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Samuel Work


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 08:06:30

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Samuel Work, an intelligent and respected farmer of Union Township, Van Buren County, residing on Section 7, was born in Clark County, Indiana on September 30, 1818. The family is of Scottish origin, but from Scotland some of its members immigrated to the North of Ireland, whence at an early day in the history of the American Colonies, Henry Work came to America. The family had its representatives in the Revolutionary War, and though none of its members have distinguished themselves in professional or mercantile life, a line of worthy and respected citizens have descended from the American progenitor.
Henry Work, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Pennsylvania, grew to manhood in that state, removed to Kentucky, and at length became a resident of Indiana, where he became owner of two five hundred acre farms which, after his death, were divided among his children. He left five sons and three daughters—John, Samuel, Joseph, Andrew, Henry, Sarah, Rebecca and Anna. The third of the family, Joseph Work, became the father of our subject. He was born in Fayette County Pennsylvania, and when a lad of fourteen years accompanied his family to Kentucky, and later to Indiana. He was studious by nature, and although his advantages were not of the best, he acquired a good education, and became a leading citizen of Indiana. He first gave his attention to farming as a means of livelihood, but becoming crippled through an accident, he devoted himself to teaching, which profession he followed many years. Possessing oratorical powers much above the average, and being a logical and deep thinker, he became noted as a public speaker. Several terms he represented his district in the state Legislature of Indiana, and also served as Associate Judge for some years. He was a great reader, and possessed a retentive memory, which proved of much benefit to him in public life. His views of political questions changing; he discontinued his allegiance to the Democracy and became a supporter of Whig principles. He died on December 15, 1845, at the age of fifty-five years. His wife, whose maiden name was Elvy Dunn, was born near Norfolk, Virginia in February 1799, and died on August 14, 1874. Their children were as follows—Samuel, of this sketch; Henry, deceased; Joseph, who resides near Mt. Zion, Iowa; John of Kansas; William, who served in the Third Iowa Calvary, was taken prisoner and died at Shreveport Louisiana, from the effect of ill treatment from his rebel captors; Susan is living in Kansas and Martha and Sarah died in childhood.
No event of special importance marked the early life of Samuel Work. He was educated in the subscription schools, attended the Clark County Seminary, of Indiana, and remained under the parental roof until twenty-three years of age when he bade goodbye to home and friends, and with three companions started for Iowa in 1841 on a prospecting tour. He purchased two hundred acres of land adjoining Birmingham—his present farm, but there is little similarity in the appearance of the cultivated fields of today and the barren acres of half a century ago. Only ten acres of the entire amount had been fenced, and the work of improvement had not yet been begun. After making some preparation for a home he returned to Indiana and on March 6, married Miss Hannah Beggs, a native of that state. Soon afterward he brought his young bride to the West, making the journey by river, and they began their domestic life in a little log cabin with puncheon floors, the windows of which looked more like a port holes that that for which they were intended. Their lives have here since passed, but the pioneer home has long since been replaced. His home farm comprises two hundred and forty acres, and his landed possessions aggregate twelve hundred acres, making him one of the extensive property owners of the county. In former years he raised considerable stock, and personally superintended the cultivation of his farms, but the greater part of his land is now rented, while he is practically living a retired life.
Mr. and Mrs. Work have seven children living, and have lost two sons. John, who enlisted in the Thirtieth Iowa Regiment, and participated in many battles of the late war, died in the hospital at Keokuk, January 5, 1865; George, is living in Clark County Indiana; Joe Q., a graduate of the Mt Pleasant College is now engaged in the practice of law in Lamar, Barton County Missouri; James M., is living in Jefferson County Iowa, and with his brother Samuel, the next younger, engages in farming and stock-raising. Thomas makes his home near Cantril, Iowa; Robert E. and Emma J. are at home; and the other member of the family, a son, died in childhood. Mr. Work is a friend to education, and gave his children good advantages, thereby fitting them for the practical duties of life. In politics he is a Republican, having supported that party since 1856, when he voted for Fremont, its first candid. His first Presidential ballot was cast for William Henry Harrison, in 1840. During those early days he manifested considerable interest in political affairs, and had the pleasure of hearing speeches made by Henry Clay, S.S. Prentiss and other noted orators of the day. The name of our subject is an index to his character, and to his labors, may be attributed his success in life.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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