, on the 23 rd of June, 1864, Mr. Drury was rewarded with a medal by a special act of congress. As a further reward for his services Sergeant Drury was tendered the position of second sergeant of Company D, Fourth Regiment Vermont Volunteer Infantry, by Governor J. Gregory Smith, of Vermont.

After the close of the war our subject returned to his hold home in Vermont, where he remained until his removal to Albia, Iowa, on the 15 th of October, 1869. In his youth he learned the stone-mason's trade, which he followed in Iowa, in company with his young wife, his entire capital consisted of two dollars and fifty cents, and out of this amount he was obliged to pay fifty cents to have his truck taken to his home, eight miles north of Albia. He immediately resumed work at his trade in this locality, and now owns his present farm of two hundred acres of fertile and well improved land. On the 28 th of December, 1868, in Vermont, he was united in marriage to Jane Daugherty, a native of Ireland, and they have become the parents of ten children, all of whom are living. Charles Thomas is a stone mason in Albia. John Sherman has two children, a son and a daughter. Two daughters of the family, Kathryn and Mary, are engaged in teaching school; two of the sons, Harry and Logan, are attending school in Des Moines; another daughter, Dora, keeps house for her two brothers in Des Moines; a son, Emmett, is a railroad man in Seattle; and two sons, Edward Leo and James A., are t home. The family are members of the Catholic church in Albia.

In political matters Mr. Drury is a life-long Republican, and his first presidential vote was cast for Lincoln in his second race for the presidency. In his fraternal relations he is a member of the Masonic order, being connected with Lovilia Lodge. He is also color bearer of the Bluff Creek Veterans' Association, and is a member of Orman Post No. 123, G.A.R., of Albia. At the meeting in which Mr. Drury was elected to the position of standard bearer, Comrade E. C. Canning delivered the following well chosen words: “Your election by the spontaneous and unanimous voice of your comrades as standard bearer, into whose hands we now entrust this beautiful banner, a gift from friends we deeply love and highly honor, surely calls forth some expression why so honored. You, an adopted citizen of our country, manfully stood for its defense in many well fought battles, saving the flag of your regiment at the Weldon Railroad, carrying it over the broken lines of the enemy at the charge of Cedar Creek, and again bringing off the colors in the battle of the Wilderness, and bearing yourself so gallantly that a grateful country has conferred on you its highest badge of military honor. We give to your keeping this flag that our sons may emulate your noble deeds, and if war shall ever darken the horizon of our beloved land that they may with brave and manly hearts rally to her defense and man her ships, and that our flag shall speak defiance to her enemies and ever wave the banner of the free over the home of the brave.”