STONG, STAGERS, MAXWELL, SHAFFER, RANARD, SKINNER, ELRICK, SHORT, HOOTMAN
Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 22:24:42
From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Jacob Stong, a pioneer settler of Van Buren County, is engaged in general merchandising in Kilbourn, where he is doing a good business, his sales amounting to $7,000 a year. His enterprise and thrift have won him a place among the leading merchants of the community and his business is an important addition to its mercantile interests.
Mr. Stong is descended from an early New England family. His grandfather Philip Stong was born in Germany where he learned the trade of a millwright, and with his parents came to this country locating in Pennsylvania. The father of our subject was born in 1790, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In 1825, at the age of thirty-five years, he was married in Lancaster County Pennsylvania to Miss Mary Stagers who was born in that country in 1806. Twelve years later in 1837, he came to Iowa and entered three hundred and sixty acres of land in Lick Creek Township, which tract now comprises what is known as the Anson place. After making a contract for the erection of a house, he returned to Pennsylvania in order to dispose of his business interests in that state. He sold his farm for $20, 000 and received an additional $5,000 for personal property. In 1838, accompanied by his wife and four children, he again made the journey to the Territory of Iowa and settled upon the land that he had previously located. For two years they resided in a log cabin, surrounded by many Indians while the wild game, which was quite plentiful furnished them many meals. It is no easy task to transform the raw prairie into a highly cultivated farm, but Mr. Stong and his sons performed that labor, and at the time of his death he was the owner of two hundred acres of fertile land, which yielded him a good income. He possessed business ability of a high order, was sagacious and far-sighted and as the result became a wealthy man. Many hardships and difficulties were endured by the family during the early history of the county, for even wealth could not always procure the necessaries of life for the markets and mills were so far distant that it was often almost impossible to reach them. On one occasion the family lived on boiled corn for a week and for a whole year their bread was made of rye flour. Mr. Stong was a Democrat in politics and filled a number of minor official positions. He was a faithful and valued citizen and in the war of 1812 defended the stars and stripes. His death occurred August 12, 1859, and his wife died in 1864. Six children, five growing to mature years, were born unto them—John who was born in Pennsylvania, was killed at the coal bank of Centerville, in 1880; Joseph is now engaged in farming in Kansas; Jacob is the next younger; Mrs. Sarah Maxwell and Mrs. Susanna Shaffer are also residing in Kansas and Sylvania died in infancy.
Our subject was but two years of age at the time of the immigration to Iowa, where he has since made his home. While en route for the West the boat on which they had taken passage exploded and his father was knocked down although not seriously injured, but thirteen men on board was killed. Jacob helped to clear and develop the homestead farm and shared with the family the privations of pioneer life. He remembers many incidents of interest concerning those early day, which if they could be given in detail would make an instructive and exciting story. On one occasion twelve chiefs in full Indian dress came to their house and demanded entertainment for the night. They were accommodated on the floor for the homes of that day usually had no spare beds. During the night one of the children called for water several times but the hired girl with whom the little one was sleeping was afraid to get up on account of the Indians. The mother heard the call and arose to get the water and in order to hand it to her child she had to reach over the girl, who seeing the arm stretched across her, thought it was an Indian about to cut her throat and screamed at the top of her voice; in fact, could hardly be pacified. The Indians however gave no heed to the occurrence and in the morning left for other scenes, having molested nothing.
The primary education of our subject was acquired in the subscription schools, which he attended only in the winter season, as his services were needed upon the farm in summer. This did not satisfy him however and at the age of twenty-six with an earnest desire to overcome the lack of education, he attended select schools at Mr. Pleasant and Ashland. Subsequent reading, experience and observation have also added greatly to his store of knowledge and he is now a well-informed man. He taught two terms of school and then worked at the carpenter’s trade for some time. On March 29, 1863, he was united in marriage with Miss Cynthia A. Ranard, a native of Indiana, born March 5, 1844, and their union has been blessed with eight children—Myrtis, who was born March 7, 1864, and is now the wife of D. Skinner of Lick Creek Township, Van Buren County; Frances A. born December 13, 1865, is the wife of James Elrick, a merchant of Pittsburg; Alice, born February 28, 1868; is the wife of Oscar Short of Lick Creek Township; Benjamin born March 29, 1870, is employed as salesman in a store in Pittsburg; Emma J., born October 25, 1871, is the wife of Oscar Hootman; Jesse, born April 18, 1874; Ernest l., February 2, 1878, and Stephen, June 9, 1884 are at home.
Immediately after his marriage, Mr. Stong, embarked in business as a cabinet-maker, opening a shop in Kilbourn, where he carried on operations for twelve years. In 1875 he began his present business of general merchandising, which he has since continued. His stock at the beginning was valued at only $300, but now his annual sales amount to $7,000 and a branch store in Pittsburg yields him $2,500 per year. Mr. Stong carries only the best grades of goods, which in addition to his genial and affable manner has secured him his liberal patronage. He is a valued citizen and for three years served as Assessor. He cast his first Presidential vote for Stephen A. Douglas, has since supported the Democracy and has frequently attended the county conventions of his party as a delegate. His wife is a member of the Methodist Church and is a lady possessing many excellent characteristics.
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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