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Cerro Gordo County >> 1910 Index

History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Ed. and comp. by J. H. Wheeler. 2 vols. Chicago: Lewis Pub Co., 1910


Biographies submitted by Kay Ehlers  


Standing high among the keen, progressive and business like agriculturists who have so ably assisted in advancing the farming interests of Cerro Gordo county is Frank S. Babcock, who until within a very short time ago owned and operated a finely improved farm of two hundred and sixty acres in sections twenty-three and twenty-six, Mason township. This estate he has recently sold, intending to become a permanent resident of Mason City . He was born in 1853 in Cortland county, New York , which was likewise the birthplace of his father, Ira J. Babcock.

When about eighteen years old Ira J. Babcock, zealous to try life in a newer country, drove across the intervening states from Cortland county, New York , to Chicago , Illinois , where he remained a short time, although he did not then decide to locate in the west. Making another trip to Illinois in 1856, he located in Freeport , Stephenson, county, where he was most successfully engaged in building and contracting until 1884. Being then well advanced in years, he retired from active pursuits and continued his residence in that city until 1884, when he came to this county, where his death occurred at the age of eighty-four, in 1902. His wife, who girlhood name was Abigail Curtiss, was born in New York state, where they were married, and she died in January, 1909, in Cerro Gordo county, aged eighty-seven years. They reared four children, as follows : Edward O., a dry goods merchant in New York city ; Mrs. Alice Bigelow, of Chicago , Illinois ; Mrs. Mary V. Goodhue, of Chicago ; and Frank S.

Brought up and educated in Freeport , Illinois , Frank S. Babcock learned the carpenter's trade when young, and subsequently was associated with his father as a carpenter and builder. Coming to Cerro Gordo county, Iowa , in 1884, he bought land in sections thirty-five and thirty-six, in the southern part of Mason township, and after making many improvements on the farm sold it at an advantage. He subsequently bought the farm of two hundred and sixty acres referred to above, and in its management was especially successful, carrying on general farming and stock raising with most satisfactory pecuniary results.

On May 28, 1888 , Mr. Babcock married, in Cerro Gordo county, Mattie B. Milligan, who was born in Winnebago county, Illinois , June 27, 1864 .

Her father, James Milligan, a native of Hunterdon county, New Jersey , spent several years of his earlier life in Winnebago county, Illinois , from there coming in 1877 to Iowa . Buying land in Cerro Gordo county, he carried on farming for a while. Subsequently selling his farm, he removed to Mason City , and here lived retired until his death, March 11, 1905 , at the age of seventy-eight years. He married Jane Bull, who was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania , and died in Mason City , Iowa , January 12, 1903 , aged sixty-eight years. Of the eleven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Milligan, Mrs. Babcock is the only one now residing in Cerro Gordo county, although nine of them are living, six sons being engaged in railroad work in various parts of the Union .

Mr. and Mrs. Babcock have two children, namely : Mabel, wife of George McLaury, of Mason City , and who has one child, Ella McLaury ; and Edward O. Politically Mr. Babcock is a steadfast supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He has been secretary of the local school board for the past fifteen years, and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Although his parents were strict Baptists and brought him up in the same religious faith, he belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church, of which Mrs. Babcock is also a member.


A man of energy and ability, industrious, persevering and painstaking, Willis G. C. Bagley is well known throughout Mason City as cashier of the First National Bank, with which he has been connected for nearly a score of years. Entering the institution in a minor capacity, he has worked his way steadily and rapidly upward until assuming his present position of responsibility and trust, his advance being the result entirely of his own honest and persistent efforts. A son of the late Shepherd S. Bagley, he was born, October 29, 1873 , in Rock county, Wisconsin , but was reared and educated in Mason City

Coming from honored New England ancestry, Shepherd S. Bagley was born, in 1839, in Maine . Possessing the spirit of restlessness characteristic of the American race, even in his early days, he migrated when young to the newer state of Wisconsin , and after his marriage embarked in business as a merchant in Cainville, a village, named in honor of his father-in-law, Seth Cain. Coming in 1877 with his family to Iowa , he engaged in the grocery business as senior member of the firm of Bagley & Shockey, subsequently conducting the business alone for a time. He purchased an interest in a marble shop, with which he was connected. Later he was again engaged in the grocery business, becoming connected with the firm of Purdy, McGregor & Company. After the death of his wife, he disposed of his interests in Mason City , and moved to St. Paul , Minnesota , where he was a resident until his death, in 1904, at the age of sixty-seven years, the last few years of his life having been an invalid. He married Louisa Cain, who was born in New York state, and died, in Mason City , Iowa , in 1896, aged fifty-five years. Six children blessed their union, of whom four are living, namely : Fred W., of St. Paul , Minnesota ; W. S., of Waterloo , Iowa ; C. A., of Denver , Colorado ; and Willis G. C.

A lad of four summers when he came with his parents to Mason City , Willis G. C. Bagley was educated in the common and high schools. Leaving the high school in February, 1891, he became collector for the Fist National Bank, with which he has since been associated, having filled all of the intermediate positions up to cashier, the position to which he was elected in 1908, and which he has since held. Holding this office of great trust and responsibility with one of the strongest institutions of the kind in northern Iowa , Mr. Bagley is well worthy the title of a self-made man, and eminently deserves the success that he has gained in the business world.

Mr. Bagley married, May 15, 1895 , Winifred Bogardus, who was born in Mason City , Iowa , August 31, 1874 , and they are the parents of two children, Margaret L., and Burton B.

Politically Mr. Bagley is a steadfast Republican ; and religiously he is a member and a trustee and the treasurer of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which Mrs. Bagley also belongs.

Mr. Bagley is active and prominent in man of the leading fraternal organizations of northern Iowa, belonging to Mason City Lodge, No. 375, B. P. O. E., ; Cerro Gordo Lodge, No. 70, K. of P., ; Benevolence Lodge, No. 145, A. F. and A. M. ; Benevolence Chapter No. 45, R. A. M. ; Antioch Commandery, No. 43, K. T. ; Midland Lodge, No. 226, M. B. A. ; Wilcox Camp, No. 709, M. W. A. ; Cerro Gordo Tent, No. 53, K. O. T. M. ; and Iowa Division, Post A., T. P. A.


Devoted to the demands of his business and possessing the ability to meet its every requirement, Lee R. Bailey is prominently associated with the advancement of the mercantile interests of Mason City , as president and treasurer of the Bailey Hardware Company being officially connected with one of the foremost business organizations of Cerro Gordo county. A son of the late James A. Bailey, he was born, February 16, 1868 , in Davis county, Missouri , on a farm.

A native of Springfield, Illinois, James A. Bailey was born in that city in 1833, and five years later was taken by his parents to Green county, Wisconsin, where he grew to man's estate. During the Civil war he offered his services to his country, enlisting in the Thirty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and taking part in many engagements. After taking upon himself the cares of a married man he moved to Davis county, Missouri , where he tilled the soil a few years. Subsequently migrating to Kansas , he took up a homestead claim, and on the farm which he redeemed from the raw prairie he spent his remaining years, dying August 7, 1887 . He married Caroline Bush, who was born in LaFayette , Indiana , in 1835, and is now living in Ipswich , South Dakota . Of the five children born of their union four survive, namely : Mrs. Anna Tuttle, of Hamlin, Brown county, Kansas ; Arthur L., of Jewell , Kansas ; Lee R. ; and Olive, wife of Ellsworth Baleh, of Ipswich , South Dakota .

Brought up on the parental homestead in Kansas , Lee R. Bailey received a practical common school education, and as a youth learned the art of telegraphy. Starting out for himself in 1888, ere attaining his majority, he accepted a position as telegraph operator on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, afterwards holding similar positions on the Iowa Central, the Northern Pacific and the Milwaukee railways. In 1893, while in the employ of the Iowa Central Railroad Company, Mr. Bailey came to Mason City, Cerro Gordo county, as an operator, and continued with the company in different capacities for nine years, at the time of his resignation, in the spring of 1902, being connected with the traffic department of the passenger and freight division, with office in Mason City.

In August, 1902, making a radical change in the occupation, Mr. Bailey, in partnership with Mr. Raymond, bought out Knopp Hardware Company and continued in business as junior member of the firm of Raymond & Bailey for two years. Mr. Raymond withdrawing from the firm in September, 1904, a stock company was formed and it was incorporated as the Bailey-Downing Hardware Company. Mr. Downing died in 1906, and his share in the business was sold out, and since that time Mr. Bailey has been president and treasurer of the company, whose name was changed in July, 1909, to the Bailey Hardware Company.

On October 10, 1900 , Mr. Bailey was united in marriage with Fannie B. Harding, who was born in Chautauqua county, New York , October 29, 1870 . Her father, George H. Harding was a carpenter by trade, and also a bridge builder. In 1874 he located in Mason City , where he followed railroad carpentry and bridge building for many years, but is now living retired from active pursuits. He married first Cynthia Brightman, the mother of Mrs. Bailey, and after her death, which occurred in 1873, he married for his second wife her sister, Anna Brightman. Mr. and Mrs. Bailey have no children.

Politically Mr. Bailey is a sound Republican. Fraternally he belongs to Benevolence Lodge, NO. 145, A. F. and A. M. ; to Benevolence Chapter, No. 46, R. A. M., ; to Antioch Commandery, No. 43, K. T. ; and to Mason City Lodge, No. 375, B. P. O. E. Religiously Mrs. Bailey is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.


A. M. Baker, farmer and dairyman, is a well known resident of Lake township, where he owns and operates a farm of three hundred and twenty acres finely improved by himself. This is located in sections 9 and 4 and is a valuable piece of property. Mr. Baker was born in Rock county, Wisconsin , August 15, 1846 , and is a son of Benjamin C. and Lydia (Case) Baker, natives of New York , who early moved to Wisconsin . The father was a farmer and died at a comparatively [young] age, (April 15, 1865). He left five children, all of whom are living. They are B. F., a farmer residing near Clear Lake ; William H., who lives in Dakota ; Mrs. A. W. Wood, of Lake Township ; Mrs. Charles Searles, of West Union, Iowa ; and Mr. Baker. The mother survived until November 21, 1897 , her age being seventy-eight years.

Mr. Baker's political convictions are Republican and he is the friend of progress and all that tends to works towards the common good of the community. He has served in various departments of agriculture. He was very young at the beginning of the Civil war, but in 1864, when he became eighteen, he enlisted in Company D of the Thirty-eight Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served in the Army of the Potomac until 1865. He returned home and took up farming, marrying in 1870. In the spring of 1892 he resolved upon a change of location, and recognizing the superior advantages of Cerro Gordo county, located there, purchasing his present home farm. For the past three years he has been engaged in dairying and sells milk and cream at Clear Lake . He owns seventy cows, all of them of good grades, and has achieved unqualified success in his new calling.

Mr. Baker's political convictions are Republican and he is the friend of progress and all that tends to work towards the common good of the community. He has served in various county and school offices. He has several pleasant affiliations, among them membership in the Masonic order and the Tom Howard Post, No. 101 of the Grand Army of the Republic. Mrs. Baker belongs to the Women's Relief Corps.

Mr. Baker was married in 1870, in Wisconsin, to Miss Melissa Wood, who died in Eldorado, Kansas, in 1882, leaving three children : Orin, now of California ; Mrs. Charles Hopper, of Beloit, Wisconsin ; and Arthur, a farmer living in Lake township. He was married a second time, in 1884, to Mrs. Hattie (Peck) Henderson, of Wisconsin, and the following eight children have been born to them : Perley (married), who is living at home; Etheline, wife of Frank Paul of Union township ; Hazel, Benjamin H., Jessie Joy, A. M. Jr., Vaida and Lois. The Baker post office is Clear Lake . Mrs. Baker had a son by her former marriage, William H. Henderson, a farmer in Lake township.

Andrew Jackson Barker

Andrew Jackson Barker was born in Packwaukee, Marquette county, Wisconsin, January 20,1857. His parents were Charles Grandison Barker and Alice Doyle Barker.

Charles Grandison Barker was a son of John Barker, of Cairo, Green county, New York, who was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and whose father, known as Patroon Barker, was the owner of four thousand acres of land held under a grant from Queen Anne. In the early days of Wisconsin, Charles Grandison Barker had a farm on the borders of Fond du Lac and Dodge counties, near the present sit of Waupun. Nine years before the birth of the subject of this sketch, he bought land from the government in what had been an Indian reservation, further west, at Packwaukee, and, removing thither with his family in a covered wagon, made a new home in the wilderness and helped to extend the borders of civilization. He served two years in the volunteer army of the Union, during the Civil war, his knowledge of mechanics, recognized by the officers, leading to his employment in the construction of hospitals at Chattanooga and on Lookout Mountain.

The early childhood of Andrew Jackson Barker, passed amid rural scenes, familiarized him with the pursuits of the farm. He attended the village school at Packwaukee, and at the age of fifteen was sent to St. Louis University, then at ht corner of Ninth Street and Washington Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri, where he was a student in the Commercial Department in 1872-3 and 1873-4. After leaving the university, he married Mary Price, daughter of L. T. and Mary A. Price, who also was a native of Wisconsin, born at Ceresco, now Ripon, in Fond du Lac county. Together with his bride, he went to work in the woods of Northern Wisconsin, and worked hard. The measure of success which has come to him in later years has been due in no small part to his indisposition to shirk the necessity of labor.

In June, 1876, accompanied by his sister, Mr. Barker paid his first visit to Mason City, then a small but prosperous and promising town. He was farm-hunting, and the place which most attracted his attention was the Miller and Brownell farm of 220 acres, with fine improvements, now the property of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company. Having been brought up in a wooded country, he could not at first accustom himself to the waving, treeless prairie, which impressed him as very lonesome. He returned to Wisconsin, but made subsequent trips to Iowa in 1877 and again in 1878, and in the latter year purchased from William Newbauer a tract of 136 acres, three and one-half miles east of Mason City and two miles northwest of Portland, in the township of that name. The only building upon the place was a small shack, 16 fee by 20, used as bachelor quarters by two lads who were cultivating the land. Subsequently, he purchased from Alonzo Felt 90 acres, a portion of the well known Felt farm.

The winter of 1878-9 was spent by Mr. Barker, with one hired man, in hauling from Mason City quarries 140 cords of stone for buildings which he intended to erect. Curiosity was aroused by the huge stone piles that he accumulated, and the general belief was that he meant to raise buildings of the material. Eventually, however, it appeared that these were to be only the foundations of structures which were to make "Rock Rest" the show farm of Cerro Gordo county. The following spring and summer there were shipped from Milwaukee fitted timbers and lumber for the superstructure of the house, barns and sheds, which were constructed by masons and carpenters brought from Milwaukee. While the work was going on, Mr. and Mrs. Barker boarded from fifteen to thirty-six carpenters and masons, who lived in a camp on the hill. After the buildings were completed an orchard was planted, and spruce, Norway pines, elms and other trees were set out to embellish the grounds about the house.

On this farm, which he still owns, Mr. Barker was soon embarked in enterprises by which, by reason of the contribution they made to the raising of the grade of farm animals in this section of the state, have a place in the agricultural history of Iowa. In the spring after the buildings were finished he purchased from Governor Harrison Ludington of Wisconsin, the thoroughbred Shorthorn bull, "The Governor," and the registered full-blood Clydesdale stallion, "Ben Lomond." Next year found him established in stock and dairy farming, his dairy herd including thirty-three cows. A year later he purchased a full-blooded first-prize heifer at the Wisconsin State Fair, but suffered the misfortune of losing her a week after her arrival, he death probably being due to careless feeding while she was at the fair. His next purchase was made from the Charles T. Bradley farm, near Milwaukee-a two-year old Hambletonian colt, "Knickerbocker," which he renamed "Cerro Gordo Bay," the first thoroughbred road horse owned in Cerro Gordo county. This horse was numbered 6,752 in Wallace's Record. He lived to the age of twenty-two, and was in use at "Rock Rest" farm until a year before his death. Many of his get are still in existence and much prized by their owners.

Later Mr. Barker gave his attention to improved dairy cattle and also became a raiser of Poland China hogs from breeding. From Rust Brothers of Greenfield, near Milwaukee, he bought a two-year old Holstein bull which was the head of his herd from three years, but which later, even after dehorning, proved so vicious, imperiling the lives of his keepers, that he was killed. This tragic end, however, did not come to the strenuous animal till after he had performed valuable service in introducing the Holstein strain in Cerro Gordo county, which previously had been given over almost exclusively to Shorthorns. On one of his visits to the Wisconsin State Fair, Mr. Barker bought from Weight & Sons, of Whitewater, a pig of the Tecumseh breed which had carried off the first prize at the fair offered for the best male pig over six months old. It was the first of its breed every shipped west of the Mississippi river, but for some reason failed to please Mr. Barker, who sold it to a neighbor. In the hands of the latter it proved very profitable, "building a barn and raising a mortgage." While engaged in his stock improvement enterprises, Mr. barker attended to the daily delivery of the products of his dairy farm to a creamery at Portland. After nineteen years of assiduous labor on his farm, having no children to assist him in his work, and having by his own and his wife's economy acquired sufficient means to justify him in dispensing with the drudgery essential to successful farming, he concluded to re-arrange his mode of life. In 1893 he had built a house and barn at the corner of Eleventh street and Adams avenue, Mason City. In 1897 he moved to Mason City, occupying the house. In 1901 he purchased the beautiful residence, 322 West Eleventh street, where he now resides.

There are people unacquainted with the life of the farmer as exemplified by progressive Americans, who suppose that those committed to it are shut out from the elegancies and amenities of existence. Many instances might be adduced to demonstrate the error of this assumption. Mr. Barker's home at "Rock Rest" was tastefully and artistically furnished, containing pictures and books, and in it from time to time he hospitably entertained ; among his guests who heartily appreciated the practical significance of the work which he was accomplishing for the improvement of agriculture being his brother-in-law, the late William E. Cramer of Milwaukee, the veteran editor of The Evening Wisconsin, who himself had been early impressed the importance of progressive farming while a boy at Waterford, New York. Notwithstanding his devotion to his vocation while at "Rock Rest," Mr. barker found time for avocations of a public character, and served two terms as one of the trustees of Portland township. He has also served as under-sheriff of Cerro Gordo county. In politics he is a Republican. In fraternal association, he is identified with the Modern Brotherhood of America, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Court of Honor.


Of that English stock which forms a large, useful and important element in the citizenship of Cerro Gordo county is Ellis Barlow, an agriculturist who has lived in the county since the spring of 1878 and who now resides on a twelve-acre property in the south part of the town of Clear Lake.  He was born in Lancashire, England, October 4, 1848, and is the son of James and Elizabeth (Morrough) Barlow, who came to America in the spring of 1849 and located on a farm in Dane county, Wisconsin, about twelve miles from Madison.  The father entered land and resided upon it up to the time of his death, in 1908, at the age of eighty-six years.  The mother died some forty-four years previously.  The family was Episcopalian in denomination.

Ellis Barlow was the only child of his parents.  He was reared and educated in Dane county, Wisconsin , and received his training as a farmer from his father and in the school of actual experience.  When he began to think of starting out in life independently he choose [sic] Cerro Gordo county for his location and although he began with practically nothing but his two hands and much enthusiasm he has been very successful.. In the year of his arrival he located on a farm of eighty acres, to which he later added one hundred and sixty acres, and this farm of two hundred and forty acres in Cerro Gordo county he improved and still owns.  This he operated until about six years ago, when he bought his present home in Clear Lake .  He owned at one time four hundred and eighty acres.

On October 30, 1887 , Mr. Barlow was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Gorst, a native of Dane county, Wisconsin , born August 10, 1846 .  Her parents were English and she accompanied them to this county in 1878. The birth of eight children has blessed this union (six of whom are living), as follows : William, (deceased) born in Wisconsin ; James, born in Wisconsin and residing on his father's farm ; Cora, now Mrs. George Raw, of Clear Lake ; Thomas, a farmer in this county ; Ida, now Mrs. Fred Best, of Mt. Vernon township ; Edwin, deceased ; Ella, now Mrs. George Best, residing on a farm in the locality ; and Eva, now Mrs. J. E. Seisinger, of Mason City.

Mrs. Barlow was a daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann (Appleton) Gorst, residents of Liverpool, England, who came to America in April, 1846, and located on a farm in Dane county, Wisconsin.  The father died January 14, 1886 , at the age of sixty-seven years and the mother, March 16, 1907 , at the age of eighty-eight years.

They were the parents of the following children : Martha, (deceased) ; Mary, now Mrs. Young of Minnesota ; Elizabeth, (deceased) ; Fannie, now Mrs. Bonner of Clear Lake ; Robert, living in Wisconsin ; Thomas, living in Reedsburg, Wisconsin ; Helen, (Mrs. Walters), living on the old homestead ; Martha (Mrs. Brown), of Areno, Wisconsin ; and James, of Areno, Wisconsin.

Mr. Barlow is a man who takes an interest in local matters and he has served in various township offices.  He has been successful in his operations and he is a self-made man.


Byron Bate, a pioneer grocer and senior member of the Bate & Vroom Company, Mason City , Iowa , has been a prominent factor in the business activities of this place for more than thirty years.

Mr. Bate was born in Northumberland county, Ontario , Canada , January 2, 1848 , son James and Clarasia (Marsh) Bate.  James Bate, a native of Devonshire , England , came to Canada when sixteen years of age, and there passed his life as a farmer.  He died in the fall of 1907, at the age of eighty-eight years.  The mother, a native of Canada , died that same fall, her age at death being eighty-three.  They were the parents of three children, only one of whom, the subject of this sketch, is living.

On his father's farm Byron Bate in his youth became familiar with every detail of farm work, including grubbing, and he attended school only until he was sixteen.  He continued work on the farm until the fall of 1871, when he came to Mason City , Iowa .  That was just previous to the memorable Chicago fire.   His mother was in Chicago at the time on a visit.  He hastened to the burning city and took his mother home.  Then he returned to Mason City and for two years was employed as clerk there by D. J. Purdy.  In the meantime he made several trips home, and on Christmas day, 1876, while in Canada , married Miss Lovina Morse, like himself a native of Canada , she having been born in Elgin county, Ontario , December 25, 1856 .  In order to induce him to remain at home his father deeded the young man half the farm.  He remained two years, but he could not convince himself that he was ever intended for a farmer, and at the end of the two years he gladly released his interest, turning it back to his father and again came to Iowa .  That was in the autumn of 1878. He clerked for D. J. Purdy two years, and then was engaged in the grocery business for himself in Spencer , Iowa , for three years. Returning then to Mason City , he formed a partnership with his former employer, but after four years sold and he and Mr. Ray purchased Mr. Parker's interest in the firm of Parker & Vroom. Mr. Bate has since been connected with the firm. Business was conducted under the firm name of Bate, Vroom & Ray, but after three years Mr. Ray sold to the other two, and the business was continued under the style of Bate & Vroom until four years ago, when they took in another partner and changed the name of Bate, Vroom & Company.  Mr. Bate began life with no capital and with practically little education, but has been able to meet the problems and obstacles that have presented themselves and has won his way to a comfortable success.  He and his wife are the parents of five daughters, Nellie, Alice, Clara, Lois and Gladys, the three eldest having finished their education at Cornell College .

Politically Mr. Bate is a stanch Republican.  He is a member of the I. O. O. F., and both he and his wife are identified as members with the Methodist Episcopal church.


A man of excellent business capacity, industrious and enterprising, William G. Bell is successfully engaged in the prosecution of a calling upon which the wealth and prosperity of our nation so largely depends, and upon which each succeeding year much more study and money is expended. A native of Cerro Gordo county, he was born September 21, 1884 , in Portland township, on the farm where he is now living, a son of the late Malcolm G. Bell, Sr.

A son of Ronald Bell, who is now living at the advanced age of eighty-seven years, Malcolm G. Bell, Sr., was born in Canada .  At the age of eight years he came with his parents to the States, and for six or more years lived in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin .  Coming then to Iowa , his father rented land in Owen township, which was the family home for a number of years. On attaining his majority, Malcolm G. Bell, Sr., began farming in Owen township, from there coming in 1882 to Portland township.  Buying a tract of land, he labored hard to place it under cultivation, in addition to tilling the soil feeding and raising a fine grade of cattle.  He became exceedingly successful in his operations, adding to his original purchase until he had a magnificent farm of four hundred and forty acres, on which he had erected substantial farm building and made other improvements of great value.  Here he resided, an honored, contented and respected citizen, until his death, in August, 1904, when but forty-eight years of age.  He was active and prominent in public affairs, holding various local offices and being ever a promoter of beneficial enterprises.

Malcolm G. Bell, Sr., married, in Cerro Gordo county, Mary A. Carrott, a daughter of William Carrott, a pioneer farmer and stock raiser and a man of prominence.  Five children were born of their union, namely : Mrs. Mabel Brahm, of Mason City ; Mrs. Lulu Tourtellot, of Owen township ; William G., of this review ; Malcolm G. Jr., a farmer and stockman in Portland township, married Gertrude O'Harrow, of Owen township, and Myrle, living with her widowed mother in Mason City.

William G. Bell received his rudimentary education in the rural schools of his native district, afterward taking a business course of two years.  Choosing the occupation to which he was reared, he is successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits on the home farm, which is one of the most valuable and desirable pieces of property in the township, being finely improved and readily yielding to cultivation.

Mr. Bell married in January, 1908, Litta L. Huntley, a former teacher in the Mason City schools, and they have one child, Alden H. Bell, born in September, 1909.  Politically Mr. Bell is a Republican.  Mr. and Mrs. Bell are members of the Christian Science church.


S. N. Bertelsen has the distinction of having been one of the first five Danish settlers in this part of the state.  He is a progressive agriculturist and stock raiser and has made his way by his own unaided efforts, his father having died when he was only five years old, which necessitated his being put out to work at the early age of eight years.  Mr. Bertelsen was born in Denmark , Schleswig province, November 7, 1854 , his parents beings Nicoli and Cecelia (Christiansen) Bertelsen, both of whom lived out their lives in their native country.  The father was a laboring man and served in the war of 1812.  His death left the mother with a young family of four children.  Christopher lives in Eugene, Oregon, and is in the dairy business, a fine herd of Jersey cattle being in his possession. The two sisters are married and live in Germany .

Mr. Bertelsen came to Cerro Gordo county in 1878 and located in the southern part, on one of the farms of John T. Richards.  In the course of two years he went to Swaledale, where for five years he rented a farm and engaged in its operation.  In 1885 he bought one hundred and sixty acres of his present homestead, later adding eighty acres to this tract.  The land was then raw prairie and Mr. Bertelsen bought the original one hundred and sixty acres from Eastern parties for nine dollars and fifty cents per acre.  He paid fifteen dollars per acre for the remainder.  Although he had practically no capital to begin with he now owns and operates two hundred and forty acres of finely improved land in sections 30 and 31, in Pleasant Valley township.

Mr. Bertelsen was married December 1, 1884 , to Miss Matilda Raun, who was born in Denmark and came to America in 1882.  Their union has been blessed by the birth of nine children, eight of whom are living.  They are : Mary, wife of Christ Utzen, residing in Grimes township ; Lena, a dressmaker by profession ; Christine ; Cecelia ; Hans ; Bolitda ; Edward, and Nicholas.  All but Cecelia are at home.  The second child, a daughter died of diphtheria in infancy.  Mr. Bertelsen gives his support to the Republican party and he and his family are members of the Lutheran church.  He has made his home in the land of the stars and stripes since 1872, and spent his first six years in Jackson county, Iowa, working on farms.  It was at that time that he learned to speak German and English.  He received a good common school education in his native land.


Noteworthy among the more thriving and progressive agriculturists of Cerro Gordo county is John Bishop, who is here extensively engaged in general farming and stock raising, his estate of three hundred and fifty-four acres lying in sections, eleven, thirteen and fourteen, of Portland township.  A portion of his estate is in the west half of the southeast quarter of section eleven ; a part in the west half of the northeast quarter of section thirteen; while the home place is in the north half of the northeast quarter of section fourteen.

A son of Joseph Bishop, he was born, October 13, 1842 , in Stark county, Ohio , of English ancestry.  Joseph Bishop was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania , and his father came to this country from England .  Joseph Bishop learned the trades of a cooper and mason, and these he followed, according to the season, in Pennsylvania until after his marriage.  Moving then to Stark county, Ohio , he secured forty acres of land, and in addition to improving a good farm worked at his trades during the remainder of his active life, continuing his residence in Ohio until his death, in 1881, at the age of eighty-two years.  He was a man of influence in the community, successful in business, and a member of the Lutheran church.  His wife, who maiden name was Elizabeth Weaver, died in 1845, at the early age of thirty-nine years, and he never married again.  Of their eleven children, seven grew to years of maturity and two are living, one son, Joseph, being a resident of Akron , Ohio ; and John.

Brought up on the farm in Stark county, Ohio , John Bishop received but limited educational advantages, although he was well drilled in the various branches of agriculture.  During the civil war he served nine months in Company I, Seventy-Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, taking part in many engagements of importance.  Migrating to Illinois in 1865, he was for sometime employed as a farm laborer in Plainfield , Will county.  Industrious and thrifty, he accumulated some money and on March 23, 1870 , accompanied by Mr. M. E. Bitterman, he arrived in Cerro Gordo county, and has since been actively and successfully engaged in farming and stock raising, making a specialty of raising a fine grade of Short-Horn cattle and Poland China hogs.

Mr. Bishop married, in 1872, Lucinda Spotts, who was born in Summitt county, Ohio , and came to Cerro Gordo county in November, 1871.  Eleven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, namely : Nathaniel J., who served as a member of Company D., Seventh California Volunteer Infantry, in the Spanish war, is a farmer in Washington, on the Puget Sound, and is married has two children ; Frank, engaged in farming near Mabton, Klickitat county, Washington, is married, and has a son and a daughter ; Alice, who married Hiram L. Weaver, died in Summitt county, Ohio, in February, 1905, leaving two children, Irving and Grace, who Mr. and Mrs. Bishop kindly cared for five years ; Ed, is a very successful wheat grower in Lincoln county, Washington ; Mary, wife of K. L. Daily, of Chicago, Illinois, has three children ; Laura, is living at home ; Arthur, is engaged in farming in Klickitat county, Washington ; Lloyd, is at Roundtop, Montana, a rancher; Jay, Glenn and Blaine at home.

Politically Mr. Bishop has ever been a true supporter of the principles of the Republican party, and has been influential in local affairs.  Mrs. Bishop is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.  She is a woman of ability, and has well assisted her husband in all the cares and burdens of life, proving herself a true helpmate.


Manies E. Bitterman, a prominent farmer of Portland township, Cerro Gordo county, takes an active interest in public affairs and has held several local offices[.]  Mr. Bitterman was born in Canton , Ohio , August 27, 1843 , son of Frederick and Margaret (Bair) Bitterman.  The father was born in Lancaster , Pennsylvania , in 1820, and at the time of his death, in 1847, was a school teacher in Canton , Ohio .  Mrs. Bitterman was born in Stark county, Ohio , in 1824, and died in 1903.  They had but two children, of whom Manies is the only one surviving.  After Mr. Bitterman's death his widow married Samuel Spotts, by whom she had three children : namely Abraham, of Portland township ; Mary, wife of Levi Hendrickson, of Santa Anna , California ; and Samuel, of Kansas City , Missouri .  Mr. Spotts now lives in Pasadena , California .  He was born in Stark county, Ohio , in September, 1822.  The Spotts family moved from Ohio to Will county, Illinois , in the sixties, and in the spring of 1872 located in section 15, Portland township, Cerro Gordo county, on wild land.

When he was but four years of age, Manies Bitterman lost his father, and when he was but twelve years old he had to begin to work for his living. He worked at anything he could find until 1861 ; when he moved to Lockport , Illinois , remaining in that vicinity for some years.  During the war he bought and shipped hay and became successful in this business.  In 1867 he engaged in farming near Plainfield, Illinois, and continued there until March, 1870, when he located on eighty acres of land in section 11, Portland township, part of his present farm, having purchased this land some fifteen years prior. He erected building and began to make improvements, adding to his possessions from time to time and becoming very successful.  All the improvements have been made by him, even to setting out the trees, and at one time he owned two hundred and eighty acres.  At present he has two hundred acres, in the homestead and eighty acres in section 13, this township, all under cultivation, and which for the last ten years his youngest son has operated.  He has always paid special attention to stock raising and feeding.  He has always shown good judgment in the conduct of his affairs and has paid close attention to every detail of his work.

In February, 1865, Mr. Bitterman married, at Lockport, Illinois, Sarah Hintzlman, who was born in Center county, Pennsylvania, in November, 1843, and they became the parents of six children, namely : Calvin, of Portland township ; Edward, also of Portland township ; Jennie, wife of William Allen, of Mason City ; Trullie, wife of J. Shulta ; Mary, wife of Milton Forbes, of North Platte, Nebraska ; and Clinton, operating the home farm.

For the past thirty-eight years Mr. Bitterman has served as township treasurer, and has been township trustee eighteen years.  He served one year as assessor and has also been school director and road superintendent.  Mr. Bitterman is highly esteemed in the vicinity of his home and his fellow citizens have delighted to show him honor.  He served in 1892-94 as a member of the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies of Iowa.  He has always been a strong supporter of the Republican party and prominent in party councils.  He is a member of the M. W. A. of Nora Springs ,  Mr. Bitterman is wholly a self-made man, for he started out when a boy without any means and has risen to a place of influence by his unaided efforts.

Valentine Blien

Among the successful [merchants] in Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, is Valentine Blien, who carries a good stock of general merchandise in his establishment at Rock Falls. Mr. Blien was born in New York city July 1, 1858, son of John and Clara (Claus) Blien, both natives of Germany, the father born, October 28, 1831, died January 3, 1903, and the mother born August 8, 1837, is yet living. They were the parents of twelve children, of whom five survive, namely : Valentine ; Elizabeth, widow of William Roebuck, living with her brother Valentine ; John, of Plymouth, Iowa ; Caroline, wife of Fred Lippert, of Mason City ; and Leonard, of Rock Falls. The father of this family was a shoemaker and followed his trade in Germany. He came to the United State[s] about 1856, having barely his passage money, and he spent forty-five days on the ocean voyage. He worked at his trade in New York city until 1867, then located at Plymouth, Iowa, where he followed his trade one year, then followed the same occupation at Rock Falls until 1880, when he established a general merchandise store, which he conducted until he sold out to his sons.

At the time the family located at Rock Falls, Iowa, Valentine Blien was but a child. He grew up there and received his education in the district schools. He remained at home until he was twenty-two years of age, then began working at the trade of plasterer. In 1873 he moved to Mason City and followed his trade until 1885, then bought his father's business at Rock Falls. In 1895 he took his brother L. C., into partnership and in 1905 they took in another brother, John, establishing the store at Plymouth, and of which John has charge. The Rock Falls store carries a stock of general merchandise valued at six thousand dollars and the one at Plymouth has a stock worth six thousand dollars. Valentine and L. C. Blien together owned three hundred and twenty acres of land in Falls township, and the two, Valentine and L. C., own six hundred and forty acres is Oliver county, North Dakota.

On June 1, 1887, Mr. Blien married Hattie Kidder, a native of Pennsylvania, who died in 1888. He married in 1891 Anna Kirk, a native of Virginia. They have no children. Mr. and Mrs. Blien are members of the Lutheran church. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity, being affiliated with Benevolence Lodge, No. 145, A.F. and A. M.; Benevolence Chapter, No. 46, R. A. M.; and Antioch Commandery, No. 43, Knights Templars, of Mason City. He is also a member of the K. of P., of Mason City, and of the M. W. A., No. 5064, of Rock Falls. He is a popular and public spirited citizen of Rock Falls and is highly esteemed by his fellows. For the past thirteen years he has served as postmaster of Rock Falls. He and his brothers are industrious and ambitious and have displayed good judgment in the conduct of their affairs.


The subject of this sketch is a fine type of the sturdy German-American farmer.  Without financial backing, unacquainted with the language of the country, he landed here when a young man, and by his own hard work and perseverance made a home, earned a competency, and gained a place among the representative citizens of the community.  Mr. Bohn has three hundred and twenty acres of fine land in Grant township, Cerro Gordo county, Iowa , where he has resided since the early ‘70s.

He was born in Prussia , Germany , October 26, 1839 , son of Christopher and Christena (Marks) Bohn, and the only one now living of their family of three children. He was reared on a farm in his native country and received a common school education in his native tongue.  Ambitious to see something of the world and better his condition, he decided to try his fortune in America , and on April 27, 1864 , landed in New York city , with only fifteen dollars in his pocket.  He spent some time at farm work in Minnesota , Wisconsin , and McHenry county, Illinois , beginning with wages at sixteen dollars a month.  In 1866 he came to Iowa and worked north out of Cedar Rapids , on the B. C. R. & N. Railroad.  In 1869, employed on the Milwaukee road, he followed it to Mason City , Iowa , which point was reached in the fall of that year.  The following year his parents joined him here.  His father purchased one hundred and twenty acres in section 19, thirty acres of which had been broken and planted, and there was a log house on the place.  For this farm he paid thirteen dollars and fifty cents an acre, including the crop.  Here the parents passed the rest of their lives, and died, the father dying at the age of eighty-two years, the mother at sixty-nine. When the farm was divided, William came into possession of eighty acres of it, to which he subsequently added until he now has three hundred and twenty acres.  A snowball bush in his front yard is the only thing now growing here that had been planted before he came.  All the other plantings and improvements on the place have been made by him, and, with the assistance of his sons, he continues to operate the farm.

In 1873, Mr. Bohn married Miss Augusta Bohn, like himself a native of Germany .  She died in 1900, at the age of forty-eight years.  Of the seven children born to them, we record that Clara, the eldest, is the wife of Albert Roenfanz, of Hancock county, Iowa ; Helen wife of Albert Jass, also lives in Hancock county ; Julius is a resident of Grant township, Cerro Gordo county, and Edward, Emma, Bertha, and Herman are at home.  The family are members of the German Lutheran church.


There is all of consistency in designating Mr. Brett as one of the most progressive and public spirited citizens of Cerro Gordo county, where he is associated with his father in the ownership of the largest landed estate in the county and where he has had the active management of the same for many years. He also makes a specialty of the real estate and loan business and maintains his offices in the old postoffice building in Mason City . He has been actively identified with the promotion of many enterprises that have admirably conserved the industrial and civic development of upbuilding of the county, and no citizen commands a fuller measure of popular confidence and esteem in the community. He has served as mayor of Mason City and has at all times given his influence and co-operation in the promotion of measures projected for the general welfare of his home city and county.

Mr. Brett is a native of Boone county, Illinois , where he born on the 13th of October, 1849 , and he is a son of William and Ellen (Brett) Brett, both of whom were born and reared in England , where their marriage was solemnized.

The parents came to the United States in 1843 and number themselves among the pioneer settlers of Boone county, Illinois, where the father secured a tract of government land and instituted the development of a farm,--the old homestead on which George W. Brett was born. In 1866, William Brett came with his family to Iowa and settle at Waverly, Bremer county, in which locality he made investments in land, which with the passing years greatly increased in value. He bought and sold much land in various sections of the state and he is today one of the most extensive land holders in northern Iowa . In the '70s he purchased large tracts of land in Cerro Gordo county, and under the direction of his son, George W., who assumed the supervision of the estate in 1878, these properties have been splendidly improved and now constitute the largest landed estate in the county, the father and the son each being large land owners in the county. Of the three children the subject of this review and one brother, Albert, are the only children of William and Ellen Brett now living, the one daughter having died in 1904.

William Brett established his residence in Mason City about the 1888, and here he continued to pass the summers for a number of years, sojourning for the winter seasons in California . In 1904 he established his permanent home in Los Angeles , that state, where he is the owner of a considerable amount of valuable property. Though now (1910) eighty-eight years of age, he is well preserved in both his mental and physical powers, as is also his cherished and devoted wife, who has attained to the age of eighty-four years. William Brett has been a man of great business capacity and in his extensive operations his course has ever been guided and governed by the highest principles of integrity and honor, so that he has not been denied the uniform confidence and regard of those with whom he has come in contract [sic] in the various relations of life. He is the owner of real estate in Michigan , Wisconsin , Minnesota and North and South Dakota , as well as in Iowa and California , and he has long been recognized as a substantial capitalist. His political allegiance has been given to the Republican party from the time of its organization to the present and both he and his wife have long been zealous members of the Congregational church.

George W. Brett passed his boyhood days on the old homestead farm which was the place of his nativity, and after availing himself of the advantages of the district schools of Boone county, Illinois , he continued his studies in the high school at Belvidere , that state. He accompanied his parents on their removal to Bremer county, Iowa , in 1866, and here he completed a preparatory course under private instruction with the intention of entering college. However, he finally decided that it would be more expedient to discontinue higher academic studies, and under these conditions he went to the city of Chicago , where he completed a course in the Bryant & Stratton Business College , thus admirably fitting himself for the active duties and responsibilities of his exceptionally successful business career. After his return to Iowa he became associated with Lewis Case in the opening of a carefully prepared set of abstract books of Bremer county, and he there continued in the abstract business for the ensuing four years at the expiration of which, 1878, he disposed of his interest in the enterprise and came to Mason City, where he assumed the active supervision of his father's real estate and general business interests, which he has continued to manage during the long intervening years. He has thus been most prominently identified with the development of the agricultural resources of this section, and has purchased and sold large amounts of land. When he assumed control of the estate it comprised about four thousand acres, and at the present time the joint holdings of himself and his father in northern Iowa aggregate thousands of acres, the greater part of the property being well improved and under effective cultivation. As has already been noted the Brett landed estate is the largest in Cerro Gordo county, and its development and great appreciation in value have been admirably conserved under the able administration of him whose name initiate this article.

Mr. Brett was one of the organizers of the Iowa State Bank of Mason City and was its first president. He has since disposed of his interests in this institution. His father, William Brett, is one of the principal stockholders of the First National Bank. George W. Brett has given tangible aid also in the fostering and upbuilding of a number of manufacturing and business enterprises in Mason City, and his loyalty and public spirit have been of the most insistent and beneficent order. In politics he is found arrayed under the banner of the Republican party, and he served from 1902 to 1906, inclusive, as mayor of Mason City, giving a most effective administration and one that did much to advance the best interests of the city. He had previously served two terms as a member of the city council. He is affiliated with the local organizations of the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Mrs. Brett holds membership in the Pythian Sisters and in the Christian Science church. She is a prominent and popular factor in the social activities of the community and presides most graciously over the attractive home, which is a center of generous hospitality.

In the year, 1872 [changed to 1874] at Brandon, Wisconsin, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Brett to Miss Alice A. Sheldon, who was born and reared in Syracuse, New York, and who is a daughter of the late Ezra Sheldon, who died in early life on the old homestead, leaving a good wife and four children to mourn his loss. Mr. and Mrs. Brett have two children,--Bert H., who is associated with his father in the latter's varied business operations, and Harriet M., who is the wife of Frank L. Michael, of Mason City.


There can be naught of inconsistency in referring to Mr. Brice as one of the most progressive and liberal business men of Cerro Gordo county and he has been most prominently identified with the promotion of public utilities that have greatly tended to conserve the advancement of the state of Iowa, where his interests are now of broad scope and importance. He is one of the popular and influential citizens of Mason City and is especially entitled to consideration in this publication.

William E. Brice was born at Rochelle, Ogle county, Illinois on the 26th of July, 1861 . His father, James Brice, was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania , where he was reared to maturity and whence he removed to Illinois when a young man. He established himself in the mercantile business at Rochelle, that state, where continued to reside until 1865, when he removed his family to Iowa and located at Tama. There he built up a prosperous mercantile business, which he continued until his death in 1888, at the age of forth-nine years. His wife, who maiden name was Sarah Hill, was born at Waverly, Tioga county, New York , and she likewise passed the closing years of her life at Tama , Iowa , where she died when about forty-nine years of age.

William E. Brice was about four years of age at the time of the family removal to Iowa and he is indebted to the public schools of Tama for his early educational disciple, which was supplemented by a course in Cornell College , at Mount Vernon , Iowa . When eighteen years of age he became associated with his father's mercantile business, which he individually conducted after the death of his father until 1896, when he disposed of the stock and business. He became one of the projectors and stockholders of the Tama & Toledo Electric Railway and Light Company and he is still vice president of the company operation the same. The line of this road extends between Toledo and Tama and is about two and one-half miles in length. It is in successful operation and provides facilities and accommodations that are of great value. After disposing of his mercantile establishment in Tama in 1896 Mr. Brice came to Mason City and in the same year he secured franchises for and projected the construction of the electric interurban line between Mason City and Clear Lake and the street car line in Mason City , a distance of eighteen and a half miles. The line was completed on the 3rd of July, 1897 , and is one of the best interurban roads in the state. Mr. Brice is virtually the entire owner of the line. In August, 1898, he organized the Iowa & Minnesota Northwestern Railway Company and he assumed the practical management of making its survey, securing the right of way and constructing its line from Belle Plaine, Iowa, to Fox Lake, Minnesota, a distance of one hundred and ninety-nine miles. In 1899 he sold the line to the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company, though he continued as president of the original company until the road was completed and became a part of the great Chicago & Northwestern system. He and his associates retain twenty-two townsites along the line of this road and these properties they have effectively developed under the corporate title of the Iowa & Minnesota Town Site Company. Of this corporation Mr. Brice is president. He also platted and has developed what is known as the street railway addition to Mason City , the same comprising a tract of one hundred and fifty acres and having been platted into five of these attractive lots. Mr. Brice is also a director and the principal stockholder in the Iowa State Bank of Mason City and is a stockholder in twelve other banking institutions. In 1900 he effected the purchase of the gas, electric light and heating plant in Mason City and in 1904 this was entirely rebuilt, being brought up to the best modern standard and thus furnishing most effectively gas and electric service for light, power and heat, the plant being adequate to meet the demands placed upon it for many years to come. The power plant of the electric railway owned by Mr. Brice was enlarged and modernized in 1910 and its machinery, rolling stock and all incidental equipments are of the best type. In view of the brief statements already incorporated it may be well understood that Mr. Brice is a valuable man to have in any community and his enterprising and progressive activities have not lacked for popular appreciation, giving his prestige as one of the leading business men of this section of the state. He is a citizen well worthy of the confidence and esteem in which he is held. Though he has never had any desire to enter the arena of practical politics he accords a staunch allegiance to the Republican party and he is affiliated with the Mason City Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On the 22nd of June, 1884 , Mr. Brice was united in marriage to Miss Minnie H. Tallon, who was born and reared at Montrose, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania , and she is a popular factor in connection with the leading social activities of Mason City , being a woman of much charm and most gracious personality.


Daniel Brink, a well known farmer of Pleasant Valley township, was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania , in 1850. His parents were William and Leah (Poust) Brink, both natives of Pennsylvania , where the maternal grandfather had also been born.  The paternal grandfather was a native of Delaware .  Mr. Brink's father was a farmer and lived all his life in his native state, his demise occurring in 1906, when he was about eighty-six years of age.  The mother died in 1880, aged about fifty-seven years.  There are two sister also, both of them making their home in Pennsylvania .

Daniel Brink received his education in the public schools of Pennsylvania , and upon his father's farm gained much practical experience in the various departments of agriculture.  His first independent venture at farming was in Pennsylvania , and he afterward removed to DeKalb county, Illinois , locating near Genoa , where he purchased land.  He was fortunate enough to sell it at an advance and invested in his present farm in Pleasant Valley township in the year 1894.  He owns one hundred and sixty acres of well improved land, and the house occupied by him he rebuilt after coming here.  Mr. Brink is interested in the trend of public events and gives his political allegiance to the Democratic party.  He holds membership in the Modern Woodmen of America and his wife was a member of the Baptist church.

Mr. Brink was married in Pennsylvania in 1880 to Miss Mora Parks, a native of Pennsylvania .  Her parents were of the agricultural class and were old residents of the state.  Several brothers are now living in Iowa .  Mrs. Brink died in 1895, at the age of thirty-seven years, leaving six children, namely ; Frank, of Sioux City, chief clerk in the engineering department of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway ; Charles, of Pierre, South Dakota, fireman on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway ; Jasper, at home ; Della, wife of Theodore Eddy, residing in Mt. Vernon township, this county ; Ira, living in California and in the employ of the Diamond Match Company ; and Mary, at home. Mr. Brinks's postoffice is Swaledale, R. F. D. No. 1.

Henry Brodrick

For nearly three decades Henry Brodrick has been identified with the farming interests of Falls township, Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, he having landed here in March, 1883. As a young man he started out in life here wife practically no capital, but he was energetic and persevering, and in 1894 he purchased his present farm. All the improvements on this place were made by him.

Mr. Brodrick was born near Fairstock, province of Ontario, Canada, January 4, 1861, son of Henry and Margaret (Gearhart) Brodrick, natives of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany, who came to the continent in early life and were married in Canada. In 1885, they followed their son to Iowa, and settled in Falls township, Cerro Gordo county. Here the mother died April 7, 1887, at the age of about fifty-six years. The father died in the fall of 1908, at the age of eighty-nine years. He was a farmer and stock raiser all his life. Of his family one son, Jacob R., and six daughters are still residents of Canada, and besides Henry two other members of the family came to Iowa-Mrs. Mary Schurtz, of Falls township, and Mrs. Maggie Numirler, of Forest City. Henry was the first of the family to come to Iowa with the exception of an uncle, Henry Brodrick, now deceased, who made settlement here among the early pioneers.

Henry Brodrick, the direct subject of this sketch, married in Falls township, January 4, 1885, Miss Nettie Gildner, who was born in the county, in June, 1868, daughter of Conrad Gildner, personal mention of whom appears on another page of this work. Mr. and Mrs. Brodrick have three daughters : Clara M., born August 23, 1889 ; Pearl M., March 14, 1892, and Lilla M., July 23, 1898.

Mr. Brodrick was reared in the Lutheran church, and naturally gives it his preference, though he is not a member of any church. Socially he affiliates with M. W. A. of Rock Falls, and politically he usually gives the Democratic party the benefit of his vote. His postoffice address is Rock Falls, Iowa.


It would be difficult to think of any citizen in the locality whose loss would be more severely felt and more sincerely regretted than that of James H. Brown, whose death occurred April 5, 1910, at his home in Bath township, one mile north of Rockwell, following a one week's illness with pneumonia and heart trouble.  He was a man of varied ability ; a stock-raiser and agriculturist of the most scientific and advanced methods ; a man of marked political influence ; and associated in some high capacity with most of the important organizations of town and county, as well as state.  He valued the interests of the whole community above those of the individual, giving most generously of time and energy to the public service, and he is mourned by hosts of friends.  Truly, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

James H. Brown was born in Boone county, Illinois , July 9, 1855 , his parents being David and Agness (Hamilton) Brown.  He was of Scotch descent and as one of his biographers adds, “Of Scotch thrift and of Scotch integrity.”  Soon after the attainment of his majority he went to Winnebago county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming and from there removed to Bath township, Cerro Gordo county, where he ever afterward made his home.  He had all of the secrets of successful farming at his finger tips and at the time of his death was the owner of five hundred acres, all highly improved and highly productive.  He was associated with numerous enterprises, being at the time of his death chairman of the board of supervisors of Cerro Gordo county ; president of the Farmers' Cooperative Brick & Tile Company at Mason City ; president of the Rockwell Farmers' Cooperative Society ; president of the Rockwell Farmers' Telephone Company ; president of the State Farmers' Cooperative Grain Dealers Association ; president of the Cerro Gordo Mutual Insurance Association ; and director of the Farmers' State Bank of Rockwell. For twelve years he was president of the Rockwell Farmers' Cooperative Society and assisted in the organization of the state association ; was president of the Farmers' State Cooperative Mutual Elevator Insurance Company, and was a director and stockholder in the Peoples' State Bank of Mason City .

Mr. Brown was united in marriage to Miss Janet McMillan, their union being celebrated at Mason City , Iowa , April 18, 1884 . Besides his widow he is survived by one son and four daughters, by name, Howard, Maud, Agnes, Eppie, and Merval, at home.  He is also survived by his aged mother, Mrs. David Brown, by five brothers, John, William, Hugh, Edward, and Robert, and two sisters, Mrs. Charles Brown and Mrs. Robert Colville, all living at the home in Illinois .  He was an excellent husband and father, his home life being ideal.

Mr. Brown was a stanch and enthusiastic Republican and was eminently well fitted for the political field.  Six years ago he was nominated for supervisor without opposition, twice thereafter renominated and at the time of his death was chairman of the board.  The social and fraternal side of his nature was well developed and he took great enjoyment in his associations in this line,

The funeral of Mr. Brown was held in the Congregational church, Rev. L. D. Blanford conducting the services and preaching the sermon.  There were many magnificent floral offerings.  The county officials attended the funeral in a body, as did the officials of the Farmers' Society, the Brick & Tile Company and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the latter conducting the services at the grave.  Some of Rockwell's most prominent citizens acted as pall bearers.  As a mark of respect the business houses closed during the funeral hour.

To quote from the Rockwell Phonograph, which has given an adequate account of his life and services, “As on of the pioneers of Bath township James H. Brown has been identified with its history.  No man in Bath township has ever contributed more to it history and its upbuilding, has had a firmer hold upon the hearts of its people, or will be more sadly missed from all its councils than James H. Brown….In all the positions of trust and honor Mr. Brown's sole aim seemed to be to ‘make good' and hundreds of friends today mourn his untimely departure from the sphere of earthly activities.”

Mrs. Brown is a native of Boone county, Illinois , born April 5, 1860 , to Neil and Margarette (McArthur) McMillan, both natives of Scotland .  They came to America as young man and woman and married in the United States .  The mother died in Illinois when Mrs. Brown was young and the father came to Cerro Gordo county in 1879 with our subject where he was farming.  Here his death occurred, at sixty-eight years of age.  He was a Republican in politics.  Mrs. Brown was reared and educated in Boone county, and since her husband's death she has rented the most of her farm.


There are few among Cerro Gordo county's Civil war veterans who have had a more interesting military record, whose reminiscences of the days of the saving of the union are more thrilling and whose patriotism shines more brightly than Zenas C. Burdick, now living in retirement in Rockwell.  Mr. Burdick was born in Erie county, New York , December 17, 1836 .  His father, Harris C. Burdick, was born in New York , in 1811, and died in Grand Junction , Green county, Iowa , April 1, 1897 .  The mother, Sally Churchill Burdick, was born in 1810 in the Isle of Mott, Vermont , and died in Boone county, Iowa , four or five years previous to the death of her husband.  Two years after the birth of Zenas C. Burdick his parents moved to Dekalb county, Illinois , where the father practiced medicine. This state was the home of the family for many years, it being in the eighties that the father and mother came to Grand Junction , Iowa, the father's demise occurring in that place.

Mr. Burdick was educated in the common schools of Illinois and for two years after his marriage in 1860 made his livelihood by farming.  On August 12, 1862 , he enlisted in Company G, of the One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being mustered in as a sergeant September 6, 1862 .  Soon the regiment was sent to Memphis, Tennessee, and put in Sherman's Division, later becoming a part of the First Brigade, Second Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps.  It was Mr. Burdick's lot to see very active service and to be in some of the most decisive conflicts.  He took part in numerous engagements, such as Black Bayou, Mississippi, and Arkansas Post, Arkansas, (where more prisoners were captured than had been taken up to that time).  Sergeant Burdick was for a time detached from the regiment and put on special duty in the quartermaster's department at Young's Point, Louisiana.  On July 1, 1863, he rejoined the regiment, which was taking part in the siege of Vicksburg.  Subsequently the regiment was engaged in the Atlanta campaign and accompanied Sherman on his march to the sea.  It saw action at Fort McAllister, Georgia, and was later conveyed by boat from Savannah to Hatteras Inlet, South Carolina.  Then followed the battles of Pocotaligo, South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and Bentonville, North Carolina.  The regiment was sent from the latter town to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they were located at the time of the surrender of Lee.  It marched to Washington, D. C., and took part in the grand review, being mustered out in the national capitol, June 7, 1865, and paid off at Springfield, Illinois, being discharged on the 28th of the month.  The One Hundred and Sixteenth was engaged in a number of skirmishes and minor engagements not mentioned.

After the war Mr. Burdick returned to Dekalb, Illinois, and in 1872 he removed to Clinton, Iowa, where he worked in a saw mill for twelve or thirteen years.  His next place of residence was in Story county, Iowa , where he engaged in agriculture for a time. Returning to Clinton he made his residence in that place for the next four years and then came back to Story county, where the Story City branch of the Iowa Central Railway was being constructed to Zearing , Iowa .  He spent part of his time meanwhile working in Marshalltown , Iowa . He was assistant superintendent of the building of the Soldiers Home at Marshalltown , and had the honor of raising the first flag over that institution.  It was on Easter Sunday, 1900, that Mr. Burdick took up his residence in Rockwell, he having come to take charge of his daughter's farm for the summer. At the present time, on account of poor eyesight, he has practically retired from labor, although he devotes considerable attention to his garden and to the raising of chickens.

Mr. Burdick was married September 1, 1900 , to Mrs. Emma Dickson, widow of Robert H. Dickson, a native of Pennsylvania , who came to Cerro Gordo county in 1854 and in 1856 took up government land in Bath township.  Mrs. Burdick was born in Potter county, Pennsylvania , and in 1874 came to Iowa with her parents, Joseph and Phoebe (Loucks) Smith.  In the home state the father had been a miller, but followed farming after coming to Cerro Gordo county.  The father was born September 1, 1810 , and died February 7, 1890 , and the mother was born March 30, 1826 , and died January 19, 1909 , the demise of both taking place at Rockwell.  Mrs. Burdick is the mother of four children by her first marriage, and of those two are living, Benjamin B. Dickson of Waterloo , and Olive May Dickson who makes her home with her mother.  Mr. Burdick was previously married, November 11, 1860 , and of the ten children of this union four survive.  Cora Electa is the wife of Oscar Lundin, of Marshalltown, Iowa ; Harris E., is a resident of Chicago ; Leona May is the wife of Chauncey B. Gustafson of Rose Creek, Minnesota ; Zenas Elza lives in Dekalb, Illinois.

Zenas C. Burdick is a Republican and very active in politics.  In Story county he served for several years as justice of the peace.  He is an enthusiastic Grand Army man and has every reason to be proud of his military record.  He is at present commander of Atlanta Post, No. 389, at Rockwell. He is also affiliated with the I. O. O. F.  Mr. Burdick is a member of the Christian church and his wife of the Congregational.

Michael J. Burke  

Twenty-five acres of the present site of Cartersville was once owned by Michael J. Burke, a farmer and implement dealer residing in this town. This land which was once a portion of his farm was sold by him in 1901. Mr. Burke was born in Dane county, Wisconsin, November 27, 1862, and like so many of the citizens of this part of Cerro Gordo county is of Irish extraction. The father Michael Burke was born in county Mayo, Ireland, and died on Mr. Burke's farm in 1903, at the advance age of ninety years. The mother, Julia (Bannon) Burke, a native of county Galway, Ireland, died in 1890, at the age of sixty years. Michael Burke came to the United States when about twenty-four years of age and married in Massachusetts. In the early '40s he came to Wisconsin and located in Dane county, where he bought government land at a dollar a quarter an acre. He walked from a point eighteen miles east of Madison to Milwaukee, where the land office was situated, to enter his land. The land was desirable and very cheap and he walked all in one night, getting there ahead of the stage which carried a party also after land at that price. The land was covered with timber, undergrowth and tamarack swamp. He grubbed this out and cleared it and made a good farm out of it, which he operated until 1871, when he sold out and came to Cerro Gordo county.  

Here he purchased two hundred acres of wild land in section 3, Dougherty township, and erected thereupon a frame house, sixteen by twenty-four feet. This he farmed until the death of his wife in 1890, when he went to live at his son's home, and there lived until his demise. Michael Burke and his wife were the parents of eight children, four of whom are living. They are Patrick, of British Columbia; Mr. Burke, of this review; Kate, the wife of William Conner of Mason City, Iowa; and Julia, wife of James Preston [Treston] of Rockwell.  

Michael J. Burke received his education in the district school near his father's farm in Wisconsin, and remained under the home roof until his marriage in 1886. He then purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in section 33, Owen township, which he proceeded to improve. In 1901, as previously mentioned, twenty-five acres of this was platted and became a part of Cartersville. He still owns an excellent farm of one hundred and thirty-five acres. In 1905, on account of poor health and to educate his children he moved to Rockwell. In the spring of 1909 he returned to his farm and in November of that year he and his eldest son embarked in the implement and farm machinery business at Cartersville.  

Mr. Burke pays fealty to the Democratic party and gives an intelligent consideration to affairs of a public nature. He has served as road supervisor ; is a director of the Cartersville Supply Company ; and for a number of years was connected with the Farmer's Co-operative Society at Rockwell. He is a member of St. Lawrence Lodge, No. 644, Catholic Order of Foresters at Rockwell, and he and his family are members of the Sacred Heath Catholic church at Rockwell.  

In February, 1886, Mr. Burke laid the foundation of a home by his marriage to Miss Margaret O'Connor, born in Dubuque county, Iowa, in 1864. Six children have been born to them the following five of whom are living and at home: Martin u., Julia L., Edmund M., John A. and Luella M.


For a period of forty years has the honored subject of this review been connected with the business of the L. A. Page Lumber company, of Mason City , representing the most important enterprise of its kind in Cerro Gordo county. The business of the Wilson Lumber Company was purchased by L. A. Page about the year 1870, and from the initiation of the new regime to the present time Mr. Burnham has been connected with the enterprise. He is a skilled artisan as a carpenter and this fact has contributed materially to his success in his present position, as he is an able judge of the qualities and values of the various grades of lumber, with thorough knowledge of the quantity of stock required in connection with all kinds of building operations, so that he has been able to give to the many patrons of his company the most effective service. He has been a resident of Cerro Gordo county since 1867, and here followed the work of his trade until assumption of his present position. The L. A. Page Lumber Company has large and well equipped yards and warehouses and handles all kinds of lumber and builders' supplies with the exception of hardware.

Mr. Burnham finds satisfaction in adverting to the old Empire state of the Union as the place of his nativity, as well as to the fact that he is a member of one of the honored pioneer families of Iowa . The family lineage is traced back to stanch English stock and the name has been identified with the annals of American history from the pre-Revolutionary epoch. Mr. Burnham was born at Ticonderoga , New York , on the 24th of September, 1852 , and the house in which he “first op'ed wondering eyes” stood not far distant from the walls of historic old Fort Ticonderoga . He is a son of Rev. J. D. and Clara (Spink) Burnham, both of whom were likewise natives of the state of New York . The father was one of the pioneer clergymen of the Methodist Episcopal church in Iowa , and prior to coming to this state he had labored zealously as a circuit-rider in New York state, where his service was principally as a member of the Troy conference. In 1867 he came with his family to Iowa and here he continued in the active work of the Master, until the close of his life. He had pastoral charges at Clear Lake and other points in the state and was unremitting in his ministrations to the pioneers in the widely separated settlements. He died at Plymouth , Cerro Gordo county, in the late ‘80s, at the age of about sixty-six years, and his loved and devoted wife preceded him to eternal rest by about three years. At the time when Rev. J. D. Burnham came to Cerro Gordo county, the site of Mason City was practically unbroken prairie, and at one time he owned one hundred and sixty acres of land, all of which is included within the present city limits—property lying east of Main street and south of Fourth street and now very valuable. Rev. J. D. Burnham was a man of strong intellectuality and fervid zeal and consecration in his chosen work, and his name merits a place of prominence on the roll of the honored pioneers of the Hawkeye state. Of the six children only three are now living, Clarence H., who is the immediate subject of this sketch ; Mary E., who is the wife of Leroy A. Page and resides in Mason City ; and Anna A., who is the wife of John H. Wolfe, of Kimball, South Dakota.

Clarence H. Burnham gained his early educational discipline in the public schools of the state of New York and was about fifteen years of age at the time of the family removal to Iowa, where he continued to attend school for a time and where also he served his apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, to which he gave his attention until he became associated with his brother-in-law, Mr. Page, in the latter's lumber business, concerning which adequate mention is made in the opening paragraph of this article. Mr. Burnham has not hedged himself in with the affairs of business but has stood exponent of civic loyalty and public spirit. His political allegiance has ever been given to the Republican party and he is now representing the fourth ward as a member of the board of aldermen of Mason City , an office to which he was elected in the spring of 1909 for a term of two years. He and his wife are zealous members of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Mason City , in which he is incumbent of the office of steward and he is affiliated with the Mason City Lodge, No 224, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, with whose adjunct organization, Queen Lodge, Daughters of Rebekah, his wife is actively identified.

When about twenty-one years of age, Mr. Burnham married Miss Ida L. Colby, a native of Canada , where she was reared and her death occurred in Mason City , Iowa , at about thirty years of age. She left two children, LeRoy D., merchant at Portland , this county, and Harvey C., agent for the Great Western Railroad Company.

At Charles City, Iowa, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Burnham to Charlotte M. Berlin, who was born in New York city and who is a daughter of Christian L. and Sofia Berlin, who settled in Cerro Gordo county in the pioneer days. The father now resides at Rock Falls , but the mother died in 1909. Mr. Berlin was long numbered among the successful farmers of this county and is now living virtually retired, being still vigorous in mind and body, though he has passed the psalmist's span of three score years and ten. Mr. and Mrs. Burnham became the parents of one child Dwellie L., who graduated in the Mason City high school as a member of the class of 1910 and is now attending college at Ames , where he is taking up a course of civil engineering. He is one of the popular young men of his native city.


Rev. Father Lawrence H. Burns, pastor of the Church of the Sacred Heart and at the head of the Sacred Heart Academy, is a man of well-deserved consequence in the community, whose respect he enjoys not only as an ecclesiastic of fine parts, but also as a man of broad views and common sense.  Father Burns was born in county Tipperary, Ireland, in 1847, his parents being John and Mary (Ryan) Burns.  They were married in their native country and there their children were born.  In 1862 they decided to seek the greater opportunity offered by the new world and accordingly set sail, locating soon after their arrival in Philadelphia.  The parents made the Quaker City their home for the rest of their lives, and not only they, but their children, with the exception of Father Burns, have ever since resided there.

Father Burns acquired his early education in the public schools of Ireland and soon after arriving in America he became enrolled among the students in St. Charles Academy , situated about fifteen miles from Baltimore , Maryland .  After four years attendance there he was sent to Allegany, Cattaragus [sic] county, New York, where he entered an ecclesiastical seminary.  He was graduated from this institution and in 1878 was ordained to the Catholic priesthood.  His first charge was Key West, Iowa, to which he was sent almost immediately after receiving orders.  His ministry was of two years duration there and he was then transferred to West Union, Fayette county, Iowa, where he remained for four years and a half, those in authority sending him at the end of this time to Ackley, Iowa, where his pastorate lasted three years.

The ministry of Father Burns in Rockwell began in October 1887, and the succeeding years have witness great advance in the growth of church and academy.  When he arrived the church building was a small frame edifice forty-five by thirty feet, and he added forty-five feet to its length, with the intention of making a school room out of it.  By the year 1890 he had been successful in the realization of his ambition to have a new church, which was a substantial affair of veneered brick.  Unfortunately, however, this building was not long to endure, for in 1905 it was visited by a conflagration.  In 1907 a beautiful new church was built to take its place, this being superior in many respects to it predecessor.  The parochial residence, a comfortable and commodious house where many members of the Catholic clergy have found shelter and entertainment, has been built since Father Burns' arrival.  He is essentially a builder, the Academy of the Sacred Heart having been erected in 1900.  It is one of the largest parochial school buildings in this part of Iowa.  It is one hundred and ten feet long and sixty feet wide, has a basement and is three stories above ground.  The attendance of Sacred Heart Academy is not restricted to the youth in this part of Iowa, for there are pupils enrolled from various parts of the United States.  The Dominican Sisters or Sister of the Order of St. Dominick has charge of the school.