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Clinton County >> 1901 Index

The Biographical Record of Clinton County, Iowa
Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1901.


Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

Darwin Austin Parsons

Among the old and honored residents of Clinton is Darwin Austin Parsons,  who is now living a retired life in the enjoyment of a rest which he has  truly earned and richly deserves by reason of his industrious efforts of  former years.  He was born in West Haven, Vermont, March 17, 1827, a son  of Austin and Jane (Wilkinson) Parsons, both of whom were of English  descent.  The father was born near Ticonderoga, New York, an died in  that state at the age of forty-five years, leaving his family in limited  circumstances.  He was a laborer, and was employed in sawmills for a  number of years.  After his death the mother was cared for and supported  by her sons, and with them came to Clinton, Iowa, in 1856, making her  home here until she, too, was called to her final rest.  In the family  were three children, namely: Darwin A., our subject; Richard D., a  retired resident of Clinton, who was a soldier of the Civil war and  received injuries in the battle of Fort Donelson, from which he has  never recovered; and Sophia, who died unmarried in New York.  

During his boyhood Mr. Parsons acquired only a very meager education in  the district schools of New York. At the age of fourteen he commenced  earning his own livelihood by working in the sawmill of his uncle,  Chancy Lamb, at Bradford, Steuben county, New York, as a lathe boy at  wages of twenty-five cents per day.  The lumber from that mill was  shipped to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and from the mill operated by Mr.  Lamb at Big Flats, Chemung county, New York, the lumber was sent to  Troy, that state.  Our subject was employed at the latter mill for a  time and Mr. Lamb received a gold watch for putting out the best lumber  that went to Troy that year.  As he grew older and became more  accustomed to the business he was promoted gradually.  In 1852 he went  to Canada with Mr. Lamb and assisted in locating a mill in the timber.   He was made general foreman of the plant, having entire charge when Mr.  Lamb was absent at his home in New York, and he remained there until  coming to Clinton, Iowa, in 1852, at which time the town was in its  infancy.  He has watched with interest the growth and development of the  city, and has seen its numerous mills and manufacturing plants  established.  

When Mr. Lamb's old mill at Clinton was destroyed by fire what was known  as the brick mill was then erected and equipped with the latest  machinery obtainable at that time.  Mr. Parsons was then given the  position of mill foreman and retained it until retired by Mr. Lamb prior  to his death.  This was in 1895.  Soon after locating here he purchased  property and erected a residence, and in 1889 bought his present  residence, which he has since enlarged and improved with all modern  conveniences, a pleasant home at 740 Camanche avenue.  

Mr. Parsons was married in Steuben county, New York, January 15, 1850,  to Miss Lucy Walling, who was born in that state in 1833, and received a  good common school education there.  She always enjoyed good health  until a few years ago, but has since been an invalid.  She accompanied  her husband to Canada and has been to him a faithful companion and  helpmeet on life's journey.  To them were born two children, but the  younger, Ollie, who married John B. Shafer, died in Clinton at the age  of twenty-one years.  Sophia is the wife of B. F. Holway, a farmer of  Missouri, and they have seven children, namely:  Ollie has long made her  home with our subject, and is a graduate of the public schools of  Clinton.  Lucy also lived with her grandfather and after graduating from  the Clinton Business College held a position in this city.  She is now  the wife of William Dayton, of Leeds, South Dakota, and they have one  child.  Franklin, a resident of Missouri, is married and has three  children.  Austin now lives in Colorado.  Truman, Isie and Louis are all  at home with their parents.  

Since voting for Fremont in 1856, Mr. Parsons has always affiliated with  the Republican party, but has never cared for political honors, although  he served one term as a member of the city council.  Both he and his  wife are members of the Universalist church of Clinton, in which he  served as deacon and trustee for many years.  For many years he was one  of the active and progressive business men of the city, as well as one  of its most reliable and honored citizens, and now in his declining  years is enjoying a well-earned rest, free from the cares and  responsibilities of business life.  As one of the pioneers and  representative men of the community he is well worthy the high regard in  which he is uniformly held, and is deserving of prominent mention in the  history of his adopted county.  

Cornelius Petersen, who was born in Germany, October 7, 1848, was the son of Marks Petersen, a native of Rippen, Germany, and Margaret McGrady, a native of Fohr, Germany. The parents were married in the old country and came to America in 1859. They crossed the Atlantic in a sailing-vessel, "The Gellert." After a voyage of eight weeks they landed in New Orleans and made their way up the Mississippi river, locating in Center Township, Clinton county, Iowa, on a farm near Lyons, which they rented for one year. The father then bought forty acres of timber land, which he cleared and broke, and upon which he built a frame house fourteen by sixteen feet in size. In this tiny abode they began their life in the new world, remaining there for four years, after which he bought forty acres of land adjoining. He lived on this land until 1873, when he moved to Clinton, Iowa. In the winter of 1873, shortly after his removal to Clinton, and his retirement from active life, his wife died, on Christmas night, and is buried in that city. The father then returned to his native land, but came back to America and bought forty acres of land. He also owned one hundred and twenty acres of land near Sabula, Iowa; in fact, he accumulated a great deal of land, which he gave to his children. He died in 1897 in Germany, having gone back there, and is buried in the land of his birth. Our subject was the second in order of birth of three children: Peter married and resides on the old homestead farm in Center township, and has three children; Cornelius; and Martin, formerly a merchant in Clinton, Iowa, but later went west and has not been heard from since he left.

Cornelius Petersen pursued his education in the schools of Germany, and coming to America with his parents, continued his studies in the Center township district school until sixteen years of age, when he left school and assisted his father with the work on the farm until 1873. On March 18, of that year, he was united in marriage to Annie Hanson, the ceremony taking place on the home place. Miss Hanson was born in Germany, November 17, 1851, and was the daughter of Hans P. Hanson and Mary Ohrans, both natives of Germany. Her parents were married in the home country and came to America in 1866, in the steamship "The Sanctonia," arriving in New York after a voyage of two weeks. They came to Lyons, where they lived for one year, and then located in Center Grove township. The father accumulated land until he had about three hundred acres. He died in 1890, his wife having preceded him, her death occurring in 1881. Mrs. Petersen was the youngest of five children, namely: Sabina, wife of Bohne Paulsen, who died, and she married Nicholas Holtz, who resides in Jones county, near Onslow. She has three children by her first union and three by her second union; Peter married Mary Petersen, who died in 1888. He then married Lena Bolt, and they reside in Washington township. He has four children by his first union; August married Miss Catherine Nissen, resides in Verdi, Minnesota, with his wife and six children; Henry married Mattie Breiholts, who died in 1884. He then married Maggie Boock, and resides in Center Grove, Iowa. He has nine children by his first wife and two by his second wife; Annie, wife of our subject.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Petersen have been born eight children: Henry, born September 15, 1874, resides with his father and assists in the management of the farm; John, born March 10, 1876, married Miss Minnie Zesmar and resides on a farm in Washington township; Mark, born March 15, 1878; Adolph, born April 11, 1880; Eddie, born June 20, 1882; August, born July 20, 1886; Amanda, born November 4, 1890; Malinda, born June 31, 1893.

After his marriage Mr. Petersen rented his father's farm, upon which he remained for two years. In 1875 he purchased ninety acres of land in section ten, Washington township, Clinton county, Iowa. Later he bought one hundred and sixty acres adjoining this, and subsequently purchased another tract of land, until he now owns for hundred and ninety acres of the best improved farming property in Iowa. His life has been spent in the cultivation of his land, and a comfortable home, well-filled barns and sheds and a good income are his reward for years of industry and perseverance. He is a liberal, kind-hearted man, who takes an active interest in public affairs and everything that tends toward the advancement and development of the community in which he lives. He is a stanch Democrat, and has been elected road supervisor and school director, but prefers to hold no office. He is also a member of the Lutheran church of Charlotte, and through his fidelity and industry he has won the respect and confidence of those with whom he has been associated.