William D. Biggs


Among the honored and respected residents of Franklin township and among Allamakee county’s most progressive and able native sons is numbered William D. Biggs, who owns and operates one hundred and sixty acres of fine farming land on section 34. He was born in Linton township, December 1, 1865, and is a son of David and Elizabeth (Fitch) Biggs, the former born in Holmes county, Ohio, November 4, 1831, and the latter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 18, 1840. In early life the father went of Ohio, and from that state in January, 1853, came to Iowa, settling in Volney, where he operated a sawmill for a number of years. He formed a partnership with his father and a brother and they conducted this enterprise together with excellent results. About the years 1860 he went overland to the Rocky mountains and remained for two months in the vicinity of Pike’s Peak. Upon the expiration of that time he returned to Iowa and in Linton township purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he continued to improve and develop until 1908, becoming during that time a prosperous and successful farmer. In that year he retired from active life and moved into Rossville, where he and his wife now reside. The paternal branch of this family has been in America since Revolutionary times, William D. Biggs’ great-grandfather having come to the colonies as a soldier in the English army to fight in the Revolutionary war. After his arrival, however, he and his brother joined General Washington, allying their interests with the Continental cause and serving with ability and credit throughout the war. The great-grandfather later married and had eight children, all sons, each of whom he named after some officers in Washington’s army. The father of the subject of this review is well known among the old Iowa pioneers, who delight in telling a story of his connection with the naming of Big Foot school-house and of the entire section known as Big Foot. In early times, while he was on a hunting trip, he noticed in the deep snow which lay over everything tracks made apparently by a man with enormously large feet. There was at that time a famous Indian chief called Old Big Foot, who frequently came to the vicinity and invariably committed some depredation here, being much dreaded by the early settlers. Mr. Biggs’ father followed the trail for a short distance and then came upon a hunter who in order to keep out the cold had wrapped his feet in rags, this accounting for the large tracks made in the snow. The incident proved a much appreciated joke in the community and resulted in the naming of the district Big foot, a title under which it is known today.

William D. Biggs acquired his education in Big Foot school, Linton township, and spent his childhood upon his father’s farm, becoming familiar with the best agricultural methods by assisting in the operation of the homestead. When he was twenty-tree years of age he built upon the property a small factory, wherein he engaged in the manufacture of rustic chairs, selling these throughout the surrounding states for ten years thereafter and developing a large and important patronage. He was also at this time interested in the real-estate business and was well known and highly respected in business circles. Eventually, however, he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, renting in Franklin township the farm owned by D. J. Murphy. He cultivated this for one year and then bought one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 34, Franklin township, whereon he has since resided. He engages in general farming and is also extensively interested in Stock-raising, keeping high-grade cattle, sheep, hogs and horses. He is a stockholder in the cooperative Creamery at Monona and is known as a resourceful, far-sighted and progressive business man, who owes his success in life entirely to his own well directed efforts.

On the 1st of January, 1896, Mr. Biggs was united in marriage to Miss Effie Diamond, who was born in Clayton county, Iowa, near McGregor, in 1874. She is a daughter of John and Ellen (Barnhouse) Diamond, the former a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, born February 10, 1848, and the latter of Ohio, born May 30, 1848. The parents came to Iowa separately in 1852 and located five miles southwest of McGregor, where afterward their marriage occurred. The father became an extensive landowner in that vicinity but later sold his holdings and moved to the vicinity of Summerfield, Kansas, whence after a short time he went to Wisconsin, spending eight months in Iowa county. At the end of that time he went to Monona, Iowa, and he has since lived retired in that city. Mr. and Mrs. Biggs have three living children: Carrie Ellen, born October 29, 1897 Dorothy Amelia, born October 14, 1902; and Lois Althea, born March 30, 1907. One, born July 16, 1900, died in infancy.

Mr. Biggs is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and gives his political allegiance to the Republican party, serving as township trustee and school director. He takes a great interest in public affairs and since the beginning of his independent career has been active in promoting the permanent interests of the community, bearing an honorable and worthy part in the work of upbuilding. His sterling qualities of mind and character have gained him many friends in Franklin township and the high regard in which he is held merits his classification with the representative and honored citizens of his native county.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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