ROBERT N. DOWNS,
who died at his farm in Eden township, August 2, 1882, was one of the
early residents of the county, where he carried on farming on an
extensive scale. He was born in Kent county, Delaware, November 12,
1822, and was a son of Henry and Mary (Nixon) Downs, farmers, who lived
and died in Kent county.
Robert N. Downs was one of eight children, and one brother, Nathan
Downs, came with him to Benton county, Iowa, in the fall of 1854.
Nathan was drowned in Cedar River, near Vinton, in the early sixties.
Robert N. Downs was very fond of hunting, and on his first coming to
Vinton game was plentiful. He was a successful farmer, and also raised
considerable stock. He had small capital when he came west, but became
the owner of three hundred and sixty acres of well improved land in
Eden township. Politically he was a Democrat, and served in various
school offices. He was a member of the Masonic Order, and he and his
wife belonged to the Methodist church.
Mr. Downs married, March 12, 1857, in Virginia, Mary, daughter of James
and Mary (Wilson) Mahood, who was born in Tazewell county, Virginia,
April 18, 1835. Her father was operator of a saw and flour mill, and
later followed farming. Her parents lived and died in the Old Dominion.
Mrs. Downs was the eighth of nine children, of whom two others survive,
James and Stephen, who both reside in Virginia. Those deceased are:
Cynthia A., Elizabeth, Angeline, Matilda, Alexander and John. Mr. Downs
and his wife became parents of eight children, namely: James H., Curtis
Leroy, Mary Ann, Eugene, George, Sarah, William and John. James H.
carries on a farm in Eden township; he married Molly Mahood and they
have three children, Roy, Harland and Bernice. Curtis L. died in 1893,
when a young man. Mary Ann married S. S. Sweeley, and they have two
children, Jessie and Lloyd. Eugene, a machinist of Cedar Rapids, Iowa,
married Jennie Detrick, and they have one daughter, Cecil. George M.
has for several years been foreman of a ranch near San Francisco,
California, and for some time he managed Mrs. Stanford's famous ranch
in that state. He has traveled all over the world, and has been to the
African diamond mines. He married Agnes Heron. Sarah married E. E.
Detrick, of Eden township, and they have three children, Hazel, Carl
and Glen. William lives at home. John, of McHenry county, North Dakota,
married Alice Mahood and they have four children, Lee, Lucile, Glen and
Loren. Mr. Downs came immediately after his marriage to Benton county,
Iowa, where his wife still resides. Immediately after marriage Mr. and
Mrs. Downs came by rail to Dubuque, Iowa, from which place they drove
by stage the balance of the journey. At that time there were only two
houses in sight of the present home. The land was nearly all wild. Mr.
and Mrs. Downs broke and improved the farm before the former's death,
and anything they had to sell was taken to Cedar Rapids, twenty miles
away. They commenced keeping house in a two room building in which they
lived until 1871. All the children were born in it.