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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.

HON. H. D. WALKER, Grand Keeper of the Records and Seal of the Knights of Pythias since 1874, and a member of the order since 1870, is engaged in the general insurance business, on the south side of the Public Square in Mt. Pleasant . He was born near Chambersburg , Pa. , Oct. 16, 1831 , his parents being William and Mary (Houghtelin) Walker. The father of William Walker was born in Ireland , and came to this country with his parents in his youth, the family settling near Carlisle , Pa. , at an early day. His mother was born on the Island of Manhattan, N.Y., and was the daughter of Holland parents. William Walker was born in Franklin County, Pa., and learned the trade of shoemaking at Carlisle , in that State, carrying it on for many years in the borough of Newville, Cumberland Co., Pa. He finally gave up the business, and bought a farm in the adjoining county of Adams , on which he lived until his death in 1854. His wife came to Mt. Pleasant, Henry Co., Iowa , after her husband's decease, and lived with her son H. D. until the time of her demise, in 1878, at the ripe age of eighty-four years. Both were strict members of the United Presbyterian Church, and highly respected in the community where they resided. The subject of this sketch, H. D. Walker, was reared on a farm on the site of the battle of Gettysburg . When eighteen years of age he began an apprenticeship to the plasterer's trade, which he mastered, and traveled, working as a journeyman in several States, in Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, until the autumn of 1854, when he located at Piqua, Miami Co., Ohio, where he was married, March 13, 1856, to Miss Isabella Redman, daughter of David and Esther Redman. Mrs. Walker was born at Cherrytown , Pa. Four children were born to them, all of whom except the youngest are living: Charles D. is married to Mamie Hobart, and is a plasterer by trade, residing at Mt. Pleasant; Minnie B. is the wife of H. B. Adams, of Aurora, Ill.; Hattie M. is the wife of H. J. DeLaubenfels, a civil engineer of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; William B., the youngest, died Feb. 14, 1886, aged twenty years and three months.

Mr. Walker has been for years prominently identified with the I.O.O.F. and Knights of Pythias, being initiated into the former in Piqua Lodge No. 8, under the Grand Jurisdiction of Ohio. He emigrated to Iowa in October, 1856, and located at Mt. Pleasant , where he has since resided. On coming to Mt. Pleasant he deposited his withdrawal card with Henry Lodge No. 10, I.O.O.F. After filling all the minor offices in the lodge, he became a Past Grand Master in 1860, and was elected Grand Master of the State in 1873. He became a Patriarch by uniting with Industry Encampment No. 18, at its institution in October, 1857, and was promoted to the Chair of Grand Patriarch in 1869. In 1870, having become much interested in the rapidly growing order of the Knights of Pythias, he joined with twenty-five others in a petition to the Supreme Lodge of the world for a dispensation to organize Eastern Star Lodge No. 6, K. of P., at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and was thereafter unanimously elected the first Chancellor Commander. He became a Past Chancellor on July 1, 1870, and in the year 1872 was duly elected a representative to the Grand Lodge, and at the session of that body at Burlington, Iowa, July 9 and 10, following, he was elected and duly installed Grand Vice Chancellor, and served in such capacity till Jan. 29, 1873, on which day he was elected Grand Chancellor and served one year. During his administration of the office the interests of the order were materially advanced. The ability and zeal displayed by him won for him a reputation that resulted in his election to the responsible position of Grand Keeper of Records and Seal of this jurisdiction. He was elected in 1874 to that office, and has been re-elected at each succeeding election to this date, covering a period of fourteen years. Lately his salary has been increased so that he can devote his attention almost exclusively to the interests of the order. In his relations to these two great charitable institutions Mr. Walker has borne a conspicuous part, and has developed peculiar ability as an administrative officer, that has won for him the title of the "Model Knight". Mr. Walker is a Republican in politics, and has voted with that party since its organization.

On the adjoining page will be found the portrait of Mr. Walker, which will be regarded with great gratification by his many friends.

John H. Wallbank

Postmaster of Mt. Pleasant, Henry Co., IA, he was born near Manchester, England, Nov. 7, 1838, the son of James ans Sophia (Hayhurst) Wallbank, both natives of England, who followed their son to the New World,' emigrating in 1871, and settling in this county, where both died, the former in 1878, and his widow in 1884. They were people of excellent repute, and the parents of two sons, one of whom, George, still lives in England.  

John H. Wallbank received a good education in England, and for 6 years was employed in the revenue service of Great Britain in the excise department. He left England and went to Australia, living there and in New Zealand for 3 or 4 years; and also visited many of the South Pacific Islands. He returned to England and in 1867 emigrated to America and coming to the West, located in Henry Co., which has since been his home. His first business venture was in Trenton, then went to Marshall, now called Wayland where he stayed until 1878, when he moved to Mt. Pleasant engaging in the boot and shoe trade.  

He carried on in this until Dec. 31, 1883 when his building burned down and he was a heavy loser. He sold the balance of the stock and in 1885 opened a clothing store. He has another branch store at Winfield, known as Green and Wallbank, and is the owner of a 200 acre farm in Jefferson Twp.  

He was married in Eng. in 1860 to Martha Whitman, a native of that country. They have six children, now living: Sophia E., Eliza, Nellie, Anna, James and Arthur.  

Mr. Wallbank is a Democrat, and in Aug. 1866 he was appointed Postmaster of Mt. Pleasant under President Cleveland's administration. 

Samuel Waters submitted by Dick Barton

Samuel Waters, a prominent farmer and early settler of Henry County, Iowa, resides on section 9, New London Township, where he has 120 acres of well-improved land, and also has another farm of 200 acres on sections 28 and 33 of the same township. His post-office address is New London. Mr. Waters first located in this township in the fall of 1847, but did not move his family here until the spring of 1848. He is a native of New York State, and was born in Genesee County, Sept. 15, 1822. His parents were William and Rachel (Cox) Waters, who were also born in New York, the father in 1795, and the mother May 15, 1802.

Our subject moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio, with his parents in 1823, and from there to Warrick County, Ind., in 1839. He was married in that county, Dec. 2, 1844, to Miss Mary Ketcham, daughter of John and Nancy Ketcham. Mrs. Waters was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Nine children have been born into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Waters, seven of whom are now living: William b. was born Dec. 22, 1845, and died May 22, 1850; Winfield S. was born Jan. 13, 1847, married Annie Fry, lives in northwestern Nebraska, and has four children, three boys and a girl. Rachel A., born Nov. 20, 1848, keeps house for her father; Nancy K. was born April 5, 1852, and is the wife of Frank Jackson, resides in Rooks County, Kan., and has three sons and two daughters. John N., born Dec. 10, 1854, married Sarah Moon, now resides in Canaan Township, Henry County, and has two children, a son and a daughter. James M., born April 29, 1856, married Alice Cornwall, and resides in New London Township; Samuel T., born Jan. 26, 1859, married Belle McGrue, and has one child, a daughter, and resides in Kansas; Robert H., born Oct. 9, 1863, died Aug. 21, 1864, and Charles E., born July 1, 1866, makes his home with his father.

Mrs. Waters, who was a consistent and faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a devoted wife and mother, passed away on the 11th of April, 1876. All the children, except the two elder, were born in New London Township. the two elder brothers were born in Warrick County, Ind., prior to the removal of the family to Iowa. Mr. Waters has made farming his business through life. Since making his home in New London Township he has held various local offices. He has served three terms as Township Trustee, has been a member of the School Board nearly the whole time of his residence here, and for twenty-eight years has served as Road Supervisor. He was a Whig in early life, and since the dissolution of that party has been associated with the Republican party. He is a Master Mason, a member of New London Lodge No. 28, A. f. & A. M., and is also a member of Charity Lodge No. 56, I. O.O. F. Mr. Waters and all his family, except two sons, are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His father, who was a resident of New London Township, died in Oregon in 1874, and his mother died in New London Township in April, 1846.

Wenger Bros. submitted by Dick Barton

Wenger Bros., general merchants. The most enterprising firm of young men in the village of Wayland are the brothers, Joseph and Christian C. Wenger, both born in Washington County, Iowa, and are the two eldest sons of Christian and Elizabeth (Goldsmith) Wenger. Christian was born in Switzerland and is a son of Christian and Mary (Roth) Wenger, who emigrated from Germany to Hamburg, Canada, and thence to Washington County, Iowa, making the journey with a team passing through Chicago when that now great city was a village but a trifle larger than Wayland. Settling in 1832, in Marion Township, Washington Co., Iowa, the grandsire of our subject purchased a claim, upon which stood a small cabin and later entered the lands. This family were among the first settlers in that county, and both lived and died upon the farm which they had put in fine cultivation. His wife reached sixty, and Christian Wenger, Sr., the ripe age of eighty-three years. All their children but the three eldest were born in Canada, and came with them to Iowa, and perhaps no better family has ever settled in her boundary. We are pleased to make separate mention of each: John married Mary Ernst; Christian, father of our subject, wedded Elizabeth Goldsmith; Nicholas died unmarried; Joseph married Elizabeth Roth; Benjamin became the husband of Lena Gengerich; Annie married Christian Eicher; Mary wedded Joseph Rich; Lena wedded Christian Ernst, a brother of John's wife; Katie became the wife of John Miller, of Davis County; and Barbara became the wife of Christian Schlatter, the proprietor of the Wayland sawmills. Under the name of Christian Wenger the further history of the family is given. His five eldest children were born in Washington County and are: Joseph, Christian, Samuel, Jacob and Lizzie, the latter the wife of Jacob Kabel. On the farm in Henry County, John, Daniel, Henry, Ella and Levi, were born. Samuel was educated at Howe's Academy, and has taught in the public schools of this county. The two eldest sons were educated in the schools of the township, but are brilliant business men, and their retail trade is successfully managed.

In 1881 Christian C. left the farm and in 1882, in company with Benjamin Gardiner, engaged in the mercantile trade. Their new store building was erected in 1883, but prior to its completion Joseph purchased the interest of Mr. Gardiner, and the firm was changed to Wenger Bros. The firm carry a full line of general merchandise and the largest stock in the northern part of the county, their stock invoicing over $6,000. Everything is of the best, and selling goods at the lowest living profit has given these young men a trade of over $10,000 per annum, and located as they are in the midst of an excellent agricultural region, their trade is constantly increasing. They are an honor to their parents, their village and their country, and to men of such business enterprise the growth and prosperity of Henry County is due.

The wedding of Joseph, the elder member of this firm, was a brilliant affair, and was celebrated on Thursday, Oct. 27, 1887, the bride being Miss Katie, the handsome daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Henss, the veteran wagon-maker, and one of the wealthy men of Wayland. The young couple took a pleasant bridal tour, and are now cosily settled in Wayland, the birthplace of the bride, who has one of the best of husbands and a man in whom the public repose confidence.

Christian C., the younger member of the firm, but the original partner of Mr. Gardiner, is also happily married, having, on Dec. 8, 1887, been united to Miss Ella, daughter of Isaac and Keziah Allen, of Wayland, of which place she is a native. She was educated in the schools of the village, and has always been regarded as one of the brightest and best of its daughters, as her husband is known as one of its most honorable and enterprising merchants.

Christian Wenger submitted by Dick Barton

Christian Wenger, a farmer residing on section 10, Jefferson Township, was born in Switzerland in 1833, and is a son of Christian and Mary (Roth) Wenger. In 1852 he became a citizen of Washington County, Iowa, his father at that time being a man of limited means, who had worked hard in Canada to make a home. He reared a large family, and his descendants are worthy and most highly respected.

Christian Wenger was married in this county to Elizabeth Goldsmith, in 1850, and at that time he had only money enough to buy what was needed to furnish his home, and pay the wedding expenses. His first farming was done in Washington County on rented land, and the next year he purchased 100 acres, going in debt for the whole amount, $1,600. Eight years he remained on that tract, paid for it and saved $1,000 more, with which he bought the eighty acres on which he now resides. From 1858 he has accumulated, by the hardest labor, 605 acres in this county, and the same farm in Washington County, upon which his first start in life was made. Mr. Wenger knows what hard times are, having sold wheat for forty cents, taking one-half in trade, hogs for $2, and corn by the thousands of bushels, at fifteen cents per bushel. His lands were bought at from $20 to $40 per acre, and the farms averaged $33 per acre. He began to raise stock soon after he commenced farming, but the first two years he had not enough to sell to pay the interest on his debts. Now all this is changed; on one of the best farms in the township he has erected fine buildings, and his farm almost resembles a village in itself from the number of barns and out-buildings, and the brick mansion was erected in 1875. Mr. Wenger is a large breeder of horses, and now owns thirty head. His stallions are all imported and are four in number, three of them prize winners. They are valued at $6,000. Prefer, a four-year-old gray, took at the exposition in France, when one year old, the gold medal, which Mr. Wenger has in his possession. Duke, a Clyde stallion, likewise took the medal in Canada, from which place Mr. Wenger brought him. In fact, he is owner of more fine stallions than any farmer in Henry County.

Mr. Wenger is the largest land-owner, and the heaviest taxpayer in Jefferson Township, which is saying much for a man who came a few years ago from Switzerland without a dollar, and his sons are rapidly developing into the best of business men. A new daughter was recently welcomed into the family, Katie Henss, who wedded Joseph, the eldest son, mention of whom is elsewhere made.

To complete the history of the family, we add the sketch of Joseph Goldsmith, the father of Mrs. Wenger. Rev. Joseph Goldsmith was one of the first ministers of the Mennonite faith in Iowa, and was the second in Lee, and the first in this county to organize a church. The Trenton Church is made mention of in the sketch of the Rev. Sebastian Gerig, and no man was more widely known in this part of the State, during his lifetime, than Rev. Goldsmith. For more than a half century he was an active and faithful member in the cause of religion, much of which time was spent as an itinerant minister. In Canada West he began preaching, having united with the church in Lancaster County, Pa. Both himself and his wife were born in Germany, were married in Lancaster County, Pa., and were the parents of twelve children, of whom one is now deceased. Elizabeth Miller became the wife of Joseph Goldsmith in 1823, and for fifty-three years she was to him a loving and devoted wife. The death of Rev. Joseph Goldsmith occurred in April, 1876; his widow, yet surviving, is now in her eighty-first year. The family first left Pennsylvania and located in Canada; from thence they removed to Butler County, Ohio. From that county and State they came to Iowa, making first a home in Lee County, settling there in the spring of 1837. The last residence of the family was in Trenton Township. The Rev. Goldsmith made a fine farm in Lee County, placing every stick upon it, and erected fine buildings.

As the children grew to maturity, they aided largely in the work. The farm in Trenton Township was partly improved, and the removal made in the spring of 1845. Their children were named: John, now husband of Barbara Slonecher; Catherine, who wedded Joseph Oxlenger, of Butler County, Ohio, is the only child deceased; Lydia yet unmarried, resides with her widowed mother at Wayland; Benjamin married Martha Houder, and resides in Trenton; Joseph married Magdalene Kinsinger, and resides in Butler County; Elizabeth is the wife of Christian Wenger, Sr.; Christian is married, and resides in Butler County, Ohio; Peter married Eva Summers, and resides near Cheyenne, Wyo.; Jacob married Lena Schonta, and resides in Wayne Township, Henry County; Nancy married Michael Roth, a resident of Jefferson Township; Magdalene is the wife of Rev. Sebastian Gerig, whose history appears elsewhere in this work; Fannie is the wife of Rev. Joseph Gengerich, of Johnson County, Iowa.

Charles White

Charles White, residing on section 17, Center Township, one of the pioneer settlers of Henry County, was born in Ohio, in 1844, and when but an infant came with his parents George and Mary (Kuany) White, to Henry County. They were natives of Germany, but emigrated to American in 1842. Here in this county the boyhood days of Charles were passed, and here he received his education in the common schools. He formed a matrimonial alliance with Miss Lizzie Strawn, who was a native of Connecticut. By this union there were five children: Willie, Estella, Victor, Annie and an infant. In the spring of 1880 Mr. White located on his present farm in Center Township, one mile west of Mt. Pleasant; on this farm he built an elegant residence, which cost $1,300. His farm of 113 acres is valued at $50 per acre. Mr. White is a friend to education, and has given all his children good educational advantages. He has lived in this county all his life, and is a very successful farmer and stock-raiser. Having lived here from childhood he has been largely identified with the interests of both township and county, and many are the changes and improvements he has witnessed and helped to bring about.

Genius White

He is residing on Section 5,Tippecanoe Twp., Henry Co., Iowa, is a native of Crawford Co., IN, born Nov. 16, 1821. He parents, Richard and Barbara (Harmon) White, the father a native of Bullock Co., KY, the mother of Virginia, were pioneer settlers of Indiana. They reared a family of ten children, all of whom grew to adulthood. Five are still living and five are deceased; Ravie, b. Dec. 28, 1815 was the deceased wife of Granville Rouse, she died Sep. 20, 1844; Susan, Born Sep. 20,1817 is the wife of Luther Benham, now residing in KY; Abraham, b. Dec. 18, 1819 is a resident of IA.; Genius, our subject, ; John S. b. Mar 25, 1824, d. Apr. 28, 1848 in Van Buren Co.; William H.., b. June 28, 1827, d. Apr 20, 1848 in same county; Eliza, b. March 27, 1830 is the deceased wife of Elijah Redman, of MO; Nancy. b. Dec. 6, 1832, is he wife of Elisha McCall, now residing in Republic Co., KS; Columbus, b. Aug. 1, 1835, died in CA, and James H. b. July 9, 1840, is a resident of Los Angeles CA.

The father, Richard White, was born Jan 25, 1792, and died Apr. 8, 1847. Mrs. White, b. Feb. 12, 1794, died Mar. 1, 1883. They were both members of the M.E. Church. He was a pioneer of Van Buren, and also of Henry Co.

Our subject, Genius White was reared upon a farm in IN, and at age 21 removed with his parents to Van Buren Co, IA, where he remained until the Fall of 1852 when he crossed the plains with an on-team to CA. He remained there for 11 months engaged in mining, in which he was reasonably successful. He returned by water to New York City, thence to Rock Island, then down the river to Burlington, and by state to this county. In 1853 he purchased 120 acres on Sect. 22, Tippecanoe Twp. Mr. White improved the farm, residing on it until 1865 when he bought 120 acres on Sect. 22. making that his home until 1871. He then bought 120 acres on Sect. of the same Twp. At one time he had over 300 acres, 160 of which he has given his children.

Genius White was married June 29, 1849 to Mary Ann Grant, a native of Harrison Co., IN. She was born July 16, 1826, the daughter of Wilkinson and Christiana (Ward) Grant, the father a native of KY and the mother of NC. They came to this county in 1843, settling in Tippecanoe Twp. on Sect. 7. Mr. Grant died here July 24, 1872 at age 78. He was a Republican. Nince of his children survive, tow living in this county: Harvey B. and Mrs. White, the remaining seven reside in KS. Mrs. Grant who was b. Aug. 4, 1804, makes her home with our subject.

Mr. and Mrs. White have had seven children: Clarissa Jane, b. Apr 26, 1850, the wife of J. H. Ginn of Republic Co., KS; George W., b. Sept 3, 1851, d. in CA, Sept 4, 1879; Columbus, b. Aug. 21, 1854, d. Apr 26, 1856; Emily, b. Apr 21, 1856, d. Apr 22, 1881; Richard W. b. Feb 1, 1858, now resides in Tippecanoe Twp.; Maria, b. Apr 23, 1860, d. May 23 of the same year; and Pleasant Genius, b. Apr 26, 1867, is still residing at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Whate are both members of the M. E. Church. He is a Republican in politics.

William Henry Whitney submitted by Dick Barton

William Henry Whitney, architect, carpenter and builder, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was born in Ross County, Ohio, Feb. 7, 1840, and is the son of William and Mary A. (Ressel) Whitney, the former a native of Connecticut and the latter of Pennsylvania.  They were married in Ross County, Ohio, to which point their respective families had moved at an early day.  William, who traces his ancestry back to nearly 1400 - is of English descent, and early in life learned the trade of a blacksmith, at which trade he worked for many years.  In 1845 he moved with his family to Indiana, locating first in Putnam County, where he remained a short time, and then moved to Montgomery, and later to Tippecanoe County, in the same State.  While in Indiana he combined farming with blacksmithing.  In 1854 he moved to Mt. Pleasant, Henry Co., Iowa, where he remained a short time, working at his trade, and then moved to a farm in Marion Township, having entered 160 acres of land.  Later he sold sixty acres, retaining the remainder till his removal to Nebraska, in February, 1888.  To William and Mary A. Whitney were born six children, of whom five are yet living.  Mrs. Whitney dying in 1859, in 1861 Mr. Whitney wedded Ann Eliza Miller, by whom he had two children.  For many years William Whitney has been a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

When the family came to Iowa, William H. Whitney, of whom we write, was fourteen years of age.  He soon afterward engaged to learn the carpenter's trade, which he mastered, and in 1860 married Miss Angelina Miller, daughter of Arthur Miller.  Two children were born of their union: Mary F., born Nov. 15, 1861, and William A., born June 21, 1863.  The former is now living in Colorado, and the latter died July 15, 1872.  Mrs. Whitney died shortly after the birth of her second child, and Dec. 6, 1867, Mr. Whitney wedded Miss Nancy A. Lamb, daughter of Jacob and Sidney (Ferrell) Lamb. She was born March 10, 1848, in Fulton County, Ill.  Four children were born of the latter marriage, all sons.  Charles H. was born Sept. 25, 1868;  John L., Jan. 12, 1870;  George W., July 17, 1871; Edwin, march 2, 1873.

Mr. Whitney has been engaged in his occupation of contracting and building for upward of twenty-five years, and in that time has erected many of the best public and private buildings in Henry County, among which may be mentioned the residences of P. Summers,  Walter Gamage,  James Harlan,  Jacob Housman,  Le Grand Chandler,  Wesley Greenfield,  Daugherty and Comick.  The Catholic Church, at Mr. Pleasant, destroyed by the cyclone of July, 1882, was rebuilt by him, and in the summer and fall of 1887 he erected a handsome church building for the Methodist Episcopal Society of New London.  He is a first-class mechanic and a fine draughtsman.

Politically Mr. Whitney is a Democrat, and socially a member of the K. of L. and the Good Templars.  In the latter body Mrs. Whitney is also a member.  Both are members of the Christian Church, at Mt. Pleasant, in which they take a lively interest, generally being found in their accustomed place during the hours of worship.  

John Willeford, one of the pioneers of Henry County, Iowa, was born in Clay county, Ky., in 1807.  His parents were James and Jane (Bales) Willeford, natives of North Carolina, who settled in Clay County in an early day.  John Willeford was united in Marriage with Miss Susana Smallwood, by whom he had eight children: Henderson  M., a farmer of Center Township, Henry County; Paulina, wife of David Hitt, of Swift Count, Minn.; Belinda, deceased; Celia, deceased; Amanda J., wife o J.D. Trowbridge, of Henry Count; William H.H., of this county; Sarah A., wife of Hiram Jones, of Mt. Pleasant; Adeline A., wife of George Pixley, of California; she died in 1887.

Mr. John Willeford left his home in Kentucky in the spring of 1834, and with his wife and three small children, too, passage on board a boat for Burlington, and from thence proceeded to Henry County, locating on land in what is now Center Township.  He was compelled to live in a camp three months after reaching Henry County, until he could build a cabin.  This was slow and laborious work as there was no one in that section of the country that he could get to help him.. A log cabin with puncheon floor and a chimney made of mud and sticks, was finally erected, the family living some time in this cabin before there was a door, but a quilt or blanket served the purpose.  Their nearest neighbor at this time lived many miles away, gristmills were unknown, and for the first year the only meal they had was pounded out in the top of a stump, a hole being dug in the stump for that purpose.  The first milling they had done was a the mill on Henderson River, Mr. Willeford passing down the Skunk River, embarking at Oakland in a canoe borrowed of the Indians, then up the Mississippi to Henderson, where he loaded his canoe and returned home.

When Mr. Willeford came to this county he was in limited circumstances, and only by hard labor could he make enough to support his family.  When they came, the country was so thinly settled that tribes of Indians might almost daily be seen, but as the country became more thickly populated, they were driven farther West.  Mr. Willeford was a man who stood high in the community and was ever ready to do a neighbor a kind action.  He was, in politics, an old-line Whig and a great admirer of Henry Clay and William Henry Harrison.  Mr. Willeford died in Center Township on the 11th of March, 1845.  Mrs. Willeford is still living and is now seventy-seven years of age, and is the first white woman who came into Henry County.  She is a woman of remarkable memory for her age, and is loved and respected by all her neighbors, whom she has so long lived among.  At the time she came to Henry County there were many wolves, and many times at night they would come and scratch at her door.  Chickens and sheep had to be well guarded or they would have been carried away by the wolves.  Now all this has changed, civilization has advanced step by step, the log cabin is transformed into a comfortable home, and the timber lands into well cultivated farms.

Charles G. Willits

One of the prominent citizens of Henry County, he resides on Sect. 34, Marion Twp., and was born Jan. 12, 1821 in Fairfield Co., OH, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Gossage) Willits, the former a native of PA, the latter of MD.  

Samuel Willits was married 3 times. His first wife was Miss Mary Harrison by whom he had one daughter, Sarah A., now living in Montgomery Co., IA, at the advanced age of 70 years. His second wife was Elizabeth Gossage, by whom he had seven children, 4 sons and 3 daughters: Charles G.; Jesse married Mary Ann Shields, resides in Mercer Co., IL; George died in 1851 in New Boston, IL; Tabitha, deceased wife of Samuel Sheriff who is a resident of Geneseo, IL; Elizabeth J. died at age 12; Mary R. died in infancy; Job died in Chicago in Apr. 1887, where his wife and children still live.  

Mrs. Willits died in March 1831 in Fairfield Co., OH. She was a devoted Christian. Mr. Willits was again married in 1836 to Miss Nancy Hall, a native of VA. In the fall of 1837 they moved to Mercer Co., IL, where the children grew to adulthood. Mr. Willits third wife died in Aug. 1874.  

Our subject married in Mercer Co., IL to Miss Rachel Thornton, a native of PA, and daughter of Eli Thornton. Mr. and Mrs. Willits were the parents of 4 children who were born in Mercer Co.,: Charlotte, the wife of William Hendricks, a farmer in Muscatine Co., IA; Sarah married John Litzenburg, a farmer in Hamilton Co., NE; Alice, wife of Orville Campbell, a farmer in Wano, KS; Thornton married Miss Mary Carrons, the only daughter of Robert Carrons, a large landowner in Henry Co., residing in Center Twp.  

In the spring of 1855 Mr. Willits came to Henry Co., where he bought 320 acres on Sections 35, 34, 26, and 27. In this county 3 other children were born: Samuel died at age 16; Ledru married Nancy Lee, a native of Iowa; Novello is the widow of Leander Shields. The mother died March 1862. She was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and she was buried in the Ebenezer Cemetery.  

Mr. Willits, in 1863, married Miss Ellen Cozier, daughter of John and Hannah (Carter) Cozier, both natives of Clarke Co., OH, the former born Dec. 1, 1810,died June 7, 1863, the latter b. Oct. 9, 1811, and died May 25, 1857. They were the parents of 13 children: Benjamin, Ellen, Sophronia, Minerva, Sarah A., hugh, Henry, Lisset, Martha Jane, Mary Frances, John C., Willian H., and Harriet V. Of thesel, four are dead-Sarah A., Minerva, William H., and Henry.  

Mrs. Willits was born in Clarke Co., OH and com- pleted her education in Springfield, OH. She is a fine scholar and had seven sisters who were teachers, and a brother who had charge of the schools of Mt. Pleasant for 13 years.  

Mr. and Mrs. Willits have two children: John C., now in Boston, MA finishing his education for the ministry; Wilmot Charles attends school in Mt. Pleasant. Teaching was always Mrs. Willits favorite occupation. None of their children have ever used tobacco and liquor in any way.  

John C. Winters

This enterprising and well-known business man of Mt. Pleasant was born in LaSalle County, Ill., Sept. 25, 1848. His parents are John and Margaret (Coughlagn) Winters. His father, who deserves more than a passing mention in this work, was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, in 1819, and received his education in his native country. When seventeen years of age, in the company with his parents, he sought a home in the New World. Soon after landing in America he went to Syracuse, N. Y., where he learned the trade of a stone-cutter, in which he gained a thorough knowledge which in after years he put to such good use, and which proved the foundation of his large fortune. Leaving Syracuse he went to Toronto, Canada, where he was employed on the Queen's College, then building. From Toronto he went to Rice Lake, where he worked on the canal locks, which were then in the course of construction. He was married in Lockport, N. Y., and in 1844 removed to LaSalle County, Ill, where he remained until 1856, in the meantime working on the stone works and in the construction of the Michigan Canal. When the building for the Iowa Hospital for the Insane was in the course of erection in Mt. Pleasant, Henry Co., Iowa, he removed there in the hope of securing employment, in which he succeeded. Here the thorough knowledge of his trade, and his excellent judgment of the different varieties of stone, stood him in good stead. He saw that a beautiful and durable quality of stone was obtained near by, and exercising good judgment in the selection bought a tract of land, on which he opened up the now widely-known Winters' Stone Quarries, an enterprise which has been of great benefit to Mt. Pleasant, and which has made a goodly sum for its proprietor. He has taken large contracts for work on the Burlington & Missouri and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Roads, and has carried as many as 400 men on his pay-rolls at one time, distributing much money in this region. Mr. Winters lives in a beautiful home, adjoining Mt. Pleasant, on a farm of 600 acres, which he has stocked with some of the finest blooded horses and Durham cattle in the State, in the raising of which he has been very successful, bringing to that business the same sagacity and good judgement which have been among his distinguishing characteristics. He has raised and owned some of the finest and fastest horses in the State, among them the renowned Stonewall Jackson, which with other fine stock was burned to death by a fire which consumed his barn in 1879. Mr. Winters' landed possessions in Henry County comprise about 1,700 acres, most of which is under cultivation.

The history of the life of John Winters is full of encouragement to young men just starting. He began life without any capital other than willing hands, a clear head, and integrity of purpose. Applying himself with fidelity to what he had to do, he worked diligently and honestly, and has from this capital only made himself one of the wealthiest men in this section of the State. The pursuit of wealth has not hardened his heart, or narrowed his nature, which is too often the case. His charities are numerous and liberal, and a deserving applicant is never turned away empty handed. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, in which he stands high. In politics, he is an uncompromising Jeffersonian Democrat, and is thoroughly posted in National, State and county matters. He and his wife were the parents of four children, of whom two sons, John C. and Michael F. are now living.

John C. Winters, whose name heads this biographical sketch, was quite young when his parents settled in Mt. Pleasant. He received a good education at Howe's Academy in that city, and since arriving at manhood has assisted his father in his business. For years he has been manager of the quarries at Mt. Pleasant, with large numbers of men under his charge, and attending to all the details of the large business. He was married in September 1869, to Miss Mary Ellen O'Hare, who was born in St. Louis in 1846, and is a daughter of Samuel and Mary (McKenna) O'Hare. Their union has been blessed with ten children, eight of whom are now living: Laura M. and Mary S., twins; Samuel L., John, Grace C., Francis C., Michael H. and Gertrude; two died in infancy.

Like his father, Mr. Winters is a staunch Democrat, and though he has never sought office has been honored by his fellow-citizens with positions of trust and responsibility. He is a friend of liberal education, and has been President of the School Board. He was also a Director in the Agricultural Society, and now is the Secretary of the Democratic County Central Committee. Inheriting the sterling qualities of his honest father, as a straightforward, honorable and enterprising business man, no man stands higher in Henry County. He lives in a beautiful home near his father, adjoining the city of Mt. Pleasant, and under his hospitable roof from time to time are gathered many of his friends. 

Transcribed by Patrick Winters <>

MAX E. WITTE, M.D., First Assistant Physician at the Iowa State Hospital for the Insane at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was born in Berlin, Prussia, on the 31st of January, 1859. His parents were G.W. and W. (Rakow) Witte. Our subject came to America with them in the autumn of 1864. The family located in Jackson County, Iowa. Max E. received his literary education at Galena, Ill., and then took a three-years course at the State University of Iowa, graduating from the medical department in the class of 1881. He read medicine with Prof. W.D. Middleton, M.D., and began the practice of his profession at Davenport, Iowa. He was appointed to his present responsible position, and entered upon his duties as First Assistant Physician at the Iowa State Hospital in November, 1881. He is a member of the Lutheran Church, and Republican in politics. Dr. Witte has proved an able assistant to Dr. Gilman, being well skilled in his profession, and earnest and conscientious in the discharge of the responsible duties of his office.

Jacob Wright

 He is a farmer of Henry County and resides in Section 22 Tippecanoe Twp.  He was born 12 Oct 1835 in Parke County, Indiana, the son of Thomas and Susan Wright, natives of Tennessee. They came to Henry County in 1836 to Tippecanoe Twp. He received his education in the District Schools. In 1864 he went with Cal Moore to Missouri, serving as home guards. They  remained there about a month and then returned home. he soon enlisted in Co. M, 4th Iowa Cavalry, and was in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battles at Jackson, MS, Tupelo, and Meridien, MS, and Guntown where his horse was shot out from under him. He was next in Ripley and on Wilson's raid. He was taken prisoner while on picket duty at Helena, AR in the fall of 1862.

 After the war he returned home and engaged in farming. me married on 6 Dec 1866 to Miss Frances C. Gainson, who was born in New York City, and is the daughter of E. P. and Frances C. (Devoo) Gainson of Mt. Pleasant.

 They had 10 children: Hilliagh Webber who married Lucius Handle, and resided Burlington; Lulu, George W.; Anna M.; Ephraim Remington; Thomas R.; Homer; Nina; Nettie D.; and Laura Belle.

 Jacob is a member of the G.A.R., and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he is a Republican, and owns a finely cultivated farm of 80 acres.