REV. HENRY PILBEAM, a highly esteemed citizen of Belle Plaine, was born in the county of Sussex, England, Feb. 22, 1815, and is the son of Henry and Elizabeth (Taylor) Pilbeam. He emigrated from England to America in 1832, and made his home in Utica, N. Y., a short time. Four years later he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church at New York Mills, Oneida County, studied for the ministry at Cazenovia Seminary, and in 1839 was licensed to preach, entering on the duty of his holy calling that year. He was ordained at Utica in 1842, by Bishop Heading, in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was assigned to the Litchfield Circuit.
Mr. Pilbeam was married, in Herkimer County, N. Y., Aug. 16, 1842, to Miss Sophronia A. Browning, daughter of James and Mary (Campbell) Browning; she was born in the town of Columbia, Herkimer Co., N. Y., July 9, 1819. Three children were born of their union, two daughters and a son: Mary E., the eldest, is the wife of Myron Hartwell of Belle Plaine; Wilbur J. died in infancy; Ida, the youngest, is a teacher in the Belle Plaine City schools, and remains with her parents. Mr. Pilbeam continued in active service in the ministry in New York till 1851, when he removed to Rockford, Ill. In 1856, his health becoming impaired, he accepted an agency of the American Bible Society. After spending one year at Rockford, he removed to Mt. Morris, and two years later to De Witt, Clinton County, this State. On coming to Iowa he became connected with the Upper Iowa Conference, which connection still continues. Mr. Pilbeam was in active service in the ministry till 1865, when failing health compelled him to allow his name to be placed upon the list of superannuates, and to again assume the duties of an agent of the American Bible Society. He removed to Belle Plaine in 1864, and has made this his home continuously since. He here organized the first society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.Mr. Pilbeam has now served upward of twenty years as Bible agent, working zealously and faithfully in the discharge of his duty. During these years he has traveled thousands of miles, and has been the means of placing many thousand Bibles in the hands of the people. The amount of labor accomplished by him in this direction has not been excelled in Iowa by any one person. He was a pioneer in the cause of Christianity west of the Mississippi, and of his church at Belle Plaine. He is recognized as a man of superior ability, earnest and zealous in his sacred calling, possessing a power of expression which is clear, vigorous and eloquent, while his evident sincerity carries conviction, and wins respect and confidence. As the work for which these pages are written is intended to live in the great future, when the subject and writer shall have passed away, it is only to be regretted that our limited space admits of only this brief mention of so worthy a man.
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. 302.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on February 12th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.