Portrait and Biographical Album of Des
Moines County, Iowa
Col. John C. Abercrombie, one of the early settlers and highly-respected citizens of Des Moines County, Iowa, was born in Perry County, Pa., Oct. 30, 1823, and is a son of John Abercrombie, who was born in Philadelphia in 1785. The latter enlisted in the War of 1812, in which he served as Ensign. When a young man he went to Perry County, Pa., where he became acquainted with and married Miss Mary Cree, a native of that county. In 1833, he removed to Miami County, Ohio, and there died three years later. In 1832, he opposed Gen. Jackson and was one of four who voted against him in his precinct. Mr. and Mrs. Abercrombie were the parents of four children, our subject being the only survivor.
The subject of this sketch went with his parents to Ohio, where he was soon after left an orphan. He lived with an aunt for two years, but not wishing to be dependent on any one, at the age of twelve bound himself to be a merchant tailor for a period of eight years. When half that time had elapsed, he concluded to try his fortune in the Far West, landing in this county in 1841. Here he worked as a journeyman until the time of the Texan war, when he enlisted in a company under Capt. Hight, and went to New Orleans. The war being nearly ended, and transportation being refused, the company was disbanded, and the men were compelled to find their way home as best they could. Mr. Abercrombie returned to Burlington, remaining until early in the spring of 1847, when he enlisted in the 15th United States Infantry, Company K, for the Mexican War. This company was composed of Iowa men, under command of Capt. Guthrie, and participated in the battles of National Bridge and Pueblo. Being on the sick list, he was left in the hospital at Pueblo, while the army went to the city in Mexico. After the defeat by the Mexicans, Santa Anna sent a force to Pueblo, where the remaining forces were under siege for twenty-eight days. He was mustered out at Covington, Ky., Aug. 25, 1848, as Orderly Sergeant. Mr. Abercrombie, in company with a man by the name of Wash Williams, went to Nauvoo, Ill., on a pleasure trip at the time of the breaking out of the Mormon trouble, where they found the Nauvoo legions, armed with guns, pitchforks and clubs, filling the streets. Remaining one night and getting separated from his friend, Mr. Abercrombie thought he had seen enough of the city, and a boat coming up, he attempted to take passage for home. As he stepped on board he was arrested as one of Gov. Ford's spies, marched through the town between two Mormon soldiers, and was arraigned before a court-martial, when he was questioned as to his business and his attempt to leave the city. He was called upon to furnish some person who would vouch for him, and, looking around, saw Mr. Woods (better known as "Old Timber"), called him, and through his evidence was soon free.
After returning from the Mexican War, Mr. Abercrombie began the study of dentistry under Dr. Garner, which he followed for fourteen years. He was married in October, 1854, to Miss Amelia Swain, who was a native of Cataraugus County, N. Y., by whom he had five children, three of whom are living--John S., a resident of Burlington, Iowa; Nellie, wife of Carl Vogt, of Burlington, Iowa; Annie, wife of C. W. Randall, of Kansas City.
At the breaking out of the Rebellion, Mr. Abercrombie was among the first to offer his services, and was appointed by Gov. Kirkwood as First Lieutenant of Company E of the 1st Iowa Infantry. After arriving in the field, the Captain was relieved by Gen. Lyon, and Lieutenant Abercrombie was assigned to the command, drawing captain's pay. The company was engaged in battle at Dug Springs, McCullough's Store and Wilson's Creek. After serving his time, Capt. Abercrombie was mustered out, but Gov. Kirkwood soon after commissioned his as Major of the 11th Iowa Infantry. In 1862 he went to his regiment up the Tennessee River, joined Grant's Army at Pittsburg Landing and participated in the battle of Shiloh. He was wounded in the head on the first day, and on going to the rear found Dr. Eastabrook of the 15th Iowa Infantry, who dressed his wound. The next engagement was at Iuka, and then followed Vicksburg, participating in its siege and capture, after which the regiment was left to guard the city, and remained there about a year. Their next campaign was that against Atlanta, the regiment taking part in all the battles before that place. The Major was wounded in front of Atlanta in his right side by a piece of shell. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and then to Colonel, but was never mustered as such, his regiment having been so reduced that there was not the required number of men. He was mustered out at Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 15, 1864. In 1869 the Colonel became totally blind from the hardships of his army life, and the Government gave his a pension of $72 per month. Politically, Col. Abercrombie is a stanch Republican. Mrs. Abercrombie died in 1869.
Hon. Abraham G. Adams, deceased, was a pioneer of Burlington, Iowa, of 1839, and for many years was prominently identified with the business interests and local affairs of that city. He was born at Sterling, Worcester Co., Mass., Sept. 29, 1830. His parents, Reuben S. and Maria (Gibbs) Adams, were also natives of Massachusetts, and were among the early settlers, emigrating to Burlington in 1839. Their journey from their old home in New England to the West was made in the primitive manner of those days, traveling by team and canal-boat, and being six weeks in reaching St. Louis. Arriving in that city late in the fall of 1838, they found navigation closed and were obliged to defer the continuance of their journey until the following spring, when, taking passage on the first upward bound boat, they reached Burlington April 2, 1839. Mr. Adams, Sr., had visited that city the July previous, and had established, in a small way, a boot, shoe and leather house. On his return with his family, he resumed the charge of his business, and pushed it as vigorously as his means and the demands of a new and sparsely-settled country would allow. Being a man of industrious and frugal habits, he prospered in his undertaking, increasing his stock and facilities for business as the country became settled and increased demand for goods developed. He eventually accumulated a fair capital and considerable property, and made some of the most substantial improvements in the pioneer days of the city. He erected a one-story brick building on the present site of the German-American Savings Bank, corner of Main and Jefferson streets, which he occupied as a store for many years. His residence was that now occupied and owned by C. B. Parsons, at the southeast corner of Spray street and Starr Avenue, a commodious and tasty dwelling, situated on extensive and beautiful grounds. Mrs. Parsons (now deceased) was formerly Maria Adams, the only daughter of R. S. Adams, and the only son was A. G. Adams, Sr., who was so prominently identified with the early history of Burlington, was recognized as an enterprising, public-spirited citizen, was elected a member of the Common Council and took an active interest in public affairs.
The educational advantages of a new country are necessarily of a primitive and rude style, and our subject coming here at the age of eight years recited his first lessons in a log school-house, with its puncheon floor and its slabs for seats and desks. Later, his studies were pursued in the basement of the "Old Zion Church," which had been converted into a school-room, and where the pioneer pedagogue ruled and taught in the old fashioned district school style. In 1847, Mr. Adams went to St. Louis, where he spent two years in a large jobbing boot and shoe house, there acquiring a knowledge of the business, which proved valuable to him in later years. Returning to Burlington in 1849, he assisted his father in the store, and was admitted to partnership in 1851, the business still conducted in his father's name. In 1863, the firm name of "R. S. Adams & Co." was adopted, and the business, which had grown to important proportions, was conducted under that name after the death of R. S. Adams, which occurred in April, 1864. Upon the settlement of the estate in 1865, A. G. Adams succeeded to the business, and subsequently carried it on alone with marked success. He increased the manufacturing facilities of the house, and extended his jobbing trade until he had one of the most important and prosperous establishments in the wholesale boot and shoe line in the State. In 1864, Frank O. Adams, his son, was made a special partner, and is the present manager.
In June 1852, Mr. Adams was united in marriage with Miss Emily Swain. She was a lady possessing many excellencies of character that endeared her to a large circle of friends, and her kindly sympathy, and open-handed benevolence relieved and cheered many who were suffering from want or sickness. Her death occurred Dec. 19, 1872. Seven children survived her, four sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Edward D., died December 1878, being nearly twenty-one years of age; the three daughters are Fannie D., Genevieve and Maud L.; Arthur A. was married Nov. 1, 1882, to Miss Maud L. Manning, and is now engaged in the retail boot and shoe business on Jefferson street, Burlington; Frank O. and William Gale are single, and the former is administrator and manager of his father's estate, including the extensive boot and shoe factory.
In early life, Mr. Adams was a Whig, and cast his first vote for Gen. Winfield Scott for President. On the formation of the Republican party, he joined that organization, and ever afterward was a faithful adherent to its principles and an earnest worker in its support. He made many warm political friends, some of whom were the Nation's most illustrious heroes and statesmen. Gen. U. S. Grant was his warm friend, and on his return voyage around the world was his guest, together with Mrs. Grant, Col. Fred Grant, wife and child, and others of their party. Gen. John A. Logan and wife were frequent visitors at the Adams mansion, and, in 1880, the Hon. James G. Blaine, on his visit to Burlington, was Mr. Adams' honored guest. Gen. Grant's and Mr. Adams' fathers were old friends, and the General and A. G. Adams became acquainted at St. Louis many years ago. In 1878, Mr. Adams was elected Mayor of Burlington, re-elected in 1879, and, after an interval of five years, was again elected to the same office, and re-elected each succeeding year, holding that office at the time of his death, which occurred on the 18th of June, 1887. His official career was distinguished for rare executive ability, enterprise and devotion to the best interests of the city. His judgments and opinions had great weight in all questions of public policy, and while he was progressive in his views, his enterprise and liberality were sufficiently tempered by conservatism to command the utmost confidence and respect of his fellow-citizens.
A local paper, in speaking of Mr. Adams as head of the city government, said: "Mr. Adams made one of the best executive officers Burlington ever had. His strict regard for the law, his personal supervision of every department of the city government, the strict accountability to which every employe was held, his rigid scrutiny of every expenditure, were features of his administration that necessarily created some friction, but the better judgment of the community approved of his course, and the more so as the heat of personal antagonism disappeared with the lapse of time and the calmer judgment found sway. Mr. Adams made a record in his administration of city affairs that found an endearing place in the municipal history of the city. The more it is studied, the more its rugged, sturdy, faithful characteristics excite public admiration and general respect. Is marked an era in the city government, in which the individuality of the successful business man was so thoroughly impressed upon municipal affairs as to secure that careful administration which human experience would lead us to seek only in private business transactions.
As a business man, Mr. Adams was clear-headed, sagacious, prompt and upright, and his success in life was largely due to his correct business habits, directness of purpose and unswerving integrity. He was eminently a self-made man, and at the time of his death had won a foremost place among the leading business men of the State.
Mr. Adams came to Burlington as a boy a few years older than the small village that numbered its houses by the score and its people by the hundreds, and during all the years that have passed in the half a century since the village grew into a great city, with Mr. Adams at the head of its government, his life and work were familiar to all. In his younger days his social nature, his love of sport and music, his fund of humor, his mirthful mimicry, made him an enjoyable companion, and the strong attachments and friendships then formed grew stronger with the passing years. When the responsibilities of important business affairs demanded his attention he proved his capacity in that direction, and at an early age took rank with the successful merchants of the city. In all public enterprises his aid, encouragement and good counsel were always ready, and in the advocacy of any measure for the general welfare his voice was always heard. With an intelligent appreciation of public affairs, with a broad and liberal view of municipal matters, it was natural enough that the people besought him to become the chief officer of the city, and his official acts proved that the trust was wisely imposed.
A fine portrait of Mr. Adams will be found upon a preceding page.
Robert Allen, President of the Burlington Wire Mattress Company, was born in County Wexford, Ireland, May 11, 1833. When about ten years of age he went to Liverpool, England, and there received his literary and business education. He served a five years' apprenticeship with one of the largest firms in that city in general merchandising. When twenty-one years of age he emigrated to America with his parents, coming directly to Burlington, and engaged with his father in farming in Des Moines County for two years. Going to the city, he then engaged with Messrs. Ross and Whipple in the hardware business, and later in the employ of J. Morton & Co., continuing in the same business when those gentlemen sold out to James W. Grimes & Co. In the year 1862, Mr. Allen bought out a branch hardware store of J. W. Grimes & Co., on Jefferson street, two years later taking in George Whipple as a partner, the firm then being known as Allen & Whipple. This partnership continued until January, 1879, when Mr. Allen sold his interest to his partner, and, in a small way, engaged in the manufacture of wire mattresses, the business gradually growing from year to year, and in January, 1887, the concern was changed to an incorporated company, having a capital stock of $75,000. Mr. Allen was elected President, Mr. Batchelor, Superintendent, and William A. Searles, Secretary.
At Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Nov. 22, 1860, the marriage of Mr. Allen and Miss Annie E. Clark was celebrated. Mrs. Allen was born in Gardiner, Maine, and is a daughter of Ansyl Clark, of Maine. This union has been graced with three children--two sons and a daughter: Bertie died when twenty-two months old; an infant daughter died unnamed; and Charles died at San Antonio, Texas, at the age of nineteen. In politics, Mr. Allen is a Republican. He was elected Alderman in 1865, served as Deputy United Collector in about 1875, and is at present a member of the Burlington City Council. Socially, Mr. Allen is a member of the Flint Hills Lodge, K. of P., was Deputy Grand Chancellor, and is now Past Chancellor.
Hon. Robert Allen, of section 23, Franklin Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa. We take pleasure in presenting to the readers of this volume the name of Mr. Allen, one of the pioneers of the county, who has aided largely in its progress and civilization, has given liberally for the advencement of its public enterprises and institutions, and has been a witness of its rapid growth and development. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, Jan. 23, 1817, though reared in Warren County, Ohio, and in that county was educated. To his parents, Hugh and Catherine (Davidson) Allen, were born nine children, and with one exception all are living. The mother died in 1838, and the father in 1853, in Warren County, Ohio, to which place he had emigrated from Ireland. The sons, three in number, were all carpenters by trade.
Our subject remained in Warren County, Ohio, until 1839, working on the farm in summer and attending school in the winter. He made a trip to Des Moines County, Iowa, in that year, in company with John and David Thompson, and purchased 270 acres of land, 110 being in Franklin and 160 in Flint River Township. They returned to Ohio that year, remaining until April, 1842, when the three young men returned, together with Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, and began improving the land. Mr. Allen sold his interest in the 110-acre tract and returned to Ohio in November, 1843, but in August, 1844, once more came to this county, having previously made a trade for the 160 acres of land which are still in his possession, and comprise one of the best farms in the township, though when he became the owner there were no improvements whatever. The land was in a raw state, and there were no trees except a thicket of scrub crab trees, which have long since been cut down, the land being used for corn, wheat and other products.
After getting the land under cultivation Mr. Allen began to look about for some one with whom to share the pleasures and trials of life, and on the 28th of June, 1846, he was married to Miss Nancy Wassom, a native of Tennessee. Her father had migrated to Illinois, and from there to Iowa in 1844. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Allen: Mary, wife of E. F. Jackson, a farmer residing near Lincoln, Neb.; Martha, wife of Lucullis Cousins, who is engaged in farming in Montana, and John, who became the husband of Nancy Moore, and is a farmer of Franklin Township. On the 7th of January, 1860, the mother of these children, who was a member of he Lutheran Church, was called to her final rest, and on the 23d of January, 1861, Mr. Allen was united in marriage with Catherine Ripley, a native of Des Moines County. One child was born of this union, Frank, who now has charge of the home farm.
Mr. Allen is now the owner of 160 acres of prairie and twenty acres of timber land, constituting one of the best farms in the county. The little cabin to which he brought his young bride has long since given way to a fine two-story brick building, and all the improvements which go to make up a model farm may be found on his land. Like other pioneers he was forced to endure many trials and hardships, and in those early days, not having a table, his first meal was taken from the stove hearth, which he used in place of that article, though he soon built a table, which he yet keeps as a relic of the early days of this now populous and prosperous county. Mr. Allen has always taken a warm interest in public affairs. In 1866 he was elected to fill the unexpired term of Benjamin Darwin in the State Legislature, and in the fall of 1867 was re-elected for a full term. During his term of service he was one of the leading men in the House and had much influence in the councils of his party, showing decided ability for legislative duties. Firm in his convictions of duty, he was an earnest supporter of the laws of the State and everything which he believed to be right. During his early years Mr. Allen was a Douglas Democrat, but during the dark days of the Rebellion he was loyal to the cause of the Union, and many times his voice has been heard appealing to the people to stand by the old flag. Since those days he has been an ardent supporter of the Republican party, and it was by that party he was sent to the Legislature. In the year 1852 Mr. Allen was elected Justice of the Peace, having filled that position for more than half of the time since; his decisions have always been guided by the law and evidence in the case and have never been reversed. Mr. Allen has been instrumental in the advancement of many public enterprises, and has also given much time and attention to the management of his farm, and is thoroughly familiar with farm life in all its details. He is in sympathy with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, but is not a member. His wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and both are highly respected and honored citizens, whose neighbors and friends speak of them in no stinted terms of praise.
Mr. Allen's parents, who were old Scotch-Irish Covenanter stock, emigrated to this county when he was about eighteen months old, and went direct to Warren County, Ohio, where they lived the remainder of their lives, the father dying in 1853, at the age of seventy-two, and the mother in 1838, at the age of forty-five. Mr. Allen never married again. Hugh Allen was a weaver by trade, at which he worked in Warren County for five years, when he rented a farm for eight years more, then bought a place of his own, on which he lived until his death. By becoming surety for a brother in Ireland, and buying the release of another brother from the English army, Mr. Allen had lost most of his means before emigrating, but he determined to try to better his fortunes in the New World. At the time of his emigration, in 1818, the English Government was making great efforts to colonize Canada, and passage to that country being cheap, he sailed for a Canadian port. Arriving there he was offered a land bounty for himself and each member of his family, amounting in all to about 500 acres. Imbued with a love of liberty he refused the offer, although almost destitute of ready money, and selling off at auction all the bedding and clothing he could spare, took passage for Cincinnati, near which city he had a brother-in-law living, preferring to begin life anew under the flag of freedom. On getting to his destination not only was his money all gone but he was $4 in debt, with not a cent in his pocket. He borrowed the money to pay this trifling debt, and began his new life with energy. The result of his labors was satisafactory, and the courage of the poor emigrant was rewarded, as in his later years he was possessed of a comfortable competence. He was a man of great energy and perseverance, of unassailable integrity, of positive convictions, of great generosity, and a remarkably kind disposition, always willing to assist a neighbor in need. He was in his native land a Covenanter, and after coming to this country joined the Presbyterian Church, in which he was an Elder. The lesson of Mr. Allen's life is full of encouragement to young men who have their way to make in the world, and shows what can be accomplished by energy, industry, and an upright life.
W. H. Alspach is a blacksmith of Danville. His great-grandfather, with several sons, settled in Fairfield County, Ohio, when that land was almost entirely occupied by Indians. Of these sons, Henry was the grandfather of our subject, and the only one of the four sons not engaged in Indian wars following their location in the new country. All the boys were married and had families and farms in that county before they went to the war, and Henry remained at home to see that no want should come while the husbands and fathers, all of whom were able-bodied men, were engaged in the War of 1812. Henry Alspach wedded Mary Hainer, and both lived and died in Ohio. Their children were first a daughter (name unknown), followed by John, Mary, Susan, Margaret, Elizabeth, Henry, Joseph, Daniel, Matilda and Barnhart.
Henry Alspach, Jr., married Rebecca Derbrow, of English ancestry, who came with her parents, in 1805, to Pennsylvania, after which they died, leaving her to the care of Mr. and Mrs. Loucks, of Little York, Pa., who reared and cared for her until her marriage. She had three brothers, Thomas, Samuel and William, of whom all trace is lost, they having been left orphans at an early age in York County. Rebecca was a small child when the Loucks family removed to Fairfield County, Ohio. She there grew to womanhood and married Henry Alspach, who resided at a small village known as Jefferson, where for many years he operated a smithy and an adjacent farm. A large family of children graced the union, and, as far as any authentic history can be secured, we give it. John, deceased; William H.; Mary, deceased; Caroline, residing in Danville Township, is the widow of Henry Isles, deceased; Reuben and Caleb, deceased; Rebecca, who married Jonathan Heise, a resident of Licking County, Ohio; Hannah married William J. Jaques, a well-known resident of Danville; Richard L., who wedded Mrs. Eliza Busby, daughter of Ephraim Porter, of Danville, whose first husband was a confederate soldier and lost his life in the war; and Richard, residing in Burlington, is in the mail service. He has been Superintendent of Schools of this county, a teacher of note for several years, and Principal of Sunnyside School of Burlington. After the death of his first wife, Henry Alspach married Mrs. Charity Coffman, widow of Joseph Coffman. They removed to Licking County, Ohio, where they both died. Charity Alspach was the mother of several children by the last marriage: Laura became the wife of Arthur Yeatman, who resides on the old homestead in Licking County; Mary wedded John Robinson, a wealthy gentleman of Newark, Ohio; Emma, deceased wife of Thomas Myers; M. Luther is the husband of Catherine Heise; Ella, wife of Elmer Shaub; Calvin died unmarried; Edson wedded a Miss Peters; and Hosea, still single, resides with his mother in Licking County and is a teacher in the public schools there.
W. H. Alspach, our subject, learned the blacksmith trade with his father. He left his native State in 1856, locating in this county, Jan. 1, 1857. He opened a forge of his own in Danville in 1858. He was married March 9, 1859, to Miss Mary A. Rankin, daughter of W. W. and Isabella (Alcorn) Rankin, who removed from Indiana County, Pa., to Iowa in 1856. His wife died soon after coming here, and he wedded Mrs. Mary Kensil, who has two children, Amanda A. and Frank. Mr. Rankin moved to Kirksville, Mo., where his death occurred. He was father of three daughters: Nancy A., who died unmarried; Amada, yet single; and the wife of our subject.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Alspach, born in Danville, are Elmer, Erastus C., Clarence (deceased), Carrie A., Clement V., Francis H. and Edson W. Erastus is a finished workman, having learned the trade with his father, who is one of the best-known blacksmiths in the county. Perhaps no man in Des Moines County has worked as many consecutive years at the trade, and none enjoys a higher reputation for integrity and good citizenship. We are pleased to give the family a place in the history of their chosen county.
Jacob Alter, a farmer residing on section 10, and one of the best known residents of Danville Township, was born in Washington County, Pa., March 1, 1817, and is a son of Henry and Maria (Rinehart) Alter, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania, the former of Cumberland, the latter of Lebanon County. They were married in that county and removed to Washington County, Pa., where Henry purchased land, developing a fine farm from the virgin forest. They located in that county about 1807, and all the children were born, reared, and with the exception of two, were married there: Lucetta, the widow of Henry A. Ritner; David wedded Hester Weltz, and both died in Fairfield, Iowa; Eliza wedded James Roberts, both deceased; Margaret and Sarah were twins, Daniel Hewett marrying the first, John Hewett becoming Sarah's husband, and all have passed away. Henry R. was thrice married; Margaret Wirich was his first, Miss Hazen his second, and Mrs. Nancy (Dean) McRary the third wife; Henry was accidentally killed by a horse, and his wife and two children, Eva and Minnie, were killed in the terrible railroad wreck at Chatsworth, Ill., in August, 1887, another daughter, Emma, being badly injured at the same time; our subject is the next in order of birth; Solomon, the next, graduated at the Washington (Pa.) College, wedded Martha, a daughter of Judge Gordon, later went to Washington, D. C., and was a clerk in the employ of the United States at the time of his death; Maria wedded John Wolfe, and after his death was again married; Isaac married Catherine Brundige, resides in Lake County, Cal., and is the owner of "Paradise Valley;" Jeremiah became the husband of Elizabeth Romeg. The mother of our subject died in Washington County, Pa., and her husband removed to Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where he was again married, and died in that county in 1852, aged about sixty-five years.
Our subject was reared upon the Pennsylvania farm, receiving only a meager country school education. He, however, studied hard, and prior to his marriage taught school one term in his own school district. Miss Jane S. Knox became his wife Feb. 7, 1838, and the following April the young couple removed to Preston County, W. Va., where Mr. Alter purchased a farm, and for several terms taught school during the winter. Eight years later they removed to Des Moines County, Iowa, bringing three children who were born in West Virginia--Elizabeth Catherine, Henry and Margaret. The latter two died soon after the arrival in Iowa. Elizabeth is the wife of John R. Ritner, a farmer of Taylor County, Iowa.
Purchasing his homestead in 1846, Mr. Alter brought his family in 1847, and since that date has been identified with the development of Danville Township. His lands are well improved, and every tree, every fence, the numerous out-buildings and the substantial farmhouse, have been placed upon them since his location. His first house was frame, and a part of it yet stands, having been included in the building more recently erected. Enterprise and thrift have been prominent characteristics of Mr. Alter since becoming a resident of the county, in which he is an important factor. On the homestead the following children were born: John K., husband of Mary Doolittle, is a farmer of Danville Township; Isaac W., husband of Hannah Young, resides in Plainview, Pierce Co., Neb., and is a dealer in agricultural implements; Jacob Benton, telegraph operator of Weaver Station, Lee County, is the husband of Hattie Moffatt; Edwin M., husband of Ella Swift, resides in Taylor County.
The death of Mrs. Alter occurred Feb. 18, 1855, and Mr. Alter married Mrs. Elizabeth Delaplain, who was the widow of Aaron Delaplain, he dying in Madison County, Iowa, in 1849. She was the mother of one daughter at the time of her marriage with Mr. Alter, Naomi R., who became the wife of Thomas Shirley, a carpenter at Mt. Pleasant. After the marriage of our subject to Mrs. Delaplain other children came to grace their home: Frank E. wedded Viola Bramhall and both died in Florida; Mary J., Cora B. and Nettie M. reside with their parents. Cora has been a teacher in the public schools of Lee County, she and Nettie having taken courses at Howe's Academy at Mt. Pleasant, and Mary is now completing her musical education at Burlington.
Mr. Alter was one of the early Township Trustees, and was many times his own successor. He was for six years Assessor, and in 1861 was elected Township Treasurer, which position he has filled continuously since, in a manner creditable to his well-known business qualifications. He disposed of an annual average of $3,000 worth of township land for more than a quarter of a century without the loss of a dollar. One of the first to organize the Burlington Insurance Company, Mr. Alter is also one of the original stockholders, charter members and early Directors of that company. In 1885 he was elected Secretary pro tem, and the next year was elected to that office, still serving in that capacity. Having grown wealthy with his years, Mr. Alter lives practically a retired life, although managing his nice farm besides his other business. We gladly give this sketch a deserved place among the pioneers and representative pioneer business men of Des Moines County, of whom Mr. Alter is one of the oldest and best known.
A. Anderson, a prominent fruit grower residing on section 30, Burlington
Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa, was born in Carrollton, Ky., Nov. 1, 1834,
and is a son of Seth and Emily (Goddard) Anderson, the father a native of
Kentucky, the mother of Maryland. They were the parents of three children:
John F., a farmer near Salem, Ore.; Matilda A., who died at the age of
eleven years, and our subject. The two former were born in Des Moines
County. Seth Anderson, with his wife and son James, came to this county in
the spring of 1836, in company with the family of William Garrett. They
resided near the Cascade for one year. Mr. Anderson afterward entering 160
acres on section 30, where our subject now resides. Seth Anderson only lived
about two years after coming to Des Moines County, his death occurring in
1838. He was a public-spirited man, always doing his share in public
enterprises. His widow subsequently married Comfort Peck, a native of
Massachusetts, and to them were born three children: Elizabeth, wife of
Martin Ryarson, a farmer of Union Township, and mother of two children--Paul
and Edna; Hubert C. wedded Ellen Kyle, a native of Mercer County, Ill., and
two sons were born to them; Ray Clarence is a farmer in Burlington Township.
Mrs. Peck is yet living, and resides in Burlington Township. She has been a
life-long member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and an active worker for
about the age of twenty-three our subject began the battle of life for
himself, and well has this battle been fought. Always industrious, he soon
gave his attention to fruit-growing, and is now extensively engaged in
raising fruit and garden products. About the year 1843 he and his mother
made a trip to Mississippi, visiting there until 1845, when they returned to
this county, and in 1846-47 they traveled through Arkansas. In the fall of
1849 the house that afterward became the home of Mr. Anderson was erected.
The timber composing the house is oak and hickory, and the roof is made of
shaved pine shingles. But little does the present generation know of the
privations and toils which made up the life of the pioneer settler. Indians
were numerous in this part of the country at that time. Where once was
unbroken timber, now, as far as the eye can see, stretch broad, cultivated
farms, the trees being felled in the daytime, and the brush burned at night.
The flowery path of knowledge was untrodden in those days, the little
education received being obtained under great disadvantages. Mr. Anderson
attended the log school-house, with its slab seats, puncheon floors and huge
fireplace. The boys in those days were compelled to rise before daylight,
saw logs until school time, then run to school, back again at night, sawing
logs until dark, when the chores had to be done, and then after supper shell
corn until 10 or 11 o'clock.
Anderson, on the 10th of September, 1861, was united in marriage with Miss
Mary E. Vertz, who was born in Indiana County, Pa., April 26, 1839, and is a
daughter of George and Mary (Wheeling) Vertz, both of whom were natives of
Pennsylvania. Four children have been born to the union of Mr. and Mrs.
Anderson: Virginia, born Aug. 16, 1862, is the wife of Albert P. Harvey, a
resident of Scranton, Pa., and they have one daughter, Alice M.; Frank B.,
born in 1863, married Miss Rickey Middleman, a native of Germany; Horace C.,
born Feb. 19, 1865, wedded Miss Nellie Vance, a native of Des Moines County,
and resides in Scranton, Pa.; Lilian E., born March 7, 1870, is still with
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he has always been an active worker. His life is worthy of commendation, and one that the young men of today would do well to follow. With scarcely any early advantages, he has yet gained an honorable place in the business world, and his rank in the social world is as high. In his temperance principles he is firm, having never used tobacco in any way, and as much can be said of his use of liquors. This is a record any one might be proud to possess, and such a legacy given to the children is more priceless than gold. Mr. Anderson attributes his good health to his temperate habits; during his whole life his doctor bills only amount to $5. Politically, in early life he was a Whig, but since the organization of the Republican party has been an earnest advocate of its principles. Mr. Anderson has witnessed the many changes that have taken place in Des Moines County, and as a pioneer, a gentleman, and a respected citizen, we are pleased to place the record of his life on the pages of one of Iowa's best counties.
Nils Anderson, County Recorder of Des Moines County, Iowa, was born in Christianstad, Sweden, Nov. 10, 1848. His parents died when he was only a lad, leaving him but a small amount of money, which he used for the purpose of educating himself. He attended the common schools and then took a partial course in "Kristianstads Elementar Laroverk." He soon after was apprenticed to the shoemaker's trade, serving five years and receiving his board in return for services rendered. In 1870 he emigrated to Iowa, locating at Burlington, where he embarked in the boot and shoe business, but subsequently was employed by Mr. A. Kaiser as a clerk in a clothing house. He entered the office of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Land Department as clerk in 1878, and remained in said office until Jan. 1, 1887. Mr. Anderson was the nominee of the Democratic party for County Recorder in 1886. He was elected, and entered upon the discharge of his duties Jan. 1, 1887, and has acquired the reputation of being a courteous, careful and competent official. Mr. Anderson has been twice married. His first wife, Mathilda Tornquist, died after a married life of two years. His second union was with Augusta Tornquist, a sister of his former wife, in 1883. By this union there are two children--Carl Plato and Lillie Mathilda. Our subject is a young man of clever attainments, is broad and liberal in his views, public spirited and progressive, and we predict for him a successful career in life. He has a fine physique and a rugged constitution, qualities eminently fitted to do battle for life.
Augustine M. Antrobus, attorney-at-law, Parsons Block, Jefferson street, Burlington, Iowa, has been a resident of Des Moines County since 1845, and was born in Decatur County, Ind., May 16, 1839. His parents, Thomas Hamilton and Elizabeth (Donnell) Antrobus, were natives of Bourbon County, Ky. The father was born in 1811, and was of English descent, though the family had been residents of Pennsylvania for several generations prior to removing to Kentucky. The mother was descended from the Scotch, and came of an old Kentucky family. Augustine came with his parents to Des Moines County, Iowa, in 1845, when but six years of age. He was educated at the Iowa Wesleyan University, at Mt. Pleasant, taking the University course, and graduating in the class of '65. The next year he began the study of law in the office of Henry Ambler, of Mt. Pleasant, was admitted to the bar in 1867, and established practice at Burlington the same year, which he has continued to date, covering a period of more than twenty years. During this time he has built up an extensive practice, and by his ability and strict attention to business, has established a reputation as one of the leading members of the local bar. The existing partnership with William C. McArthur, under the firm name of Antrobus & McArthur, was formed in 1885.
On the 13th of January, 1873, at Burlington, Iowa, Mr. Antrobus and Miss Arpin C. Ross were united in marriage; the lady is a native of Westmoreland County, Pa. Three children were born of their union: Margaret, who died at the age of seven years; Ernst and Edgar, twins; the first-named died in infancy; the latter is now eight years of age. In his political views Mr. Antrobus is a Republican, but has never sought or desired public office. He has also taken a warm interest in educational matters, has been a member of the School Board for nine years, and is now serving as President of that body. Mr. and Mrs.Antrobus attend the Presbyterian Church.
Edward Gillam Archer, a prominent farmer and breeder of fine stock, residing on section 32, Yellow Spring Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa, is the owner of about 1,000 acres of land, all under his own management. He is a son of Hezekiah and Mary (Black) Archer, the former a native of North Carolina, and the latter of Tennessee. In early life they removed to Bond County, Ill., where the husband entered lands and improved several farms. In 1835 they again emigrated to a new country, settling on section 6, Franklin Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa, where Mr. Archer purchased a claim, upon which he made many improvements, and there spent the remainder of his days, his death occurring June 9, 1872, at the ripe old age of eighty years. His wife, the mother of our subject, departed this life in 1855, at the age of fifty-six. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. An adherent of the Whig party, and strongly in favor of the abolition of slavery, Mr. Archer, at the organization of that body, joined the Republican party and advocated its principles during the remainder of his days. A friend to education, he was always ready to advance its interests. A man of good business ability, he accumulated quite a fortune, though he was always liberal with his children. Mr. and Mrs. Archer were the parents of eight children, all of whom are highly respected people, namely: George, a farmer of Salinas County, Cal.; William, also a farmer of that county; Nancy, wife of E. I. Thomas, a farmer of Yellow Spring Township; E. G., our subject; Dewitt T., now of California; John, a farmer of Stockton, Cal.; Elisha, a real-estate agent of Salinas, Cal.; and Elizabeth, wife of Milton Thomas, a resident of Los Angeles.
Edward G. Archer, our subject, was born in Bond County, Ill., Aug. 10, 1823, was reared on a farm and remained with his parents until the age of twenty-one, when his father gave him 160 acres of raw land on section 32, Yellow Spring Township. At once he began its improvement, and on this land he yet resides, though he is now the owner of 1,000 acres. In February, 1851, Mr. Archer was united in marriage with Nancy E. Talbott, a native of Kentucky, and by this union twelve children have been born--James M., a farmer of Mills County, Iowa; George H., now residing with his father; Charles, who is engaged in farming in Barton County, Kan.; Emma E., wife of John Williams, a resident of Portland, Ore.; John, a farmer of Yellow Spring Township; Thomas E., a farmer of Johnson County, Neb.; Samuel, residing in Ness County, Kan., where he is engaged in farming; Nancy A. became the wife of William McDonald, of Decatur, Kan.; William, Jennie and Ida yet live with their parents; Hezekiah died at the age of seven years.
Mr. Archer has held various township offices. In politics is a Republican, and strongly advocates the enforcement of the prohibition laws. He and his wife are both members of the Presbyterian Church. In business Mr. Archer has been a remarkably successful man. Having commenced with an unimproved farm of 160 acres, he has, by his diligent labor and intelligent enterprise gained a position as a farmer and stock-raiser second to none in Des Moines County, and to but few, if any, in the State of Iowa. He is believed to be the oldest settler now living in Yellow Spring Township, and it is with pleasure that we present his sketch to the people of Des Moines County. Mr. Archer commenced the breeding of short-horn cattle in 1870, when he purchased his first thoroughbreds, three in number, of Mr. Miller, of West Liberty, Iowa, and has continued the business until the present time, now owning twelve head, besides a large number of high grades. The past few years he has turned his attention to the breeding of thoroughbred horses, his first purchase being made in Kentucky in 1879. He has continued the purchase of Kentucky horses ever since, and has sold stock worth an average of $5,000 per year. Though he has never trained any horses for the track himself, some of his stock have made good records on the track, one especially, named Easter, now owned by J. Ivey, of Illinois, made a half mile in fifty-one seconds, when two years old. Mr. Archer now has from 90 to 100 head of horses on his farm, and sells from forty to fifty head of cattle per annum.
William Augutta, deceased, one of the prominent and highly respected citizens of Burlington, Iowa, was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England, on the 24th of March, 1828, and was a son of Joseph and Mary (Bonfield) Augutta, both of whom were natives of Bedford, where the father died at a very advanced age, his death occurring prior to the emigration of our subject to America. His mother died after his coming to this country. Our subject was fourth in order of birth in a family of seven children, only two of whom are living: Mary, wife of Thomas Hague, a resident of Bedford, England; and the youngest sister, now Mrs. B. Stretham, of Sheffield, England. The family were all members of the Church of England.
The early life of our subject was spent in his native city, where he received his education, and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to the barber's trade, which occupation he followed in his native land until 1848, when he set sail for America. After a long and tedious voyage of six weeks Mr. Augutta landed in New York City, continuing his journey until he reached Cincinnati, where for a short time he worked at his trade. He again took up his travels toward the West, reaching Burlington in October, 1848, and again worked at his trade. His industry and his upright and honorable dealings won for him the confidence of all his patrons, On the 19th of January, 1855, the marriage of William Augutta and Miss Jane Hayes was celebrated. She was born in Logan County, Ohio, and is a daughter of Samuel and Violet (Watson) Hayes, the father a native of Westmoreland County, Pa., and mother of Logan County, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes were the parents of three children: Robert, a farmer of Oro Fino, Cal.; Maggie, wife of Henry Rosier, an engineer residing at Amboy, Ill.; and Jane, wife of our subject. Mrs. Augutta came with her father to Burlington in 1841, her mother having died when she was yet a child. After her marriage Mr. Hayes made his home with his daughter until his death, which occurred in October, 1880, in Burlington. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Although being slightly lame, Mr. Augutta while yet a lad gave evidence of the pluck and energy which made his after-life successful. He was one of the highly respected citizens of Burlington, and his townsmen honored him by electing him to the office of City Treasurer in 1866. To show that he served his trust faithfully, we need but to say that he was again and again re-elected, holding the position until his death, which occurred April 29, 1872. His energy, industry and enterprise were marked traits in his character, and by these he was enabled to lay up a comfortable competence for the loved ones left to mourn the loss of a kind and indulgent husband. He was a member of the I. O. O. F.; politically, a Democrat; and, religiously, adhered to the faith of the Church of England. Mr. and Mrs. Augutta were the parents of four children: Minnie, book-keeper for Kelley & Co.; Fannie, a teacher in the grammar department of the public schools; Willie, deceased; and Joseph.