THOMAS B. MCCANDLESS, a successful farmer, stock raiser and breeder of Big Grove township, Benton county, is a native of this county, born August 14, 1857. He is a son of Thomas and Eliza McCandless, the latter of whom, now over eighty years old is a resident of Belle Plaine. Thomas McCandless, the father, was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1828, and died at Belle Plaine, Iowa, July 15, 1902. He was reared in his native country, and there received a good education; he was all his life a deep student and great reader in the line of history and the best literature. When twenty-two years of age, he came to America, and remained six years in Philadelphia, where he worked as a clerk in a store for an uncle, and in 1857 was married there, after which he emigrated to Iowa. He had a very small capital with which to begin, but worked at various things and later rented land several years; he finally purchased the farm now owned by his son, S. A. McCandless, in Iowa township, Benton county. Here he remained until his death. He was a staunch Republican, and served in various local offices; he was an officer in the Presbyterian church. He became a successful farmer and was able to give his children a good education. Thomas McCandless and his wife, who was born in the same part of Ireland as he, and was also reared in the Presbyterian faith, had three sons and two daughters, all living, and all except one born in Benton county. They are: T. B., born in the village of Irving, near the Benton-Tama county line; S. A., operating the home farm; J. R., a farmer of Linn county, south of Cedar Rapids; Sabina R. J., wife of L. Smith, of Keystone, Iowa; and Mary, of Belle Plaine, unmarried.
Thomas B. McCandless was reared on his father's farm in Benton county, remaining at home until thirty years of age; he attended the common school and also took a course at Tilford Academy. Mr. McCandless married, June 22, 1887, Minnie M. Greenlee, born in Benton county, March 2, 1866, daughter of Allen and Melissa (Kiler) Greenlee, early residents of the county. Allen Greenlee was born July 12, 1832, and died on his farm near Belle Plaine, Iowa, in July, 1901; his wife, who now lives at Belle Plaine, was born March 27, 1841. After their marriage, Thomas B. McCandless and his wife remained on the home farm one year, then for a year he worked by the month, after which he entered S. E. Keith's farm near Vinton, which he operated one year; he then purchased two hundred acres of the land he now owns, having small capital with which to buy machinery and equipment. He paid thirty-five dollars an acre for the land, which is now very valuable. He finished clearing the land and afterward purchased eighty acres of irrigated land in Colorado. He has made his present success through his own efforts and industry, and is well known and respected in the community. His farm is located in Jackson and Big Grove townships, but his residence is in the latter township; he has thoroughbred swine and cattle, and carries on general farming. He formerly had Poland China hogs and he and his brother, S. A., are the only farmers in the county to handle the Hampshire or Baltic breed. He has short-horn cattle, draft and coach horses, Shetland ponies and Oxford sheep.
Mr. McCandless and his wife have four children, all born on the home farm and all living at home, namely: David Wylie, born August 6, 1895; Leland D., January 18, 1898; Mary M., April 16, 1905; and Esther May, born October 14, 1907.
Mr. McCandless has made practically all the improvements on his farm, and has made a fine lawn and set out a fine grove of evergreens and other trees; he has named the place "Evergreen Hill Farm," and it is one of the handsome places of the county. Politically he is a Republican, and he has served several terms as township trustee. He is a member of the Highland Nobles, a fraternal insurance organization, and he and his wife belong to the Presbyterian church of Vinton.
The parents of Mrs. McCandless were from Ohio and Michigan, and were married January 3, 1860, at Belle Plaine, Iowa. Both were early residents of the county, where Mr. Greenlee for some time followed his trade of carpenter; he helped in the construction of the elevator and many other buildings of Belle Plaine. They had eight children, namely: Florence Ella, wife of J. A. Miles, of Cuba, where he is engaged in real estate and agricultural pursuits; William F., a carpenter of Wichita, Kansas; Mrs. T. B. McCandless; Elfie Ada, wife of George Stewart, of Blairstown, Benton county; Margaret J., wife of I. W. Van Nice, a farmer of Big Grove township; Carrie M., wife of Warren Crow, of Sheridan, Wyoming; Dora E., wife of Fred Hawley, a farmer living near Belle Plaine; and Homer D., of Sheridan, Wyoming, an electrician.
Picture of Thomas and Minnie McCandless