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John and Anna Dows


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 2/13/2011 at 20:03:53

John Dows and his wife Anna [Richmond] Dows, above, drew up the plat for the town of Gruver in Emmet County, Iowa in the summer of 1899, when the town was known as "Luzon". The plat was filed with the county recorder on September 20, 1899. This name was not popular with the local citizens, so only six months later it was changed. On April 2, 1900 a petition signed by two-thirds, of the voters in the village was presented to the board of supervisors asking that the name be changed to "Gruver."

John Dows built many of the bridges and culverts in northern Iowa and also laid a large amount of the track for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern. Railroad. He was associated with his uncle, the Honorable Stephen Leland Dows of Cedar Rapids, with contracts for construction of all the culverts on the railroad line from Clarion to Estherville. John Dows was a civil engineer from New York and built, in 1901, the longest and highest double-track bridge in the world, at that time, near Moingona, Iowa, west and south of Boone, Iowa. [The bridge was renamed the Kate Shelly Bridge in 1981.] And he built bridges as far west as Colorado.

The Honorable Stephen Leland Dows, uncle of John Dows, purchased the Northwest ľ of Section 14 of Township 99 North, Range 31 West of the Fifth Prime Meridian from William Potts on 12 April 1892. Potts had in 1883 purchased it from a homesteader named William K. Jordan. Dows and his wife then sold the property to the Northern Iowa Land and Town Lot Company, of which S. L. Dows was secretary. On July 2, 1892 that land was conveyed to the Town of Armstrong and filed in the courthouse on 7 July 1892. As a member of the Northern Iowa Land and Town Lot Company, John Dows had much to do with grading and naming the streets and is said to have platted the town of Armstrong in 1892. Much of the main street property and many of the choicest building lots in the future residential areas were acquired early in 1893 by the State Bank of Armstrong.

Dows arrived in this area with a surveying party in 1892 and remained to make it his permanent home. In 1895 John Dows purchased from William Stuart, Armstrongís first financial institution, the Armstrong Bank. It was incorporated under the laws of Iowa in July of 1900 as The First National Bank of Armstrong, where Dows served as vice president and B.F. Robinson as president. In another banking venture, John Dows and George Stickney were two of the three partners in a newly established German American Bank in the town of Ceylon, in Martin County, Minnesota.

Dows was also involved with the Armstrong Brick and Tile Company, incorporated Feb 19, 1902; it manufactured bricks, tile and sewer pipe, and was located in the southeast corner of the city of Armstrong. B.F. Robinson was president, John Dows, vice president, William Stuart, secretary and G. W. Umphrey, treasurer. Dows was also a board member of the Opera House Company, which was incorporated May 6, 1903. In 1910 he owned with B.F. Robinson the Southeast ľís of sections 16 and 27 of Armstrong Grove Township. And he owned outright the north half of the Southwest ľ of Section 14, immediately south of the town of Armstrong. He had other land holdings in Iowa Lake Township.

John Dows built his home at 908 Third Avenue in Armstrong, Iowa for $5000 in 1895. On 26 September of that year he married Anna Richmond, daughter of Matthew Richmond and Margaret [Cavers] Richmond.

John Dows was born in Balize Parish of Plaquemines county, Louisiana on 25 December 1852 as John Rogers. Johnís fatherís surname was Rodriques, but had it changed to Rogers, before he died, while John was a young boy. John Leland Dows, a friend of Johnís father and a brother of the Honorable Stephen Leland Dows, adopted young John. John Leland Dows and his wife Mary L. [Kamlah] Dows brought young John Dows north to a small town known as Half Moon, now part of Clifton Park, near Troy, New York, where he was raised to manhood. Enroute John Dows and his adopted father watched from the banks of the Mississippi River the Siege of Vicksburg by Union General U.S. Grant and his Army during the Civil War. [Johnís uncle, the Honorable S. L. Dows was a first lieutenant in Company I, Twentieth Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. Subsequently he was appointed acting brigade quartermaster of the First Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Frontier.]

The Dows ancestral line can be traced back through Charlestown, Massachusetts to the early 1500ís in England; the name was originally spelled Dowse.

Anna [Richmond] Dows was the second daughter of a family of six children born to Emmet county pioneers Matthew Richmond and Margaret [Cavers] Richmond on Christmas Day in 1861. She was born in Canada and made the trip across the prairies of northern Iowa with her parents via horse and wagon in October of 1868. The family settled in a two-room log cabin in the southeast corner of Armstrong Grove Township some thirty years before the town of Armstrong was established.

When Anna Richmond was young her uncle John Richmond, D. D., a noted Presbyterian minister from the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA. visited her father Matthew at the family farm in Armstrong Grove. He offered her father a "deal"; he would take one of Matthew's children back to Pittsburgh with him and give the child a decent education with one proviso: after receiving it's education the child had to return to Iowa as an educator. Matthew chose to send Anna, saying that Anna had the best head in the family, and besides, he needed the boys to help him on the farm.

After receiving her early education in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she continued on to college where she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. After graduation, she returned to Iowa and taught school in Emmet County. It is here, that she probably met John Dows, whom she subsequently married at the age of 33.

The couple had two daughters, Margaret Richmond Dows [Mrs. Guy Wesley Evans] and Helen Rogers Dows [Mrs. Donald Carmel Woods], and an infant daughter who died in infancy. John Dows died in 1930 and Anna died in 1947, in Hinsdale, Illinois. Both were buried in the Armstrong Grove Cemetery, Armstrong, Iowa.

Contributed by: James M. Richmond.

Interment in Armstrong Grove cemetery

Emmet Biographies maintained by LaVern Velau.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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