Review of Henry County, Iowa
Biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.
The Saunders family has been identified with the early settlement and growth of Henry county, Iowa. Presley Saunders pre-empted the land from the government in the year 1834 upon which Mount Pleasant is situated, and laid out the town of Mount Pleasant in the year 1835.
In 1836 his brother, Alvin Saunders, followed him to Mount Pleasant, and, in the spring of 1845, his brother William A. Saunders, came to that town, and, in 1856, his cousin, William G. Saunders, came from Kentucky to Mount Pleasant.
There are no two names more closely identified or better known in Henry county than William G. Saunders and Presley Saunders, to whom this article will more particularly refer.
The Saunders family originally came from England, and the first one of the family now known is Henry Saunders, who was killed in the battle of Culloden, Scotland, in 1756. His son, James Saunders, married Sarah Gunnell in England, and they moved to America in 1746 and settled in Virginia. He died on April 7, 1778, and his wife died September 21, 1793. Their children were Mary, born January 1, 1732; William, born March 21, 1741; John S., born February 1, 1746, and died May 6, 1797; Gunnell, born March 10, 1748; Barbara, born February 20, 1750; Presley, born December 3, 1752, died August 31, 1823; Henry, born September 21, 1755, died February 19, 1823; Moses and James, born November 24, 1757; Cyrus, born December 22, 1760, and died in November, 1822.
Gunnell Saunders, son of James Saunders, above mentioned, lived in Virginia and afterward moved to Kentucky. He had six sons, William, Oliver, Gunnell, Sylvester, Moses and Aaron.
William Saunders, son of Gunnell Saunders, was born in Virginia on March 11, 1780, and when quite young moved with his father to Kentucky, where he resided until the date of his death, February 21, 1870. He was married when quite young in Kentucky to Margaret Mauzy. She was of French descent and was born in 1781 near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her parents moved to Kentucky when she was nine years of age and settled near Sherburne in the same neighborhood with the Saunders family. They moved to Mount Pleasant in the spring of 1856. Both Mr. and Mrs. Saunders were religiously inclined and were members of the Christian church at Mount Pleasant. She died June 15, 1869.
The children of William and Margaret Saunders were:
Eleanor was born February 13, 1805, in Fleming county, Kentucky, and married Isaac Fouche April 20, 1826. Their children were Emily, Margaret, James, Mary, Barbara, Sarah, George W., and Matilda. Those now living are Emily Vandall and James Fouche, who live at Osceola, Iowa; Mary Ball, of Fresno, California, and Barbara R. and Matilda, of Mount Pleasant.
Austin, who lived and died in Kentucky. He left one daughter, who married Joseph D. Ringo, who resides at Sherburne Mills, Fleming county, Kentucky.
Ann, who married Mathew G. Jones. They had three children, -- Jefferson, Thomas and Goldsmith.
Margaret, who married James Garvin. They had seven children: Jasper, Samuel Wallace, Ann Eliza, Sarah Harriet, Mecca, and Julia. Of these Jasper, Samuel Wallace, Ann Eliza, and Harriet are still living, but the only one who now resides at Mount Pleasant is Samuel Wallace, who is an honored citizen and who for a long time has been identified with Henry county and Mount Pleasant, both as a citizen and an official.
William G. was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, December 25, 1815, and on May 25, 1843, he was married by his uncle, Aaron Saunders, a minister of the gospel, in Fleming county, to Harriet Eliza Saunders, the fourth daughter of Henry Saunders, a native of New York state. She was in no way related to her husband. She was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, May 22, 1824, and died in Mount Pleasant, August 5, 1886, after a protracted illness. They moved from Kentucky to Mount Pleasant in the spring of 1858. Mr. Saunders died at Mount Pleasant on December 3, 1899. A more extended description of the life of William G. Saunders will hereafter be given.
Elizabeth, who married Charles Saunders, of Fleming county, Kentucky. She died in Mount Pleasant April 5, 1901, leaving one son, Francis Marion, who lives in Ohio.
Mary married C. W. Saunders, by whom she had two sons, Worthy and William P. After the death of her husband she married Cummings Brown. They had several children, and after the death of Mr. Brown she married William Tolle. Both she and Mr. Tolle are now dead.
Aaron, the youngest son, married Mary Wrenchy in Kentucky,
and moved to Blythedale, Missouri. They were the parents of six children,
Margaret, Alice, John, James, Squire, and Elizabeth. They are both laid
to rest in Blythedale cemetery.
Jonathan R., who was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, on February 17, 1802, and who married Sarah McKinnie, December 18, 1823. They afterward moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he died on April 8, 1886. Their children were Asbury H., and Milton. Milton died at Springfield, Illinois, October 18, 1902, leaving a wife and several children. Asbury H. is still residing at Springfield. He has one daughter, Mrs. Ralph W. Hayes, of Washington, D. C.
Nancy, who was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, March 16, 1806, and who married Amos Locke. They moved to Monroe county, Indiana, where she died. Their children were: Mary Ann, Frances, Sarah, Nancy, Alvin, James, and Louisa. Sarah married Lloyd A. Smith, her husband having died years ago. She had three children. She is now living in Mount Pleasant. Nancy married Thomas Williams. She and her brother Alvin died a few years ago. Louisa married Granville Whisnand, and they are now living in Colorado.
Frances was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, February 21, 1807. She married Robert MacKey and afterward married Arthur Miller, a minister of the gospel. They had no children. She died at Mount Pleasant, February 24, 1878.
Presley, the founder of Mount Pleasant, was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, July 11, 1809, and died in Mount Pleasant July 19, 1889. A more extended sketch of the life of Presley Saunders will be hereafter given.
George was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, August 6, 1811, and afterward moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he resided until his death, May 12, 1898.
Alvin, who was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, July 12, 1815, moved with his parents to Springfield, Illinois, in 1829, and in 1836 he came to Mount Pleasant. He was appointed postmaster of Mount Pleasant by President Van Buren, and served as such postmaster while Mount Pleasant was in the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa Territories. He was a member of the Iowa state senate from 1854 to 1861, and was a member of the Republican national convention, which nominated Abraham Lincoln as president. On March 26, 1861, he was appointed by President Lincoln as Governor of the Territory of Nebraska, which office he held until Nebraska was admitted into the Union as a state, March 27, 1867. He then engaged in the banking business in Omaha, and in 1877 was elected as a member of the United States Senate from that state, which office he held until 1883. He was identified with many important projects and enterprises in Omaha, such as the construction of the Omaha & Southwestern Railroad, the gas works, the smelting works and the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. In 1856 he was married to Marthena Barlow in Washington, D. C. He died at Omaha, Nebraska, November 1, 1899, and was buried in Forest Lawn cemetery, at Omaha. His wife survives him. They had two children, -- Charles L., who resides in Omaha and is engaged in the real estate business and is president of the Omaha Real Estate and Trust Company, and Mary, who married Russell B. Harrison. She is also in Omaha.
William A. was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, August 4, 1818. He moved, with his parents, to Springfield, Illinois, in 1829, and in the spring of 1845 he moved from Springfield to Mount Pleasant, where he engaged in the mercantile and banking business for a time with his brothers, Presley and Alvin. About 1860 he went into the mercantile business by himself, in which business he continued until the date of his death, February 14, 1865. He was a member of the Christian church in Mount Pleasant and was greatly interested in church work. On October 23, 1850, he married Louisa Dickey, daughter of Samuel Dickey, at Mount Pleasant. She was born October 27, 1826, in Indiana, and in October, 1838, moved with her parents to Mount Pleasant. She died in Omaha October 6, 1904, and was buried in Mount Pleasant. They had several children, but all died in their infancy, except one son, William A., who now resides in Omaha, where he is engaged in the law business.
Mount Pleasant became the home of quite a number of the Saunders family, and it has been the last resting place of its older members. Presley Saunders obtained a lot in the city cemetery, dedicated the “family circle”, erected a monument, and in this circle many members of the different branches of the family have been buried.
We wish to refer again to William G. Saunders, who came, with his wife, to Mount Pleasant in the spring of 1858. At the time of his marriage he had no property, but, from time to time, he accumulated a little, when he opened a store in a small place in Fleming county, Kentucky, known as Plumer’s Mill, but owing to its unhealthy location they left that neighborhood and went to Elizaville in that county, where they remained for one year, and then went to Union Mills, one and one-half miles west of Elizaville. There Mr. Saunders built a store building and a small dwelling.
Good news being brought from the settlers who had gone west, they determined to sell out and move to Iowa, so, in the fall of 1857, they sold their Union Mills property and in the spring of 1858 they moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he remained until the date of his death, December 3, 1899, except for two years spent in La Grange county, Missouri, where he was engaged in the dry goods business. After coming to Mount Pleasant he went into the mercantile business and as late as about 1875 he was engaged in the dry goods business at Mount Pleasant.
Mr. Saunders became interested in the First National Bank shortly after its organization in 1866, and was director and officer in that institution until he died. He was the third president of the First National Bank, succeeding Charles Snider to that office.
Mr. Saunders was a man who had strong personalities, was kind and considerate, and had a faculty for making friends. He was a man who believed more in action than in words, and what he did will live after him. He helped many a person over a financial chasm and the numerous charitable things which he did will never be known. His will, which was probated in Mount Pleasant, shows the character of the man. By that instrument he left a valuable estate, and remembered in a substantial way about one hundred and sixty of his relatives and friends living from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Dominion of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. He not only remembered his relatives and friends, but he gave to the city of Mount Pleasant a donation of two thousand dollars, the interest on which amount was to help maintain the city cemetery. He also gave the Christian church two thousand dollars the Christian Science society a like amount.
For about fifteen years before the death of Mrs. Saunders, Sarah Fouche, daughter of Isaac and Eleanor Fouche, sister of Mr. Saunders, came through their very urgent solicitation to make her home with them and live as their own daughter. They were both very much attached to her. She was so sacrificing and kind that Mrs. Saunders urged her to stay and keep the home for her uncle. She promised her before her death, on August 6, 1886, to remain, and did everything she could to make the lonely home cheerful. Mr. Saunders mourned the death of his wife very much and had a memorial of her life published and sent a copy of the book to all her friends. While he was not identified with any church, yet he gave liberally, and practiced the golden rule.
His niece was not permitted to remain long with him, as the staff of his declining years. On July 4, 1898, she was called home, and he was left alone.
Barbara R. Fouche, her sister, came to take her place in the home, and was, at the time of his death, with him. Owing to the confidence he reposed in her, he made Miss Fouche the trustee of a considerable fund that he left for charitable purposes. Many persons mourn his death as having lost a friend who could not be replaced.
WHEREAS, It has pleased our Heavenly Father to remove
from our midst our worthy president, William G. Saunders, be it
Resolved, That these resolutions be spread on the records of the bank, a copy of the same be sent to the members of his household, who have our sincerest sympathy, and that a copy be given the city papers for publishing.
I. P. Van Cise,
He enlisted in Captain Moffet’s company, and was an active participant in the events following, which lead to the capture of Black Hawk. The treaty of 1833, and the settlement of this territory by the whites. He was in the same regiment with Abraham Lincoln, and they were close, intimate and personal friends.
In 1834 he, with his four companions, started west, and finally located on the site of Mount Pleasant, where he set his stakes and pre-empted the land from the government. In February, 1835, he brought his family from Illinois. In 1836 he opened a store in the new village of Mount Pleasant, and there began the business life which he followed, with strict integrity and always with success, for fifty-two consecutive years, making him the oldest merchant in the state.
In the early days Presley Saunders, with his brothers, Alvin and William A., organized a private bank, which they operated safely and successfully. In the year 1862 this bank went under the name of Saunders, Kibbin & Company and continued thus up to the time of its organization as the First National Bank of Mount Pleasant. Presley Saunders was president of the First National Bank from the time it was organized up to the date of his death, July 19, 1889.
In 1830 he was married to Miss Edith Cooper, of Sangamon county, Illinois, but she died at Mount Pleasant in 1836. They had one child, Mary, who married John W. McCoy. In 1837 Mr. Saunders was married to Huldah Bowen. She was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1817, and was the daughter of Isaac and Rhoda Bowen, natives of Maryland and Kentucky.
Their union was blessed with four children, Smith, who lived in Mount Pleasant for quite a number of years, and afterward moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he died on April 15, 1901, leaving two sons, Alvin B., who married Alice Saunders and who died in 1904, leaving a wife and three children who now live in Kansas City, Missouri; Eliza, the wife of John Bowman, now residing in York, Nebraska, and who have three children; and Etna, who married Fred Hope, and who now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her daughter, Mrs. Chester Rouse.
The life of Presley Saunders was full of encouragement to young men who had an earnest desire to succeed. He started only with a capital of a good constitution; was temperate and had frugal habits; was industrious, and was full of perseverance. From these humble beginnings he raised himself to a prominent position in the community and acquired an ample fortune.
William G. Saunders, one of oldest, most respected and influential citizens of this city and county, died at his home on South Jackson street about 11 o’clock Sunday evening, December 3, 1899. His death resulted from heart disease, and was entirely unlooked for at this time, although both he and his relatives had been warned by the family physician that he would quite likely pass away in that manner. Mr. Saunders had been suffering from a complication of troubles for a long time, and his death was a matter of but a few months at best.
However, lately he had been feeling unusually well, and was up town the previous Friday attending to business matters. The same day he was out at his farm making arrangements for the erection of a home. Sunday he seemed unusually bright and ate three hearty meals. In the evening he spent some time looking over the plans for the new farm house, and went to bed at the usual hour. About eleven o’clock, however, his nieces heard Mr. Saunders groaning but reached his side too late to relieve him. Dr. Smith stated that it was a plain case of heart disease.
Mr. Saunders would have been eighty-four years old this coming Christmas. He was born in Kentucky, and came to Iowa in the early ‘50’s. He has always been actively engaged in business enterprises, and is thought to have been one of the wealthiest men in the county. He was at the time of his death president of the First National Bank, and a stockholder in the Savings Bank. Aside from this he possessed large holdings of real estate in the city and county. He also had large investments in Omaha and other parts of the west. His estate is estimated to be worth between $300,000 and $500,000. He made a will disposing of his property this fall.
Mr. Saunders died a widower, and childless. His wife died about fifteen years ago and he never had children. He leaves a brother and two sisters: Mr. Aaron Saunders, of Blytheville, Missouri, Mrs. William Tolle, of Los Angeles, California, and Mrs. Elizabeth Saunders, of this city.
Mr. Saunders was cared for at his home by three nieces, Misses Rena, Maggie and Tillie Fouche, who kept house for him and whom he regarded as his children.
Mr. Saunders and his family were affiliated with the Christian church.
WAS A LARGE FUNERAL.
The active pall bearers were Messrs. James T. Whiting, H. E. Snider, C. F. Snider, W. A. Worthington, James T. Gillis, Charles Hughes, H. J. Twinting, W. E. Keeler, and Fred Van Hon. The honorary pall bearers were Messrs. G. H. Spahr, E. L. Penn, C. V. Arnold, I. P. Van Cise and J. G. Budde.
The interment was in the city cemetery in the “Saunders Circle.” As a mark of respect the First National Bank was closed the entire day and the National State & Savings Bank during the afternoon of the day of the funeral. There were a very large number of relatives of the deceased here from abroad to attend the funeral. Aside from his relatives he had an extensive acquaintance over the city and county that was grieved to learn of his death, even though it had been his lot to round out his four score of years and end a life of unusual energy and success. Mount Pleasant as a community loses one of its best citizens.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.
The last will and testament of the late William G. Saunders was filed with the clerk of the court last Friday. In some respects it is as interesting a document as has been filed there for a long time. It was known that Mr. Saunders was a very wealthy man, and naturally there was much interest among, not only the relatives and intimate friends of the deceased, but also in the community, especially as it was known that it was his intentions to divide his estate up into small bequests.
The will was made August 1, 1899, and is written in his own handwriting, and in his own style. The will is witnessed by Messrs. W. E. Keeler, Fred Van Hon, and H. J. Twinting. W. A. Saunders, of Omaha, and Barbara R. Fouche, of this city, are named as the executors of the will. There is no estimating the amount of Mr. Saunders’s fortune but it was large.
After a touching tribute to his deceased wife, and also to his niece, Sallie Fouche, also deceased, he made his first bequest in the shape of $2,000 to the city of Mount Pleasant, the interest from which should be perpetually used to keep the old city cemetery in order.
He gave to the Christian church of this city $2,000 in cash, and also gave to the Christian Science Society of this city $2,000 to be used for the erection of a church edifice.
A WISE DISTRIBUTION.
The preliminary work of settling the estate of the late W. G. Saunders has already been begun by the executors. Notices are being sent out to the beneficiaries and many a home will be made glad. Mr. Saunders is sleeping the last sleep in the family circle, by the side of his wife and near relatives, but his deeds of love and kindness will go on for years to come. It is seldom that a man of wealth makes such a wise and satisfactory distribution of his property. It seems as if every bequest made was only after a careful consideration of the needs and merits of the beneficiary.
His aim seemed to be to distribute his great estate where it would do the greatest possible good. And after providing for upwards of two hundred relatives and friends with rare discrimination he left a very large sum to be held in trust for the needy. The amount of good that Miss Fouche can do with that fund is beyond words to express. In scores of homes the checks for $1,000 and $500 will come as a Godsend, relieving want and scattering the clouds of anxiety.
W. G. Saunders could not have left a greater monument to his own worth than his own last “will and testament,” and long after the granite shaft that has been reared in the “Saunders Circle” shall have crumbled to dust the splendid work of relieving want and suffering will still go bravely on.
RESPECTS A DEAD WIFE’S WISHES
As preface to his will Mr. Saunders says:
“The writer of this
document, W. G. Saunders, will make this statement or preface in connection
with his last will and testament that he and his wife, H. Eliza Saunders,
who died August 5, 1886, having labored faithfully together all through
their married life, and was so fortunate as to accumulate some property,
and feeling that it is not only his privilege, but his duty to bestow
on those of her relatives and choice as well as those of his own relatives,
knowing it would be her desire.”
Continuing Mr. Saunders pays the following tribute to the memory of Miss Sallie Fouche, who died last year:
“And now his niece, Sallie E. Fouche, who had lived with him so long and was always so faithful and kind and did every thing in her power to relieve and comfort Mrs. Saunders, during her life of affliction, and was always kind to me in looking after every comfort, she having passed away and having made the request that her sister, B. R. Fouche, should take her place in my home, and inherit her bequests in property that was intended for her to be given to B. R. Fouche, and as I believe partly in trust for others. And now I believe it to be my duty to grant her request as I had promised. As I always felt like remunerating her for her unselfish life and as this is the only way I have left to bestow on her is to grant the request, with these preliminary remarks, I will proceed to write my last will in as plain a manner as I can, so as to prevent any litigation or dissatisfaction.”
PAYS AN OLD DOCTOR’S BILL.
Possibly the best testimony in support of his scrupulous honesty and his intent to defraud no man can be found in a note to his will which reads as follows:
“This is to certify that Benjamin Dudley, of Lexington, Kentucky, saved my life by a surgical operation in the year 1837, and giving me medical attention for two months. I had nothing wherewith to pay the Doctor for his services, but promised him as soon as I was able to pay him I would do so. His usual charges in such cases would be $500. I did not feel able to pay that for about thirty years. Since then I have neglected to pay this debt which I justly owe with six per cent interest until paid. Dr. Dudley having died it will be due his heirs.”
Just what Mr. Saunders estate will amount to will not be known until the final report of the executors is made. It is believed, however, that after all the legacies are paid and the expenses of the settlement of the estate deducted there will still be left a large sum to be held in trust for the benefit of the poor. It is thought that it may amount to $100,000. The interest as well as principal is to be devoted to the need of the poor until it is all used up.
It was also a graceful thing to leave the city in trust the $2,000 for the care of the city cemetery. In this plot of ground are buried not only a large number of the Saunders family, but also a great many of the early settlers of the town, and it will be a satisfaction to the relatives of these to know that the cemetery will now be cared for, as it should be. The city of Mount Pleasant has never done the right thing by the old cemetery, and none felt it keener than Mr. Saunders. Half of the proceeds of the trust fund go to the general care of the cemetery and the other half goes to the maintenance and permanent care of the “Saunders Circle.”
Another handsome remembrance was the gift of $2,000 to the Christian church. This church has been struggling under a heavy debt for a number of years, until the members lost courage. The munificence of Mr. Saunders pays off the debt and gives to the members new hope and courage.
His gift to the Christian Scientist of the city is said to be in memory of Miss Sallie Fouche, who was an earnest worker among them.
Elmer E. Scott, whose attention is given to general agricultural pursuits, is the owner of a well improved farm of one hundred and seventy-eight acres, which he has owned since the spring of 1895. He was born in Rome, Iowa, September 2, 1861, and is descended from two of the old families of Pennsylvania. His paternal grandparents were James and Margaret (Shannon) Scott, both natives of the Keystone state. Their son, William Scott, was born in Ohio and wedded Miss Maria Pfoutz, who was a native of Pennsylvania, as was her father, David Pfoutz, who came to what is now Trenton township in the fall of 1838, while the state was a territory, and before the land had been placed on the market by the government. When it was opened for settlement he obtained nearly a section located in Trenton township about three miles northwest from Rome, when neighbors were few. Here he made improvements and lived until the time of his death. There Miss Pfoutz lived until her marriage to Mr. Scott.
The year 1843 witnessed the arrival of William Scott in Tippecanoe township, Henry county, Iowa. Having previously learned the trade of a millwright, he continued to follow that pursuit in this county, building several mills on Skunk river. He also bought land in Trenton township, where he resided for a few years and then purchased land upon which the town of Rome now stands and laid out the village. There he conducted a mercantile enterprise, also operated a sawmill and was proprietor of a hotel and livery barn, which was the stage station before the railroad was built. He capably conducted these various kinds of business up to the time of his death, which occurred in December, 1868. He was distinctively a man of affairs, alert and enterprising and he did much for the upbuilding and improvement of the town as well as for his individual success.
His wife now makes her home with her son Elmer. She came to this county with her parents and they settled about three miles northwest of Rome in Trenton township. In their family were four daughters and a son and the family resided in Trenton township for about ten years. The son continued to make his home there upon the old family property until about 1901, when he sold out and is now living a retired life in Fairfield, Iowa.
Elmer E. Scott is indebted to the public school system of this county for the educational privileges he enjoyed in his youth. He lived with his mother until the spring of 1895, making his home with her in Rome. He conducted the ferry across Skunk river and also farmed after attaining his majority, residing with his mother until the spring of 1895, when he purchased one hundred and seventy-eight acres of land on the Skunk river bottoms. Upon the place was an old barn and house which were very dilapidated. He had these torn down and erected here a residence of eight rooms with cellar underneath. He also built a hay barn, fifty by fifty-six feet, and a cow barn, thirty by forty feet. He likewise built three corn cribs and tiled the land, thus bringing it into cultivable condition. His fields now produce excellent crops and in his pastures are found good grades of stock.
Prior to moving to the farm Mr. Scott was married in October, 1894, to Miss Ellen Newburg, who was born in Sweden and is a daughter of John and Sophia (Johnson) Newburg, both of whom were natives of Sweden and in 1886 came to Henry county, Iowa. They now reside near Lockridge, Jefferson county, this state. Mr. and Mrs. Scott have become the parents of four children: Raymond, born May 3, 1895; Walter, October 6, 1897; George, June 6, 1899; and Edward, July 14, 1902.
Mr. and Mrs. Scott
reside on section 4, where he owns one hundred and twenty-two acres
of land and he also has fifty acres on section 9, and five acres in
another tract. In politics he is a republican, but without aspiration
for office. Fraternally he is connected with Henry Lodge, Independent
Order of Odd Fellows, of Mount Pleasant. He is a man entirely free from
ostentation or display, but of genuine worth and of thorough reliability,
whose word, among those who know him, is as good as any bond.