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Henry County >> 1906 Index

Biographical Review of Henry County, Iowa
Chicago: Hobart Publishing Company, 1906.


Biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.

GUSTAVUS A. DANIELSON, who since 1870 has resided upon the farm which is yet his home, in Jackson township, is one of the worthy citizens that Sweden has furnished to Iowa, his birth having occurred in Ionsherping, Esteryetland, Audlif, on the 14 th of September, 1841. His parents were Daniel and Catherina (Peterson) Swanson and the latter died in the year 1844. The father afterward married again and with his second wife came to America in 1861, making his way to Jefferson county. He purchased a small place near Salina and lived there until 1886, when both he and his second wife died with a week, in April of that year.

Gustavus A. Danielson is indebted to the public-school system of his native country for the educational privileges he enjoyed, but he had little opportunity for attending school, as he began to work on a farm when only eleven years of age. He was thus employed until 1858, when he went to Stockholm and worked for a building master, learning the mason's trade. He spent five years in that way, after which he entered the employ of a grain commission merchant, with whom he continued until 1867. In that year he crossed the Atlantic to New York and made an overland trip to Burlington, Iowa, where he arrived in the month of August. He then went to his father's place, where he remained for six months and at the end of that time began working on the Union Pacific Railroad, spending two years in that service in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. Later he returned to Mount Pleasant, where he worked for John Rhugarber and John Winters, and when his labor had brought him sufficient capital he made investment in property, purchasing eighty acres on section 9, Jackson township, Henry county, in 1870. This was partially improved, with twenty-five acres fenced and three acres broken. He began the further cultivation and development of the place and his labors soon wrought a marked transformation in its appearance, for what was once wild land was converted into productive fields and brought forth rich harvests. His prosperity was indicated by the fact that in 1891 he erected a frame residence of eight rooms. He has also built a barn thirty-six by forty feet, and numerous other buildings and has added one hundred and fifteen acres more to the original tract, so that the farm now comprises one hundred and ninety-five acres. Like most of the Iowa soil, the land is rich and productive, responding rapidly to the care and cultivation bestowed upon it and he therefore raises good crops. He has it all improved with the exception of fifteen acres of timber, and he successfully carries on general agricultural pursuits, in addition to which he raises road horses, cattle and Poland China hogs.

On the 22 nd of April, 1877, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Danielson and Miss Ellen Roudebush, who was born in Ohio, a daughter of Jacob and Saloma (Kuhn) Roudebush, natives of Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Danielson now have a son and daughter: Charles H. L., born February 10, 1878; and Margaret E. J., born September 16, 1879, the wife of T. P. Box, a farmer near Ottumwa. The father was reared in the faith of the Lutheran church, but is now, with Mrs. Danielson, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and his political views are in accord with the principles of the Republican party. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to come to America, for he has found and improved good business opportunities in this country and his labors, unhampered by caste or class, have brought him to a position of local prominence and of affluence in agricultural circles.


Among the successful farmers of Canaan township are many who were born and bred upon the farm, who have followed agricultural pursuits all their lives and have become representative men in the community in which they live. There are many who have gained the deserved prominence they now enjoy through their own energy and steadfastness of purpose. A young and successful farmer of such a type is Frank C. Davey, who was born in Canaan township, July 5, 1871, on the place where he now resides. He spent his boyhood and youth on the home place, assisting his father in the farm work, when he was too young to take responsibilities. He attended school in the district schools and received a good general education.

He is a son of Lewis and Maria (Shopbell) Davey and is, through his father, of English descent, the elder Davey having been born in Devonshire, England. His mother's parents, Jacob and Elizabeth (Huskin) Shopbell, were natives of Pennsylvania. Lewis Davey went to New London and married there in 1851 and lived upon a farm which he leased until 1861. He then purchased eighty acres on section 27, Canaan township, a piece of land which was then in an uncultivated state. He made many needed improvements and at the time of his death in 1902 left the land in a good state of cultivation. He lived to see most flattering results of his early labors. His wife, the great helper in his early days of wresting his land from the wilderness, is still living and is passing her declining years with her daughter, Mrs. W. M. Anderson, of Aurora, Illinois.

Frank C. Davey has always lived upon the old homestead where he has devoted his time and energy to his chosen calling. In 1901 he bought eighty acres of the farm originally belonging to his father, and in 1904 he purchased eighty acres more of the home place. He is a practical farmer and confines himself to no one line, but follows general farming, raising hogs, cattle and horses. October 27, 1902, Mr. Davey married Miss Ida M. Ross, who was a native of Wapello, Louisa county, Iowa. She was a daughter of Hector Ross (of Canadian birth) and Mary Ross. She gained her education in the public schools of Mediapolis, where she was a student until she completed the course of studies. Mr. Davey is a practical farmer and is a man who is constantly seeking the improvement of his productive and well tilled lands. He is politically a democrat, but does not care to take an active part in politics, preferring rather to aid in good government by being a conscientious, faithful citizen, devoted to the welfare of both home and country.

ROBERTS PARKS DAVIDSON is the owner of a valuable farm of two hundred and forty acres on section 23, Scott township. It was here that he was born and he is one of the typical native sons of the county, alert and enterprising, watchful of opportunities for his own business advancement and for the good of the community as well. His paternal grandparents were Judah and Mary (Parks) Davidson, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Kentucky. Their son, James Thomas Davidson, was born in Nicholas county, Kentucky, and when he had reached adult age was married to Miss Nancy Glenn, who was born in that locality as were her parents, Moses Ferguson and Elizabeth (Cowan) Glenn. After residing in Kentucky for a time James T. Davidson came with his family to Iowa in 1858 making the journey by boat from Cincinnati to Burlington, whence he came to Henry county. Here in connection with his brother, Robert P. Davidson, he purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land. James T. Davidson also bought eighty acres of land on which a house had been built, to which he afterward added and removing to that place made his home thereon until he had reared his family of seven children, four sons and three daughters. He was an enterprising, industrious agriculturalist, whose labors were well directed and proved resultant factors in winning for him success. When he had acquired a handsome competence that rendered further labor unnecessary he removed to Winfield in 1893 and there continued to make his home until his demise, which occurred in July, 1902. His wife had died while upon the home farm in 1889. Mr. Davidson was the owner of seven hundred and fifty acres of land at the time of his death and thus left to his family a valuable property and also an honored name, for in all business transactions he was straightforward and reliable.

Following the death of the father the property was divided among the children, Robert P. Davidson retaining the old home place. He has spent his entire life upon this farm and in his youth he aided in the labors of field and meadow when not occupied with the duties of the schoolroom. His early education was acquired in the district schools and his more advanced knowledge was obtained in Cornell College at Mount Vernon, Iowa. Through the periods of vacation he worked in the fields and he is now the owner of two hundred and forty acres of valuable land on section 23, Scott township which was well improved when it came into his possession. The only interval in his life in which he has not been associated with farm work here was from 1884 until 1886, which he spent with a surveying outfit in Texas. He then returned and has since given his undivided attention to farm labor and is accounted one of the progressive, practical and prosperous agriculturists of his community. He votes with the Democracy, but has no aspiration for office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his farming interests.

ASAHEL H. DAVIS is occupying a valuable farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Center township, on which he has resided since 1898. His parents were Hosea and Sarah Abbie (Stevens) Davis, the former a native of Royalston, Massachusetts, born in 1816, while the latter was born in Petersham, Massachusetts, in 1836. The father became a successful physician, having prepared for his profession in Dartmouth College in Vermont, from which he was graduated, while later he pursued a course of study in Chicago in the early ‘50s as a student in Rush Medical College. He entered upon the active practice of his profession in Rushville, Indiana, in 1847, and in 1849 removed to Littleton, Illinois, where he built up a large practice, there continuing to make his home until 1888, when his life's labors were ended in death. His wife survived him for several years, passing away in 1896, and both were laid to rest in Littleton. The father was a stalwart republican in his political views, served as supervisor for several years and was called to still higher political honors, being chosen to represent his district in the general assembly in 1879, thus serving for a two years' term. He was twice married, his first union being with Miss Cynthia Marks, by whom he had two children, one of whom is yet living—Cynthia M., now the wife of Dr. Louis Seeley, of Rushville, Illinois. For his second wife Dr. Davis chose Miss Sarah Stevens and they had seven children: Asahel, of this review; a babe, who died when but six weeks old; John died at age of three years; Abbie R., the wife of Dr. Elmer DeGraff, of Des Moines, Iowa; Glaphyra V., now the wife of Henry P. Garrison, of Littleton, Illinois; Ethel E., who is living with her brother Asahel; and Ernest E., who is a physician of much ability practicing at Avon, Illinois, after completing his course of study in Northwestern College at Chicago.

Asahel H. Davis was born in Schuyler county, Illinois, July 15, 1861, and completed his literary course in the Rushville high school, from which he was graduated in the class of 1881. He then engaged in teaching school at Littleton for a year, after which he turned his attention to farming, which he followed in that locality until 1898, when he came to Henry county, Iowa, settling on his present farm. It was an improved place and he at once undertook the further task of further developing and cultivating the property. He is a general farmer and stock-raiser, practical in his efforts and successful in the result which attends his labors. He now has ninety acres of rich land, the greater part of which is under cultivation, and also operates ninety acres he rents and in the midst of his fields stand good buildings, while everything about his place indicates his careful supervision and practical, yet progressive methods.

On the 20 th of January, 1904, Mr. Davis was united in marriage to Miss Marietta Becker, who was born in this county February 10, 1875, a daughter of Urskine and Hester Ann (Morehead) Becker, the former born in Indiana in 1845, and the latter in Henry county, Iowa, 1851. The father devoted his time and energies to agricultural pursuits for many years but he and his wife are now living retired in Mount Pleasant. He has long voted with the Republican party but has been without aspiration for office. Both Mr. and Mrs. Becker hold membership in the Methodist church, in which he is serving as a trustee. In the family have been born five children: Lillian C., the wife of F. A. Hinkson, resident of New London township; Marietta, now Mrs. Davis; Callie B., the wife of D. H. Palmer, of Henry county; John Wesley, who died at the age of five years; and Myrtle, at home. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have two sons, Harold John and Ralph B.

Mr. Davis exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the Republican party, and while living in Illinois served as town clerk. He is an Odd Fellow, holding membership in Mystic lodge, and his wife is a member of the Methodist church. They have a good home in the midst of a fine farm and are well known young people of Henry county, who occupy an enviable position in social circles, while cordial hospitality is freely extended to them by many friends.

EVAN DAVIS, well known in business circles in Mount Pleasant, where he is conducting an insurance office, was born in Glamorganshire, Wales, on the 3 rd of August, 1842, a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Jenkins) Davis. The father was born in 1800 in the same county and there he followed farming during the early years of his manhood. His wife died when Evan Davis was a little child. In October, 1853, Henry Davis crossed the Atlantic to America in one of the old-time sailing vessels, which was six weeks in completing that voyage to New York. He did not tarry in the east, however, but continued his journey into the interior of the country and took up his abode in the northwestern part of Jefferson township, Henry county. He became a noted stockman and successful farmer and placed his land under a good state of cultivation. His methods were practical and resultant and as the years passed he accumulated a comfortable competence and was known as the owner of a valuable property. He voted with the Democracy and his fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, frequently called to public office. He served as census enumerator, has assisted in other local positions in Wales and here he gave his political support to the Democratic party. Both he and his wife were members of the denomination known in the early days as New Lights. His wife died on the ocean in 1853 and was buried at sea, while the father passed away in Henry county in September, 1884, and was laid to rest in Wayland cemetery. In their family were ten children: David, who died in 1896; Henry, who married Mary E. Davidson and resides in Wayland, Iowa; Mary, the wife of E. E. Davis, residing near Columbus Junction, Iowa; Elizabeth, the wife of John Parks, who is living in Washington county, Iowa; Diana, the wife of R. T. Jones, of Cotter, Iowa; Hannah, the wife of H. D. Fishburh, whose home is in Nampa, Idaho; Evan, of this review; Winnie, the wife of William Sutherland, residing in Washington county, Iowa; Mrs. Sarah Eisenhart, of Page county, Iowa, who died about 1875 or 1876; and John, who married Ada Parks and is now living in Brighton, Washington county, Iowa. The eldest child was educated in the high school at Swansea, Wales, and the others were all educated in America.

Evan Davis was eleven years of age when brought by his parents to the United States and he pursued his education in the district schools and afterward in Howe's Academy in Mount Pleasant, in which institution he spent two years. He later attended the Great Western Business College at Mount Pleasant, from which he graduated. Returning to his father's farm he assisted in the cultivation and improvement until he had made a home of his own at the time of his marriage. On the 29 th of November, 1870, he wedded Miss Elizabeth Williams, who was born in Henry county, Iowa, October 2, 1846, a daughter of Hopkins and Winnie Williams, both of whom were natives of Glamorganshire, Wales. They came to America in 1836, settling in the northern part of Henry county and one of their grandchildren is still living upon the old homestead farm. There were only two houses in Mount Pleasant at the time of their arrival, one being the home of Presley Saunders and the other of Enoch Hills. The nearest neighbors of the Williams family were Indians, who were never hostile but were quiet and were good traders. The family lived in true pioneer style, remaining in the covered wagon in which they had traveled westward until the log cabin was completed. Mr. Williams entered his land from the government—a fact which indicates that not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made upon the place but he at once undertook the arduous task of transforming a raw tract into rich fields, and in the course of time good crops were gathered. In politics he was a democrat, supporting that party throughout his entire residence in America. His wife was a member of the Methodist church and died in that faith in 1879, while Mr. Williams passed away during the war. He was a man of fine physique, large and well proportioned, and both he and his wife were pleasant, agreeable people who won the friendship of many with whom they came in contact. In their family were three sons and six daughters: John and Mary, now deceased; Mrs. Ann Evans, of Wayland, Iowa; William, of Wayland, Iowa, who married Miss J. L. Howard, now deceased; Rachel, who has passed away; Sarah, the deceased wife of David Davis, who has also departed this life; Jane, the wife of Solomon Cavenee, a resident of El Campo, Texas; Benjamin, married Jennie Benham, and is living in Taylor county, Iowa; Elizabeth, now Mrs. Davis. All of the children were reared and educated in this state.

Following his marriage Evan Davis purchased a farm of one hundred and seventy acres in Henry county and devoted his attention to the tilling of the soil and to stock-raising. He placed all of the building upon his farm, erecting substantial structures for the shelter of grain and stock and he added all modern equipments, including the latest improved machinery. His farm was ever neat and thrifty in appearance and indicated his careful supervision. He remained thereon until October, 1892, when he put aside the duties of agricultural life and came to Mount Pleasant, locating at No. 405 North Main street. He purchased and remodeled the property there, converting it into a fine residence. In 1893 and 1894 he was engaged in the poultry business and since 1895 has been engaged in the insurance business, representing reliable fire and life insurance companies, including the Des Moines Fire Insurance Company, of Des Moines, Iowa, and the Iowa State Insurance Company, of Keokuk, also the Merchants' Life Insurance Association, of Burlington. On the 24 th of June, 1905, he purchased the business conducted under the name of the Mount Pleasant Milling Company and is now proprietor, while W. M. Allison is manager.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Davis have been born three children: Ada Blanche, born in Henry county on the 12 th of December, 1876, was educated in the graded schools of Wayland, and continued her studies in the Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant. She is now the wife of Adam L. Foggy, who resides seven miles east of Mount Pleasant and they have two children, Lenox Davis and Ruth Elizabeth Foggy. Anna R. was born December 7, 1880, attended the high school in Mount Pleasant and afterward the Conservatory of Music in this city. She is now the wife of William M. Allison, who is manager of her father's mill and they reside on North Lincoln street. Grace E. Davis, born in Henry county, December 18, 1882, was graduated from the Mount Pleasant high school and spent two years as a student in the Iowa Wesleyan University. She was married on October 11, 1905, to George T. Hill, of Burlington, who now resides in Mount Pleasant and is cashier of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, at this place. Mrs. Foggy was married in 1894 and Mrs. Allison on the 27 th of February, 1904. Mr. and Mrs. Davis are devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal church and have a wide acquaintance in Mount Pleasant, while the hospitality of their home is greatly enjoyed by their many friends. For more than a half century Mr. Davis has resided in Henry county and is therefore largely familiar with its history from its pioneer epoch down to the present time.

WILLIAM DAVIS, of Mount Pleasant, is the owner of one of the largest and finest farms in this section of Iowa, having seven hundred and fifty acres in one body, and for many years he has been a leading stock-raiser of this section of the state, his extensive and profitable business interests bringing to him a large measure of success. He was born in Newark, Licking county, Ohio, on the 22 nd of June, 1824, and is a son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Roberts) Davis. The father was a wheelwright by trade, and after following that pursuit for a time turned his attention to the butchering business. His last days were passed in Danville, Illinois.

In the public schools of his native state William Davis acquired his education, and in 1846 started westward, locating first in Attica, Indiana. He herded cattle in Chicago in 1847, and was acquainted with some of the pioneer residents of that city who have since become famous for their enterprise and wealth. Mr. Davis engaged in buying cattle, shipping at times as many as a hundred head in a single lot to Kentucky, and also making shipments to New York. He was very successful in that undertaking, and he also handled hogs. He spent ten years in Lafayette, Indiana, and then came to Iowa, settling in Mount Pleasant, where he built a pork-packing house, thus establishing one of the early successful industries of the city. He also bought the farm formerly owned by the heirs of John Sample, six miles west of the city, comprising seven hundred and fifty acres of valuable land, and on this farm Mr. Davis made his home for many years and has made most of the improvements. This he made his home till 1900, although he had lived in town during the winters to educate his children prior to retiring. In 1900 he bought a pleasant home opposite the Seeley Memorial building, and has since lived retired. This is largely a stock farm, although he raises grain to some extent. It is one of the large farms of the county, all in one body, with only one road through it, and with a railroad on the northern boundary. He still owns this place, but of recent years has rented the land.

In 1854 Mr. Davis was married to Miss Eliza Sample, a daughter of John and Ann (Taylor) Sample, who came from Randolph county, Indiana, being natives of Ohio, to Augusta, Iowa, in 1839, and after one summer removed to a farm he bought in Tippecanoe township, and there lived until eight of his family died of the cholera, in 1851. Miss Sample being left with a number of orphan children of four families, brothers and sisters, her brother came from Indiana and took her back with him. Those were hard days, she having to bury her own brother and undergo many other heart-rending trials. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Davis occurred at Lafayette, Indiana. She came to the middle west in 1839, locating north of Skunk river. She is one of the oldest settlers of the county, having resided here for sixty-six years, and can remember when the Indians were numerous, having not yet left their old hunting grounds for the reservations farther west. Wild game was to be had in abundance and wild animals were numerous, and the homes of the settlers were mostly built of logs. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have but one child, Nina, who was born in Mount Pleasant, and is the widow of Robert Buchanan. She resides in Denver, Colorado, and has four children: Henry, Walter, Smith and Robert Lloyd, all of whom are enterprising men of excellent business ability.

Mr. Davis bought his present residence in the fall of 1900. He has lived in Mount Pleasant and vicinity for a half century, having begun the construction of his pork house May 1, 1856. This was the first packing establishment west of Burlington, and he recalls many changes, not only in the county, but also in the state. He was made a Mason in this city, being a member of Henry Lodge No. 55, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He voted for William Henry Harrison in 1840, and continued a supporter of the whig party until its dissolution, when he joined the ranks of the then recently organized republican party, of which he has since been a stanch advocate. He is a pioneer of the middle west, who by the utilization and improvement of business opportunities has advanced from a humble financial condition to one of wealth and affluence.

WILLIAM H. DEAL is the owner of a good farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Scott township and its present condition of advanced improvement is due entirely to his efforts, for all of the buildings save the house have been placed here by Mr. Deal, who is progressive in his farm methods and successful in his results.

He was born March 24, 1859, in Des [sic] school education in Henry county, having removed thereto with his parents, Aries Brotherton and Mary Elizabeth (Hester) Deal, the former a native of Lafayette county, Indiana, and the latter of Dublin, Indiana. His paternal grandparents were W. H. and Margaret (Brotherton) Deal, both natives of Pennsylvania. The parents of our subject were married in Dublin, Indiana, on the 5 th of November, 1852, and there resided until 1858, when they came to Iowa, settling in Des Moines county, where the father purchased a farm in Franklin township, comprising eighty acres of land. He lived there for about three years and then sold out, after which he went to Louisa county, where he purchased a farm, residing thereon for two years. On selling that property he bought eighty acres of land in Scott township, Henry county, and that he prospered in his undertakings is shown by the fact that at the time of his death he was the owner of seven hundred and twenty acres of valuable land, all lying in this county. He was a man of good business ability, executive force and keen discernment and he realized that earnest labor is the real basis of all prosperity. On the 7 th of October, 1892, he was called to his final rest and he is still survived by Mrs. Deal, who resides upon the old homestead with her daughter, Mrs. Annie E. Spray.

William H. Deal is indebted to the public school system of Henry county for the educational privileges he enjoyed and he remained with this parents until the 27 th of November, 1883, when he was married to Miss Virginia Alice Snyder, whose birth occurred in Pleasant Grove township, Des Moines county, while in the common schools of Henry county she acquired her early education, which was supplemented by several terms' attendance at Howe's Academy in Mount Pleasant. She afterward engaged in teaching school in Des Moines and Henry counties until her marriage and she is a lady of intellectual and native culture and refinement. Her parents were James and Mahala (Doty) Snyder. The father was born near Wheeling, West Virginia, and the mother's birth occurred in Ohio. In 1845, after being left a widow, she emigrated to Linn county, Iowa, where she lived until her death, which occurred in 1880.

Following his marriage W. H. Deal took up his abode upon one of his father's farms comprising one hundred and sixty acres of land, constituting the northeast quarter of section 34, on which he still resides and owns. He has laid about seven hundred rods of tiling upon this place and has built all of the fences, nearly all of which are of woven wire. He bought eighty acres of land from A. V. Riggs in 1895, for which he paid sixty dollars per acre, and in the spring of 1902 he added eighty acres adjoining on the east, for which he paid seventy-five dollars per acre. This property today, however, could not be purchased for one hundred dollars per acre. His second tract of one hundred and sixty acres constitutes the southwest quarter of section 26, Scott township. He has put in eleven hundred and thirty rods of tile and the productiveness of his land is shown by his splendid crop which he raised in the year 1905. He carries on general agricultural pursuits, cultivating the various crops adapted to soil and climate and he also has good stock upon his place, including twenty head of horses, twenty-four head of Durham cattle, forty-five hogs, twenty-one head of thoroughbred Shropshire sheep.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Deal have been born four children: Leslie Snyder, born August 19, 1884, has been a student in the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant since the 13 th September, 1904, preparing himself for the ministry. Amy Clara, born March 10, 1886, was married February 25, 1904, to Arthur A. Aronhault, a farmer of Louisa county, in which locality he was born. Carl Arius, born May 31, 1889, and Guy James, born March 11, 1891, are at home. The family is prominent socially and the members of the household occupy an enviable position in social circles. Mr. and Mrs. Deal hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has served as steward since 1903. He also belongs to Winfield Lodge, No. 4, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and gives his political support to the Republican party. Starting out in life on his own account he has made steady advancement through his persistency of purpose and untiring labor and now has valuable farming interest, being recognized as one of the leading and substantial agriculturists of his community.