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Audubon County >> 1915 Index

History of Audubon County, Iowa
H. F. Andrews, editor...Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915. 


Unless otherwise specified, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

EDWARD B. BAKER submited by Earl Hoffman

In placing the subject of this sketch in the front ranks of Audubon county's farmers and business men, simple justice is done to Edward B. Baker, a man of excellent judgment, sound discretion, thorough technical knowledge and business ability of a high order. Mr. Baker manages his affairs with splendid success and has so impressed his individuality upon the community in which he lives as to gain recognition among the leading citizens and public-spirited men of affairs. He is the owner of one hundred and twenty acres of land in section 9, of Viola township. Edward B. Baker was born on April 1, 1886, a native of the township where he lives, and was born on the Baker homestead east of Viola Center, the son of John T. Baker, who was born in I856 in Davenport, Iowa. John T. Baker, son of Robert Baker, one of the earliest settlers in Audubon county, came to this county with his parents and married Minnie Booton. After his marriage he settled on a farm east of Viola Center. He moved to Spirit Lake in the spring of 1907 and lived there for two years. In 1909 Edward B. Baker, who also
lived at Spirit Lake, returned to Audubon county and purchased his present farm, and is now accounted one of the successful young farmers of this section of the state.

On March 17, 1909, Edward B. Baker was married to Mazel Yager, daughter of C. A. Yager, of Coon Rapids, and to this union two children have been born, Geneva and Daryl.

Mr. Baker is a Democrat and an active member of the Yeomen of America.

WILLIAM O. BAKER submited by Earl Hoffman

One of the influential citizens and farmers of Viola township, this county, and the owner of two hundred acres of land in that township, is William O. Baker, a man of excellent endowment and upright character, who has been a valuable factor in the agricultural and civic affairs of Viola township for many years. Since casting his lot with the people of Audubon county in 1874, Mr. Baker has benefited not only himself, but the community in general. His record shows him to be one of the prominent and successful farmers of Audubon county, and he is, in every respect, worthy of representation in this volume.

William O. Baker was born in England on February 19, 1848, the son of Robert and Eliza (Owen) Baker, who immigrated from England in 1850 and located near Davenport, Scott county, Iowa, where they lived for twenty years and were successful farmers. They came to Audubon county in 1870 and lived in Melville township for four years, after which they moved to Viola township. Robert Baker died on the farm there on June 18, 1905, his wife having preceded him to the grave but a bare month before, her death having occurred on May 13 of the same year, Robert Baker having been eighty-nine years old at the time of his death and his wife eighty-three. They were the parents of the following children: William, the subject of this sketch; Mrs. Mary Jane Huffmann (deceased), who lived in Viola township; Mrs. Annie Abel, of Omaha, Nebraska; John Thomas, of Spirit Lake; James K., who lives near Audubon; Mrs. Josephine Oliver, of Melville township, and Mrs. Nellie Smith, of Dodd City, Kansas.

William 0. Baker lived with his parents until their death and cared for them, having previously purchased from them the farm which he now owns. He has, for many years, been an extensive breeder of Shorthorn and Hereford cattle, dividing his time between these two breeds and farming. Of late he has been buying and selling cattle, and handles hundreds of head annually. Mr. Baker owns altogether two hundred and eighty acres of land, one hundred and sixty acres of which is located in section 18 and one hundred and twenty acres in section 17, and has lived on this farm since the spring, of 1874. He first came to Audubon county with his parents in 1870, at which time his nearest neighbor in Melville township was E. J. Fruman, who lived four miles away. Mr. Baker is one of the oldest settlers in Viola township. He purchased his land in 1879 at eighteen dollars an acre from F. E. Dennet and Carl Dennet, previously having rented land for five years. The highway near his farm is lined on both sides with great trees which he planted. The home is attractive and well built and the farm is well fenced.

Though Mr. Baker is a Democrat, he is somewhat independent in his voting, being inclined, for it is a question between measures and parties, to support men of high principles rather than political party emblems. He attends the Eaton Valley United Brethren church. Mr. Baker has never married.

Samuel M. Ballard, M. D.

One of the prominent characters in the early settlement of Audubon  county was Doctor Samuel M. Ballard.  His ancestors were said to have  been Virginia Quakers.  In youth he lived in Hillsboro, Ohio, where he  studied medicine under a preceptor in the old-fashioned way, and  afterwards attended medical lectures, perhaps at Cincinnati, Ohio.  He  was an incomparable story teller and a delightful companion in some  ways; but some incidents of his life as told by himself will not, in the  light of morality, bear repetition.  He once related an amusing incident  which occurred during his early medical experience.  A council of  surgeons were convened to perform an operation upon the patient of his  preceptor, and through his courtesy the student (Ballard) was invited to  attend and witness the case.  A lady, who acted as nurse, prepared the  room for the occasion and notified the surgeons that it was ready for  their reception.  They proceeded to the room, and Ballard followed until  reaching the entrance where the others had preceded him.  Upon  recognizing him, the nurse declined to let him pass.  His preceptor,  observing the interruption, said to the nurse: "You may admit Doctor  Ballard."  She acquiesced, but in a deprecatory tone remarked: "Oh, you  are a 'stujent,' are ye?'  The memory of that event was a pleasing  recollection to the old doctor.  He was a noble specimen of manhood -  six and a half feet in stature, and of powerful physique, a veritable  giant.  His presence was at once noticeable, even in the largest  assembly.  In early life his hair had been sandy; his eyes were flashing  blue, with an eagle gaze, and one of them was blind.  When the writer  first saw him, in 1865, his hair and long flowing beard were snowy  white.  He was a self-made man, largely; not classically educated and  never a student of books.  His stock of sound, practical common sense  was varied and extensive.  He was a thorough business man of the world  among pioneers.  His reputation as a skillful, successful physician  rested upon his own personal experience, rather than upon any book  knowledge.  But few facts concerning his life have been recorded in  print.  No biography of him has been discovered.  He once related that  he came down the Ohio river on a steamboat to St. Louis; thence up the  Mississippi river to Iowa.  He was engaged in the practice of medicine  at Iowa City as early as 1842, and there he established an extensive,  lucrative business.  He said that he kept relays of saddle horses to  carry him about the country; that he would start from Iowa City and ride  north several miles; thence west to oxford, and south to the settlements  on English river; thence east and north again to West Liberty and then  home, after visiting and prescribing for patients along the route; that  he made such trips in a single day and night and often rode asleep in  the saddle; that for weeks at a time he slept but four hours out of  twenty-four on an average, sometimes falling asleep in the saddle  against his will power to keep awake.  On such occasions as he was able  to go to bed, he would order that he be permitted to sleep but for a  half hour, then to be awakened at all hazards by dragging him from bed  and throwing cold water in his face.  He would then eat something and  drink some coffee, and proceed to the next patient, taking another short  sleep when wearied nature would resist no longer.  His fees sometimes  exceeded two hundred dollars in a day.  He was a wealthy man before  coming to Audubon county.  He came to Audubon county in 1851, and his  meeting with "Uncle Johnny" Jenkins is told in another part of this  work.  

Doctor Ballard owned thousands of acres of the best timber and prairie  lands in what is now Exira and Oakfield townships, and adjoining, in  Cass county.  His dwelling, situated in section 25, Oakfield township,  was a very common affair.  It stood in an open space in the timber on  the north side of the old state road leading south from his dwelling  place, and was a one-story building, boarded up and down with rough,  undressed oak boards, unpainted and unplastered.  It would not have been  supposed by strangers that it was the abode of the richest man in the  county.  Everything about the house was of the most common kind, there  being neither fine furniture, books or anything to indicate elegance,  refinement, luxury or wealth, except the lands.  Mrs. Ballard did not  come to the country until 1855, and remained here but a short time, when  she moved to Council Bluffs, and was maintained there is good style the  remainder of her life.  The relation which existed between the Doctor  and Mrs. Ballard was never understood by outsiders, but probably was not  congenial.  Hon. William P. Hepburn, who was intimately acquainted with  the family at Iowa City, recently told the writer that the Doctor and  Mrs. Ballard were members of the Universalist church in Iowa City, and  further related that on one occasion Mrs. Ballard told him that she once  believed she was a Universalist, but that she doubted if God would  pardon or save so wicked a man as Doctor Ballard.  Evidently she was  aware of his wrong-doings.  In his last sickness Mrs. Ballard came to  his residence and cared for him several days until he was moved to her  home in Council Bluffs, where he soon died.  The house above mentioned  was claimed by him as his home and domicile, and he voted in Oakfield  township until his death.  Many families lived there and kept house for  him, among whom were Benjamin M. Hyatt, Samuel Smith, Stephen T.  Campbell, Milton Heath and others in early times, and many others  afterwards.  

Large areas of Doctor Ballard's lands in Audubon and Cass counties were  in cultivated farms, with the cheapest kind of dwellings and buildings  upon them.  It was a small principality, partaking the appearance of  ancient times, when such estates were tenanted by serfs and peasants,  rather than a modern, up-to-date American settlement.  His pastures were  filled with large herds of fine cattle, and droves of hogs.  He received  large quantities of corn and grain from his tenants.  He erected a saw- mill near his residence about 1855-56, and got out considerable lumber  from his own timber and for his neighbors, until after the railroad came  to Atlantic, about 1869.  While surrounded by such wealth and  advantages, he was unpopular with his neighbors.  He was not a public- spirited citizen, his ambition being to accumulate lands and property  for his own selfish aggrandizement, along the primitive methods  indicated.  He did nothing for the upbuilding of his neighbors, or of  the community in which he dwelt, consequently he had no friends, even  among his kindred.  He lived hermit-like, not allowing himself a  respectable subsistence, considering his wealth; only providing for  himself the bare necessities of life, food and raiment.  Such methods of  existence failed to enlist the favorable opinions of the people among  whom he resided.  In business affairs he was disagreeable and a hard man  to deal with.  He constantly differed and quarreled with his tenants,  hired help and others who dealt with him.  It was said that he was a  hard master to his sons.  

He complained of losing many cattle and hogs by thieves, and to have  lost large amounts of wood and timber by trespassers.  Once, when riding  with him near Oakfield, a man was met with a load of shoats.  The Doctor  stopped and claimed them.  The driver said he was delivering them to a  man whom he named.  The Doctor said he had not sold any hogs to that  man, and directed him to return them to his place, and not take away any  more without his order.  The depredations became so flagrant that he was  obliged to dispose of all the live stock on his estate.  He negotiated  the sale of all his cattle, and they were turned into the woods pasture  south of the Ballard bridge, temporarily, for delivery a few days later.   On the day of delivery, fifty head of the cattle had disappeared, and no  trace of them could be discovered.  It was supposed that some of the  Doctor's agents had made away with them.  After he became too old and  feeble to superintend his business, for several years large amounts of  boards from his fences were stolen and carried away.  A barn was  discovered near his estate built from such lumber, the marks of the  boards plainly showing where they had been fastened to fence posts.  The  owner of the barn was accused of the theft, and admitted that he had  bought the boards from an agent of the Doctor; but he reluctantly paid  for them, saying that the money he paid was part of that stolen from the  Doctor when he was robbed at his residence in 1882-83, as hereafter  related.  In the fall of 1882 it was discovered where nine of the  Doctor's fat hogs had been stolen, killed in the timber and carried  away.  It was supposed they went into the pork barrels of his neighbors.  

During the last winter of his life, 1882-83, while sick and confined to  his bed at his residence, one night two robbers, Northgrave and Van  Winkle, as was afterwards learned, entered the house, broke open his  bedroom, and robbed him of about two thousand seven hundred dollars in  money, which the Doctor had negligently allowed to accumulate in the  house, the proceeds of rents collected, etc., which was contained in a  leather valise near his bed.  The robber seized the valise containing  the money and was about getting away with it when the Doctor sprang from  the bed, grasped the retreating robber around the legs, felled him to  the floor and shouted for help.  The only other persons in the house at  the time were the wife of  the Doctor's hired man and two boys.  The  latter fled, but the lady was plucky and came to the rescue, beating the  robbers with a club.  In the struggle the robber kicked himself loose  and the Doctor was seriously injured in the encounter, trying to defend  his property; but the robber escaped with the booty.  The Doctor at once  sent to Exira for his attorney, H. F. Andrews, who promptly responded,  although it was a better cold night, taking Richard W. Griggs along with  him.  On arriving at the residence of the Doctor, several of his  neighbors, having learned of the outrage, were assembled there.  The  Doctor privately informed the lawyers that he believed he had a clue to  the robbers, who had not then been identified; that in the struggle with  the one he had attacked he had torn off his suspenders and a button with  a strip of cloth attached, which he still possessed, and proceeded to  produce it from under his pillow.  The trophy was examined and it was  thought it might lead to the identity of the culprits.  Next morning the  tracks of the robbers and their horses were discovered in the snow.   With a team driven by Joseph Doner, the Doctor's hired man, Mr. Andrews  and Mr. Griggs followed the trail several miles into Cass county, when a  snow storm obliterated the tracks and the trail was lost.  Returning to  the Doctor's place, the captured suspenders and bit of cloth were again  examined.  It was thought that the cloth looked familiar and resembled  the pants usually worn by the Doctor and which usually hung near his  bed.  Search was made for them without success and it was concluded that  the robber had also stolen the Doctor's pants, and that the Doctor had  pulled off the suspenders from his own pants in the struggle with him,  which in the end proved true.  The stolen valise and the pants were  afterward found together not far from the residence, where they had been  left by some one other than the robbers.  In following the trail of the  escaped robbers, the saddle cloth of one of them, which had been lost by  them, was fortunately discovered, and it subsequently led to their  identity; other facts developed which identified them beyond reasonable  doubt.  It appeared that others were associated with them and that the  money was divided between the gang of villains who participated in the  nefarious affair.  One man who was killed in the county soon afterwards  was said to have received a fine span of horses for taking the rogues  from the county.  The principal robbers soon left the community, but the  money was never recovered.  Doctor Ballard soon went to Council Bluffs  and died there shortly afterward.  Nothing further was done about the  crime.  Near the time of his death, the Doctor informed the writer that  the amount of his losses by thieves, trespassers, robbers, etc., in the  past twenty years would aggregate fully twenty thousand dollars.  And he  also said: "Andrews, I am living among the wolves."  

Hon. William F. Smith, late of Farrall, Wyoming, a few years since  described some scenes in the home life of Doctor Ballard.  He said: "In  1854 Dr. S. M. Ballard came from Iowa to Ohio to place his sons, Byron  and Osceola, in school, and while my parents were visiting the family of  Frederick Ballard they met the Doctor.  I should say that one of the  objects of the Doctor's visit was to purchase machinery for a saw-mill.   My parents were wanting to locate where land was cheap and secure a  home.  Doctor Ballard gave a very glowing account of Iowa, and of  Audubon county in particular, and offered them work at good wages until  they could establish a home of their own, which was accepted.  So, in  the spring of 1854, we started down the Ohio river by way of St. Louis,  and then up the Missouri river to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  On account of  low water, we were a long time making the trip, and then went to Doctor  Ballard's place with teams.  We had expected to find a fine, large house  in good shape; but the house was a small log cabin of one room, eighteen  by eighteen feet, and he had a fairly large log barn, where the men  slept.  When we arrived there, my brothers and myself went to the house  and looked in at the door and the sight gave us a fright.  The doctor  was eating his supper out a pan, and a woman, one of Mr. Hyatt's family,  was waiting on him.  The Doctor spoke to us in a loud voice and said:  "Come in, boys."  But when we saw those long white whiskers and the  strange surroundings we beat a hasty retreat for the wagons and told  what we had seen.  Our parents had to tell the Doctor about it, and we  had a good laugh over it.  We stopped at the Doctor's place.  My father  worked on the farm and my mother and sisters cooked for hired help.   That fall my folks and the Doctor disagreed, and we quit him and moved  to "Uncle Johnny" Jenkins's house, and soon afterward to Jimmy Bird's  place in Cass county, where we lived that winter.  Early the next spring  we went back to the Doctor's place.  The machinery for the saw-mill had  arrived.  With the farmhands and our own family and the mill crew, my  poor mother and sisters had to work early and late to cook and wash for  the outfit, making butter and caring for the milk from several cows,  etc.  The Doctor had put up several other buildings, so we had more  room.  Myself and brothers and the hired men slept in the haymow above  the horses. * * * About this period the wife and family of Doctor  Ballard came out from Iowa City to the farm in Audubon county.  (The  sons of Doctor Ballard came to Audubon county in 1852.)  

Doctor Ballard was first receiver of the United States land office at  Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Iowa, in 1853.  It is said that he once  carried a large amount of public funds in specie from Kanesville to Iowa  City in the false bottom of his buggy to conceal it and escape robbery.   He was one of the proprietors of the Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry  Company in 1853-54.  He was a Whig, and a prominent man.  The Iowa  Standard was begun in 1841 at Iowa City, and suspended publication in  1848. It was bought about that time by Doctor Ballard, the name changed  to the Iowa City Republican, and he continued its publication as the  Whig organ of the party in Iowa.  Among those employed on the paper were  William P. Hepburn, Tom Ballard, a natural son of the Doctor; Clay  Johnson, and others.  We are not fully advised as to the history of the  paper under management of Ballard, or when he severed his connection  with it.  

Ballard was one of the founders of the Republican party in Iowa, along  with such men as Grimes, Lowe, Kirkwood and others of that period.  He  was a member of the Republic state central committee in 1856.  In 1859  he appears on the ticket for representative.  He was of ability to have  graced high political offices, but does not appear to have sought such  preferment.  He was patriotic and a sound Union man during the war, so  far as his voice and vote went, but did not contribute financially to  the party campaign expenses while residing in Audubon county.  He  sometimes attended state, district and county conventions as a delegate.   During the war at one time he was sent by Governor Kirkwood on some  mission to the Iowa soldiers in the army down the Mississippi river.  

A remarkable instance occurred in the Republican state convention of  1875, when Doctor Ballard was chiefly responsible for the nomination of  Hon. Samuel J. Kirkwood for governor for the third term.  Probably no  man ever went into a convention more confident of success than did Hon.  James B. Weaver on that occasion.  He had been a brilliant, gallant  soldier, was justly popular as a politician, especially with the old  soldier element of the party, and richly deserved the office as governor  of Iowa.  Doctor Ballard was a delegate to the convention.  He and some  of the old-guard Republicans did not take kindly to the candidacy of  General Weaver, or, perhaps, Weaver did not sufficiently court their  support.  Their importance and influence was probably overlooked, or not  properly considered.  Some of the old-timers decided to give Kirkwood a  complimentary vote for governor.  When the nominations came on, and  after the name of Weaver had been presented as a candidate, Doctor  Ballard arose, a majestic figure, with snowy-white hair, long flowing  beard and eagle eye, his giant form towering above the assembly.  With  his powerful, leonine voice, he announced: "I nominate for governor that  old war hoss, Sam J. Kirkwood."  The magical effect attracted every eye  and ear present.  An alert supporter of General Weaver demanded: "By  what authority does the gentleman from Audubon present the name of  Governor Kirkwood?"  Others shouted: "Governor Kirkwood is not a  candidate.  He won't have the office," etc.  The Doctor impressively  responded: "By authority of the great Republican party of Iowa."  The  psychological effect produced was instantaneous.  That patriarchal  figure and voice in the midst of Iowa's sons assembled won the contest  beyond recall, and Kirkwood was promptly nominated, to the  disappointment and chagrin of General Weaver and his followers.  Never  has a parallel to that act, of such momentous importance, occurred in  the political history of Iowa.  The shock was directed by the  extemporaneous act of a single man - Doctor Ballard.  It was a  powerfully dramatic scene, which arose spontaneously, without  preparation, on the spur of the moment.  

Who can say that but for this act of Doctor Ballard, Hon. James B.  Weaver would not have continued an ornament to the Republican party.  

Many years ago, at the Walker house in Audubon, during court time,  Doctor Ballard, Judge Reed, Judge Maxwell, the writer and others were  having a pleasant evening together.  The Doctor, being in a reminiscent  mood, related a thrilling account of the experience of himself and  "Uncle" John Jenkins, who were once lost in a snowstorm while out  hunting.  The story ran substantially in this way: "In December, 1852,  the United States surveyors, including myself, were camped at Blue Cross  Grove engaged in sudividing township 80, range 35 (now Leroy township).   My friend John S. Jenkins, and his son John came up from the Big Grove  to our camp for a hunt with me, game being plentiful.  We two started  off together, westward from camp.  During the day a heavy snowstorm came  on; we got bewildered, lost all idea of direction and wandered around  long into the night, completely lost.  At one time we heard a strange  noise near us, as of many large animals running through the snow, making  the peculiar whistling sound of the elk when startled.  We supposed we  had run into and startled a band of those animals, but it was too dark  to see them.  (The writer has heard this sound made by elk.  By old  hunters it is called 'Bugling,' and is made by the bull elk as a  challenge or note of defiance.  It is a peculiar sound and somewhat  resembles the notes of a bugle.)  Continuing our tramp later into the  night, we entered a brush patch and stopped to rest, being tired out  and hungry.  Mr. Jenkins was in worse plight than myself and complained  that his feet were hurting him.  I suspected that his feet were frozen,  which afterwards proved to be the case.  We gathered fuel and started a  fire.  Mr. Jenkins proposed to remove his boots and examine his feet;  but I persuaded him not to do so, as he would have difficulty in putting  them on again.  We made a bed of brush and dried grass and he laid down  and slept, while I watched and tended the fire.  Towards morning the  clouds parted and I got a fair view of the Great Handled Dipper and the  North star, and so fixed the direction in my mind.  When morning came it  was still cloudy and the sun was obscured all day.  Jenkins awoke very  much discouraged, still complaining of his feet, and expressed doubt  that we should ever reach home again.  I tried to encourage him and  pointed out the direction I thought we should travel.  He disputed me  and said he thought we should travel in nearly the opposite course.  I  said, 'There is north,' pointing, as I believed, in that direction.  He  had no idea that I knew the direction any better than he did, and he  replied: 'And who in h---, sir, told you that was north?'  I explained  to him of my seeing the North star while he had slept, and he cooled  down, but apparently not convinced and despondent; said we were lost  beyond hope of discovery; that no one would know where to search for us,  and that if anyone attempted to find us there was hardly a chance of  success, and that he believed we must perish.  I urged that we should  succeed by following the course I suggested.  He admitted that he was in  doubt what direction we ought to travel, and finally consented to follow  me that day, but did not hope to succeed.  We took up the march towards  the east, as it afterwards proved.  We came out on what must have been  the main divide between the waters of the East and West Botna rivers,  and there Mr. Jenkins rebelled and became more obstinate than before.   He insisted we were traveling the wrong direction, and that we should  change our course and proceed northwest along the divide.  I was  confident we were on the right course, but pleaded with him in vain.   We shook hands, parted, and each pursued his chosen course, he to the  northwest, along the divide, and I took a southeast course down a  ridge, until nearly out of sight of each other, when, turning to take a  parting look at him, I saw him wave his hat.  I made a similar response  and waited for him to return.  When he joined me he said he had  forgotten his promise to follow during the day, apologized and promised  to make his word good.  We proceeded again until Mr. Jenkins became more  discouraged and complained.  I carried his rifle to relieve him and took  him by the arm to encourage him to proceed.  Late in the afternoon, in  crossing a slough, his feet became entangled in the long, wet grass,  matted down by the heavy snow, and he fell.  I offered to assist him to  arise, but he refused; said it was useless; that we were lost beyond  help; that his feet were used up; that we were without food or fire and  must perish; that he might as well stop where he was to punish himself  by attempting to travel farther.  I stooped down and struck him a smart  blow with the back of my hand on his face.  The effect was  instantaneous.  He sprang to his feet like a steel trap and demanded why  I had insulted him.  I told him it was to show him that he was not so  near dead as he imagined, and that I had proved it.  He accepted my  explanation and we again proceeded.  Upon reaching the top of another  ridge I thought the surrounding country and lay of the land looked  familiar.  I believed we were in the vicinity of our camp and so  informed my companion.  I then remembered my dog, a favorite white  hound, who was at the camp, and told Mr. Jenkins that if I could make  'Zack' hear my voice he would come to us.  So I began to shout and  halloo, long and loud, and kept it up.  Soon I heard the hound bay and  called the attention of Mr. Jenkins to it, but he was not convinced.  He  said we could not be near camp, and that I must have heard a wolf howl.   But soon the dog came over the hill in full cry.  I was him, with the  black spot on his head, coming towards us, and no mistake, and he soon  reached us, plainly expressing his pleasure at seeing us.  A little  later Uncle Ben Hyatt, our cook, came following on the dog's track.   When he got near enough I shouted for him to hurry back to camp and  prepare some food for us.  Uncle John clasped the dog around the neck  and burst into tears, and ever afterwards declared that the dog saved  our lives."  

 I had previously heard the Doctor tell the story, and Mr. Jenkins had  also told it to me.  When the Doctor's narrative was finished and his  hearers had expressed their appreciation, I said to him:  "Doctor, I  think you told the story to a party of gentlemen at Exira several years  ago."  "Why do you say so?" said he.  "Since I first heard you tell it,  I have heard Mr. Jenkins tell it."  "And don't he tell it as I do?"   "Yes, with one exception."  "And what is that?"  "He didn't mention that  you slapped him in the face."  "But I did," said the Doctor.  John T.  Jenkins, of Brayton, says that he was at the camp at the time mentioned  and well remembers the incident.  He says that the people at the camp,  Ben Hyatt, Byron Ballard, the Doctor's son, and others, were alarmed for  the safety of his father and the Doctor, and were anxiously hoping all  day for their return; that old "Zack" was uneasy and whined at times,  and that all of a sudden he bawled out and broke away from camp on the  run over the hills.  No one in camp had heard the Doctor's call, but the  dog evidently had a keener ear, and dashed away to find his lost master.   Neither of the participants knew exactly where their wanderings had  taken them.  

The writer surveyed land in this county for years in earlier times and  became well acquainted with the lands in the west part of the county  where this adventure took place.  There used to be a little clump of  hickory saplings in a deep ravine near the line between Douglas and  Sharon townships near the west part of the county, which was, perhaps,  the spot where Ballard and Jenkins stopped on the night as related.  Mr.  Jenkins more than once referred to this adventure with gratitude towards  Doctor Ballard, and invariably expressed his belief that the Doctor had  saved his life on that occasion.  He was financially interested with  Captain Perry and the Hendersons in contracts for the survey of several  townships of government lands in Audubon county and perhaps elsewhere.   His son Byron was actually engaged in the work as flagman and chainman.   The Doctor was probably overseer of the working party.  

During the last winter of his life he spoke about his son, "Bolly," as  he was familiarly called, and, like King David of old, lamenting over  his son Absalom, said that he could be a prince if he would be,  intimating that he would be pleased for him to have the home place, but  feared that if he should give it to him he would squander it.  He  suggested that there might be some of his descendants some time who  might make good use of his property, if he only knew to whom to leave  it.  The terms of his will indicate that it was perhaps framed with such  ideas in view.  He left a handsome estate.  Besides his lands and  property here, he had large possessions in other places.  At his death  he gave his son Osceola a life estate in four hundred acres of land in  Cass county, which he soon lost.  To his daughter, Mrs. Robinson, he  gave a life estate in nearly two thousand acres of land near Marne,  Iowa, with remainder to her children after her death.  The residue of  his fortune went to his wife.  The home place here has passed entirely  out of possession of his descendants.  Doctor Ballard was unfortunate in  his family.  Byron was killed the falling of a tree; Eugene was drowned,  and two daughters died young.  He was the first senior warden of Iowa  City Lodge No. 4, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, which was chartered  on January 8, 1844.  

Old settlers will recall the heroic figure of the old Doctor, with his  black plug hat, mounted on his favorite saddle horse, "Old Tige," as he,  in former times, rode about the county.  He died at Council Bluffs in  1883.  Mrs. Ballard survived him, but has been dead many years.  Their  children were: Byron, unmarried;  Virginia, who married George Robinson  and is dead; Osceola is dead;  Oletippe and another daughter are both  dead.  

David B. Beers and his father lived together many years, until his father's death. He married, first, late in life, Mrs. Lowly A., widow of Amherst Heath. For his second wife, he married Mrs. Leigan. He was a farmer and a school teacher. He succeeded to his father's farm. After marriage he lived in section 29, Exira township, on his wife's estate, but is now living in Brayton, Iowa. He is a Democrat and served as county superintendent and county surveyor. His children are, Eva, who married Calvin Dimick; Nellie, married Mr. Badd, and Lona C., also married.

John W. Beers came with his father. He was one of the clerks at the first election in Audubon county in April, 1855, at which he was elected clerk of the district court and county surveyor. He died early.

Miles Beers, wife and family, came from Delaware county, New York, in 1854, and settled on section 18, Exira township. He was a farmer and a Democrat. He was the first treasurer and recorder of Audubon county in 1855. His farm is now owned by Owen F. Ide, Esq. He and his wife died many years ago. Their children were, John W., unmarried; David B. and Jane, who married Oliver Smith.

Samuel Beers

The proprietor of "Forest Home Farm," in Greeley township, this county, Samuel Beers, is a native son of Audubon county and is one of the substantial and progressive men, who have done so much to establish the present excellent conditions of living in this section of the proud state of Iowa.

Samuel Beers was born on a farm on the site of what later became the old town of Hamlin, in Hamlin township, Audubon county, Iowa, March 24, 1859, the son of Bradley and Hannah G. (Eles) Beers, natives of New York state, who came to this county from Delaware county, that state, and who spent the rest of their lives here, the former dying in March, 1878, and the latter on October 23, 1902.

Bradley Beers, who in his day was one of the best-known and most influential residents of Hamlin township, came to Audubon county about the first of the year 1856 and bought three hundred and twenty acres of virgin land in Hamlin township, where the town of Hamlin later sprung up, giving for the same one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. After erecting a house and a barn here, Mr. Beers returned to New York and brought back with him to their new home on the prairie, his wife and their child, Frank, the two other children, Samuel and Clara, the latter of whom married Edward Young, being born after the parents arrived here. On account of the distance from his home to a school house, Samuel Beers did not have an opportunity of attending school until he was ten years of age, after which he attended two or three terms of district school and one or two terms at Exira. His father dying when Samuel was but nineteen years of age, much of the responsibility of keeping up the farm was thrown upon the latter, who, upon his marriage, brought his wife to the home farm, which his father had purchased in Greeley township about three years before his death, and where his mother spent her last days.

On September 11, 1881, in the town of Exira, this county, Samuel Beers was united in marriage with Ora D. Herrick, who was born in Exira on October 28, 1863, the daughter of Urbane and Charlotte (Spurling) Herrick, natives of Wisconsin, who came to Audubon county in 1853 and settled on a farm where the town of Exira now stands. Urbane Herrick donated one acre of land to the town of Exira for a school building, one acre to the first minister who arrived in the place for parsonage grounds and also donated a tract of land for cemetery purposes. By his first marriage Urbane Herrick had four children, Scott, Ora D., Lorinda and Rose. Upon the death of the mother of these children, Mr. Herrick married Kezia Smith, by whom he had three children, Roby, Stella and Maggie.

To Samuel and Ora D. (Herrick) Beers two children were born, Homer L., born on October 4, 1885, who married Margaret May, a former school teacher, and who has one child, a daughter, Bernice May, born on August 11, 1912, and Ruth E., who was born on October 16, 1891, who married Glenn Scott and has one child, a son, Arnold Beers, born on February 21, 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Beers are members of the Evangelical church and are among the founders of that church in their neighborhood. They are active in local good works and are held in the highest esteem by all who know them.


Located on the most prominent corner of the town of Kimballton , Iowa , will be found the hardware and implement establishment owned by Hans P. Bonnesen, and over which he has presided since the spring of 1913. The business is a consolidation of the hardware store formerly owned by George J. Nelsen and the pump and windmill stock formerly owned by Nelsen & Nelsen. The consolidated business is housed in a handsome brick structure, twenty-five by eighty feet, with a basement under the entire building, and is filled to capacity with hardware and implements, such as carpenters' and builders' supplies, stoves, ranges, furnaces, cutlery, firearms, tinware, glass, buggies, wagons, washing machines, twine, pumps, windmills, motor trucks, cream separators, oil and gas engines, oil tractors, manure spreaders, ensilage cutters, hay, grain and corn machines. The stock is conveniently shelved and neatly arranged. The proprietor of this business employs two men, Wilhelm Larsen and Conrad Nielsen, who are kept busy attending to the wants of the increasing trade. Mr. Bonnesen makes a specialty of the pump business, and one of the employes devotes his entire time to this business. The subject of this sketch is one of the best advertisers of Kimballton, and his advertisements always appear in a readable form. Nothing is promised in advertising that is not carried out to the letter and this is one of the chief causes of his large and growing trade.

Hans P. Bonnesen was born on April 17, 1870 , at Slagelse, on the Island of Zealand, Denmark, son of Lars Bonnesen and Christina Sorensen, both born on the above mentioned island. The father is a farmer and carpenter and he and his wife are still living in their native land. They were the parents of eight children, as follow: Mary lives in Denmark ; Hans P., the subject of this sketch; Christina lives in Denmark ; Catherine lives in Racine , Wisconsin ; Margaret lives in San Francisco , California ; Fred, a farmer in Sharon township, Audubon county; Otto lives at Fresno , California , and Carl lives in Denmark .

Mr. Bennesen attended the schools in his native land, and at the age of twelve began to make his own way in the world. After working for some time on the railroads in his native country, he came to America in 1892, at the age of twenty-two, and located in Cass county, Iowa , south of Elkhorn . While engaged in farming here he attended the Danish school at Elkhorn , and later became a teacher in Sharon township, Audubon county, continuing for two years.

After farming in Sharon township for four years, Mr. Bonnesen lived in Carroll county, Iowa, for two years, and then came back to Audubon county, living in Douglas township for six years. Renting his farm to a tenant he took a trip to his old home in Denmark during the summer of 1910, and upon his return bought a small farm in Sharon township, and lived on that farm for three years, until the spring of 1913, when he engaged in business at Kimballton. He has served as president of the Sharon Creamery Company, and also as president of the Kimballton Creamery Company for a time. While engaged in farming he was an extensive breeder of Shorthorn cattle. He now owns two hundred acres of land in Douglas township, and also property in Kimballton.

On March 2, 1898 , Hans P. Bonnesen was married to Signa Christensen, who was born in Sharon township, Audubon county, Iowa , the daughter of Peter Christiansen. To Mr. and Mrs. Hans P. Bonnesen have been born four children, namely: Esther, who is a student in the Audubon high school; Elmer, Inez and Evelyn.

Always a stanch Republican in politics, Mr. Bonnesen is at present a member of the Kimballton school board, and formerly served as a justice of the peace. He and his family are members of the Danish Lutheran church, and take an active part in the affairs of this congregation. Hans P. Bonnesen must be regarded as a self-made man and is well known and well liked in this section of Audubon county.

JOHN C. BONWELL submited by Earl Hoffman

It is by no means an easy task to describe within the limits of this review, the career of a man who has led an active and eminently useful life, and, who by his own exertions. reached a position of honor and trust in the political life of the county with which his interests are allied. The biographer finds justification, nevertheless, in tracing, and recording the chief facts in such a life history and the public claims a certain interest in the career of very individual, who has occupied a position of prominence. The time invariably arrives when men of this character are entitled to the proper recognition for their work, and it is with considerable satisfaction that the career of John C. Bonwell is briefly outlined in this sketch.

John C. Bonwell is a prominent farmer of Viola township, Audubon county, Iowa, who has served his township and county in many positions of trust and responsibility. He has served as a member of the Iowa General Assembly, as county supervisor of Audubon county and, in addition to these offices, he has filled practically all of the township offices.

John C. Bonwell was born in Ohio, on November 6, 1842. He is the son of Nathaniel and Charity (Lowman) Bonwell, natives of Virginia and Pennsylvania, respectively. The paternal great-grandfather of John C. Bonwell was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The family originally came from Scotland to Ireland and from Ireland to Virginia. Mr. Bonwell's grandfather, Arthur Bonwell, owned a plantation in Virginia and also owned many slaves. He brought them to Brown county, Ohio, and freed them when he moved north, at the same time giving each slave forty acres of land. Nathaniel Bonwell owned a farm in Highland county and there reared his family. He died in Highland county in 1864.

John C. Bonwell attended school in the Northern Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, and here received most of his education.

John C. Bonwell was a valiant soldier in the great Civil War. He enlisted in 1862 in Company F, Sixtieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and having served three months, was taken prisoner at Harper's Ferry, and sent away to be exchanged. He came home after his parole and remained for two years or until 1864 when he re-enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was engaged in the battles of Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee, and was mustered out of the service in June, 1865, at Nashville.

[photo with signature of John C, Bonwell]

Mr. Bonwell was married in 1869 and came west to Jasper county, Iowa, settling in Monroe township. He taught school for two years and then took the position of bookkeeper in the First National Bank at Monroe.

In 1875 Mr. Bonwell moved to Exira and engaged there in the drug and grocery business which he continued for one year. He traded the store for three hundred and twenty acres of land in Viola township and a short time later moved to this farm. It was prairie land and Mr. Bonwell has placed splendid improvements upon this farm and planted many trees. At the time he took possession of the land, there was but a small shanty and a hay stable on it; some of the land, however, had been broken. Mr. Bonwell now has a modern home and has increased his holdings until he owns eleven hundred and twenty acres in Viola township. Since 1889 he has not been actively engaged in farming. He has dealt in cattle, purchased, fed and shipped them to the extent of two hundred head annually. During the past four years, however, he has lived retired, renting out the land which he owns.

John C. Bonwell has filled a large place in the political life of Audubon county. He is an ardent Republican and has filled almost all of the township offices, serving as county supervisor of Audubon county between 1899 and 1906. In I906 he was elected representative in the Iowa Legislature. He served in the thirty-second General Assembly and in the extra session of the thirty-third. During the thirty-second General Assembly, he was a member of the various committees dealing with ways and means, agriculture, appropriations, claims, industrial schools, the state university, constitutional amendments, state educational institutions, and military affairs. During the thirty-third General Assembly, he was the chairman of the committee on roads and highways. He introduced the first good roads bill which was the forerunner of the bill now pending before the Iowa Legislature. During this session, Mr. Bonwell was a member of the different committees on ways and means; insurance, agriculture, schools and text books; the state university; compensation of public officers; public accounting, and military affairs. During this session, Mr. Bonwell introduced the Daylight Saloon bill and another bill making it a penal offense to assault a man in order to get a winter jail sentence. The honorable John C. Bonwell established an excellent record in both sessions of the Iowa General Assembly in which he served; a record of which he and his constituents have reason to be very proud.

On December 27, 1869, John C. Bonwell was married to Mary Miller, who was born in Highland county, Ohio, March 7, 1846. She is the daughter of Jacob and Eliza Miller, natives of Ohio. Three children were born to this union, Pauline, who is the wife of Dr. H. E. Jewell, of Coon Rapids, Iowa, and has three children, John Bonwell and Harris Lee, twins, and Thurlow; Mrs. Gertrude Hoffman, who lives in Viola township and has one child, Violet; and Mrs. Leora May Jewell, who lives in Magnolia, Putnam county, Illinois.

Although Mr. Bonwell's father was a member of the Quaker church, Mr. Bonwell himself attends the Methodist Episcopal church. Fraternally, he is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the chapter and commandery, of Audubon countv, and Za-Ga-Zig Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Des Moines.

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON BOWEN married Eliza Watson. In 1853 he, with Walter J. Jardine and John Seifford and families, came here from Jones county, Iowa . Mr. Bowen bought out the claim of Reuben Carpenter and was a farmer. He went to Pikes Peak in 1860 and moved to Colorado in 1862. He returned to Audubon county in 1865, but later, went to Nebraska , where he lived several years and then returned to Cass county, near his old home. He was a Republican, a member of the board of supervisors in 1871-2, and the first assessor of Audubon county. He married for his second wife, Josephine Smith. His son, the late Hugh Bowen, succeeded to the home place many years ago. To William and Eliza Bowen the following children were born: Nancy Jane, who married Hon. William Walker; Rachel Elizabeth , married William B. Stone; John Wesley, married Nancy Cannon; Anna L., died unmarried; Sarah E., married William Bales; Hugh, married Maggie Selladay; Juliette, married Joseph W. Walker ; Emma Caroline, married John Lorah; James W., died unmarried; Charles E., married Mary Allen. By his second wife, Mr. Bowen had four children, Kittie, who married Leonard J. Whitney, Burns, Harry and Edward.