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Oscar D. Smalley (1817-1902)


Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 7/18/2011 at 20:55:27

Madrid Register News, Aug. 14, 1902

O. D. Smalley Suddenly Passed Away, Died Friday , Aug. 8th

Death is sure to come to all of us, sooner or later, and it often comes without a moments warning. This fact was forcibly impressed upon us Friday morning, when news flew from house to house, that O. D. Smalley, our friend our much esteemed fellow citizen, and one of the prominent pioneers of central Iowa had suddenly passed away. He had only been a citizen of Madrid about two years, but during that time nearly all of our citizens had become acquainted with him, and he was so much esteemed by them, that his death came as a shock to all of them.

O. D. Smalley was born in the state of New Jersey, August 14, 1817, and died at his home in Madrid, Iowa, August 8, 1902, and was therefore, eighty-four years, eleven months and twenty-four days old at the time of his death.

In 1830 he moved with his parents from the state of New Jersey to Lafayette, Indiana, and two years later to Lacon in that state, where he resided for the next ten years. In 1841 he was married to Miss Serena Ramsey who was born in the state of Maryland, and who had moved with her parents to the state of Indiana. In 1842, Mr. Smalley and his young wife moved to Missouri and settled in Linn County. Here he remained for two years and then moved to the Platte purchase and settled at Sparta. Sparta was then the county seat of Buchanan County, Missouri, and situated on the Platte River, ten miles east of the Missouri River.

While living here he became acquainted with many of the leading men of this part of the state, at that time. Among these were United States Senator, David R. Atchison; Judge James Birch; General A.W. Doniphan, and the much renowned Indian post trader, Joseph Robidoux, the founder of St. Joseph, now the third city in the state of Missouri.

Early in the year 1846 the county seat was moved from Sparta to St. Joseph, an incident which sounded the death knell of Sparta. This was a hard blow upon those who owned property in the old county seat. About this time the last section of the Sac and Fox Indian was opened for settlement in Iowa, and Mr. Smalley at once disposed of his property in Sparta at a very low price, and took up his journey for Iowa.

On arriving at Fort Des Moines he found that all the land about there had been taken by claimers. So he came north on the east side of the Des Moines River, and on the evening of April 16, 1846, camped for the night on the present site of the town of Madrid. He fully intended to stake out a claim and locate here, but some man who was camped off to the west in the timber came to his camp that night and told him that the land about the point of timber here, was already taken.

The next day, April 17, he crossed the river on a raft composed of the Sap troughs left by the Indians in the big sugar camp just below Elk Rapids. In the afternoon of that day he cut down the saplings and cleared a road leading up the hill and on the level west from Elk Rapids. Mr. Smalley's teams were the first to travel over it and that road is still in use unto the present time. The next day, April 18, 1846, Mr. Smalley located a claim in section twenty-six in Des Moines Township, Dallas County, Iowa, which was his home for a period of 52 years.

In 1880, Mrs. Smalley died, after a married life of nearly forty years. This sorrowful bereavement brought to Mr. Smalley the saddest days of his life. There was born to them two sons and four daughters, all of whom are dead but Mrs. Martha Platt, who resides in Dallas County, and Mrs. Eva Hamilton who lives in Hamilton County. One of the sons, A. R. Smalley, was a prominent attorney in Adel, up to the time of his death.

In 1884, Mr. Smalley was again married to Mrs. Elizabeth Brobst, who still survives him, and who is much afflicted with the sorrow and grief of her sad bereavement.

Mr. Smalley was a member of the first board of supervisors elected in Dallas County, and was also a member of the first grand jury of that county. As there was no room yet provided for the grand jury to meet in, and no business for it to do, the first meeting was held under a large cottonwood tree upon the banks of the Coon River, on the present site of the city of Adel. The session only lasted one day, and Mr. Smalley said the only business transacted during that day, was a horse trade, which he made with a man who was passing through the county. In that early day there was no business for a grand jury to transact. Mr. Smalley was also county supervisor of Dallas County for several terms and has held every office within the gift of the people of Des Moines Township in that county.

In the spring of 1900 he sold his farm in Dallas County and moved to Madrid, where he lived up to the time the unannounced messenger of death came to take him away.

Mr. Smalley never belonged to any church, but was always strictly moral in all his habits, and strictly honest in all of his business transactions both public and private. His moral habits, his good citizenship, and his sterling honesty gave him a high estimation among his fellow citizens. He was always a careful reader of books, newspapers and periodicals and was posted up-to-date upon all subjects of the times. He was a member of the Old Settlers Association of Boone, Story, Polk and Dallas Counties and took an active part in its organization and in all of its meetings.

The funeral services were held at the residence on Sunday at 10 o'clock a.m., Rev. A. A. Thompson of the M. E. Church officiating, and the remains were laid to rest in the Robins' Cemetery near his old home in Dallas County.

- C. L. Lucas

O. D. Smalley Dropped Dead at His Home Friday Morning

Mr. O. D. Smalley died suddenly at his home on the south side, Friday morning about 9 o'clock. He had been ill a couple of days but not so as to be bed fast. Dr. Farr had just left on a professional call in the morning and had told Mr. Smalley it would be safest to remain in bed and rest. In a short time Mr. Smalley happened to think of something to be done at the barn and so jumped up and went out. Just when he had arrived at the barn, he dropped dead suddenly caused by heart failure. Neighbors and friends were summoned at once and offered assistance and helped to console the aged wife. Mr. Smalley would have been 85 years old today had he lived. His life has been one of usefulness, which is ably spoken of in an obituary from the pen of C. L. Lucas. There were but Mr. and Mrs. Smalley living at home.

The funeral exercises were conducted by Rev. Thompson Sunday at 10 o'clock from the house and interment took place at the Robins Cemetery in Dallas County. A very impressive part of the exercises took place at the grave. The casket was placed over the grave in a device never seen before used at Madrid, and was lowered to the resting place automatically and very gradual. At the same time a well known old hymn was sung. If ever there is anything to indicate in a solemn way the departure from this life, this moment was one, as the gradual downward movement of this casket was observed. The bereaved and aged wife has the kind sympathy of all.


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