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Edwin F. Brockway


Posted By: J. Breen (email)
Date: 6/9/2015 at 20:47:21

Edwin Franklin Brockway was born at Brockneyville, Jefferson Co., Pa. His father, James Brockway, was born in the State of New York, near Broadalbin. The family was of English descent, their ancestors having emigrated to this country 260 years ago. His mother, Lydia (Goff) Brockway, was the daughter of William Goff, who was a descendant of William Goff, one
of the judges who sentenced King Charles I, of England, to death, and with his father-in-law, Edward Whaley, another one of the regicide justices, escaped to America to avoid the wrath of Charles II. William Goff and Edward Whaley were members of Cromwell's Parliament, and were both men of great military skill.

Edwin F. Brockway was eight years old when his father moved to Iowa, in May, 1842, locating near the village of Cone, Muscatine County. The Indians had then just left the vicinity, and the bones of the buffalo and deer were to be found everywhere. There were then in that neighborhood
no roads, no schools, no churches, no mills; the country remaining just as the Lord had finished it, beautiful and unmarred by what men call improvements. Under those circumstances young Brockway grew to manhood, battling with all the privations of a new country, and longing for an
education which it was impossible to get, except as his parents taught him, or at the district school taught in the room of some neighbor's house. At that day Iowa did not have a school house on every hill top, and often Mr. B. compares the advantages possessed by the youth of these times with the surroundings of that early day.

In the spring of 1857 he rafted lumber from Black River Falls, where his oldest brother was extensively engaged in the lumber business, for the purpose of improving his farm, which he had entered from Government. He also brought a large number of evergreens with him, mostly white pine. These were the first of the kind introduced into Muscatine County, and now, at thirty years old, are sixty feet high and two feet in diameter. There are said to be more and larger pines in that county now than in any other county in the State.

September 11, 1860, Mr. B. married Miss Rowena Letts, oldest daughter of Mr. N. M. Letts, of Lettsville, Louisa County. In the spring of 1866 he sold his farm in Muscatine County, and moved to Washington County, and improved the farm on which he now lives, and where their three children, Libbie, Allie and Jamie, have been born.

Soon after removing to the county he was elected County Supervisor from Highland Township, and served two terms. In the fall of 1873 he was elected to represent the county in the legislature, with B. F. Brown as his colleague. This was the ever memorable "Granger" House which passed the railroad tariff bill, and at which two weeks were spent in electing a Speaker, the House voting on it 144 times. In the fall of 1874 Mr. B. was elected President of the Washington County Agricultural Society, serving as such six years, and leaving the society, at the close of that period, out of debt and in good condition. Previous to this time, for over twenty-five years, the society was in a condition of continual financial embarrassment. On the 14th of January, 1880, he was elected Vice President of the State Agricultural Society, and was so elected for the fourth time. In these positions Mr. B. always used his influence in suppression of gambling and similar evils frequently indulged in. The introduction of what is known as "Soldier's Day" and "Children's Day" at the State Fair was mainly through his influence.

His daughter, Miss Libbie, has a natural love for art, which has been developed to a great extent in the direction of portrait and scene painting. Some specimens of her work will compare favorably with those of artists of much greater pretensions, and at the County and State Fairs she has taken quite a number of premiums. Miss Allie, the youngest daughter, bids fair to become a fine musician, and every faculty is afforded her for the cultivation of her taste in that direction. Jamie, the only son, will probably follow the business of a farmer.

Mr. B. is decidedly a home man, and surrounded by his family, he enjoys life, as a man of wealth and intelligence should. Few finer country residences can be found than that at Pine Grove farm. The farm of 400 acres of well-improved land, besides the residence, has a good barn, and all the necessary out-buildings. The house is well furnished, and, presided over by Mrs. Brockway, a lady of culture and refinement, is truly a model home. Friends are always welcome beneath the hospitable roof, and none visit the family without an earnest desire to enjoy their hospitality again and again.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, IA, page 409 (1887)


Washington Biographies maintained by Joanne L. Breen.
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