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Caroline Proper ~ 1824-1920


Posted By: Volunteer - Rhonda Rankin Rowe
Date: 2/7/2002 at 06:01:20

Mrs. Caroline Proper

Caroline, eldest daughter of Charles and Theodocia Neal Fletcher was born near Trumansburg, Tompkins County, New York, January 6, 1824, and passed peacefully away May the 4th, 1920, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J.P. Dingley, with whom she has resided for the past twenty-five years. At the time of her decease Mrs. Proper was ninety-six years, three months and twenty-eight days of age.

May 8, 1851, she was united in marriage to Washington L. Proper at the Fletcher family home in New York State. The following week they left for the new home in Iowa, which was then to them the far west. Coming by the Great Lakes to Chicago, thence down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to St. Louis and up to Keokuk, making almost the entire trip by water. Leaving Keokuk they came to Harrisburg Twp. By ox team and covered wagon.

On his first trip to Iowa (in 1836) Washington Proper had come by horse-back to Quincy, Ill. After spending the winter there, he took the old Indian Trail up the Des Moines as far as Iowaville, an Indian trading station which then existed between Douds and Selma.

After a short stay in Iowa he returned to New York to further his education. Coming back to Iowa a few years later he taught several terms of school in Van Buren Co. before returning to New York for his bride.

It was to the home farm just west of the Harrisburg Church, and which is now owned by their son, W.F. Proper, that Washington and Caroline Proper came some time in 1851. Here they resided until Mr. Proper’s death Oct. 19, 1871. Four children were born to them: W.F. of Harrisburg, Mary who died in infancy, Mrs. Martha Nixon of Udall, Kansas, and Mrs. Lydia C. Dingley who together with fourteen grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren remain to mourn their loss.

She is also survived by two sisters and three brothers: Mrs. Louisa Robison and Mrs. Clarinda Farrington of New York State, Henry Fletcher of San Diego, Calif., Theodore Fletcher of Chicago, Ill., and Jonathan Fletcher of Lincoln, Neb.

At the age of thirteen years she united with the Methodist Church and retained her membership there until the organization of the Harrisburg Baptist Church in 1865 when she became a charter member of this body in which she has always been a faithful worker. At the time of the organization of the Harrisburg Church she and her husband donated the acre of ground on which the church was erected. Washington Proper’s funeral was the first service of this sort held in the church.

It was at this same Harrisburg Church that funeral services were held for his wife Sunday morning, May 9, 1920. Her pastor, Rev. J.S. Coppoc had charge of the services, preaching from the text, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalms 116:15. The floral offerings were beautiful, a fitting tribute to the veritable mother in Israel.

The remains were laid to rest in the family lot in the Vale Cemetery beside her husband who was the first adult to be buried in this cemetery.

Mrs. Caroline Proper was last of the pioneers who came to Harrisburg at an early day from New York. She was also the last survivor of the charter members of the Harrisburg Baptist Church.

The funeral of Mrs. Proper was held on Mothers’ Day, an appropriate coincidence as she was for years in the early days of her residence in Iowa, wherever there was sickness or trouble, there was Aunt Caroline Proper to comfort and assist.

Source; Iowa Rankin and Jenny Matheson newspaper clippings


Van Buren Obituaries maintained by Rich Lowe.
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