William M. Lawson

William M. and Bertha (Roffman) Lawson & family

The life record of William M. Lawson is not only written in the terms of success but also in terms of enterprise and honor, for while he has attained prosperity, becoming one of the substantial farmers of Franklin township, he has also won for himself an excellent reputation as a man of high principles. His entire life has been passed in Allamakee County, for his birth occurred in Franklin township October 27, 1857. His parents, John D. and Sarah (Chambers) Lawson, were natives of Michigan but were married in Illinois. The father's parents passing away in Michigan when he was a mere boy, he later went to Illinois to live with a brother, with whom he made his home for some time. Subsequently he engaged in farming on his own account in that state and was there married. He then came to Allamakee county, Iowa, and was numbered among the very first pioneer settlers. Purchasing a tract of land in the northwest corner of Franklin township, he there made his home for many years, clearing and developing theland and converting it into a productive farm. Later he crossed the line into Post township, where he made his home until his retirement from active life, when he went to live with a daughter, in whose home he passed away March 11, 1911, when about seventy years of age. In their family were eight children of whom the subject of this review was the fourth in order of birth.

William M. Lawson, whose name introduces this review, attended district school in Franklin township in the aquirement of his education, but his opportunities in this direction were limited for at a very early age of ten years he put aside his text-books and began working out as a farm hand. In the meantime, however, he lived with his parents, and continued to make the old home farm his place of residence until he had attained the age of twenty-five years, when he was married and took up farming on his own account, renting a farm in the southeastern part of Franklin township, which he continued to operate for two years. Being desirous of engaging independently in agricultural pursuits he then purchased forty acres of underdeveloped land which formed the nucleus of his present fine farm, which he immediately set about clearing and improving. From the very first his efforts were most successful, and as he prospered in his undertaking he bought more land, adding to his original purchase until today is the owner of one hundred and ninety-two acres of rich and arable land located on Section 7, Franklin township. This farm Mr. Lawson has highly improved, introducing upon it all of the modern equipment and accessories for facilitating farm labor, and it is today one of the valuable and desirable farming properties of the district. He engages in general farming and stock-raising, and is a stockholder in the Farmer's Store at Postville, in the Postville Creamery and the Farmers Shipping Association.

On April 2, 1883, Mr. Lawson was united in marriage to Miss Bertha Roffman, who was born in Germany in 1860, a daughter of John and Minnie Roffman, who came to America in that year. They located first in Michigan but later, in 1866, came to Iowa, taking up their home on a farm in Post township, adjoining Franklin township. There the father passed his remaining days, his death occurring August 10, 1883. He is survived by his widow, who now makes her home with a daughter, Mrs. Van Garder*. Mr. and Mrs. Lawson have become the parents of nine children, as follows: Fred and Elmer, twins, born January 4, 1884, of whom the former married the daughter of William Harris, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this volume, and who resides in Post township, while the latter makes his home with his father; Zelma, born March 1, 1886, who married Fred Segrist, a farmer of Franklin township; Sherman, born June 17, 1888, a carpenter by trade, residing at home; Frank, born on the 27th of January, 1893, who married Ruby Joan Hammel, and resides in Jefferson township; John, born October 6, 1895, living with his father; Vera, born April 25, 1897, and Leonard, November 27, 1900, attending school at Evergreen schoolhouse; and Alta, born July 25, 1903, who is also pursuing her education.

Mr. Lawson gives his support to the Republican party, but aside from serving as a member of the school board he has never held, or desired to hold, public office. He is a member of the Woodmen and is active in the affairs of that order. Beginning the battle of life at the tender age of ten years, he early developed those virtues of self-reliance, self-control and persistence which conduce to sound judgement and lead to ultimate victory and today he stands as one of the substantial, progressive and desirable citizens of Allamakee county, within whose borders his entire life has been spent and among whose citizens he numbers many warm friends.

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


*Research note: Van Garder is an error, should be Van Gorder ~contributed by Dorothy Gosse

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