Madison County Bios

Native or Residents of county


JOHN CURTIS was born in Kent, England, January 17, 1813. He is a son of William and Charlotte (Gibbs) Curtis, both natives of England. In 1828, the family came to America, and settled in Madison county, New York. John afterward came west to Dodge county, Wisconsin, and in the spring of 1857, settled in Douglas township, Bremer county, where he remained until 1860, when he settled on his present farm of 175 acres, two and a half miles northeast of Waverly. In 1858, he married Ruby Ann Harris, a native of New York State. Their children are - Ida May, Fred, Ruby A., Nettie E. and Lorinda - all living at home.
WILLIAM FARR, one of the old settlers of Polk township, was born on the third day of December, 1826, in Madison county, New York. Nine years after his birth, the family moved to Illinois and there William obtained his education, and lived for many years. During the year 1857, he came to Bremer county, Iowa, and settled on a farm on section 19, where he lived eight years, and then settled on his present farm. In 1854, Mr. Farr was united in wedlock to Miss Sophia E. Boardman, who is a native of Vermont. They have four children- Willis C., Walker A., Maurice B and Warren. Mr. Farr has frequently held places of trust in his township, and deservedly has the respect and esteem of the community in which he lives. His reputation for honesty and integrity being second to none. In politics he is a staunch republican, and a hard worker in everything calculated to advance the interests of that party.
WILLIAM N. GAINES, one of the earliest settlers of Polk township, Bremer county, is a native of Madison county, New York, where he was born November 16, 1825. He is a son of Obed and Lydia (Connable) Gaines, who were born in the State of Vermont. When William N. was eight years of age he was ‘bound out' to a man by the name of Newcomber. In 1835, he removed with him to Kirkland, Ohio, and thence, in the summer of 1838, to Kane county, Illinois, where he worked at the carpenters’ trade. During the fall of 1853, he came to Bremer county, Iowa, locating in Polk township, in the neighborhood of Plainfield. There he opened a farm and subsequently erected the first hotel in the town, and was its proprietor for a number of years. Mr. Gaines was the first postmaster in the township. The office was then known as Polk Precinct, but afterwards changed to Syracuse, and still later, to Plainfield. In 1854, Mr. Gaines was united in marriage with Miss Sarah A. Swain, a native of Waukegan, Illinois. They have had five children - Mary E. wife of James D. Miller; William H; Charles E.; Florence L, and Jeannette. Mr. Gaines has a farm of 200 acres of land in Bremer county, also owns 360 acres in Wadena county, Minnesota. On his farm in this county, is a comfortable residence and a barn 38 x 50, with a basement. In 1854, his parents started west, but while on the road his mother died, leaving the father to finish the journey alone. While living here he made his home with Wm. N. and a brother. He died in Polk township and was buried in Plainfield.
S. N. ORVIS, son of Timothy B. and Rachel Orvis, was born in Pennsylvania in 1835. His father died in 1876, at the age of 86; his mother, who is now 82 years old, is a member of Mr. Orvis’ family. In 1841, his parents moved to Madison county, New York, where they remained until 1850, when they went to Boone county, Illinois. Mr. Orvis was reared on a farm, receiving but a limited education. In 1861, he came to this State and settled in Clayton county, remaining however, but three years, when he came to Sumner and bought the farm where he now lives. He has been trustee of the town, and trustee of the schools for a number of years. Mr. Orvis is one of those quiet, unassuming men who always make friends and never enemies. He was married, in 1870, to Miss Anna Lowe, a native of Delaware county, Iowa. They have had five children, one died- Edith, Millicent, Alma and Bruce.
A. PALMER, the eighth pastor of the Free-Will Baptist Church of Horton, was born in Madison County, New York, over forty years ago; came west as a young man. He was married to Chloe Larrabee, a highly respected young lady of Delaware county, Iowa. Some eighteen or twenty years ago, was converted to christianity, and commenced preaching a few years after his marriage, in the same county. He was fluent and sympathetic as a speaker, his discourses being characterized by great spirituality and power. The church was greatly prospered under his ministrations. Being a good mechanic he kept everything about the church and parsonage in good repair. It could be said of him in truth, he was one of nature’s noblemen- an honest christian and a faithful pastor. His death was caused by his falling from a platform while assisting to calcimine the church in November, 1870, surviving his injuries only ten hours from the time of the accident. A general gloom settled over the whole community, as he was loved and respected by all who knew him.
SIMEON F. SHEPARD, one of the earliest settlers of Bremer, was born in Madison county, New York, September 12, 1818. He is the son of Orrin and Electa (Fish) Shepard, natives of the State of Connecticut. Simeon was one of a family of twelve children, nine of whom are now living. About 1836, his parents removed to Alleghany county, New York, and thence to Crawford county, Pennsylvania, where his father died April 16, 1851, and his mother April 28, 1873. The subject of this sketch was married in Chautauqua county, new York, July 8, 1844, to Miss Susan W. Pitcher, a native of Cataraugus county, born March 6, 1820. Seven children have been born to them, five of whom are now living - Martha E., George C., Maurice, Homer, and Charles M. In 1847, Mr. Shepard emigrated with his family to DuPage county, Illinois, and thence, in 1851, to Bremer county, Iowa. He had previously purchased the claim where he now resides, and on which he has lived for thirty-one years. At the time of his settlement in this county, there was not a house where the present town of Waterloo now stands; the rivers without bridges, and one could ride for miles without meeting any obstruction from fences. But what a change can be seen now in passing over the country. Either thriving towns and villages meet the eye, or beautifully cultivated farms, upon which, are substantial residences and farm buildings. Mr. Shepard, at one time owned 520 acres of land, which he has since divided among his children. He is a member of the M. E. Church, and his wife of the Presbyterian. In politics he has always adhered to the principles of the republican party. During 1857 and 1858, he assessed the county.
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Last updated: 14 May 2011