NEHEMIAH VAN SKIKE, Vinton, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Benton County, was born in Waynesville, Warren Co., Ohio, on the 18th day of August, 1825, and is a son of David and Harriet (Alexander) Van Skike. His father was a native of Kentucky, born near Maysville, April 12, 1795. and was a soldier in the War of 1812, although very young. They were the parents of thirteen children, eight of whom lived to be adults, but one of whom is now living, the subject of this sketch: Merica died when about sixteen; Jasper N. served in the Mexican War as a private soldier, and at the breaking out of the Rebellion enlisted in the 4th Indiana Cavalry as First Lieutenant, and was subsequently promoted Captain of the company; he also received the appointment and served as military conductor on the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga; Nehemiah, second son; Jacob, who served three years in the 4th Indiana Cavalry as First Sergeant; David, who served in the 12th Indiana Infantry, participating in all the engagements of his regiment up to the battle of Atlanta, where he was killed Aug. 17, 1864; Harriet, deceased, wife of John Lawless; Annie, deceased; Elizabeth, deceased, wife of John Bivin. In early life the elder Van Skike was an old-line Whig, an ardent supporter of Henry Clay. After the organization of the Republican party he advocated its principles until his death, June 12, 1888. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which body his wife was also a member. She died in 1845.
Nehemiah, the subject of this sketch, was reared upon a farm and received a good education in the district schools. In 1839 he accompanied his parents to Bartholomew County, Ind., and assisted his father in clearing up a farm in the heavy timber, remaining at home until he was twenty-one years of age. After leaving home he went to Ohio, remaining a short time, and then returned to Indiana, where he engaged as clerk in a general store, and afterward served in a flouring-mill, then in a patent-right business, and finally in the clock trade, which he followed for some time. In 1852 he came to Iowa and traveled over almost the entire State in that line of trade. In 1858 he located in Benton County, purchasing forty acres of land in Harrison Township, twenty acres of which were broken. He has since added 620 acres to his original purchase, 587 of which are under a high state of cultivation.
Mr. Van Skike was married, Oct. 22, 1863, to Miss S. E. Thompson, who was born in Greensburg, Decatur Co., Ind., Jan. 2, 1847. She was a daughter of Hiram and Nancy (Wynn) Thompson. Her father was a native of Pennsylvania, born in 1811, and her mother of Ohio, born in 1826. In 1851 her parents moved to Linn County, Iowa, and in 1853 to Benton County. Her father was twice married. By his first wife he had two children, one of whom is living — Eliza. By his second wife, the mother of Mrs. Van Skike, he had eleven children, ten of whom are now living — Sarah E., Belinda, William B., Robert H., Susan E., Calvin C., Clinton C., Alice V., Clara E. and George W. His first wife died in 1841. The second wife died March 2, 1886. He died Oct. 2, 1872.
Mr. and Mrs. N. Van Skike are the parents of two children — Akbar, born Aug. 27, 1864, attended school at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa; William N., born Oct. 19, 1866, also spent three terms at Cornell College.Mr. Van Skike has led a very active life since coming to Benton County. In politics he is a Republican, and has served in several local offices. In 1879 he was elected a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and re-elected in 1883, and is the present Chairman of the Board. He has taken an active interest in the Benton County Agricultural Society. He is a Freemason, uniting with the fraternity in 1848, at Columbus, Ind. He was a member of Columbus Chapter, No. 10, was demitted from that body and is now a member of Adoniram Chapter, No. 15, at Vinton. He is also a member of Cypress Commandery, No. 37, at Vinton.
Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies" [database online] Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <http://iagenweb.org/benton/>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 216-217.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on January 28th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.