Biographical Record of Clinton
Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.
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
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
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.