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Wapello County >> 1901 Index

History of Wapello County, Iowa
ed. and comp. by Capt. Samuel B. Evans. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1901.


Unless noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

P. G. BALLINGALL died at sea, off the coast of China, while on a tour around the world, on March 7, 1891; his body was taken to Hong Kong and buried temporarily, but the remains were finally brought to Ottumwa and buried in the cemetery. The funeral ceremonies were largely attended by citizens of the county and by sympathizing friends from other parts of the State. Colonel Ballingall served four years in the State Senate from Wapello county and several terms as a member of the city council of Ottumwa.


Colonel Ballingall died March 7, 1891.

Will executed on the 22d day of November, 1890.

Will appointed Mary J. Phillips, A. G. Harrow and Charles A. Walsh executors. Mrs. Phillips refused to qualify, but Harrow and Walsh accepted said appointment and qualified as executors.

Suit of Mary J. Phillips, David Hodge, Charles and Harry Hodge, plaintiffs, vs. Harrow and Walsh, executors, and the Ottumwa Library Association, the City of Ottumwa and Mattie J. Thomas, defendants, begun on the 21st day of December, 1891, attacking the eighth and ninth paragraphs of the will.

The lower court, Judge E. L. Burton, sitting, decided in favor of the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court, on appeal taken by the executors, reversed the decision of the lower court and sustained the will in every particular.

The City of Ottumwa, by its Council, adopted a resolution in March, 1895, accepting that part of out-lot No. 13, devised to the public for park purposes, and obligated itself to construct and maintain a public park on said premises as provided by the terms of the will, but refused to accept the trust further. The court afterward appointed Charles A. Walsh as trustee in the place of the City of Ottumwa.


By the eighth paragraph of the will the Ottumwa Library Association was given an annuity of $200, also a strip of ground 34 feet wide, fronting on Main street and extending back to the right of way of the C. R. I. & P. Railway. The devise of real estate to the Library Association is upon the express condition that the said ground shall be used for the purpose of erecting thereon a building for the use and benefit of a public library.

By the ninth paragraph of the will, the Ballingall House property, the property then known as the Magnolia Restaurant (now known as the English Kitchen), the Pony Pork House (now used as a pickle factory), part of out-lot No. 13, part of lot No. 370 were given to the City of Ottumwa in trust for the following uses and purpses:

The Ballingall House to be kept up as a hotel; part of out-lot No. 13 to become a public park; part of the same lot to be used for a flower conservatory; the remainder of the property to be leased or sold according to the judgment of the trustee.

A sinking fund of $20,000 to be established first; then the will directs from the rents and incomes the establishment of a second fund of $6,000. The first fund to be used for remodeling the hotel building, to suitably keep up with the times and the growth of the city; the second fund for the purpose of maintaining the public library now established. The will provides that upon the refusal of the Library Association to accept or use the ground willed to it for the purpose of erecting library building thereon, that the same shall go to the City of Ottumwa and become a part of the public park.

After the founding of the perpetual sinking fund of $20,000 and the expenditure of the second fund of $6,000 as directed, the will provides that all accumulations arising from the rents of the property and from the interest on the sinking fund shall go and be devoted to the following uses and purposes annually:

One-fourth to the Library Association.

One-fourth to poor and needy people of Ottumwa who are dependent upon their own labor for a livelihood.

One-fourth to the religious societies of the city without regard to sect.

One-fourth to build or aid in the building and maintenance of a foundling hospital, with the special view and purpose of relieving unfortunate females and protecting and caring for their offspring.

ADAM W. BELL, a pioneer settler of Wapello county, Iowa, who was for many years engaged in agricultural pursuits, is now living a retired life in the town of Eddyville. He was born in 1831, in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a son of Nathaniel and Celia (Wright) Bell, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of North Carolina.

Nathaniel Bell followed farming for many years in Indiana, where he was a pioneer settler of Putnam county. He moved west to Wapello county, Iowa, in 1846, and settled in Center township, four miles northwest of Ottumwa. There he remained until he died, in 1877, at the age of seventy-two years. He and his wife became the parents of the following children: Martha; Elizabeth; Lucy A.; Adam W.; Sarah M.; Benjamin F.; Thomas J., Cerissa; and Ellen. They were members of the Christian church. Mrs. Bell died in the early "seventies," at the age of about sixty-seven years.

Adam W. Bell received his mental training in the common schools of Indiana and Wapello county, Iowa, but is practically a self-educated man. He remained at home until he reached the age of twenty-three years, and then started in life for himself. He rented land the first year, and then purchased a piece of raw prairie land in Appanoose county, on which he lived for eighteen months. He sold out, moved back to Wapello county, and bought a farm of 160 acres, a mile southeast of Chillicothe. This he improved and cultivated until February, 1900, when he moved to Eddyville, where he is now spending his declining years in the peace and comfort of retired life. At one time he owned 420 acres, and this, with the exception of the original 160 acres, he divided among his children. He contends that his wife was a large factor in helping to make and save the means with which this land was purchased, and the children should benefit by the fruit of her industry. He has always been a hardworking man, and has been honored as an upright citizen by those who best know him. His, advice has been sought in matters of public interest, and he has always added his influence and support to enterprises tending to benefit the community.

In 1854 Mr. Bell was united in marriage with Nancy E: Goodwin a daughter of Rolla and Hannah Goodwin, who settled in Wapello county, Iowa as early as 1852. Mr. and Mrs. Bell became the parents of two children: Catherine, who married John Jordan, of Cass township, Wapello county, by whom she has three children, Ñ Minnie, Ethel and Bessie; and one who died young. Some time after the death of his wife Mr. Bell married Mary I. McGlothlen, of Wapello county, to whom four children were born, as follows: Adda; Lucy; Buckley; and Nellie V. Adda married Harvey Shahan, of Ottumwa, and has four children: Erville; Alma and Elma (twins); and Gladys. Lucy married Dudley Fagerstrom, of Page county, Iowa, and has four children: Frank; Paul; Grace; and Fay. Buckley married Dilla McFadden, and has three children: Floyd; Audrey; and Harold. Nellie V. married A. W. Oxander, of Oskaloosa, and has two children, Ñ Marguerite and Gertrude. Mr. Bell wedded for his third wife Mary E. Shahan, of Monroe county, Iowa. In religious belief they are members of the Christian church. Politically Mr. Bell is a stanch Democrat, and held the office of justice of the peace in Cass township for a number of years. He is strongly opposed to the liquor traffic, and is not in favor of placing a license on anything tending to destroy souls.

LEONIDAS M. GODLEY, a gentleman who bears an honorable record for service in the Union army during the Civil war, was for many years a trusted official of Wapello county, serving in various capacities. He was born in West Virginia in 1836, and is a son of Mahlon and Nancy (Newman) Godley.

Mahlon Godley came of an old Virginia family, of English extraction. Several generations back two Godley brothers came from England, - one locating in Virginia and the other in New England. Mahlon Godley had seven brothers and two sisters, who scattered, most of them going south, while he located in West Virginia. He learned the trade of a miller and followed it for some years in Virginia. Later he learned the trade of a cabinet-maker, which he followed until his death, in 1869. He was an active Democrat in politics, and served as justice of the peace and post-master at Ashland, which was considered the best town in Wapello county in the early days. While a resident of West Virginia he married Nancy Newman, who was born just across the line, in Pennsylvania, and is of Dutch descent. Eight children were born of this union, Leonidas M. being the youngest. All were born in the East, and all but the eldest brother, who died in 1849, came west.

Leonidas M. Godley first came to the State of Iowa with his parents in 1850, locating in Jefferson county, and in April, 1854, he came to Ashland, Wapello county. He engaged in farming for a number of years, and then followed the trade of a carpenter until the outbreak of the Civil War. He spent some time in working at his trade in Kansas, and was a resident of Sedalia, Missouri, when the war began. He enlisted in the 27th Reg., Missouri Vol. Inf., but was sick in Sedalia at the time of the siege of Lexington. After his three months' term of service had expired he returned to Wapello county, Iowa, and upon recovering his health enlisted in Company E, 22d Reg., Iowa Vol. Inf. They rendezvoused at Iowa City, and thence went to spend their first winter in Missouri. They were soon ordered to Port Gibson, Mississippi, and took part in the engagement at that place. Mr. Godley also participated in the battles at Champion Hills and Black River Bridge, and was at the siege of Vicksburg. It was during the first assault upon the works that he was struck by a ball between the knee and the ankle. The wound being very painful, he lay down between the firing lines of the contending armies. Finding his limb was bleeding profusely, he arose, and, while trying to tie his handkerchief around the member, was shot in the right breast, the ball coming out at the shoulder blade. He was later shot through the knee of the same limb. The general charge had terminated, and he sat up and became a target for the enemy. Being forced to resume his recumbent position, he lay between the two lines for three hours, and was finally assisted to a shady spot under a tree, where he lay from forenoon until midnight, with 20 others who were disabled. At his own request he was carried inside the Confederate lines to the Texas Legion, and was next morning looked after by the surgeon. He was carried out and laid in a hole beside the railroad bridge, upon some branches and leaves, which served as an operating table. He displayed great courage and fortitude during the operation of amputating his limb, and refused the aid of any anesthetic. Two strong men were chosen to hold him still, but he dispensed with these, and calmly watched the removal of his left limb near the hip. After the operation he rode in a lumber wagon with a Confederate soldier, and was taken to an improvised hospital. En route they encountered Union sharpshooters, who fired upon them. Mr. Godley implored the driver, who had put the horses to their fastest speed, to go slower, but he would not, so Mr. Godley crawled to a corner of the wagon box and managed to hold his limb in such a manner as to present bleeding to death. The building in which they were finally located was shelled by the Union troops and all were forced to vacate. Mr. Godley, being the only Union soldier there, was paroled and reached the Union lines. He was placed on a marine hospital boat and taken to Memphis, where he arrived July 3, 1863. July 6, 1863, he started for St. Louis, where he was placed in Lawson Hospital, and remained there until September 4, 1863, when he was discharged. His wife joined him and cared for him until they returned to their home at Ashland, Iowa, on September 7. His service in the army was one of heroism, and for meritorious conduct, during the assault on Vicksburg, Congress voted him a medal of honor. He has many relics of the war, which form a most interesting collection. His limb healed in four weeks, and he gets around well with a crutch and a cane. Losing a leg in fighting for so great and just a cause is not a matter of regret to one of his patriotism. He receives a just pension from the United States government.

In 1864 he was elected clerk of the court of Wapello county, and held that office for fourteen years (seven successive terms), the longest period of any incumbent. He was later appointed a revenue collector in the government's employ, and was engaged in examining distilleries, but resigned, and was then appointed deputy revenue collector under Mr. Burnett, of Burlington, succeeding Charles Brown. After holding that office nearly three years he became deputy postmaster at Ottumwa, under Postmaster Tilton. He resigned one year later, and has not been active in business since.

Mr. Godley was united in marriage in 1859 with Julia Walker, who was born in Kentucky and reared in Missouri; she is now fifty-four years of age. They became parents of 10 children, five of whom died in infancy. Those who grew up are as follows: William L., who died in 1888, at the age of twenty-one years; Terasita; Martha; Charles L., who is at home and in the employ of John Morrell & Company, Limited; and Harry, a stenographer, residing in Chicago. Mr. Godley was reared a Democrat, and continued so until the Charleston convention, since which time he has been a strong Republican. He is a member of Cloutman Post, No. 69, G. A. R. In religious views he is a Methodist.

William Hirst submitted by Margery Jones

William Hirst, a highly respected farmer of Richland Township, was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1819 and is a son of Thomas and Phoebe (Greenroyd) Hirst.

Thomas Hirst was born in Yorkshire, England in 1777, and was a son of John and Mary (Pearson) Hirst, both natives of England.  He was a weaver by trade, but later in life engaged in farming, which he followed until his death in 1868.  His union with Phoebe Greenroyd, who was born in Yorkshire, England, resulted in the birth of the following children: John; Ann; William: Joseph; James; Benjamin; Mary; Sarah; Alice; Louisa and George.  James came to the United States and located in Cincinnati, Ohio where he lived until his death in 1897.  He was a machinist, and was the inventor of the Hirst motor, of which he was also the manufacturer.

William Hirst came to the United States in 1847, at the age of twenty-four years, and landed at the port of New York.  He then located in Ohio and lived there until 1850 when he came west to Iowa, locating in Burlington.  Up to that time his work had been that of a shoemaker.  He moved to Wapello County, Iowa in 1851 and was located at Eddyville until the fall of that year when he settled on his farm in section 21, Richland township, where he now owns 160 acres of valuable land.  He lived on this place until 1892, when he moved with his wife to his present home in Kirkville, where he lives a retired life, having rented his farm.

Mr. Hirst was first married to Eliza Kershaw, who died in 1861, having given birth to the following children:  Sarah A.; Thomas, a farmer in Richland township; James, a blacksmith at Ottumwa; Martha, wife of Thomas Kirkpatrick; Lincoln, a blacksmith; and  William, deceased.  Mr. Hirst married a second time, wedding Elizabeth J. McNair, who was born in Knox County, Ohio in 1838, and they have one child Rosella, who married David Willenmyer, a farmer of Richland township.

BENJAMIN F. OGDEN, deceased, who was a prominent pioneer settler of Wapello county, Iowa, and a prominent educator of his day, was living on a farm of 349 acres in Columbia township, at the time of his death. He was born in Maryland, in 1811, and was a son of David and Mary (Deems) Ogden, both natives of Pennsylvania.

David Ogden left his native state at an early age, and located in Maryland. He was a cabinetmaker by trade, which he followed in Maryland, and later moved to Leesburg, Virginia, where he followed his trade for several years. He then moved to Ohio, and afterward to Keokuk, Iowa, where he died November 29, 1863. His wife died in 1811, at the age of twenty-nine years, when Benjamin F. was an infant. Mr. Ogden married a second time, wedding Elizabeth Crow, by whom he had several children. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Benjamin F. Ogden, the only child born to his parents, received his early mental training in the public schools of Virginia, and then took a complete course in Leesburg College, at Leesburg, Virginia, whom which institution he graduated with honors. He then began teaching school in Virginia, and subsequently followed that vocation in several states in the South. Previous to the war he taught school on a large plantation in Louisiana, on which several hundred slaves were employed. This did not prove to his liking, as he was a strong Abolitionist, and as a result he returned north and taught school in Pennsylvania. It was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that he met and married Mrs. Hannah (Supplee) Frame. In 1865 they came west to Wapello county, Iowa, where he was already the owner of a farm of 349 acres, in Columbia township. He died July 30, 1874, and his farm was divided among his heirs, Mrs. Ogden receiving 185 acres of the land and a fine old-fashioned brick house. The tract is the finest grade of bottom land, and makes one of the best pieces for farming in the county. In his political belief, Mr. Ogden was a stanch Republican.

Mrs. Ogden was born in Pennsylvania, and is a daughter of William and Louisa Supplee, both natives of Pennsylvania. Her first marriage was to Thomas Frame, in 1852, by whom there was one child, Mary Frame, wife of Edgar Ogden, of Mahaska county, Iowa. as a result of her union with Mr. Ogden four children were born, as follows: George D., deceased, who left two children, Stella and Blanche; David, deceased; Charles S., who married Nellie B. Young, and resides with his mother; and Rebecca, wife of Charles W. Sullivan, of Ottumwa, Iowa, who has two children, Edith and Ruth. Mrs. Ogden is a woman of many estimable traits of character, and has numerous warm friends in the community. Mr. Ogden was not a member of any church, and was not liberal in his belief, as that term is generally applied, but was a man who loved to be good and to do good, from a high sense of justice to his fellow beings, rather than from fear of a hereafter. He had, however, an abiding faith in a supreme being.

FRANK SKINNER, a prominent young agriculturist of Keokuk township, Wapello county, Iowa, is living on a farm eight miles south of Ottumwa. He was born in the southwest part of this township, April 11, 1869, and is a son of Jesse B. and Sarah A. (Ketchum) Skinner.

Jesse B. Skinner was born in Henry county, Iowa, in 1844, and when a young man enlisted in the Union army, and served three years in Company E, 26th Reg., Iowa Vol. Inf. After his return home from the army he engaged in farming in the southwestern part of Keokuk township, Wapello county, where he purchased a farm. Later he sold this farm and bought another in the same neighborhood. This he improved and cultivated until the spring of 1901, when he sold it and removed to South Ottumwa, where he is spending his declining years in retirement. He married Sarah A. Ketchum, a daughter of John Ketchum, who was born in Ohio. Six children blessed this union, namely: Charles; Frank; Millie; Jesse N.; and Edward and Harry, who are twins. In religious views Mr. Skinner is liberal. Politically he is a member of the Democratic party, and belongs to the Grand army of the Republic.

Frank Skinner, the subject of this sketch, attended the common schools of his native county and taught school for ten years. He remained at home until 1899, when he moved on the farm which he now conducts, and which he had bought several years before. It contains 93 acres of tillable land, which is devoted to general farming and stock-raising. There is an excellent supply of water on the place. Mr. Skinner is an energetic and conscientious young man, and promises to become one of the best known farmers in the county.

May 23, 1900, Mr. Skinner married Helen Horen, a daughter of Philip Horen, a resident of Keokuk township, and one of its early settlers. Mr. and Mrs. Skinner have one child - Margaret A. Mr. Skinner is a Democrat in politics, and is at present filling the office of township clerk in a most able manner.