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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.

W. J. Lathan

W. J. Lathan, one of the most enterprising and public-spirited citizens of Mantua township, has made his home in Monroe county for fifty-two years and has therefore witnessed almost its entire development and growth. He claims Indiana as his native state, his birth having occurred in Bloomington, June 26, 1849. His father, John Lathan, who is still living at the age of seventy-seven years, was born in South Carolina, and is a son of William Lathan, who was of Irish parentage. His ancestors belonged to an old and honored Protestant family, and their descendants have been people of prominence in the various localities where they have made their homes.

John Lathan was reared upon a farm and attended the schools of the neighborhood. When a young man he left his native state and went to Indiana, which was then a new country, and there met and married Miss Rebecca Jane Harbison, a woman of many admirable traits of character, who proved to him a most capable helpmeet as well as a loving wife. She was a daughter of William Harbison, who was also of Irish descent. In 1850 John Lathan and family left the Hoosier state and came to Iowa, crossing the Mississippi river on a ferryboat. He purchased a farm of one hundred and thirty acres in Monroe county, and subsequently bought one hundred and fifty acres more, being extensively engaged in farming and stock-raising throughout his active business life. He is a worthy and zealous member of the Associated Presbyterian church, in which he has held the office of elder, and his life has ever been in harmony with his professions. His wife, who was an earnest member of the same church, died at the age of sixty-nine years, and her death was widely and deeply mourned, for she made friends of all with whom she was brought in contact.

In their family were the following children: W.J., Tillman H., a resident of Red Oak, Montgomery county, Iowa; Samuel H., whose home is in Troy township, Monroe county; Miss Sarah C. Lathan, who lives at her father's homestead; Alexander B., who died unmarried at the age of thirty-three years; Margaret E., deceased wife of Ed G. Forsythe, of Mantua township; Stewart, who died at the age of fourteen years; and Anna, who died at the age of two years. By his ballot the father supports the men and measures of the Republican party, and he has efficiently filled several township offices, being one of the most popular men of his community.

W. J. Lathan passed the days of his boyhood and youth upon his father's farm, and in the schools of that locality he acquired a good practical education, which enabled him to successfully engage in teaching for some years, entering upon that profession at the age of twenty-one years. His brother Tillman was also one of the successful and popular teachers of the county for a time. For the past twenty-three years W. J. Lathan has resided upon his present farm in Mantua township, and as an agriculturist he has prospered, owning one of the best places in the community. He has a nice residence, surrounded by a beautiful lawn and orchard, and the barns, cribs and other outbuildings present a neat and thrifty appearance, showing the owner to be a man of progressive ideas and careful habits. His place is conveniently located five miles from Albia and commands a fine view of the surrounding country. In connection with general farming, stock-raising is carried on quite extensively.

At the age of twenty-eight years, Mr. Lathan was united in marriage to Miss Melissa Forsyth, a lady of education and refinement, who attended school here and was one of the popular teachers of the county prior to her marriage. Her father, David Forsyth, was a native of Ohio, and a son of Elijah Forsyth, who was also born in that state. David Forsyth married M. Elizabeth Haugh, who was born in Virginia and belonged to an old Virginia family of German descent. On coming to Iowa they spent a short time in Davis and Van Buren counties but finally, in 1850, located in Monroe county, where the father followed farming until called to his final rest at the age of seventy-nine years. He was an elder in the United Presbyterian church for many years and was a most exemplary man. His political support was given the Republican party. His widow still survives him, being now seventy-eight years of age, and continues to reside on the old homestead. Their children were Mrs. Mary S. Burlingame, of Troy township; Mrs. Fidelia Chisman, who was formerly a teacher and is now living in Wapello county, Iowa; Erastus, a resident of Mantua township; Melissa, wife of our subject; Mrs. Emma Chisman, of Ottumwa, Iowa; Lodema, who married James Lathan and died at the age of thirty-two years; and Harvey and Elmer, who died in childhood. Five children bless the union of our subject and his wife: Anna May, Mary E., wife of Elmer Gray, of Troy township; Arthur B., Iva J., and Ralph E.

Mr. Lathan uses his right of franchise in support of men and measures irrespective of party, but usually supports the Democratic party in national politics, and besides township offices he served as county supervisor, being a valued and influential member of the board. He is firm in his convictions of right and wrong and has displayed good judgment in his management of public affairs as well as private interests. For some years he filled the office of justice of the peace and was a member of the school board. Religiously both he and his wife are members and he has been an elder of the Associated Presbyterian church, and are among the most highly esteemed citizens of the county. Physically he is a man six feet in height, and socially is very popular.

Jacob G. Long

Jacob Grimes Long is numbered among the native sons of Iowa, his birth having occurred November 5, 1860, in Albia, whence the family soon moved to the old family homestead near his present farm in Mantua township. Throughout his entire life he has resided in this locality, interested in the work of progress and doing all he could for the promotion of the best interests of his county. His father, William Long, now deceased, came to the territory of Iowa in the year 1844. He was born in county Antrim, Ireland, in 1808, of Scotch-Irish parentage. The family was of Protestant faith and noted for industry and honesty.

In his youth William Long was trained to farm work, and he obtained his education in his native country, but when a young man left the Emerald Isle and crossed the Atlantic to the new world. He first wedded Mary Hebrew, who died leaving one child, Alexander Long, who is engaged in the bus and transfer business in Albia, Iowa. For his second wife the father chose Mary J. Elder, who was born in Ireland, and she, too, was of Scotch-Irish ancestry and of the Protestant religion. During her girlhood she came to the United States with her father, Thomas Elder, who died in this country. Mrs. Long was a devoted wife and mother, a kind neighbor and a faithful fried and was beloved by all who knew her. She was a Presbyterian in religious belief and died in February, 1897, at the age of sixty-five years. William Long was also a member of the Presbyterian church, and his life was in harmony with its teachings and principles. His political support was given to the republican party and in matters of business he was know to be reliable and trustworthy, never taking advantage of the necessities of his fellow men in the slightest degree. To this worthy couple were born seven children: John W., who resides on the old home farm in Mantua township; Jacob G., of this review; Mrs. Jennie Warner, of Monroe county; Thomas, who is in the far west; Mrs. Mary Turner, who is deceased; Mrs. Belle Hawthorn, of Monroe county; and Charles, who is living in Albia.

Jacob G. Long was early trained to the work of the farm and became a hand in the fields, where he was employed from the time of early spring planting until crops were harvested in the autumn. A few months each year he pursued his education in a little schoolhouse built of oak boards. During a portion of his youth he worked out by the month as a farmhand, and thus gained a start in the business world. When twenty-eight years of age he was united in marriage to Miss Barbara Sinclair, with whom he has since traveled life's journey. She is a daughter of John Sinclair, who was a leading farmer and prominent early settler of this portion of the state, and upon his farm in Mantua township she was born and spent her girlhood days.

Mr. and Mrs. Long have two children: John, who is now twelve years of age, and Rettie Pearl, nine years of age. They also lost a little daughter in infancy. The home farm of Mr. Long comprises a quarter section of Iowa's rich and productive land. It is equipped with all the improvements usually found upon a good farm, and annually the fields return to him rich harvests. He also has good returns from his orchard, and in his pastures and feed lots are seen high grades of cattle, horses and hogs. To the Republican party he gives his earnest support, and he has served as a member of the school board, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church and his life exemplifies the spirit of religion which causes one to look upon the bright side, to make the most of opportunities and to advance steadily in those walks of life leading to the development of an upright character.