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WELLER, Robert H. - 1912 Bio (1838-1914)


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 10/6/2007 at 09:48:46

History of Jefferson County, Iowa -- A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Vol II, Published 1912, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago
Pages 368-370

Robert H. WELLER, who has been a resident of Packwood since he retired from his farm in Black Hawk township four years ago, has been identified with agricultural pursuits in the middle west for more than fifty years. He was born in Hastings, Sussex county, England, December 25, 1838, the son of John and Cordelia Elizabeth (SELMS) WELLER. John WELLER, who was a farmer by profession was born and reared in England, where the WELLERs had lived for many years. Coming to America in 1841, he went to Michigan and purchased land upon which he erected a sawmill and where he hoped to have his home when his wife and children could follow him to the United States, but his death occurred before they arrived. However, Mrs. WELLER set out for America when her son Robert was seven years of age and the long trip of seven weeks, three days and six hours on the "Switzerland" was full of misfortunes. During the voyage Elizabeth, the youngest sister, died and was buried at sea and the mother, who was taken ill on the steamer, died at the home of her brother, Joshua SELMS, a hotel-keeper, shortly after she arrived in New York. Her death left her four children, of whom Robert was the youngest, orphans in New York. But they soon went on to Syracuse, where the older brother, John, learned the shoemaker's trade and afterwards became chief cutter in a large factory.

Robert H. WELLER attended school until he began working on a farm, continuing in this pursuit for a short time until he apprenticed himself to a carpenter, up to 1858. In that year he started out to seek his fortune and with ten dollars in his pocket he set out. From Buffalo to Chicago he worked his way by boat and then walked across the prairie to Chenoa, Illinois, where he was hired as harvesting hand for two dollars and a half per day, an amount which seemed almost incredible to him, since in New York state he had been receiving a stipend of fifty cents for his daily toil. At the multiplied wage scale he was willing to give his whole time to harvesting and he worked at it as long as the season lasted. Then he took up his trade as carpenter in Chenoa and continued to follow it, excepting during his Civil war service, until 1892, when he removed to Black Hawk township, Jefferson county, Iowa, and purchased the one hundred and sixty-five acres of fine farm land, upon which he made his home until his retirement and removed to Packwood in 1907. He owns his comfortable home in Packwood and rents his farm to his son, Robert W.

Mr. WELLER enlisted in the Civil war February 6, 1865, joining Company B, One hundred and fifty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, at Chenoa, and during his short service was in a number of skirmishes. On the 25th of August, 1865, he was mustered out at Memphis, Tennessee, being discharged while in the hospital in that city.

The marriage of Mr. WELLER to Harriet Lucy McFARLAND occurred April 10, 1862. She is the daughter of Sandusky and Mary A. (SMITH) McFARLAND, both natives of Jessamine county, Kentucky, the father, a farmer, being of Scotch-Irish (sic) descent and the mother of Dutch pedigree. They were married in Kentucky and removed to Illinois in 1854, when Mrs. WELLER was but nine years of age. Later the family went to Chenoa, where Mr. and Mrs. WELLER were married. Mr. McFARLAND enlisted in Company G, Fifty-third Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until he was taken ill two years later, when he returned to Chenoa and resided until he fell on ice, injuring himself seriously. After this accident he was taken to the National Military Home, at Leavenworth, Kansas, and later, in 1903, he was removed from there to the United States Military Hospital at Washington, D. C., where he died. His wife's death had occurred fifteen years previous, in Chenoa.

Mr. and Mrs. WELLER are the parents of six children. George E., the eldest, who is an agriculturist residing in Buckley, Illinois, married Jennie WALLACE, of Livingston county, Illinois, and they are the parents of four children, namely; Della, May, Harvey and Mattie. Mary Elizabeth married George M. STAFFORD, who owns a feed store at Ottawa, Kansas, and to them two children have been born, Maude and Sadie. Emma Alyda, who married O. GILLETTE, a ranchman and carpenter, is residing at King Hill, Idaho, and is the mother of three children, Harlan, Gail and Lois. Sadie, who married James BALDWIN, a farmer and carpenter, resides in Black Hawk township. Robert Walter is living on his father's homestead in Black Hawk township. He married Lulu DAWSON, of Columbus Junction, Iowa, and to them two children have been born, Faye and Dale. Asa S. resides on the homestead with his brother, Robert W.

In politics Mr. WELLER has ever been a stanch republican and is a firm believer in the more conservative policies of that party, but until he retired he held no offices excepting that of school director in Black Hawk township for several terms. Since he has been residing in Packwood he has taken an active interest in the government of the town and has served for three years as a member of the village council and for a similar length of time as street commissioner. In both of these offices he has discharged his duties conscientiously and to the best interests of the community. Mr. WELLER is the only member of his family who left New York and is the last surviving member, his sister and brothers having died in Syracuse, Mary at the age of seventy-five years and John and James at the ages of eighty-eight and eighty respectively. Few lives show better what can be accomplished even in spite of the greatest obstacles and most discouraging beginnings than does the life of Mr. WELLER, a man who has both made a success of undertakings calling for indefatigable labor and who has also won for himself the esteem and confidence of his fellow townsmen.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.


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