JAY D. BURRELL, one of the prominent and enterprising citizens of the county, and a gentleman of sterling worth and integrity, is engaged in mercantile pursuits at Urbana. He is the eldest son of John and Caroline J. Burrell, and was born near Plainfield, Will Co., Ill., Feb. 13, 1849. His father was a native of New York and his mother of Vermont, and their union was blest by the birth of nine children, two of whom are deceased. The living are Fred W., who resides on the old homestead in Will County, a sister residing in Indiana, and the remaining five children are living in this county.
The father of Jay D. was a farmer by occupation, and our subject was brought up to that calling. He remained with his parents until he attained the age of sixteen years, when, the farm being small, and his services not being required thereon, he went forth to fight life's battle alone. He engaged with George and William Parker at Oswego, Ill., and while an inmate of their home attended the academy at that place. He completed his education at the Northwestern College at Plainfield, Ill., and while working for the Parker Brothers saved sufficient money to enable him to engage in business.
At twenty years of age Mr. Burrell came to this county, and with $1,000 which he had saved, he purchased a stock of dry goods and groceries of E. Culver, at Urbana, and engaged in merchandising. The stock was valued at $1,850. and Mr. Burrell was compelled to borrow $850 to pay for the same, which he did on his individual note without security. He commenced business in an old, dilapidated building, but, being a gentleman of considerable energy and strictly honest in his dealings with his fellow-men, he made money from the very day that he first opened the doors of his establishment to his patrons. He continued in this business until 1875, at which time it had increased to such an extent that he was compelled to erect another and larger building. In the summer of that year he built a two-story business house, and had just completed it and moved his stock of goods into the same, when the fiery element swept it away together with the entire stock. The loss was estimated at $6,000, with no insurance, and in attempting to save a portion of the stock, the hands and face of Mr. Burrell were badly burned. He, however, was not disheartened by this calamity to the extent of giving up, and in less than twenty-four hours after the destruction of his property was again selling and taking in money at the rate of $100 a day. His customers and creditors upon learning of his great misfortune, came to his assistance, and he soon found himself again on the road to prosperity. His business steadily increased, and now he has a good and constantly increasing trade. At present he is making a specialty of mowing and binding machinery. He is a thorough-going business man, full of enterprise, and attributes his success in life to his fair and honest dealings with his patrons. He is doing an annual business of from $30,000 to $36,000.
Soon after engaging in the mercantile business, Mr. Burrell was appointed Postmaster and held the office for a number of years, giving entire satisfaction, but was finally removed for offensive partisanship. In 1880 he was again appointed to the office which he has held until the present time. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and was a charter member of Altar Lodge. He has held nearly all the offices in the lodge and has also represented it in the Grand Lodge. Mr. Burrell also belongs to the I. O. O. F., holding membership with Lodge No. 328, Marysville, and is also a member of the encampment at Vinton. He has held a number of township offices, among which were Township Clerk for a number of years, and at this writing is Notary Public.
Mr. Burrell was united in marriage, Sept. 20, 1871, with Miss Josie Spencer, and they are the parents of six children, named Ada, Willie, Arthur, Clarence, Maud and Abbie.Mr. Burrell and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Urbana. Mr. Burrell owns the store building which he occupies, and four others in Urbana. He is also the possessor of a farm of 160 acres on section 8, Polk Township, also other small pieces of land in the township. He is a public-spirited and enterprising citizen, always ready to forward any enterprise for the benefit of his community or his fellow-men.
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. 283-284.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 10th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.