Edgar R. A. Brainard

Edgar R.A. Brainard and family

During his life Edgar R. A. Brainard was widely and favorably known in Allamakee county as one of the foremost agriculturists near Postville, where he owned a valuable farm of two hundred and fifteen acres which he successfully cultivated until death claimed him December 5, 1909. He was one of the first in this section to engage in bee culture and proved that such an enterprise could be profitably prosecuted here. The success that came to him was entirely brought about by his own efforts, for he started out in life at the age of sixteen and unaided made his way in the world to a position which brought him the confidence and good-will of all who knew him.

Edgar R. A. Brainard was born in McHenry county, Illinois, near Huntley, May 9, 1851 a son of Isaac and Arvilla (Austin) Brainard, natives of New York state, both born in Washington county. The date of the father’s birth was April 5, 1816, and that of the mother, August 13, 1824. During his active life Isaac Brainard always followed farming and he and his wife came to Iowa on June 1, 1855, locating at what was then known as Cleveland, where he bought land, in the cultivation of which he continued until his death. He passed away September 24, 1800, his wife surviving him until October 11, 1896. In their family were six children, of whom our subject was the third in order of birth.

In the acquirement of a education Edgar R. A. Brainard attended school in Postville township and also a business college at Waukon, having been brought by his parents to this section before he attained school age. He early assisted his father with the work of the farm and when only sixteen years of age began to take charge of its operation, becoming thereby the mainstay of the family. While he devoted the summer months to farming, he taught school for several years during the winter seasons and also worked in the employ of others until his marriage, when he by purchase acquired forty acres of land, still continuing however, to teach school during the two following winters. He then had the means to build a small house and began keeping bees, being the first in this section to engage in such an enterprise. As his financial means accrued he added to his farm from time to time until he owned two hundred and fifteen acres of land, all of which he cleared and which he developed and brought to a high state of productivity. The buildings upon his farm were substantial and modernly equipped , his residence comfortable and the latest machinery was provided for labor saving purposes and in order to increase the yield of the fields. He was considered one of the most substantial agriculturists of his section when death claimed him December 5, 1909. He was closely attached to his farm, having never been away from home with but one exception, when he was called to Dubuque in order to do jury service. Having begun bee culture, he continued along that line, becoming a leader of the industry and being extraordinarily successful therein. As his means increased he invested judiciously in other enterprises and became a stockholder in the Farmer’s Cooperative Store and the Cooperative Creamery of Postville. His stock-raising interest were also considerable. 

On September 22, 1879, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Brainard and Miss Barbara McWilliams, a native of Scotland, born January 21, 1860. She is a daughter of Nathaniel and Mary (Yule) McWilliams, also natives of Scotland, who crossed the ocean in 1867 and after making their way into the interior of the country, located on Henderson prairie in Clayton county, Iowa, where they resided for several years before removing to Post township, where the father rented land and worked for Mr. Hart. He bought his first land in Post township, where they resided for several years before moving upon the farm near where Mrs. Brainard now lives, but later sold out and removed to Postville, where the father died November 7, 1896, the mother surviving him until February 27, 1905. In their family were nine children of whom Mrs. Brainard is the eldest. Mr. and Mrs. Brainard became the parents of eight children: Mary, who was born July 7, 1880, and is now the wife of C. A. Simons, a farmer and dairyman in Marengo, Illinois; Millie, who was born May 15, 1883, and is the wife of Martin Vickery, engage in farming in Post township; James E., who was born February 25, 1885, and died October 30, 1897; Arvella, who was born August 13, 1887, and is at home; Nellie, born September 28, 1891, also at home; George, born December 18, 1893, Ralph born April 6, 1898, and Genevieve.

Mr. Brainard was a devout member of the United Brethren church, in the work of which he was actively and helpfully interested, having been class leader and trustee of the church, and teacher and superintendent in the Sunday school for many years. His political allegiance was given to the republican party and he gave evidence of his public spirit by serving as school director and treasurer as well as township assessor for two terms. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Brotherhood of America. The death of Mr. Brainard was the cause of widespread regret among his many friends who sincerely mourned his loss and still  cherish his memory as one whose manly qualities demand respect and esteem. Mrs. Brainard still resides upon the homestead and continues its operation in the same able manner as it had been conducted during her husband’s life. In February, 1912, misfortune befell her when the family residence burned down but, undaunted, she erected a new and modern residence more comfortable and convenient than that which had been taken by the elements. She enjoys the highest esteem and good-will of all her neighbors and has many friends in Postville who admire her for her excellent womanly qualities as well as for her business ability in successfully continuing as extensive agricultural enterprise.

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

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