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Henry County >> 1888 Index

Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Iowa 
Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1888.


Unless otherwise specified, biographies submitted by Pat Ryan White.

David Rainey

Of Section 30, Tippecanoe Twp., David Rainey was born in Ireland in 1818, the son of James and Nancy (Green) Rainey.  He came to Belmont County, Ohio and remained there until 1844 when he removed to Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, residing there for one year. In 1847 he purchased 60 acres in Tippecanoe Township.

He married Catherine Hall who was born in Belmont County, Ohio, the daughter of Samuel and Christiana Hall. They had three children: Christiana, who died in infancy; Samuel, who enlisted in Co H, 4th Iowa Infantry. He served three years, re-enlisted and was killed at the battle of Atlanta. He lies buried among the lost heroes who died on the field.

He married second in the Spring of 1848 to Christine Barton, who died in 1885. They had a son John, who died at age six in 1853. David enlisted in Co. I, 14th IA Infantry and served four years.He was in the battles of Ft. Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, Ft. DeBussey, Louisiana, Pleasant Hill,and Tupelo. He was taken prisoner at Pittsberg Landing and was held captive for three months at the loathsome prison at Macon, Georgia.

He was a member of the Baptist Church and was a Republican. He was a member of the G.A.R. He came to America in 1833.

Jacob L. Renshaw

Jacob L. Renshaw, residing on section 27, Scott Township, Henry Co., Iowa, was born in Fayette County, Pa., Feb. 22, 1841.  His parents, Samuel and Mary (Longmecker) Renshaw, were both natives of Pennsylvania, though the mother was of German descent and the father of Irish.  Jacob was reared upon a farm, and at the age of twenty-one he responded to the country's call for volunteers to put down the Rebellion, and became a member of the 168th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1861, serving thirteen months.  He participated in the battles of Goldsboro, N.C.; Ft. Macon and Harper's Ferry.  After his discharge he returned to Pennsylvania, where he was engaged in farming until 1867.  He then sold out, coming to Henry County, where he purchased forty acres of land on section 27 of Scott Township, which has been his home ever since.  Besides his farm in Henry County, Mr. Renshaw owns 160 acres of land in Dakota.

In 1865 Mr. Renshaw wedded Emily Nixon.  She was born in Pennsylvania, and her parents, Moses and Louisa (Bailey) Nixon, were natives of the same State.  Mr. and Mrs. Renshaw have three children: Ewing, a carpenter of Winfield, Iowa; May, wife of Walter Henderson, a resident of Neosho County, Kan., and Ray P., at home.  Mr. Renshaw and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church.  Politically, he is a Republican, while socially, he is a member of the G.A.R. and A.F. & A.M.

Samuel Renshaw, the father of our subject, spent his whole life upon a farm.  He died at the age of fifty-nine, and his wife at the age of fifty-seven years.  They were both members of the Dunkard Church, and reared a family of eight children, four of whom are now living: James residing in Pennsylvania; our subject; Frances, wife of Robert Ross, of West Virginia, and John, who now resides in Kansas.

Mrs. Renshaw's father also spent his life in tilling the soil.  He departed this life in 1857 at the age of forty-five years.  Her mother is still residing in Pennsylvania at the ripe old age of seventy-three.  She is a consistent member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Mr. and Mrs. Nixon were the parents of ten children, all of whom reside in Pennsylvania with the exception of Frances, wife of Azel Freeman; Anna, wife of Thomas Ringland, of Scott Township; Presley, of Wayne Township, and one brother in Dakota.  William, a former resident of this county, was a soldier in the 25th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

Israel Ross submitted by Dick Barton

Israel Ross, a farmer residing on section 9, Scott Township, Henry Co., Iowa, was born in Brown County, Ohio, Nov. 16, 1815. He is a son of Thomas and Deborah (Jennings) Ross. The Ross family were natives of Virginia, of Scotch ancestry. Of the Jennings family but little is known except that the grandmother, Charity (Freeman) Jennings, was born in Europe, and when a child came to America. Her parents later moved to Kentucky, and were there during the troublous times when the Indians were hostile, and the family were occasionally forced to take refuge in a boat, and to avoid capture would paddle to the other side of the Ohio River. The Jennings family later removed to Brown County, Ohio, near Georgetown, where the venerable parents lived and died. Thomas Ross became the husband of Deborah Jennings in Brown County, where both families were early settlers. Prior to marriage Mr. Ross ran a keelboat upon the Ohio River, and made regular trips between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. His boat occasionally made a trip to New Orleans, carrying the products of the country, as there were no railroads at that time. When a boat was sent to New Orleans the return journey had to be made on foot or horseback, it being impossible to bring the boat up stream.

After his marriage Thomas Ross settled on a farm, and reared a family of children: Israel, our subject; Margaret, who wedded David Vandyke; Sarah, the wife of Winfield Wright, and after his death of Dr. Dennis Callihar, of Hillsboro, Highland Co., Ohio; John W. became the husband of Miss Power; Thomas wedded Amy Snedaker; Isaac wedded Hannah Day; and three others died in childhood. All the sons of Thomas Ross, Jr., are ministers in the Methodist Church, except our subject, who learned the tanner's trade with the father of Gen. Grant, and was a bosom friend of the lamented General and President. They frequently slept together, and on one occasion, while bathing in a creek, Israel saved the life of the future President, who was younger than he, and had strangled and gone down in the water. After completing his trade Mr. Ross farmed for awhile, and then worked at journeyman's wages for Mr. Grant for some time.

For two years prior to his marriage Israel Ross engaged in farming, and on April 13, 1841, Miss Elizabeth Jennings became his wife. They began their domestic life upon a small farm, and two years later Mr. Ross erected a tannery upon his father's farm, and for several years was engaged in business there. In 1855 he removed with his family to Marion County, Iowa, settling first in Knoxville Township, near Knoxville. In March, 1861, he purchased and removed to the farm, at that time fairly improved, and which he yet owns. Here for years Mr. Ross has lived and prospered, his children have grown to maturity, the good wife and mother, who was a true one in every sense, lived to see the country well developed, schools, churches and railroads built, and to her all seemed prosperous, when the death angel came and carried her away, Jan. 13, 1885.

Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ross: The three eldest died in childhood, while the family were living in Ohio. The others were: Jasper, now husband of Melinda Ross; John A., married to Emma Blockmartin; Isaac W., wedded to Emma Willis; and Diana, were all born in Ohio. Adeline, wife of John Rittenhouse; Arethusa, J. F., Amy and Maggie J. were born in Iowa, the two latter in this county, on the old homestead.

Township offices have been repeatedly filled by our subject, who has, however, always preferred the management of his farm, and the privacy and comfort of his pleasant home. Since the death of his wife Mr. Ross has taken life easy, and his son Jay assumes the management of the farm. In an elegant home, made attractive by prosperity and the bright faces of his younger children, Mr. Ross is passing the evening of a well-spent life in deserved ease and comfort, and for his years is a remarkably youthful and well-preserved man. He has ever been a citizen of whom his countrymen are proud, and his family rank second to none in social circles.

Samuel Ross submitted by Dick Barton

Samuel Ross, deceased, was among the settlers of Henry County in 1848. He was born in Perry County, Pa., Feb. 4, 1808.

In his native State he remained until he was sixteen years of age, in the meantime receiving a liberal education in the common schools, being of a studious nature. From Pennsylvania he removed to Ohio in 1824, where he remained until he came to Henry County. Mr. Ross was twice married, first to Maria Elliott, who died in 1842. One child of this union, Thomas Scott Ross, is now residing in Boone County, Iowa. Mrs. Ross was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ross, in 1843, wedded Miss Eliza Knox, a native of Roane County, Tenn., born Dec. 11, 1812, a daughter of William and Margaret (Armstrong) Knox, who emigrated to Miami County, Ohio, in 1815, at which time that county was very sparsely settled, Mr. Knox locating in the heavy timber, which he cut down and transformed into a well-cultivated farm. In politics he was an old-line Whig and took an active interest in political affairs. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Knox consisted of seven children, four of whom are living: Armstrong, in Preble County, Ohio; Mary, widow of John Brown, resides near Pickaway, Ohio; Eliza, widow of Samuel Ross, the subject of this sketch; James resides in Paris, Ohio. Mr. Knox died July 10, 1827, and Mrs. Knox in 1839. They were reared in the Presbyterian faith, but in later life were members of the Christian Church.

In 1848 Mr. and Mrs. Ross came to Henry County, Iowa, and located in Center Township, Henry County, a mile and a half from the business center of Mt. Pleasant. Here Mr. Ross engaged in farming, in which occupation he continued until his death, Sept. 12, 1872. Three children blessed the union of Samuel Ross and Eliza Knox, all of whom are yet living: Demaris, now the wife of Oliver Berriman, of Atchison, Kan.; M. Ella and Fanny. Two daughters are now engaged in the chinaware business at Mt. Pleasant and are enjoying a fine trade. Mr. Ross was a friend of education and gave to each of his children all the privileges desired in the way of becoming thoroughly educated, which privileges they readily availed themselves of, and which have been of great practical benefit to them. He was a sincere Christian man, a member of the Presbyterian Church for many years. A kind and loving husband, and an indulgent father, his death was sincerely mourned. Mrs. Ross is still living and is the owner of 152 acres of fine land, valued at $75 per acre. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church, with which body she has been connected for many years. In all work of the church she is greatly interested, and has always been ready to do her part for the advancement of the cause. A resident of the county for a period of forty years, she is well known and universally respected.

Samuel H Ross submitted by Dick Barton

Samuel H Ross a prominent and influential citizen of Henry County, residing on section 27, Marion Township, was born in Westmoreland County, Pa., Nov. 25, 1799. His parents were John and Mary (Cochrane) Ross, she being a niece of William Finley, associate of Gen. George Washington, and a brother-in-law of one of the members of the old Continental Congress. Her grandfather Cochrane was a Captain in the Light Horse Guards of Gen. Washington, he acting as Washington's body-guard for seven years afterward. Mr. and Mrs. Ross were the parents of eight children: Samuel H., of Mt. Pleasant; Sarah married John Magill, both how deceased; their son William is one of the prominent men of Pennsylvania, having served as Justice of the Peace in West Deer Township, Allegheny Co., Pa., and four terms in the State Legislature, being prominently spoken of for State Senator by the Republican party. John died in Allegheny County, Pa. in 1885, leaving four sons and two daughters; he was an Elder in the United Presbyterian Church. Rhuma, wife of Thomas Cox, died in Cincinnati, Ohio; George W. was united in marriage with Miss Ester Irvin, and now resides in Allegheny County, Pa., on the old home farm; Eliza, deceased wife of Robert Cunningham, a resident of Allegheny County, Pa.; William died when a young man, and Mary A., the widow of Allen Aber, resides in Allegheny County.

Our subject remained under the parental roof until he was twenty-two years of age. The father being an invalid, the care of the family fell upon the mother and himself, while he was yet a boy. He worked at stone-cutting and various occupations in his native State. The father and mother both died in Allegheny County, Pa., and were devoted members of the United Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ross was a cousin of Gen. Ross, who was killed by the Americans at Baltimore. Samuel Ross wedded Miss Sarah Livingston, a daughter of James and Martha (Robertson) Livingston, both natives of Pennsylvania, and in that State, in Westmoreland County, May 19, 1803, their daughter Sarah was born.

Shortly after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Ross removed to Allegheny County, where he leased a farm for ten years. At the expiration of the time, he decided to try the far West, so in 1841 he with his wife and four children came to Henry County, Iowa, locating in Center Township, his post-office being Mr. Pleasant. Mr. and Mrs. Ross are the parents of six children: John P., residing in Baker City, Ore.; James; Martha, now Mrs. Thomas Lash, of Mt. Pleasant; William E. owns a large ranch in Nevada; Sarah, wife of John Huling, a farmer of Center Township; and Sam, a resident of Oregon. Mr. Ross is one of the pioneer settlers of Henry County, has witnessed the many changes that have taken place, and has ever been identified with all public improvements. He and his estimable wife traveled life's journey together for nearly fifty-seven years, she being called to her final home Sept. 24, 1887. They were both members of the United Presbyterian Church, doing their part in all church work. As a pioneer, citizen and friend, none more truly deserve the respect and love of all than does Samuel H. Ross. Politically, he is a Republican, having voted with that party since its organization.


CALEB RUSSELL, Jr., is a farmer residing on section 24, Wayne Township, Henry Co., Iowa. Since 1855 the family bearing the name of Russell have been well known in Henry County. Originally they came from Scotland, and are of both Scotch and Irish lineage, but were natives of Old Virginia. Caleb Russell, Sr., was a native of Maryland. He was first married to Miss Harriet Fairfax, a daughter of Capt. Fairfax of Revolutionary fame. Her grandfather, Lord Fairfax, received a large grant of land from the British Crown, and that comprised the county of Fairfax, Va., and in his honor the county was named. Harriet Russell became the mother of four children: Llewellyn is a prominent merchant of New Albany, Ind.; Edgar M., the husband of Mary A. Camby, a well-known contractor and builder of Wayne Township; then our subject; and lastly Thomas, who wedded Phoebe Hatton, a second cousin of Frank Hatton, and resides in Wayne Township. The mother of these children died when Thomas was but six weeks old. The family resided at that time within thirteen miles of Harper’s Ferry. Mr. Russell was a woolen manufacturer, and operated a factory at Rockbridge, and until the family came to Iowa in 1855 they had never farmed.

The second wife of Caleb Russell, Sr., was Elizabeth Matthews, daughter of Thomas Matthews, a farmer of Harford County, Md. The marriage was celebrated in 1843, and their children are: Sarah A., now the wife of William H. Camby, a farmer of Wayne Township; Theodore, also a farmer of the same township, and the husband of Hannah M. Brown; and Harriet, who died at five years of age; who were all born in Virginia. In 1851 Mr. Russell and Mr. Hurst went to California, and ran a sawmill near Nevada City. After that new city was destroyed by fire, their mill manufactured the lumber which rebuilt it. In 1854 Mr. Russell returned to Virginia, and the next year made a prospecting trip to this county and was so well pleased that he decided to bring his family and make a home in the new Northwest. After the family arrived a quarter section was selected on section 24, a part of which is now in possession of our subject. Every improvement has been placed upon this land by the Russells. The first house occupied the site on which Theodore Russell’s mansion now stands, but was destroyed by fire Dec. 19, 1875. From that date a marked decline was noticed in the physique of Caleb Russell, Sr., who worked heroically, but saved only a part of his personal property. He rebuilt in 1876, and until his death in January, 1880, was happily domiciled in the new home in which his son Theodore now resides. Caleb reached the mature age of seventy-six years, and his widow, born in 1804, is yet living with her son Theodore, but is now very feeble.

Mr. Russell was one of the early officials of Wayne Township, and for many years was the Assessor, and when the new law was passed creating a Board of County Commissioners, he was the first member elected from Wayne Township, and as long as it was in force, was regularly elected his own successor. A Friend by birth and profession, he was an ardent promoter of every enterprise, in not only a social, but a political sense. Mr. Russell was one of the first to establish the Society of Friends at Prairie Grove, and was the first clerk, and served for many years. The death of that good man was deeply regretted, and he is oft quoted as being a man who did great honor to his county. Two of his sons were soldiers, Llewellyn and Theodore. The first was a member of an Indiana regiment, a clerk in the commissary department, and the latter of an Iowa regiment.

Our subject, Caleb Russell, Jr., was born in Prince William County, Va., Feb. 13, 1837. Being a lad thirteen years of age when his parents came to Iowa, he took an active part from that time in the development of the same. Most of his education was obtained here, and he has made himself a central figure in its business circles for many years. He was married, in 1864, to Miss Phoebe Fenton of this county, whose father, John Fenton, came from Frederick County, Va., to Iowa, in 1855, and settled near the Russell home. At the time of his marriage Caleb Russell, Jr., purchased a part of his father’s farm, and made fine improvements. Here the young bride began housekeeping, and for almost a quarter of a century a happy domestic life has been hers. Here their children were born: Oscar, deceased; Upton, deceased; Mary B., Lizzie E., Jesse and Emmet P. The two eldest sons died in childhood. The eldest daughter is a student of Howe’s Academy, and intends teaching as her profession. In 1864 Caleb Russell began the business of public auctioneer, and for almost a quarter of a century he has been the leading auctioneer in the northwestern part of the county. No man in the neighborhood enjoys a wider repution [sic] than he. At a low estimate, Mr. Russell has disposed of over $300,000 worth of property at public sales. He has also served several terms as Trustee of his township, and for almost twenty years has been a member of the Agricultural Board of Henry County. He was one of the organizers of the Eastern Iowa District Agricultural Society, and a member now of the Board of Directors. Mr. Russell is a member of “Good Faith” Lodge No. 235, A.F. & A.M., Winfield, Iowa, of which he is at present S.W. Both himself and wife are members of the Society of Friends, as are also the heads of the other Russell families.

Alexander Ruth

He is a prominent farmer who resided in Section 6, Scott Twp., in Henry County. He was born in Rockbridge Co. VA on 7 Nov 1833, the son of Daniel and Sarah E. (Imboden) Ruth. Daniel L. Ruth was born in Berks Co. PA in 1794, and was a soldier in the War of 1812 who participated in the Battle of Baltimore. Sarah E. was born in Augusta Co. VA in 1800. They married in Waynesboro, and had 11 children of who seven lived to adulthood: Henry, who resided in Warren Co. IA; George, who was a soldier in the Mexican War, and died from a disease contracted in Matamoras; Benjamin F. resides in Washington Territory, near Puget Sound, since 1851; Elizabeth, who married John Webb, of Warren Co. IA; Alexander, our subject; Mary E. who was the wife of John Loring of Cincinnati, Ohio and died in Indianola in 1858; David, who resides in Helena, Montana; Samuel and Daniel are deceased, and two children who died young.

In 1840 they emigrated with family to McLean Co. IL, settling near Bloomington. Daniel cast his last vote for William H. Harrison while on his way to Illinois. He died in the fall of 1841. In 1857 his widow came to Iowa and settled at Indianola where she died in 1884 at age 84. She and her husband were Presbyterian. She was a relative of Colonel, and General Imboden. Alexander was seven when his parents moved to IL. He married in 1862 to Miss Rilla J. Myers, daughter of George and Jane (Lynch) Myers. They had seven children: Lois, who married George Brown of Louisa Co., IA; Minnie Ila, who married Harvey Beauchamp of Scott Twp.,; Sarah J.; Mary E.; Colin, Marie; and Frank. The last five children remain at home. Alexander was a Greenbacker, though liberal in his views. He has a farm of 115 acres, some of which is in timber and 75 acres are under cultivation.