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Theron Woolson Family


Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 8/13/2015 at 07:16:23


Word has been received of the death on March 10, of Miss June Mandeville Woolson, twenty years of age, at her home in Winnetka, Ill. She was of the Woolson family, for many years prominent in Mt. Pleasant and southeastern Iowa. She was the granddaughter of James Leigh Woolson, or Leigh Woolson as we old timers remember him, and a half-brother of Federal Judge John S. Woolson, and of course the great granddaughter of Hon. Theron W. Woolson. Of the Woolson family none are remaining here, and so far as we know the only relative is Mrs. W.F. Kopp.

The Woolson family was of the very early ones to come to the community; Theron Woolson reaching here in 1856. He was an attorney and soon formed a partnership with Mr. Henry Ambler, one of the very able men of Iowa and who came here the same year. Four years later the firm was dissolved and Mr. Woolson took in as his partner his son-in-law, Samuel McFarland. This partnership was of tragic shortness. Enlisting in the Union forces, McFarland became Lieut-Col. of the 19th Iowa Infantry and was killed in action in December of 1862 at the battle of Prairie Grove, Ark. In 1856 [sic: 1866], Theron Woolson took in as partner his son, John S. Woolson and the firm continued until the death of the elder Woolson.

Prior to the Civil war, Theron Woolson built the residence which stood at the northwest intersection of Washington and Locust. A large, two-story square brick of the period, and for many years known as the Woolson house. His son, John S. Woolson, lived in a small frame house just east, which later was purchased by Mr. H.N. Crane, who erected upon the site the handsome residence still there. This was later sold to Judge W.S. Withrow and now owned and occupied by Mr. H.W. Garrison.

The original Theron Woolson home, after his death was occupied by his son, Judge John S. Woolson, and later was owned by others and lastly in the hands of Mr. Stanley Looker, who wrecked the old square brick and erected on the site the present handsome modern home.

Mr. Theron Woolson’s first wife died early leaving three daughters, and the son, Judge John S. Woolson. A few years later Mr. Theron Woolson married again, this time Miss Anna Carney of this county and to this union was born a son, and only child, Leigh Woolson. Leigh Woolson passed through our public schools, entered Wesleyan, graduating with the class of 1887.

In 1891, Leigh Woolson was married in Boston to Miss Lillian Mandeville and made his home here. To the young couple was born a son, the father of the subject of this sketch, June Mandeville Woolson. Upon the death of his young wife, while living here, Leigh Woolson made his home with his aunt, Miss Rachel Carney, whose home for some years was across the street east of the Universalist church and once the United Presbyterian church. A modern residence now occupies the site. Leigh Woolson remained here for some time practicing law, and later moved to California where he died in 1941.

The Carney sisters were recognized as women of high type. Miss Rachel Carney was for some years a member of the faculty of Wesleyan, teaching English and Modern languages. Her sister, Mrs. Anna Carney Woolson, was also on the faculty as instructor in music and painting.

Theron Woolson, the founder of the family here, was active in public affairs. He was elected city attorney for Mt. Pleasant, served on the city council, was mayor several times and on the board of education. He was a member of the first Board of Supervisors of Henry county, served as county attorney and in 1861 was elected a state senator and reelected for a second term. While serving as a state senator, he edited the Mt. Pleasant Journal during the time its editor, George W. Edwards was in the Union army.

The Theron Woolson family was a distinguished one. The oldest of the three daughters, Mary, became the wife of Col. Samuel McFarland, who for a time was publisher of the Mt. Pleasant Observer. He was killed in battle during the Civil war. He held many local offices and was also sent by Henry county as its representative in the lower house and of which he was named speaker.

The second daughter, Frances, graduated from Wesleyan with the class of 1862, and while in college met, and later married, R.J. Borghalthous of the class of 1864, and who practiced law here, later moving to the west coast. The third daughter became the wife of W.M. Darling, and became the mother of the famous “Ding” Darling, nationally known cartoonist.

The son, John S. Woolson was also distinguished. Aside from local recognition, he was elected to the state senate for several terms and later was appointed a federal judge and died during his term of office, 1890-99. He, too, graduated from old Wesleyan, class of 1860, his wife being Mira Bird, Wesleyan 1862, and the aunt of Mrs. W.F. Kopp.

The records of our town, county and state, find the Woolson name and connections, very frequently, and out at Forest Home sleep many of that goodly family.

[‘The Bystander’s Notes,’ by C.S. Rogers, editor, ‘Mt. Pleasant News‘, Wednesday, April 24, 1946]


Henry Biographies maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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