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

JOSHUA WORLEY, M. D., the pioneer physician of Belle Plaine, was born at Covington, Miami Co., Ohio. March 6, 1834, and is a son of Rev. Caleb and Elizabeth (Adams) Worley. His father was a minister of the Christian Church, was born in Kentucky, and moved to Ohio in early life. The Worleys are descended from an English Quaker, who came to America in 1699 and settled at Philadelphia. He had two sons, Henry and Francis, who constituted the heads of the two branches of the family in America. Francis obtained a grant of land of the Penns, near York, Pa., and, in order to have a neighbor, gave a man 100 acres for a cow. The old homestead is still in possession of his heirs. Henry Worley located near the James River, Virginia, about 1730, was married, and reared a family. His son Caleb, great-grandfather of our subject, settled in Kentucky in 1783, and the grandfather of our subject, Nathan, removed with his family to Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1804, and died in Germantown in 1848. Rev. Caleb Worley, the father of Joshua, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died at Covington, Ohio, in 1871. The mother was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys the distinction of having been the first white child born in that city, and is probably the oldest native born resident of Ohio, having been born six years before it was admitted as a State. She is descended from a New England family of Adams, who are prominently identified with American history. Her father, George Adams, was a historic character of Ohio, a cousin of Daniel Boone, and took a conspicuous part in the Indian wars when Ohio was the frontier of civilization.

The Doctor, when seventeen years of age, began business as a hardware merchant at Versailles, Ohio, which he continued until twenty-two years old. He then commenced reading medicine with Dr. Williamson, of Versailles, took two regular courses of lectures at the Starling Medical College, at Columbus, Ohio, then practiced one year with his preceptor, after which he took the third term, graduating in the class of 1861, and began practice in Darke County, Ohio, but, becoming infected with the Western fever, he declined a very flattering offer of a partnership with his old preceptor, and in July, 1861, came to Iowa. He spent his first year in this State in Iowa County, and in the spring of 1862 came to Belle Plaine, which was then only in its infancy. He at once established a practice, and, with the exception of two years spent at Marshalltown, has since made this his home.

Dr. Worley was married in Iowa County, Sept. 22, 1862, to Miss Salome Sullenberger, born at Covington, Miami Co., Ohio, daughter of J. M. Sullenberger. The Doctor was the first member of the little hamlet of Belle Plaine to venture on the sea of matrimony. In May, 1864, he was commissioned Surgeon of the 126th Ohio infantry, and served as such until the close of the war. His regiment was assigned to the 6th Army Corps, participated in the campaign of Shenandoah Valley, including the battle of Winchester, and subsequently at the siege and capture of Petersburg, Va. After the close of the war he returned and resumed practice at Belle Plaine.

Dr. Worley is a Democrat in politics. He has always taken an active part in the cause of education, and was for several years President of the School Board of Belle Plaine, and has also served in the City Council. While acting as a member of the Board of Education he took a leading part in securing the commodious and tasty school-buildings, of which the city is so justly proud. He was a candidate for Representative on the Democratic ticket in 1881, and came within 200 votes of being elected, although the Republican majority in the district of the State ticket was 1,400.

Dr. Worley is too widely known in Benton and adjoining counties to need any special mention, but as this record is intended to live after this people shall have passed away, it is not inappropriate to state that he has won a high rank in his profession as a skillful physician and surgeon, that he has long enjoyed an extensive practice, and is held in high esteem both professionally and socially. He is a member of the State Medical Society and of the Union Local Association and American Medical Association. He is also a member of John B. Hancox Post, No. 314, G. A. R.; Hope Lodge, No. 175, A. F. & A. M.; of Mt. Horeb Chapter, No. 45, R. A. M., and of St. Bernard Commandery, No. 14, K. T.

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. 300-301.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 12th, 2009.  Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.

Return to: 1887 Biography Index

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