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Charles Lloyd Moss


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 23:14:38

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Charles Lloyd Moss, proprietor of the Birmingham saw and grist mill, is a business man of many years experience who by industry, enterprise and perseverance has made his way in the world and acquired a reputation for honesty and fair dealing. He was born in Cheshire New Haven County Connecticut, May 7, 1831, and is a son of Titus and Bedie Doolittle Moss. The family is of Scottish origin, and was established in New Haven County, Connecticut, prior to the Revolutionary War, by ancestry from Scotland. The family name is spelled in no less that four ways, Moss, Moose, Mors and Morse. The latter seems to be the spelling usually adopted. The grandfather, Joel Morse was a lumberman and a woolen manufacturer of Cheshire at which place Titus Morse was born in 1799. He was reared in his father’s factory and on reaching manhood married Miss Doolittle of Cheshire who belonged to one of the New England families. About 1827, they removed to Wayne county New York, where he followed the noble pursuit of farming. There his wife died in the prime of womanhood being about twenty-six years of age. Afterward having married Mrs. Almira Sanford, nee Barker, Mr. Morse immigrated with his family to Kalamazoo County Michigan in 1833, but after a residence of four years in that locality, they sought a home in Van Buren County Iowa, arriving at their destination on May 8, 1837. The father purchases a claim of three hundred and twenty acres lying three-fourths of a mile southwest of Birmingham, from James G. Richie, and as soon as the land came into market secured a patent from the Government. In the early days of their arrival, nature wore her most primitive robes, the broad prairies had not be upturned by the plow, nor had the woodman’s ax awakened the echoes of the forest. The few people of the settlement were very widely scattered and in true pioneer style they lived, Through not surrounded by the luxuries which we today possess, their lives were fully as happy and joyous, for a feeling of brotherliness existed among neighbors which is almost unheard of today, and the pleasures were participated in by all with the heartiest enjoyment. Mr. Morse and his first wife were members of the Episcopal Church, but after his second marriage he joined the Methodist church, in which Mrs. Almira Morse held membership, and in which he became an active worker, being Class-Leader for many years. He was liberal to the extent of his means in the support of church and charitable work and was ever ready to speak a work of encouragement or extend a helping hand, to those less prosperous than himself. Politically he was a Democrat until the rise of the Republican Party, to the principles of which he ever afterward adhered. He died in Birmingham at the age of fifty-six years and his wife at the age of sixty-six years. Two sons, Charles Lloyd and James, were children of the first marriage and by the second there were born Reuben, who died in 1839, being the first white person who died in this vicinity; Mary, who became the wife of William T. Winner and died in Fairfield; Martha, wife of William Thompson who resided in Fairfield.
Until he attained his majority, C.L. Moss worked for his parents, receiving such educational advantages ad the district schools afforded, but when he had attained to man’s estate he started out in life for himself, hiring out to a farmer in the neighborhood who paid him the munificent sum of $75 a year in return for his services. By a marriage ceremony solemnized on April 4, 1843, Miss Hannah Barnes became his wife. She was a native of Ohio, but in childhood came to Van Buren County with her parents who were among its pioneer settlers.
The young couple began their domestic life upon a rented farm but after a time Mr. Moss laid aside agricultural pursuits and engaged in merchandising in Birmingham, from which business he turned his attention to buying and shipping stock. In 1850, he drove a team across the plains to California, reaching his destination after four months of travel. For a year and a half he remained on the Pacific Slope selling miners’ supplies at Rough and Ready, Nevada County California. Returning by the way of the Isthmus of Panama and the Mississippi River, he reached Birmingham in 1851, some $5,000 better off than when he started. Soon after his return in company with E. Pitkin and J.T. Guinn, he built a large flouring mill at Birmingham to be run by the same power as the sawmill, which was already in operation. Things were moving along nicely and the business prospered until 1854, when the entire structure was burned to the ground but the gentlemen of the firm, with characteristic energy, began to rebuild before the smoke had ceased rising from the ruins. After a time, Mr. Moss became sole proprietor of the mill, which he has owned and operated alone continuously since. The grinding department and that devoted to the manufacture of lumber is now in operation and therein has done an extensive business. This is recognized as one of the leading industries of Birmingham but other enterprises have also occupied the attention of Mr. Moss. In 1856, he was one of the firm, that erected the Birmingham Woolen Mill and in 1871 he put in operation a cheese factory. It will thus be seen that he has taken an active part in the building up of the manufacturing interests of Birmingham. His sawmill never stands idle, but through that agency he has furnished a vast amount of timber for the Des Moines Valley, for the Rock Island and for the Chicago, Ft. Madison and Des Moines Railroads, whereby employment is furnished to some thirty-five hands. It is safe to say that he has given work to more laboring men than all the rest of the city. He himself has always been a hard working man, has done an extensive business, and has made a prominent place for himself among the prominent citizens of the community. He has won respect and confidence by their honorable dealings and fair transactions. The work of the day is not written down at the time but is recorded in his memory and after the labors of the day are done he retires to rest and about two o’clock arises to record the business of the past day.
Mr. Moss was the first man who shipped hogs from west of the Mississippi River. In December 1856, he shipped from Rome Iowa then the terminus of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, a lot of fat hogs, intending to take them to New York if he could not sell them at a profit this side of that city. He had 1,837 head and the train was run as a special all the way to New York and drawn to Chicago by two locomotives. He unloaded at Chicago but could not sell. After feeding and resting them one day he loaded them and shipped to Cleveland, Ohio, where he unloaded and fed and spent another day. From there he shipped to Buffalo New York, where he unloaded them and remained a week. Not finding a profitable market he proceeded to New York. The market rose and he sold out at a price that netted him upwards of $2,000 clear profit after all expenses were paid. The event caused quite a stir among the stock dealers of that city, and at the opening of the Miles House (a drover’s hotel) on 44th Street, which took place while he was in the city, Mr. Moss was invited and made the principal guest of the occasion and had to make a speech for them. Horace Greeley sent Mr. Robinson, a representative of the Tribune to interview Mr. Moss, and published an account of man and journey, eulogistic of his pluck and enterprise.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Moss has been blessed with eight children—Mary, wife of Joel Moss a resident of Montana; Thomas a lumberman of Missouri; Edgar a stock dealer of Fairfield; Sylvester, twin brother of Edgar, who died at the age of two years; Abbie, wife of E.J. Honshel, President of Holton College of Chicago; Albert and Charles lumber deals of Missouri; and Kittie wife of J.E. Paxton of Butte City Montana. Mr. and Mrs. Moss have also twelve grandchildren. This worthy couple; members of the Methodist Church, are active workers in the Master’s vineyard, and give liberally and cheerfully for the advancement of any interest whereby the cause of Christ may be advanced. Politically he is a Republican, but has never sought for official distinction, the only office which he has held being that of Mayor of Birmingham. Though nearly seventy years of age, Mr. Moss has as steady nerves as a man of twenty-five. He has never used tobacco or strong drinks and has ever abstained from tea and coffee. This no doubt is in a great measure the reason for his wonderful strength both physically and mentally. He has lived an exemplary life and the youth of today might well take his record as a guide, which will point him on, like a beacon star, to success and honor in the future.
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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