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Des Moines County >> 1888 Index

Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa
Chicago: Acme Publishing, 1888.


William W. Nassau, M. D., an eminent physician and prominent business man of Burlington, Iowa, is a native of Pennsylvania, born in Montgomery County, in April, 1832.  His parents were Charles and Hannah (Hamill) Nassau, the father a native of Philadelphia, and the mother of Norristown, Pa.  His paternal ancestors were of German origin, and the family was founded in America before the Revolutionary War, settling in Pennsylvania.  On the maternal side the family are descended from the Scotch-Irish.  Our subject was educated at La Fayette College, of Easton, Pa., graduating in the class of '50, after which he entered upon a medical course at the University of Philadelphia, receiving his diploma in the spring of 1855.  The following fall Dr. Nassau came to Burlington, Iowa, and established himself in practice; with the exception of two years spent in the military service during the late war, he was in constant practice in Burlington until 1882, when failing health compelled his retirement.

Dr. Nassau entered the service in the late war in June, 1861, as Assistant Surgeon of the 2d Iowa Infantry, and was promoted in April, 1862, to Brigade Surgeon by President Lincoln for meritorious conduct on the field of battle at Ft. Donelson and Shiloh.  He was connected with the 17th Army Corps, Department of the Tennessee, and was for some time on the frontier and in New Mexico.  In January, 1863, he resigned his position in the service and returned to Burlington, where he resumed the practice of his profession. In December, 1865, Dr. Nassau was united in marriage with Miss Ellen Bodemann, daughter of Charles William and Ellen (Ellis) Bodemann.  Mrs. Nassau was born at Burlington, where her parents were early settlers and highly respected citizens.  The Doctor and his wife have two children--Eleanor B. and Mabel Louise.

In politics Dr. Nassau is a Democrat.  He is a Royal Arch Mason, a member of Des Moines Lodge No. 1, A. F. & A. M., and of Royal Arch Chapter No. 1, of Burlington.  He is President of Des Moines County Medical Society, with which he has been identified since its organization.  His practice has been extensive and lucrative, and covers a period of upward of thirty years, all passed at Burlington, except the two years spent on duty as army surgeon. In public affairs he has always taken an active interest, and has been instrumental in promoting many important local enterprises and public improvements.  He is connected with the water works and Street Railway Company, is a stock-holder of the Merchants' National and the German-American Savings Bank of Burlington, and is the Vice President of the latter.  He built and owns the post-office building, and was one of the original movers in the matter in building the present elegant opera house, of which he is the largest stock-holder.  The Doctor is recognized as one of the city of Burlington's most enterprising and public-spirited citizens, whose professional and business record has won him the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens, regardless of party or creed.

Greenleaf C. Nealley, deceased, a pioneer of 1844, was born in Nottingham, N. H., Jan. 7, 1810, and was named for Greenleaf Cilley, the husband of his father's sister, and the father of two distinguished sons--Hon. Joseph Cilley, formerly United States Senator from New Hampshire, and Hon. Jonathan Cilley, a member of Congress from Maine, who was killed in a duel in Washington. His father, Edward B. Nealley, was born in Nottingham Square, N. H., Dec. 15, 1784, was a merchant in that place and afterward removed to Lee, N. H., where he carried on the same business and there held various local offices, and was especially distinguished as a friend of education. In 1809, he was united in marriage with Sally True, who was born in Deerfield, Oct. 25, 1789, and was a daughter of Benjamin True of that city. Mr. Nealley was called to his final home in Lee, June 27, 1837, and after his death the family removed to Northwood, residing there until October, 1844, when they came to Burlington, Iowa. In that city Mrs. Nealley died Sept. 28, 1850. Ten children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Nealley--Greenleaf C., our subject; Edward; Frances M. A. became the wife of George Nealley, and both are now deceased; Benjamin F.; Jane; Joseph B., whose sketch appears on another page of this work; Susan J., deceased; Elizabeth S., a resident of Burlington, is the widow of Hon. James W. Grimes, ex-Governor of Iowa, and United States Senator, now deceased; Sarah E., wife of Judge Cyrus Olney, of Jefferson County, Iowa, and who afterward removed to Oregon, where he became Judge of the United States Court, and where both husband and wife and all of their children died; Margaret J., who was the youngest child, died at the age of seventeen in Burlington, Iowa. Greenleaf C. Nealley was of the fifth generation from William Nealley, who was of the Scotch-Irish emigration in the early part of the last century, and settled in Nottingham, N. H., about the year 1725. On his mother's side, he was a descendant of the seventh generation from Henry True, who is supposed to have come from the neighborhood of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, between 1630 and 1635. A deed is preserved which shows that Henry True purchased a house in Salem, Mass., in 1644. Deacon Abraham True, the great-grandson of Henry True, was one of the early settlers of Deerfield, N. H. In 1776, he was one of the signers to the so-called "Association Test," which was sent out by the Provincial Government of New Hampshire to ascertain who were in favor of sustaining the Continental Congress, in the conflict with Great Britain. He was frugal, industrious, honest and pious, and kept "fast days" to the letter, not eating from sun to sun, but honestly and devotedly fasted and prayed. In old age, he would not give up the ways and habits of living which he followed in earlier years, using wooden dishes, plates, bowls, etc., to eat from. He thought them a great deal better than pewter or earthenware, and said the latter would wear out his knives and forks too fast. He was a noble old Christian, and his children and grandchildren loved him as he deserved to be loved. His son Benjamin (1760-1806) was the father of Mr. Nealley's mother.

Greenleaf C. Nealley became the husband of Martha H. Adams, who was born in Gilmanton, N. H., and is a daughter of Thomas and Sophia (Kimball) Adams. They had no children of their own, but adopted a daughter, Frances A., who became the wife of Col. G. H. Higby, a prominent resident of Burlington, Iowa, where they are now living. After spending a few years of early manhood as a merchant in Lowell, Mass., and St. Louis, Mo., Mr. Nealley removed to Burlington, and there made his home for forty years, and until his decease. Upon the death of his father in 1837, he immediately returned to New Hampshire, settled the estate, and removed the family to Northwood, which he improved and made beautiful during the five years of their residence in that town. His own sojourn in the West had endeared this section of the country to him, and he confidently anticipated its growth and prosperity. He advised the removal of his mother's family to Iowa, and brought them here in 1844. He took the most tender care of his mother until her death, Dec. 28, 1850, and was as a kind father to the brother and sisters who remained in the family. Here Mr. Nealley established himself in the nursery business, and from the bare and unadorned prairie, his taste and industry, his enterprise and skill, evolved loveliness, beauty, order, symmetry and gladness, and made the wilderness to bud and blossom as the rose. Shrubs and flowers of every variety, trees of the forest and of the orchard in numbers beyond number, and brilliant exotics of every clime enriched the landscape around him with elegance and fruitage; and thousands of homes, gardens and fields throughout this region, and over Iowa and the Northwest, have shared in the beneficent results of his assiduous labor and care.

As a business man and a citizen, Greenleaf C. Nealley bore an unblemished reputation, and his death, which occurred June 5, 1878, was sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends, to whom he was endeared by his many excellent qualities. His widow still resides in the elegant family home in Burlington, and is widely known for her many deeds of benevolence and Christian charity.

Joseph B. Nealley, deceased, was born in Lee County, N. H., April 17, 1822. On his father's side he was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was of the fourth generation from William Nealley, a native of Ireland, who settled in Nottingham, N. H., about 1725. On his mother's side he was descended from Henry True, a native of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, who settled in Salem, Mass., about 1635, thus connecting him on both sides with the early settlers of New England. His paternal grandparents were Joseph Nealley and Susanna Bowdoin, and their names were perpetuated in his. His parents, Edward Bowdoin Nealley and Sally True, were married in 1809. The former was born in Nottingham Square, N. H., Dec. 15, 1784, and the latter in Deerfield, N. H., Oct. 25, 1789. The mother was left a widow when our subject was quite young, Edward Nealley dying in Lee County, N. H., June 27, 1837. He was a merchant in Lee, N. H., was a man of superior natural ability, held various public offices, and was especially active in promoting the improvement of schools and of society. His wife was a woman of faith, hope and unbounded charity, and a devoted mother.

After the father's death the family remained in Lee County, N. H., until October, 1844, and then came directly to Burlington, where a farm of 200 acres was purchased, and Joseph and his brother Greenleaf embarked in the nursery business. The elder brother had been in the West some years prior to this. They continued in this business until the death of the elder brother, which occurred about the year 1878, at which time it was discontinued. Joseph Nealley removed to the city of Burlington in 1883, retiring from active business. His mother, who had come to Burlington with her children, died Sept. 28, 1850.

On the 5th of January, 1859, Mr. Nealley was united in marriage with Miss Margaret E. Hill, daughter of Dr. Moses and Elizabeth (Clarke) Hill, the father a native of Warner, N. H., and the mother of Northwood, N. H. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hill: Mary F., wife of Gardiner Ingersoll, died in Marengo, Ill., in August, 1885, and was buried in Burlington; Elizabeth C. died in Burlington in 1867; one son died in infancy. Mrs. Nealley completes the family, was the first in order of birth, and was born in Northwood, June 8, 1839. The family came to Iowa in 1851, Mr. Hill engaging in milling until his death, which occurred January 27th, 1876, at Port Hudson, La. He has gone there to attend to business matters, was taken sick and died, his remains being brought back and interred in the Aspen Cemetery near Burlington. He was a Deacon of the First Congregational Church in Burlington, in which he was an active member, and was one of Burlington's wealthy and highly respected citizens. Mrs. Hill also belonged to the Congregational Church and now makes her home with her mother, Mrs. Joseph Nealley. She is now in her seventy-ninth year, and is a most intelligent and well-preserved lady for one of her age.

Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Nealley: Edward M., now a stenographer and student in the office of Judge Power, a leading attorney of Burlington; Lillie, residing at home; and three children who died in infancy.

Mr. Nealley was called to his last rest Aug. 26, 1883, and in his death the county lost one of its best citizens, and the family a kind and indulgent husband and father. At the time of his death, he was one of the Directors and also Vice President of the German-American Savings Bank, and was interested in the Island Mills. In politics he was a Republican. A liberal, generous man, Mr. Nealley gave freely to all Church work and to worthy public enterprises, and was highly honored wherever he was known.

The following is an extract from some remarks made by Rev. William Salter, at his funeral:

"He was the seventh of ten children, of whom only one remains. At the age of twenty-two he came with his widowed mother, his elder brother, the late beloved and lamented Greenleaf C. Nealley, and five sisters, one of them the same age as himself, to the Territory of Iowa, and here, for more than forty years, has been the family home. To him, as to the others of the amiable and devoted circle, life brought its common joy and sorrow. Having borne their part, one and another have gone to their eternal home. Their mutual love and affection, their kindly spirit, their generous interest in whatever has appertained to the improvement of society, the devotion of the brothers to flowers and trees, to planting the bare and naked prairies of the wilderness with orchards and gardens, and embowering the homes of the land with taste and beauty, have entered into the framework and life of our social order, and are among the hidden foundations of the prosperity and happiness we enjoy as a people.

"But as the grass withereth and the flower fadeth, so the beauty and glory of man must crumble and vanish. Enfeebled health and loss of vigor, weariness and prostration attend man, as we have seen the orchards and gardens, planted by the first settlers, blighted with frost, rust and decay. None can resist the ravages of time or the silent footsteps of disease and death. We shall soon say:

'The melancholy days have come, the

saddest of the year,

Of wailing winds, and naked woods, the

meadows brown and sear.'

And now we must lay away the form of our brother in the grave, where the gentle flowers he loved will be shortly gathered in their lowly beds with the fair and good of ours. 'Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'"

The memory of Joseph B. Nealley will long be enshrined in the hearts, not only of his own family, but of hundreds of friends to whom his upright conduct and kindly traits of character had greatly endeared him.

Peter Nees, proprietor of Flora Garden, resides on Starr avenue, north of Mason street, Burlington, Iowa.  He began business in 1869 at his present garden, which consists of four acres of ground, well cultivated and stocked with flowers, fruits, shrubs and vegetables.  He has 3,000 feet of glass in his greenhouse, has over 20,000 potted plants, and is doing a good business.

Mr. Nees is a native of Germany, and was born at Schauffenberg.  He attended school until twenty-one years of age, and in the year 1851, emigrated to America, making his home in St. Louis.  On the 5th of September, 1861, in that city, he was united in marriage with Miss Louisa Reiswick, who was born in Schleswig-Holstein, and came to America, Jan. 12, 1860.  They have been the parents of twelve children, eight of whom are living:  Emma, born June 21, 1862; William married Lizzie Heludahl, and resides in this city; Rosa, born in 1867; Oscar, Jan. 5, 1868; Blanche, March 13, 1869; Jennie, Jan. 4, 1871; Arthur, Feb. 4, 1874; and Peter, Dec. 11, 1878.  Mr. and Mrs. Nees are members of the Lutheran Church.  In politics he is an Independent.

Judge Thomas W. Newman, an eminent lawyer and early settler of Burlington, Iowa, now senior partner of the law firm of Newman & Blake, is a native of Maryland, born in Somerset County, Jan 23, 1829. His family dates its origin in America back to the early Colonial days of the Republic. His paternal grandfather was born in Somerset County, Md., about 1765, and his father, Isaac Newman, was born in the same county in 1799, and died in 1840. His mother's maiden name was Harriet Batson. She survived her husband, and in 1845 removed with her children to Baltimore, where she died a year later, leaving the younger children to the care of Thomas, then but seventeen years of age.

Our subject was educated at Washington Academy, at Princess Anne, Md. He entered upon the study of law at Baltimore in 1848, was admitted to the bar in 1850, and came at once to Burlington, Iowa, where he engaged in the practice of his profession. He was elected County Judge for Des Moines County in 1855, and served until 1857, inclusive. In 1855-56 he was Director of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company. Soon after the breaking out of the Civil War he was commissioned by President Lincoln, Aug. 5, 1861, as Captain of the 11th United States Infantry, and served on detached duty at Burlington, Iowa, and at Indianapolis, Ind., as mustering and disbursing officer. While in the latter place he was military commander of the post during the winter of 1862-63, and was forced to resign in the spring of 1863 on account of failing health. On becoming convalescent, Judge Newman resumed his law practice at Burlington, which was interrupted in the fall of 1874 by his appointment by Gov. Carpenter to the Judgeship of the First Judicial District of Iowa, to fill a vacancy. At the election in the succeeding October, he was elected to the same office to fill the unexpired term, ending Jan. 1, 1875, and also for the succeeding long term of four years, from the last-mentioned date. In 1870, at its organization, Judge Newman was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Merchants' National Bank, at Burlington, which position he has held continuously ever since, and for many years has been its attorney.

Since the establishment of the Burlington University, in 1852, Judge Newman has been actively identified with that institution in various official capacities. He has served as Secretary, Treasurer, member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees continuously. In 1850 he united with the Baptist Church, and has ever since maintained his connection with that society, and for three years served as President of the Iowa Baptist State Convention. He became a Mason in 1851; was a member of the first Masonic Lodge of Iowa, Des Moines Lodge No. 1, A. F. & A. M., and still retains his membership. He is now a Knight Templar, a member of Iowa Chapter No. 1, R. A. M., and of St. Omer Commandery No. 15, K. T., all of Burlington. Judge Newman has served in various special, semi-official capacities in carrying out State and Government projects.

On the 3d of November, 1852, the marriage of Judge Newman and Miss Sarah A. Warren, daughter of the Rev. John and Emma Warren, was celebrated. Mrs. Newman was born near Trenton Falls, N. Y., and is also a member of the Baptist Church. Seven children were born of their union, five of whom are living. There were two sons and five daughters: Hattie E. resides with her parents; Sadie M. is the wife of T. C. Roney, Professor of English Literature, of Shepherdson College, of Granville, Ohio; Warren died in infancy; Nellie, a young girl who was held in high esteem for her many fine qualities, died in the spring of 1873, at the age of fifteen years; Thomas G., now a practicing attorney in the office of his father, was born at Burlington, Iowa, Jan. 14, 1861; he was graduated in the literary course of the State University of Iowa, in the class of '83, and in the law department the year following. The younger children, Josephine and L. Mabel, reside with their parents. Mrs. Newman's father was a minister of the Baptist denomination, whose family was of English descent, and dates its origin in America prior to the days of the Revolution.

Judge Newman is a Republican in politics, and has been an active supporter of that party ever since its organization. He has taken a particularly active part in the enforcement of the laws for the suppression of the liquor traffic, and, while not a regular member of the Prohibition party, is active in temperance work, and a supporter of the laws of the State on that subject as they stand. He has now been a resident of Burlington for thirty-eight years, and is one of the oldest and most prominent lawyers of the State. Educational and religious matters have always excited the warmest interests in his mind, and have received from him a hearty and liberal support. In fact, all worthy public improvements and enterprises have received proper consideration and encouragement at his hands. As a business man, he possesses the entire confidence of the community in which he has lived so long, and where his integrity and honor need no indorsement. Genial and warm-hearted, and an entertaining conversationalist, the Judge is a social favorite in a wide circle of acquaintances. We take pleasure in presenting his portrait in connection with this sketch.