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Michael B. Tobias


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 10:39:58

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Michael B. Tobias is a prominent farmer residing on Section 32, Lick Creek Township, Van Buren County. He is now practically living a retired life, having as the result of his labors in former years acquired a handsome competency, which now enables him to rest from all business cares. As his friends and acquaintances are many and as he is widely and favorably known throughout Southeastern Iowa, we are pleased to record his sketch in this volume.
The history of his life is as follows: He was born in Berks County Pennsylvania on December 15, 1807, and is the only surviving one in a family of seven children whose parents were Christian and Molly Bucher Tobias. His father was a native of Pennsylvania, in which state he was reared to manhood, learning the carpenters’ and coopers’ trades in his youth. About 1800 he wedded Miss Bucher and after a twenty-eight years residence in the Keystone State, they emigrated westward, locating on a farm near Dayton Ohio, which continued to be their home until death. The wife and mother died in 1824, and twenty days later the husband was laid to rest by her side in the cemetery near that place. They were active members of the Lutheran Church and he was a supporter of Democratic principles.
The year in which our subject reached man’s estate also witnessed the emigration of his father’s family to Ohio. In Mr. Tobias’ shop he learned the cooper’s trade and for four years followed that pursuit, after which he was employed as a farm hand. Subsequently he rented a cooper’s shop and engaged in business for himself in that line for two years, when he turned his attention to farming, renting a quarter section of land. As a helpmate on life’s journey he chose Miss Sarah Good, their wedding being celebrated November 12, 1835. She was a native of Germantown Ohio born November 6, 1817, and was left an orphan at the age of eleven years. Her parents died and were buried in the same grave.
Mr. and Mrs. Tobias began their domestic life upon a rented farm, which he continued to operate some years when he purchased eighty acres. Prospects were brightening and he felt that in a short time he would be in comfortable circumstances but about this time he was taken ill, his sickness exhausted his supply of money and he was left in debt. His life in Ohio was checkered by seasons of prosperity and adversity and at length he determined to seek his fortune elsewhere. With teams he crossed the country to Iowa in 1851, bringing with him about six horses and some $4,000 in money. One of the old wagons in which the journey was made is still in his possession, a memento of that early day. He made a judicious investment of his capital, purchasing three hundred and twenty acres of land at $12.50 per acre, which farm for twenty-one years he made his home. He cleared the greater part of the land, built a fine brick residence thereon, the finest in the township, and erected splendid barns, selling at least for $10,000. In 1872, he purchased his present home, comprising two hundred and fourteen acres of the best farming land in the county. His residence is a fine frame structure tastefully furnished, where he and his family are surrounded by all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. There are also many other excellent improvements, including large barns, a blacksmith shop and other necessary buildings. He was also the inventor of many ingenious devices, which add to the convenience of the home, and nothing necessary to a model farm of the nineteenth century is lacking. He has an apiary and orchards, and small fruits of all kinds in their season find a place upon his well-spread table. All this stands as a monument to the thrift, enterprise and business sagacity of the owner. Mr. Tobias is now living a retired life, as his property and bank account is sufficient to supply all his wants through the remainder of his life. Besides his farm of three hundred and sixty-nine acres he owns a hotel and two lots in Doud’s Station.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Tobias were born two children. Elizabeth, the eldest, born in 1837, married Alonzo Doud, by whom she had one child and for her second husband wedded Isaac Pence. She was a lady of culture and refinement, and well educated. The death of Elizabeth in 1872, was mourned by many friends. William V. the son, was born in 1847, reared to manhood on his father’s farm and received good educational advantages, his early scholastic training being supplemented by a two years’ course in Birmingham College. When twenty-one years of age he married Miss Alice Short and brought his bride to the old home, so that he might operate the farm for his father. He also ran a sawmill and in addition to those two branches of industry, is a good bricklayer and blacksmith. He is now a manager of the machine works of Lamar Missouri, where he has made his home for the last two years. He possesses business ability of a high order, and the success, which has thus far attended him, will no doubt make him a wealthy man. By his union with Miss Short, five children have been born—four sons and a daughter. The removal of William Tobias to Missouri proved a loss to this county, for he was ranked among the leading citizens and was a favorite with all who knew him.
Michael Tobias, whose name heads this sketch, cast his first Presidential vote for Gen. Jackson and has since been a supporter of Democratic principles. He believes that his wealth has been given him, not to store away in miserly fashion but for his profit and enjoyment, and to this end he has spent considerable time in traveling. Accompanied by his wife he visited the Centennial at Philadelphia in 1876, was present at the New Orleans Exposition, and during the St Louis Exposition of 1885 and had the pleasure of seeing President Cleveland and his wife and shaking hands with Vice President Hendricks. He has also visited Canada and many other points of interest in this country.
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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