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Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 4/19/2021 at 16:12:49

E. M. INGERSOLL, a prominent and popular business man of Keokuk, is engaged in merchandising at No. 1229 Main street, and deals in groceries, feed and wood. He is doing a prosperous and increasing business, and both as a business man and a citizen is a general favorite among his neighbors and townsmen. Our subject is a native of Nauvoo, Ill., and was born March 5, 1837. His parents were William and Hannah (Moore) Ingersoll, of New Jersey and Ohio, respectively. They came to Iowa in 1836, when our subject was an infant, three weeks old, making their first settlement in Des Moines County, about twelve miles from Burlington. This State was then a Territory and remained so for ten years thereafter, and the country was inhabited principally by wild animals and Indians.

William Ingersoll was a courageous and enterprising man, and after arriving here set about picking up a load of furs and other goods from the natives, and loading them upon a wagon, started with an ox-team overland to Chicago. He was gone nearly all winter, his family in the meantime being at Nauvoo. Upon his return he went to his claim of 160 acres of Government land, upon which he erected a log house and commenced the improvement of his purchase. He was of a speculative turn of mind, and began to deal in land and doing whatever else he could to turn an honest penny. He remained in this locality for ten years, and in 1846 purchased a small farm west of Keokuk, to which he removed with his family, and they resided there until 1850. He then started across the plains for California, and entered the mines in search of gold, where he was accidentally killed in 1851.

William Ingersoll had been a prominent man in his community, and was second in command of the train which crossed the plains, the members of the company being made up from residents of Jefferson County, Iowa. During their journey, while encamped near Humboldt River, a party of Indians came marching up with the intention of stampeding the cattle and murdering the men. Capt. Walker, first in command, ordered his men out to meet the enemy. Upon coming within gunshot they fired upon the Indians and uniformly retreated in order to escape the arrows fired by their enemies. Mr. Ingersoll assured the Captain that this policy was a great mistake and that the train would fall into the hands of the foe by pursuing this course. The Captain replied, "Uncle Billie, if you know more about the Indians than I do, take charge." "Uncle Billie" did as requested and ordered a charge without retreat, which routed the Indians into the Humboldt River, where they were nearly exterminated. This journey across the plains occupied about five months. At his death the family of William Ingersoll consisted of a wife and eight children. The mother still survives, and is living at Council Grove, Kan. Jane, the eldest daughter, is now Mrs. Stults, of Keokuk; the next child was William H.; Mary E. is now Mrs. Reed, of Council Grove, Kan.; E. M., the subject of our sketch, was the next in order of birth; Emmie A. is now Mrs. Van Deventer, of Kansas; then followed Alain T., and Joseph M., who is in Kansas; Sarah C., Mrs. Roberts, lives in Nebraska.

The subject of our sketch remained with his widowed mother until he was twenty-five years old, in the meantime receiving a good education and assisting in the care of the household. In 1858 he went to Kansas, and engaged in farming until the fall of 1863. He then returned to Keokuk and was employed as traveling salesman for about five months. He afterward traveled for the Gate City, a Republican paper, for one season. He then became employed in a grocery house as clerk, and at the commencement of the war he was one of an independent organization who did good service in driving out rebels from Kansas and preventing them from coming across the Missouri River. In 1864 he enlisted in Co. C., 45th Iowa Vol. Inf., and was honorably discharged at the expiration of his term of enlistment. He then returned to Keokuk, was engaged in the grocery business for a short time, and then, in 1866, became interested in dairying for thirteen years, and was very successful. After abandoning this he engaged in the real-estate business, which he has continued to this time in connection with his merchandising.

Mr. Ingersoll is Republican in politics and takes a deep interest in the affairs of his State and nation. He is a prominent man in his party, and has served frequently as a delegate to the various County Conventions. He is the supporter and encourager of education, and has served as School Director. Socially he belongs to the Iowa Legion of Honor; he is a stock holder in the Loan and Building Association. He is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for two years was Superintendent of the Union Sabbath-school at Pleasant Grove, Des Moines Township, which under his management became very flourishing, with a membership of about fifty-five scholars and teachers.

The marriage of E. M. Ingersoll and Mrs. Mary A. Seymour, of Keokuk, was celebrated in 1865, and of this union there have been born four children - Edgar L., who is now a young man, and associated with his father in the grocery business; Lucy C., Ida M. and Walter A. Mrs. Ingersoll is connected with the Congregational Church. Mr. I. is a thorough-going business man and the possessor of a large amount of property. He has two farms in Jackson and Montrose Townships, this county, and some property within the city limits. He also owns land in Junean County, Wis. He has all his life been enterprising, ambitious and industrious, and has added materially to the business interests of Lee County.

Transcription typed/proofed as article was originally published in 1887


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