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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.    


For nearly a quarter of a century a resident of Cerro Gordo county, John S. Edgar, who operates an elevator and conducts a coal business at Rock Falls, has been an important factor in the development of this part of the state and in the advancement of its welfare. A son of William Edgar, he was born, July 12, 1842 , in Dalkeith , Scotland , the home of his ancestors for many generations.

William Edgar was born and bred in Dumfries , Scotland , and there married.  Coming with his family to this country in 1837, he spent about five years in Brooklyn , New York , where as a landscape gardner [sic] he laid out many beautiful grounds in and around New York city , including Greenwood and Rockaway.  Returning to the old country in 1842, he remained there ten years.  In the spring of 1852, he came again to America, bringing his wife and children with him, and six months later located in Janesville, Wisconsin.  He engaged in farming and gardening, continuing thus employed until after the breaking out of the Civil war.  He subsequently enlisted in the Twenty-second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, in which he served until the close of the conflict.  Returning home, he died in the fall of 1865, from diseases contracted while in the army, aged sixty-two years.  The maiden name of his wife was Helen Simm.  She was born in Dalkeith, Scotland, October 23, 1807, and died, March 5, 1907, having almost rounded out a full century of life.  Her husband was a Scotch Presbyterian in religion and in the later years of her life she was affiliated with the Methodist church.  Their seven children were all born in Scotland , and three of them are still living, namely : Archibald, of Imperial, California ; Mrs. J. G. Wray, of Janesville , Wisconsin ; and John S.   One son, William Edgar, served in the Second New York Heavy Artillery during the Civil war.

Reared in Wisconsin , John S. Edgar was educated in the public schools, and during the Civil war was engaged as a teamster in Missouri and Arkansas for nine months, but had to return home to care for his mother and the farm.  In 1867, desirous of broadening his field of action, Mr. Edgar came to Iowa , locating first in Mitchell county, where he followed farming four years.  Going to Worth county in 1871, he continued as an agriculturist until 1886.  He then established an elevator at Rock Falls , and this he has since conducted successfully, at the same time having built up an extensive and remunerative coal business and being interested also in quarrying.

Mr. Edgar married, in Wisconsin in 1866, Elizabeth Woolliscroft [sic], who was born in Staffordshire, England, December 2, 1845 ; her father, William B. Wooliscroft [sic], was born in England in 1816, came with his wife and seven children to the United States in 1859, locating in Janesville, Wisconsin, and he died in 1898 in California.  He married Hannah Buckston, who was born in England in 1819 and was accidentally killed in July, 1868, in Iowa.  Mr. and Mrs. Woolliscroft [sic] reared nine children, seven of whom live in California, one in Washington, while Mrs. Edgar is in Iowa.  Eight children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Edgar, namely : Mrs. Annie Blakeley, of Mason City ; Mrs. Vinnie Cook, of Waterloo ; Mrs. May White, of Rock Falls ; William David, of Rock Falls ; Thomas B., of California ; Ray; Glen W., of Rock Falls ; and John Sim, Jr., who lived but nine years.  Politically Mr. Edgar, although he cast his first presidential vote for John C. Fremont and afterwards for Abraham Lincoln for president, has always been a Democrat.

William J. Egloff, M.D. submitted by David Egloff

Cerro Gordo county has reason to find satisfaction in the sterling personnel and marked technical ability of those who represent the medical profession within her borders, and numbered among the leading physicians and surgeons of the county is Dr. Egloff, who is engaged in the active practice of his profession in Mason City, with offices in his fine building at 121 East State street. He is one of the loyal and public spirited citizens of his native state, commands a secure place in popular esteem and confidence, and his success in his chosen profession has been of unequivocal order.

Dr. Egloff was born at Cedar Falls, Black Hawk county, Iowa, on the 25th of January, 1863, and is a son of William and Marie A. (Brandle) Egloff, both of whom are now deceased. The father was born in Alsace-Lorraine, which was at that time still a province of France, from which country it was wrested at the time of the France-Prussian war. William Egloff was reared and aducated (sic) in his native land and there became a citizen of prominence and influence in which connection it may be noted that he held the office of judge, through appointment by the government. In 1856 he immigrated to America, and within the same year he took up his residence at Manchester, Delaware county, Iowa. He was a lawyer by profession, but after coming to Iowa he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, with which he was actively identified for a number of years. He moved from Delaware county to Black Hawk county, where he remained until 1871, when he came to Mason City and entered the employ of the Iowa Central Railroad, with whose local service he continued to be indentified until his death in 1881, at the age of sixty-seven years. His wife was born at Passau, in the kingdom of Bavaria, Germany, where their marriage was solemnized. After he had established his home in America his wife joined him, and she passed the closing years of her life in Mason City, where she died in 1895, at the age of seventy-two years. The parents of Dr. Egloff were devout communicants of the Catholic church and in politics the father gave his allegiance to the Republican party. He was a man of fine intellectuality and he ever commanded the implicit confidence and esteem of all with whom he came in contact. Of the children Dr. Egloff was the tenth in order of birth, two died in infancy, and concerning the others the following brief data are entered: Marie E. is the widow of Samuel J. Hunt and is a popular teacher in the schools of Salt Lake City, Utah; Leontine, is the wife of Lucius M. Bassett, who is principal of one of the public schools in the city of Chicago; Minnie, is the wife of John B. Long, of Kimball, South Dakota; Pauline, is the wife of Albert A. DuBois and they reside in the state of Oregon; Eugene C., was freight agent for the Illinois Central Railroad at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the time of his death; Joseph was the owner and operator of a flour mill at Mound City, Kansas, at the time of his death; Max G. a retired railroad man, resides at Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Dr. Egloff was eight years of age at the time of the family removal to Mason City, to whose schools he is indebted for his preliminary educational discipline. In preparation for the work of his chosen profession he went to the great western metropolis and entered the Chicago Medical College, which is now the medical department of Northwestern University. He completed the prescribed course in this well ordered institution, in which he was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1887, as president of his class. In May of the preceding year he had successfully passed the required examination before the Illinois state board of health and he had initiated the practice of his profession prior to graduation. During 1886-7 he was engaged in the dispensary of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company in Chicago, and he then returned to Mason City, where he became associated in practice with Dr. Chauncey H. Smith, to whom a memorial tribute is given on other pages of this work.

Dr. Egloff has given himself with all of zeal and earnestness to the work of his noble and exacting profession and he has not been denied a generous measure of success and prestige. He is recognized as a skillful and resourceful physician and surgeon and he keeps in close touch with the advances made in both departments of his profession. He is a valued member of the Cerro Gordo County Medical Society, the Austin Flint-Cedar Valley Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Society, and the American Medical Association. From 1904 to 1908 he was councilor of the Iowa State Medical Society for the Fourth congressional district of Iowa, and during the last year of his incumbency he was chairman of the state board of councilors. In 1910 Dr. Egloff was elected first vice president of the Iowa State Medical Society and in the same year he was appointed one of the five members representing the state society at the second national conservation congress held in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, in October of that year. He is also identified with the American Association of Railway Surgeons, being district surgeon for the C. & N. W. Railway and local surgeon for the C.M. & St. P. Railroad. In politics the Doctor is found aligned as a staunch supporter of the cause of the Republican party, and he is identified with various social organizations of representative order.

On the 12th of February, 1889, was solemnized the marriage of Dr. Egloff to Miss Harriet E. Smith, who was born and reared in Cerro Gordo county and who is the daughter of the late Dr. Chauncey H. Smith, who is the subject of an individual memoir elsewhere in this volume and with whom Dr. Egloff was formerly associated in practice. Dr. and Mrs. Egloff became the parents of four children: Marie Agatha, who was born January 12, 1896, died in infancy; Max Allen, who was born on the 21st of March, 1898, is attending the public schools as is also William Chauncey, who was born on the 16th of March, 1901; and Martha Janet was born March 16, 1910. The family is one of prominence and distinctive popularity in connection with social affairs in Mason City, and as a citizen Dr. Egloff is liberal and progressive, giving his support to the measures and enterprises tending to advance the general welfare of the community.


Thomas G. Emsley, deceased, was a resident of Cerro Gordo county, Iowa , from 1858 until his death, June 7, 1886 , and was prominently identified with its interests. A review of his life and that of his helpmate is appropriately presented in this work.

Thomas G. Emsley was born in Carroll county, Ohio , December 23, 1843 , son of W. W. and Beatrice H. (Donaldson) Emsley, the former a native of Yorkshire , England , the latter of Vermont and of Scotch descent.  The death of his father in 1849 left Thomas G. an orphan at the age of six years, and from his early boyhood he made his own way in the world.  When he was fifteen he came to Iowa .  Here at the outbreak of the Civil war his sympathies were aroused in favor of the north, and in 1864, on reaching his majority, he showed his loyalty to his country by offering his service to help defend it.  He enlisted in Company I, Second Iowa Cavalry, the fortunes of which he shared until the war was over and he was honorably discharged.

Returning to Mason City , Iowa , in 1865, Mr. Emsley was that year elected treasurer of Cerro Gordo county, and on December 19th of the same year he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Church, daughter of Rev. Jesse E. Church.  She was born and lived at Spring, Pennsylvania , until she came to Mason City , Iowa , in the summer of 1864 to spend a year as a visitor with her brother, J. S. Church, who then resided here.  While on this visit she began to work in the postoffice for her brother.  The attractions of a new country for a boy or girl who were willing to take advantage of the opportunity for self reliance appealed so strongly to her independent nature that she gained her father's consent to remain longer than she had at first expected, and from working in the office she turned her attention to teaching, and taught a few terms at twenty-five dollars a month.  Living with her brother, he expenses were comparatively nothing, and she saved her earnings and made investment.  Her first venture in speculation was buying tax title land, and in this way a hundred  and sixty acres of wild prairie land came into her possession.  At the time of their marriage the young couple had this land and four hundred dollars in money.  They went to housekeeping in a two-room rented house, and every year thereafter found their assets somewhat increased.  Mr. Emsley held the office of treasurer for four years.  This gave him familiarity with all the land in Cerro Gordo county, also in adjoining counties, and for ten years he bought a sold land to advantage, until, for this country, they found themselves in reasonably good circumstances.  In connection with his real estate, in 1873, Mr. Emsley, seeing an opening for a banking business at Mason City , established the City Bank.  Both he and his enterprising wife worked hard to make this a success, he as president, she as cashier.  The City National Bank is the outcome of their efforts.  After the death of Mr. Emsley, which occurred in 1886, she managed the business and estate.  She succeeded him as president of the bank, and continued as such until its re-organization and the formation of City National Bank.  In all that pertains to the welfare of Mason City , both educational and otherwise, she has contributed according to her means.  For many years she gave her best efforts toward the establishment of a free public library.  Her creed is that of the Unitarian church, and she is an outspoken equal suffragist.

On March 9, 1905 , Mrs. Emsley became the wife of Charles A. Adams, ex-county recorder and court reporter of Cerro Gordo county, having served in the last named capacity for over thirty years.  Mr. Adams was born at Worcester , Massachusetts , in 1844, and when about nine years old came west with his parents.  They stopped for a time in Illinois , and from there came to Iowa and settled at Mason City .  Here Mr. Adams grew to manhood.  During the Civil war he was a member of Company B., Thirty-second Infantry, and most of his service was as a clerk at headquarters.  He is a member of Huntly Post, G. A. R., and is also identified with the Masons and the Elks.  Mrs. Adams has membership in the O. E. S. at Mason City , and also in Maria Mitchell Club, the oldest woman's club in the town.

By her first marriage, Mrs. Adams has two daughters, Mrs. Mabel Emsley Gale and Mrs. Lillie Emsley Markley.