and Biographical Records of Jasper, Marshall and Grundy Counties, Iowa
Unless noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.
Rev. Levi Saylor has been a resident of Marshall County, Iowa, since the year 1858, and the lesson derived from his career of energy, perseverance and Christian fortitude, carrying a youth from humble circumstances to a manhood of nobility and comfortable circumstances, needs no word or comment to make it significant and impressive. He is a son of George and Mary (Firestein) Saylor, both natives of Lancaster County, Pa., the former born in 1781, and the latter in 1785. Both were German Baptist Brethren in their religious views, and died in that faith. The father died in Miami County, Ohio, February 22, 1846, when in his sixty-sixth year, and the mother December 8, 1858, when in her seventy-fifth year. All of the eight children born to George and Mary Saylor are deceased except the youngest, our subject. Levi Saylor was born in Cumberland County, Pa., July 21, 1825, and was educated in that state and in Miami County, Ohio. When his parents emigrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio, in 1836, Levi Saylor was nearly eleven years of age, and he remembers that they moved by team, crossing the Ohio River at Wheeling. In 1858, he emigrated to Iowa and settled on a rented farm in Marion Township, Marshall County, remaining on the same two years. In the year 1860, he bought sixty acres, and about two years later he added eighty to that. His first tract was partly improve, and he went to work to break and fence it. The tract contained eighty acres and was raw land, on which Mr. Saylor built a house, barn, and made other improvements, all costing about $3,000. One well cost nearly $300. Everything on the place has been put there by Mr. Saylor and family, and a great part of the land had to have tree and brush roots grubbed out. About 1879, Mr. Saylor entered the ministry of the German Baptist Brethren Church.
Our subject was first married to Miss Sarah Hill, April 5, 1846. She was born in Miami County, Ohio, April 4, 1828. One son, John H., was born to this union, his birth occurring December 27, 1848. He married Miss Eliza Albright, and now resides in Reno County, Kan. Sarah Saylor died in the Buckeye State January 1, 1849, when nearly twenty-one years of age. Mr. Saylor's second marriage occurred March 11, 1852, to Miss Elizabeth Stevens, who was born in Miami County, Ohio, February 5, 1830. To them have been born seven children, five daughters and two sons. Mary, born December 4, 1852, is at home; Sarah, born July 16, 1854, married Frank Bretchbill December 23, 1875, and is the mother of six children; she lives in Grundy County, Iowa. Susan, born December 28, 1855, married Henry Watters March 22, 1878, and has three children; she resides in O'Brien County, Iowa. Nancy Ellen, born October 17, 1857, married Daniel H. Gish about March 4, 1887, and now resides in Republic County, Kan.; Charles F., born December 14, 1859, and Martha Jane, born October 1, 1861, are at home; and William L., born July 21, 1866, died March 29, 1891.
Mrs. Saylor's parents were Jacob and Mary Stevens. Her only brother, Austin Stevens, for his first wife married Mary Ann Coppock, and for his second wife Delilah Irvin, by whom he had three children, two now living. Mrs. Saylor has one sister living, who is a widow and resides in Illinois. When about nineteen years of age, out subject joined the Christian Church, and remained a member of that society until he was fifty-two years of age. He then united with the German Baptist Brethren Church, and in September, 1879, he became a minister, as before stated. He is now a minister of the church about a mile north of his house. At the time of their marriage, Mrs. Saylor was also a member of the Christian Church. In politics Mr. Saylor is a Republican, and he has held a number of local offices. He has served as Supervisor; Justice of the Peace five years, Township Clerk three or four years, and Assessor three years in succession. He has been School Director, Clerk and Treasurer.
It is a well established fact that a man of natural ability, if he possesses integrity and energy, can accomplish almost any given purpose in life. Every day furnishes examples of men who commenced a business career empty handed and in a brief period of time accumulated considerable fortunes.
A native of the Empire State, our subject was born on "Pompey Hill," near Syracuse, August 25, 1846, on the spot noted as being the birthplace of many famous men, among whom were six congressmen, two United States senators, two governors, five mayors of cities, three Supreme Court judges and one major-general of the army. Mr. Seager was the second child in order of birth of the three children born to George and Alma (Roundy) Seager, both natives of New York. His brother and sister are Charles H. and Annetta, the latter now Mrs. A. Janney. The father of our subject was a carriage-maker and blacksmith by trade, which occupations he also followed after his removal to Marshall County, this state, where he spent his entire life, dying in his sixty-second year. The maternal grandfather of our subject was William Roundy, a native of New York State. Farther back in the line of descent the family is traced to Connecticut, where they were for many years extensively engaged in the manufacture of woolens, owning large mills.
Our subject continued to reside in his native state until reaching his eighteenth year, when, in 1864, he came west to this state and became clerk in the County Recorder's office at Marshalltown. So well did he fulfill the duties imposed upon him that he was afterward employed in the County Treasurer's office, serving in both positions for a period of three years. In 1867 he became clerk in the First National Bank at Marshalltown, where he remained for five years, giving entire satisfaction to his employers.
In 1872 Mr. Seager came to Gilman and established himself in the dry- goods and general merchandise business, which he continued to carry on until the fall of 1877, when, in company with his brother Charles H. Seager, he purchased the banking business of Henriques & Rice, which he is successfully operating at the present time. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Gilman Canning Factory, of which he is manager, and at the same time is President of the Western Packers' Canned Goods Association. He is a very energetic and public-spirited man, and has met with success in his journey through life.
August 5, 1872, Mr. Seager and Miss Estelle Sparks were united in marriage. The lady was the daughter of Lyman B. and Marietta (Ingraham) Sparks, natives of Sheffield, Mass., where the father was a farmer by occupation. They are spending their declining years in a comfortable residence in Gilman. Mr. and Mrs. Seager have three children, namely: George Lyman, Maysie G. and Charles Percy.
In his political sympathies our subject always votes with the Republican party and is a strong advocate of those political measures that promise to benefit the county and state. As a successful business man he has won an enviable reputation in commercial circles and is accorded high esteem and confidence.
PHINEAS STEVENS was one of the most prominent citizens of Marshall County. He was born in Barnet, Vt., August 10, 1821, and died in Marshalltown April 30, 1890. His grandfather, Dr. Phineas Stevens, was an educated German physician who came to this country in the latter part of the eighteenth century. His father, Solomon Stevens, of Stevens Village (now Barnet), Vt., was a saddler by trade, and spent his entire life in that place, dying in 1863, at the age of seventy-four. He married Sarah Cushman, whose family traced its ancestry almost to the settlement of this country. She was a highly educated woman, and from her Mr. Stevens inherited his quick perception and accurate judgment. While yet a boy, our subject assisted in the overland shipment of horses to Boston, and followed that business through much of his life.
In 1844, Mr. Stevens and Caroline Brock were married. She belonged to a prominent family of the Green Mountain State, was a most hospitable woman, and was always an entertaining companion. A sad blow to them was the death of their son Charles A., who died in Dexter, Iowa, at the early age of thirty-three. The mother died of cancer at the age of sixty-three. Their only surviving child is Mrs. William J. Fort, of Marshalltown.
Mr. Stevens lived to an advanced age, but was never a strong man. a few years after his marriage ill health forced him to sell his general merchandise store at his old home, and for a short time he lived at Kenosha, Wis. In 1856, he went to Lacon, Ill., and for more than twenty years was indentified with the moral and commercial development of that community. He was a member of the firm of Fisher, Stevens & Co., and their trade extended over a wide territory, owing largely to the ability of Mr. Stevens. They passed through the panic of 1857, and met every obligation, and continued in the public confidence until the partnership was dissolved. Mr. Stevens afterward engaged in merchandising with the firm of Stevens, Gage, Roberts & Co., and later in banking under the firm name of Stevens, Eckley & Co. These firms ever have had the highest confidence of their patrons and the community. In 1863, with other capitalists, he founded the First National Bank of Lacon, and for many years served as its President. Gradually extending his possessions, he became the owner of several hundred acres of the " Garden of Illinois," as he termed that part of the state.
In 1872 Mr. Stevens moved to Richland Township, Marshall County, Iowa, where for several years he was a successful farmer and stock-raiser. In 1876 he sold his Illinois property, and for about a year lived retired. He had previously purchased Iowa land, and in 1877 came here, and from time to time bought more, becoming owner of extensive possessions. In 1882 he became interested in the Marshalltown State Bank, was made President, and its capital was increased from $50,000 to $100,000. An annual dividend of ten per cent. was paid, and at the time of his death there was a surplus of $28,000. The success of the institution was due to his able management. He was never known to oppress any one, and his aid has often laid the foundation for the fortunes of others. He became possessed of more than three thousand acres of the best farming land in this county. He and his wife always took great interest in young people, and during his illness, which lasted over a year, the younger business men evinced their friendship in many acts of kindness, tokens of esteem and kindly inquiries. He gave liberally to charitable and benevolent work, and his house was always the home of Christian workers. He aided churches of all denominations, for he believed there was good in all.
One remarkable trait of Mr. Stevens was his remembrance of people. Years might elapse and time change their appearance, but he never failed in recognizing those whom he had known, often to their great astonishment. He was at the time of his death probably the most widely known man in the county, and his loss was sincerely and deeply mourned by all who knew him. The community mourned for him as for a brother, and the memory of Phineas Stevens will be revered as long as any of his friends continue on this earth.
WILLIAM E. TOOGOOD