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Ransom J. Bixby


Posted By: Oregon Rain
Date: 9/2/2006 at 13:19:53

 Ransom J. Bixby, living at Edgewood, Delaware county, is a native of Clayton county, Iowa, his birth having occurred on a farm in Lodomillo township, March 29, 1854, his parents being the Rev. N. W. and Ruby (Knapp) Bixby. In their family were two sons and two daughters, the brother of our subject being Sylvanus N. Bixby, a practicing physician of Strawberry Point, who passed away May 10, 1886. The sisters are: Luthera B., the wife of the Rev. C. H. True; and Lucina R., the wife of Parke Buckley. Both parents have now passed away, the father's death having occurred in 1903, while the mother died long before1877. They were natives of Vermont and were there reared and married. It was in 1846 that they left the Green Mountain state and the following year they arrived in Clayton county, Iowa, where the father purchased government land. He first became owner of forty acres on section 28, Lodomillo township, and upon that tract he established his home. It was there that all of his children were born, except Sylvanus N., who was born in Vermont. That place is now in possession of his son, Ransom. After a time the father added the forty acres adjoining his original tract on the north, and still later he laid claim to two forties just south on the same section. On the one further to the north he did some work, but the other was untouched. It was an understanding among the early settlers, however, that this land was Mr. Bixby's, as he had claimed it. Before he had done any work on it, however, a German named Valentine Wolf arrived in the county and learned that the papers had never been filed on this land. He then went to Dubuque, where was situated not only the land office but also the postoffice, and he filed on the south forty, after which he returned and took possession. He would not lay any claim to the forty on which Mr. Bixby had done some work. The neighbors became very indignant and offered to assist Mr. Bixby in clubbing the man out of the county, but knowing the man had a legal claim to the land, Mr. Bixby refused to take part in any clubbing affair. The German did not recognize the ethical right in the matter at all, although all the other settlers did, but Mr. Bixby would not contest his legal claim, and forty years later he preached the funeral sermon of this same man, Wolf. Both he and his wife were ministers of the Free Baptist church and engaged in preaching the gospel when opportunity offered in addition to performing the duties of the farm and the household. When called to their final rest their remains were interred in the Edgewood cemetery.

Ransom J. Bixby, when but seventeen years of age, began teaching and by this means acquired funds to become a student in Wilton College. He taught in the schools of Clayton, Delaware and Cedar counties for several years, being principal of the schools at Edgewood. He was recognized as a capable educator, imparting readily and clearly to others the knowledge that he had acquired. In 1879 he entered a mercantile business in Edgewood in connection with his father-in-law under the firm name of Blanchard & Bixby, which relation was maintained for five years. At the end of that time they disposed of their stock of general merchandise and Mr. Bixby continued alone in the drug business, which he carefully and wisely directed until 1898, when he retired from commercial pursuits and concentrated his efforts upon the management of his farming interests. Since 1909 he has been well established in the insurance and real-estate business. He is also a notary public and he is enjoying a liberal patronage in conveyanceing and in matters of legal procedure. He has a well appointed office and is assisted by his older son, Ralph L. His plans were well formulated and carefully executed and the wise direction of his business interests has resulted in the attainment of a comfortable competence.

On the 22d of May, 1879, Mr. Bixby was united in marriage to Miss Flora R. Blanchard, a daughter of Dr. Lewis and Anjaline (Metcalf) Blanchard. Four children have been born to them: Ralph L., Angeline F., Sylvan N. and Ruby L. The eldest married Luceil Rousseau, a daughter of Romeault and Esther Rousseau. The family are members of the Free Baptist church of Edgewood.

Mr. Bixby served during three sessions of the legislature, through the thirtieth, the thirty first and the thirty second general assemblies, having been elected on the republican ticket. He has also filled a number of local offices and manifests a commendable interest in public affairs. While in the legislature he served on the appropriation and other important committees and was chairman of the committee on schools and text books. He stood at all times for advancement and improvement and has ever been recognized as a public-spirited citizen, evidence of which is manifest in his attitude toward the public in regard to the use of Bixby Park. This park is a tract of land of eighty-four acres two miles north of Edgewood, intersected by Bear Creek. Upon it is found some most rugged and beautiful scenery. There is also an ice cave, one of the curiosities of nature, where ice is formed throughout the year. Numerous springs of pure, cold water abound there and people gather there for picnics from all over the countryside, while travelers visit the park to see the wonderful scenery.
  Mr. Bixby endeavors to maintain this as near as possible as nature made it. He has erected a log cabin in which is a stone fireplace and this affords shelter to any who may need it. Upon this place are seen a greater variety of trees than are to be found on an equal area in the state of Iowa. Mr. Bixby owns the property, keeps it in excellent condition and pays the taxes but allows the public use of it free of charge. In all of his life record there is nothing spectacular, but his course has been marked by the faithful performance of duty in every connection and there is no one who takes a deeper interest in the welfare and up building of the community or is more willing to aid in measures for the general good.

~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page 15-20. Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.


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