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Hiatt Huffman


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 22:26:30

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Hiatt Huffman, a lumber dealer of Birmingham, is one of the few pioneers left to tell the story of Van Buren County as it was fifty-three years ago. He is also numbered among the early settlers of the state, for Iowa’s citizens were then numbered among the population of the Territory of Wisconsin, and in numbers they were few, living mostly along the Mississippi River, or where a waterway would serve to connect them to some degree with the outside world. The greatest gratitude from the people of today, and from coming generations is due those honored pioneers who laid the foundation upon which was reared the vast structure now known as Iowa, a State which is on a par in many respects with the oldest States of the East, and of which its citizens are justly proud.
Mr. Huffman is a native of New Albany, Indiana and a son of Burke and Mary Miller Huffman. His paternal grandfather emigrated from Germany and settled at an early day in North Carolina, where his father was born in 1791. When a young man the latter emigrated westward, locating in New Albany Indiana. He wedded Mary Miller a native of Kentucky, who was about ten years his junior. Her parents were of Scotch-Irish extraction. Having married, Mr. Huffman devoted himself to farming in Indiana, which he followed until 1836, when, accompanied by his family, he started for Iowa; proceeding down the Ohio, and up the Mississippi River to Ft. Madison. The following March he made a location in what is now Lick Creek Township, Van Buren County, where he took a claim of two hundred and eighty acres, which he entered as soon as it came into market. The Indians were far more numerous that the white settlers, and the noted Chief, Black Hawk was often a visitor at his home. He had to Rock Island to mill, the nearest market was on the Mississippi River, and other disadvantages of a similar nature formed a part of his pioneer experience. Until 1855, Mr. Huffman was a Democrat, but among the first that espoused the Republican principles he identified himself with the party and continued to support it with his ballot until his death, which occurred in 1859. The following year his wife, who was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was called to her final rest. They led quiet yet useful lives, and reared a family of eleven children who became respected and valued members of the community in which they made their homes. Barbara A., the eldest of the nine who grew to mature years, married Moses Stanley, now deceased, and resides at Unionville Iowa; James M., is a hotel-keeper in Montana; Samuel served in the Second Iowa Infantry, was wounded at Ft. Donelson, and after his return died from a cold; George W. is a fruit-grower in California; Hiatt is the next younger; Mrs. Mar E. Bishop is said to have been the first white girl born in Van Buren County; Captain John W. who is engaged in mining in Custer City, Idaho, served in the late war, was taken prisoner at Missionary Ridge and incarcerated in the Libby prison; Fred B, is followed by Robert, the youngest, who served in the fifth Iowa Infantry, was also captured at Missionary Ridge and died in Andersonville prison.
We now come to the personal history of our subject who was reared as a farmer lad, acquiring his education in the pioneer schools of that day, and at the age of eighteen years began life for himself. Those who sought homes on a frontier were usually not in very prosperous circumstances and could give their children little assistance. So it was with Mr. Huffman, who from the time he left the parental roof was dependent upon his own exertions. On February 19, 1877, having chosen Miss Vitula R. Goodall as a helpmate on life’s journey, he led her to the marriage altar. She was born in Van Buren County August 11, 1838, her father being William Goodall, one of the early hotelkeepers in Fairfield. They began their domestic life in this county, but in 1862, with their children, they started to Oregon, making the journey in a wagon drawn by an ox team. For some five years, they carried on a hotel in auburn after which they returned to Iowa by way of Nicaragua. In 1867, Mr. Huffman began merchandising in Birmingham as a partner of E. Pitkin, which connections continued eight years, when Mr. Pitkin withdrew. In 1877 the store with all its contents burned, causing considerable loss. Mr. Huffman then devoted himself to the management of his farm until 1881, since which time he has been engaged in the lumber business in Birmingham. He yet owns some one hundred acres of land adjoining the corporate limits of this place.
Mr. Huffman is a Republican in politics, and a stalwart supporter of the party principles. He cast his first vote for John C. Fremont, in 1856, and every election, finds him ready to deposit a ballot in support of the Republican candidate. While in Oregon he held the office of Sheriff of Baker County for one term, and has been Mayor and Councilman of Birmingham. Both he and his wife are zealous workers and faithful members of the Methodist Church.
Their family numbers three children—Mortimer, residing near Wymore Nebraska, has charge of the bridges for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad; Mary L. is at home; and Ira B. is station agent at Stoddard Nebraska.
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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