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Preston, William A. 1839-1920


Posted By: Clayton co. coordinator
Date: 7/16/2008 at 00:46:48

W. A. PRESTON; 1839-1920

William Alexander Preston, a prominent member of the Clayton County Bar for almost fifty years, died at Elkader, Iowa, Saturday evening, July 3, 1920, at the age of eighty years, ten months and twenty-six days.

Mr. Preston was born August 7, 1839, at Renault, Monroe County, Illinois, the son of James and Elizabeth McNabb Preston, pioneers and descendants of pre-revolutionary families. In 1853 the family moved to Iowa and settled on a farm near Edgewood, in Clayton County. Mr. Preston received his early education in the common schools and at the age of seventeen years went to Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, for one year, later completing his education at Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa.

After leaving the University he taught for a time and then spent three years as a traveling salesman for a school furniture house. Without his knowledge until notified of his election he was chosen as Superintendent of Schools of Clayton County in November, 1867. It was with difficulty he was persuaded to accept. During his term he devoted himself to the study of law in the office of S. T. Woodward, at Elkader. On January 21, 1871, he was admitted to the Bar and formed a partnership with his instructor, which continued until 1876. Thereafter he practiced alone until about 1901, when he formed a partnership with George H. Fletcher under the name of Preston & Fletcher. This partnership was dissolved when Mr. Fletcher moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota. Mr. Preston again took up the active practice alone and continued very actively until a few months before his death, when he announced his purpose to retire, and
disposed of his library, office furniture and business to W. C. Reimer. About three weeks before his death he was taken sick, gradually becoming weaker, but retaining his strong mind and will power to the last.

On October 12, 1870, he was married to Miss Julia L. Carleton, of Elkader. Three children were born to them, Mary Elizabeth, Donna and Clara Carleton. Donna died in young womanhood, Mary Elizabeth became the wife of a childhood friend, Dr. Willis L. Stearns, and died in 1919. Mr. Preston is survived by his devoted wife, his one daughter, Clara Carletou Bell, wife of Dr. William B. Bell, of Washington, D. C., and his grandchildren, Dana Preston Stearns, Julia Carleton Bell, and David B. Bell; also three brothers, Charles of Sauk Center. Minnesota, Fletcher, in California, and Leander, of Denver. Colorado; and two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Waterbury, of Denver, Colorado, and Miss Emma Preston, of Chicago.

Mr. Preston was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church from boyhood, and took great interest in the affairs of the town and community. He was a member of the I.0.0.F., A.0.U.W. and of the Iowa State Bar Association.

~Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Session of the Iowa State Bar Association; published by the association, 1921; Report of Committee on Legal Biography, (memorial biographies) pg 73-74


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