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Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887

JOSEPH W. RICH, editor of the Vinton Eagle, a native of Onondaga County, N. Y., was born Sept. 21, 1838, and is the son of David and Maria (Jay) Rich. His father and mother were born in Somersetshire, England, March 1 and April 4, 1802, respectively. They were married May 4, 1830, in Bath, England, and sailed for America in June following. They located in Onondaga County, N. Y., where six children were born to them. In 1845 the family moved to Kane County, Ill., locating on Fox River, near St. Charles, Chicago, forty miles away, being the nearest grain market. In 1856 the parents, with the children then remaining at home, removed to Iowa, locating at Janesville, Bremer County, where the youngest daughter, Mary A. High, died in February, 1864; also the second son, Andrew J., in June of the same year, from disease contracted in the service (Co. E, 12th Iowa Vol. Inf.). The mother died at Janesville in 1866. The survivors are the father, the eldest son, William H., the eldest daughter, Mrs. Jane M. Grow, and the subject of this sketch.

Joseph W. Rich received the rudiments of his education in the pioneer schoolhouse in Kane County, Ill. In the spring of 1855 he preceded the family to Iowa and engaged in such occupations as a new country afforded. In the winter of 1860-61, he taught his first school, in the town of Shell Rock, Butler County, and in the following spring, in company with two other young men, he tramped forty miles on foot to attend school at Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa. Responding to the call for volunteers, on the 1st day of October, 1861, he enlisted in Co. E, 12th Iowa Vol. Inf. and was mustered into the service at Camp Union, Dubuque, following the fortunes of the regiment in the campaign of the Tennessee in the spring of 1862, being discharged from the service for disability at Jefferson Barracks Hospital, St. Louis, on the 23d day of December, 1862. On returning home he again entered Upper Iowa University, and for the next two years alternately attended school and taught; but poor health and a short purse made a change necessary and in the fall of 1864 he took a course in Bryant & Stratton's Commercial College, in Chicago, and immediately engaged with them to teach book-keeping, first teaching in the Chicago college, and subsequently in their colleges at Covington, Ky., Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio. In the spring of 1867 he returned to Iowa, with a view to completing, at the State University, the course of study broken off by the war, in 1861. Before completing the course, he engaged with Mr. McLain in the development of the Iowa City Commercial College into an academy, with a commercial department, doing a large part of the teaching.

He was married at Iowa City, Sept. 10, 1868, to Miss Ellen A. Moore, a graduate of the University, and for several years a tutor of ancient languages and mathematics in the University. In January, 1871, Mr. Rich came to Vinton and purchased a half interest in the Eagle, one of the pioneer papers of the Cedar Valley, at once assuming charge of the editorial work, under the firm name of Hanford & Rich. In 1876 Mr. Hanford retired, and the firm was changed to Rich & Murphy, but without change in the editorial management.

During Hayes' administration Mr. Rich was appointed Postmaster and served a little over four years, and is at present a member of the Board of Regents of the State University. He is a member of Vinton Lodge, No. 62, A. F. & A. M.; of P. M. Coder Post, G. A. R., and of the Benton County Veteran Association.

Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies"  [database online]  Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 262-263.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 9th, 2009.  Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.

Return to: 1887 Biography Index

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