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Britton, William S.


Posted By: mjv (email)
Date: 8/7/2020 at 13:33:17

William S. Britton, farmer and stock-raiser on section 1 in English River Township, owns 321 acres of land there. He was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, Dec. 1, 1814, and is the son of William and Mary (Jacobi) Britton. His father was born in Pennsylvania, and was a farmer and a soldier in the War of 1812, who emigrated to Pickaway county immediately after the close of the war. He has improved four new farms in Pennsylvania and one in Ohio, all of which were timbered. He died in the latter State. While a soldier, stationed on the northern lakes, a plague broke out in his company which caused the death of all except himself and one other man. They wandered homeward, having no officers to muster them out.

William S. Britton, the subject of this sketch, when about twenty-three years of age, started for Iowa with $1,100 and a good horse. He, however, stopped in Indiana, where he met with an accident that nearly proved fatal, and resulted in crippling him for life. Although his money was almost all spent, he decided to marry, and on Nov. 18, 1840, was united to Margaret, daughter of William Robinson, and a native of Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Britton were the parents of five children, two girls and three boys, all living but one. They are: Mary J., the wife of Samuel Manatt, was born in Indiana; Thaddeus, who was born in English River Township, was a soldier of the late war, and now resides in Kansas, engaged in railroad work; Sarah is the wife of John McKinley, and lives in Lime Creek Township; Scott died at the age of five years; and Douglas lives with his father, engaged in stock-raising and farming. Mr. Britton lost his wife in the spring of 1880.

In the spring of 1842, Mr. Britton emigrated from Indiana to Iowa with his family, by team. He had various mishaps, losing one of his horses after getting here. He then started back for Indiana with his wife and child, after buying a cheap horse. One of his horses became sick and died at Burlington, and a stranger trusting him for another horse, he proceeded to Indiana, closed up his property there, and started again to Iowa with a team and four cows. He lost two cows by poisoning at Burlington, where he staid a week, waiting his turn at the ferry, which was delayed by high winds. After making his home here, he hauled rye to Muscatine, where he received ten cents a bushel for it, and paid $1.50 a bushel for salt. The distance was thirty miles. He sold wheat for twenty-five cents a bushel, and pork for $1.50 per hundred. He slit rails at the rate of twenty-five cents a hundred to get money to pay postage. The first winter spent in Iowa he had only one half bushel of ground meal. The remainder of his supplies was obtained by pounding corn by hand. He cheerfully endured these privations and hardships of a pioneer life, and is now enjoying the fruits of his early toil and thrift.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa (1887). Excerpt from Biographical Sketch of William S. Britton, page 336.


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