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Henry County >> 1906 Index

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


Biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.

Alcetus D. Latta, who since 1865 has been a resident of Iowa and is now carrying on general farming and stock-raising in Scott township, was born in Ross county, Ohio, October 3, 1844. His father, Moses Latta, was likewise a native of that county and there married Miss Elizabeth Nichols, the latter a daughter of George and Ellen Nichols, who were natives of Ohio. In the paternal line, however, Mr. Latta comes of Irish lineage, his paternal grandfather, James Latta, having been born on the Emerald Isle.

Alcetus D. Latta was reared in Ohio and is indebted to the public school system of that state for the educational privileges he enjoyed. When he had attained his majority he sought a home in the west for he believed that he might have better business opportunities in a district where competition was not so great. Accordingly he made his way by steamer from his native state to St. Louis, Missouri, and thence by rail to Louisa county, Iowa, where he arrived in the fall of 1865. The following spring his parents also came and the father purchased a farm near Grand View in Louisa county and Mr. Latta of this sketch assisted in the development and improvement of that place up to the time of his marriage.

On the 27 th of February, 1867, he was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary Jane Thompson, who was born in Louisa county, Iowa, and is a daughter of William and Jane (Shellabarger) Thompson, the former a native of Ross county, Ohio, and the latter of Xenia, Greene county, Ohio.

Following his marriage Mr. Latta lived upon his father-in-law's farm near Grand View for twelve years and in 1880 he came to Scott township, Henry county, where he purchased sixty acres of land lying on sections 3 and 10. He has made all of the improvements on this place, including the erection of a building, sixteen by twenty-four feet, and a story and a half in height, to which he has since built an addition one story in height and fourteen by sixteen feet. He devotes his time and energies to the tilling of the soil and to stock-raising. He has resided continuously upon his present farm for a quarter of a century and its splendidly improved condition is the result of his care and labor.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Latta were born eight children: May, now the wife of Edward McMath, a farmer residing in Davis county, Iowa; Alpha, who died at the age of seven years; Edith, who died at the age of three years; Harlin, whose death occurred when two years old; William, who died when seventeen years of age; Scott, who is living at home; Jennie, who died, the wife of William Bozman, a farmer living in Wapello county, Iowa; and Addie, the wife of Ralph Patton. The wife and mother died of pneumonia February 18, 1886.

Mr. Latta votes with the Republican party and keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day. He has been elected supervisor a number of times. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church and his life has been guided in harmony with its principles and teachings. As the years have gone by he has worked persistently and earnestly as a farmer to clear and improve the property which he now owns and he is today in possession of a good farm in Scott township.

The Lee Family

The Lee family has long figured prominently in Henry county and the name is inseparably connected with its history, for its members have been active in promoting the material, intellectual, social and moral progress of this part of the state. Fred and Hezekiah Lee, brothers, natives of Ohio or Illinois, came to Henry county in the spring of 1835 and took up separate claims of government land in New London township that are now owned by James Totemeier. John Martin Lee now owns the Fred Lee property.

Both of the brothers who came originally to the county were buried in the Farrel cemetery, where also were interred the remains of two other brothers, John and Jeremiah Lee, who came to this county in 1836. Elias, another brother, died in Illinois.

John and Jeremiah Lee also took up government land, living for some years upon their property before it came on the market. John took up over four hundred acres, of which Samuel Lee conducts over eighty acres. The improvements of that property were all placed there by the Lee family and the parents lived and died upon this farm.

John Lee married Charity Smith, in Bond county, Illinois, and unto them were born twelve children.

Samuel Lee was born in Bond county, Illinois, November 4, 1827, and was educated in one of the old-time subscription schools. He was reared to the occupation of farming and has followed that pursuit throughout his entire business career. He added to his original eighty-acre tract of land in New London township another tract of eighty acres in Canaan township, and at the present time is the owner of one hundred and fifty-six acres of land in section 12, New London township, and eighteen acres in Pleasant Grove township, Des Moines county.

His business interests have been carefully conducted and he has ever followed farming along progressive lines. His life, too, has been upright and honorable and at all times he has exemplified in his daily contact with his fellow men his religious faith as a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He held the office of church trustee both while residing upon the farm and after his removal to New London and in fact is the incumbent of that office at the present time. Politically he has been a stalwart republican since the organization of the party but has never desired office, preferring to do his public service as a private citizen.

Samuel Lee was married to Miss Louisa Burge, a daughter of Jacob and Rachel Burge and unto them were born two children: Ira, who died at the age of two years; and Green, who is now a resident of New London. The wife and mother, Mrs. Louisa Lee died upon the home farm and like her son Ira was laid to rest in the old family burying ground.

For his second wife Mr. Lee chose Mary Jane Leace, a daughter of Thomas and Jane (Walker) Leace. By this marriage there are four children: John, who is living in Morning Sun, Iowa, where he is engaged in the livery business; Florence, the wife of Edgar Peterson, who is mentioned elsewhere in this work; Cora Alice, at home; and Jennie, wife of Frank Seaton, a resident of California.

Thomas Brunce Lee

Thomas Brunce Lee is a representative of one of the most prominent and honored pioneer families of Henry county. The student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the annals of this county without learning of the close, intimate and helpful connection of the Lee family with its public affairs.

Thomas Brunce Lee was born in Bond county, Illinois, June 29, 1835, and is a son of John and Charity (Smith) Lee. In 1836 the father removed to Henry county with his family, locating at the head of Flint creek in New London township, where he purchased a claim from his brother-in-law, Eaton Smith, consisting of a little more than one hundred and sixty acres of land. There were no improvements upon this property, but with characteristic energy he began its cultivation and development and in course of time built a double log house and log barn. He then broke the wild land, placing it under the plow and planting seed which brought forth good harvests.

As the years passed he transformed this once wild tract into a fine farm, upon which he continued to reside throughout his active business career. He afterward sold part of the farm, but retained forty acres up to the time of his death, which occurred April 21, 1878, when he was eighty-one years of age. He had for some years survived his wife, who died in 1865, at the age of sixty-five years, the burial being made in Farrel cemetery.

Mrs. Lee was born in eastern Tennessee east of Nashville, in 1800, and later her people removed to Illinois, where she was married. In the family of John and Charity (Smith) Lee were twelve children. Eliza Ann became the wife of William Miller and is now deceased. Jane married John Redfearn and has also passed away. Sarah became the wife of John D. Hale and is deceased. Elmira is the deceased wife of Isaac Redfearn. Samuel is living in New London and is one of the venerable and respected pioneer residents of this part of the state. John has passed away. Julia Ann is the wife of James Crawford, Sr., who is mentioned on another page of this volume. William is living in New London, but at the present writing is visiting in California. Thomas B. is the subject of this review. Polly Ann is the deceased wife of Stephen Lewis. Charity Ann married John Lewis and has also passed away. Louisa, who completes the family, is the deceased wife of Newton Jones.

Thomas Brunce Lee was reared to manhood amid the wild scenes and environments of pioneer life when much of the land was still in its primitive condition, when the streams were unbridged and the forests uncut and when the work of progress and development lay largely in the future. He shared with the family in the hardships and trials incident to pioneer life and also in the pleasures which were common in those early days. His education was gained in one of the old-time subscription schools, but later a free school was established, its sessions being held in an old log building with slab benches, puncheon floor and other primitive furnishings. The desk was made by laying a rough board upon wooden pins driven into the wall and the school session was of short duration, being held principally through the winter months, for the labors of the children needed upon the farm throughout the remainder of the year.

When not busy with his text-books Mr. Lee was engaged in farm labor and he continuously followed the occupation as a life work until 1881, when he removed to New London, where he has since lived retired. He purchased two hundred and seven acres of land on section 12, New London township. He carried on general farming and stock-raising, bringing his fields under a high state of cultivation and also raising a good grade of stock, whereby his income was materially increased, for he always found a ready sale on the market for the products of his place.

On the 7th of August, 1862, Mr. Lee enlisted at New London as a member of Company K, Twenty-fifth Iowa Infantry and was mustered into the army at Mount Pleasant. The regiment was assigned to General Sherman’s command and he participated in all of the battles and skirmishes with the Twenty-fifth Iowa. They were in almost constant fighting and he also participated in the march to the sea. He took part in the battle of Arkansas Post, Vicksburg and the siege of that city, the battle of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold, Kenesaw Mountain, Resaca and Columbia, South Carolina, the Twenty-fifth Iowa being the first regiment to enter the last named city.

Mr. Lee was also in the engagements at Savannah, Georgia, at Buford, South Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and at Goldsboro, being at the last named place at the time of General Lee’s surrender. He took part in other engagements of lesser importance and was also in the grand review in Washington, D. C., where the victorious army marched through the streets of the city, amid the cheers of thousands who rejoiced that the war had been brought to a successful close. He was mustered out at Davenport, Iowa, and then returned to Henry county, where he resumed his farming operations.

On the 9th of March, 1873, Mr. Lee was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, a daughter of Napoleon and Sarah (Hackleman) Bridges and a native of Des Moines county, born in Pleasant Grove township.

Mr. Lee is one of the worthy and prominent citizens of Henry county. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has for many years served as trustee. Politically he is a republican, but without aspiration for office, preferring to give his time and energies to his business affairs in former years. His careful conduct of his farming interests and his utilization of the resources at his command made him one of the prosperous agriculturists of the community and now with a comfortable competence he is living retired in New London.

William Wesley Lee

In 1890 a new enterprise was added to the growing industries of New London—the New London Banking Company, organized by J. E. Peterson. The first cashier was William W. Lee, a son of New London and a bright, progressive young man, well fitted for his position, having enjoyed the advantages offered by a course of collegiate training in the Iowa State University. He was the first cashier of the institution and with all its growth and changes in management has continued in the same responsible position.

When the company was organized, succeeding the business of R. H. Peterson, the bank had an annual deposit of thirty thousand dollars. It has increased yearly until it has now reached three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, with a surplus and capital of twenty-nine thousand dollars. The first president was John Edgar Peterson, the vice-president, Samuel Keiser, cashier, William Wesley Lee and assistant cashier F. B. Wilson.

At the end of the first year in 1891, when the election of officers took place, Mr. Keiser became president, William Lee, Sr., vice-president, while the cashier and assistant cashier retained their former positions. In 1895 Mr. William Lee, Sr., was chosen president with Mr. Keiser as vice-president and Ross Walker assistant cashier in 1903. The directors at the present time are: Anton Totemeier, W. J. Francy, Samuel Keiser, Hiram Allen, T. B. Lee and William Lee.

William Wesley Lee has always lived in New London and his best interests are closely allied with those of his native town. He was born in the village on March 20, 1863, being a son of William and Sarah Hardin Lee. His father is a much respected business man of New London, one whose sound business judgment can always be relied upon. He is a staunch believer in education and the son early became a student in the New London public schools. After finishing his course there he entered the State University at Mount Pleasant, from which institution he was graduated in 1887.

In order to round out his education he accepted a position as teacher in Henry county and continued in this field of labor for three years. At the end of this time he was chosen to fill the position which he now occupies. For fifteen years he has been the able efficient cashier of this bank and has seen it develop from a comparatively small institution to its present degree of wide-spread business interests. It is now doing over ten times the amount of business it did at first.

Mr. Lee is prominent in religious circles and is identified with the Methodist Episcopal church of New London. He is an active and efficient worker in all that pertains to the welfare of the church. He has been a trustee for three years.

William Wesley Lee was married August 25, 1888, to Miss Louella Grace Wallar, a daughter of W. D. and Peninah (Rosencrans) Wallar. They have one child, Raymond William, a student in the village schools.

Mr. Lee has been remarkably favored both by birth and education. He has had before him, in his father, the example of a successful business man. He has learned by actual experience the value of an education. He is a man of superior business ability and sound judgment and has for a period of fifteen years filled with credit to himself and to his employers the position which he now occupies. He has at heart the success and welfare of his native town. New London is justly proud of William W. Lee.