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Humphrey, Eli


Posted By: mjv (email)
Date: 5/26/2021 at 11:57:11

Eli Humphrey, a prominent citizen of Dutch Creek Township, and whose portrait is presented on the opposite page, is residing on section 1, township 74 north, of range 9 west, where he is engaged in general farming and stock-raising. He was born Jan. 11, 1812, in Berkshire County, Mass., and is the son of Elijah and Hannah (Bartholomew) Humphrey, who were natives of Connecticut. In 1824, the family moved to Lorain County, Ohio, where Elijah Humphrey purchased 150 acres of land and resided in that county until his death, in the spring of 1846. He was a public-spirited man, influential among his neighbors, a kind and indulgent parent, and a useful member of the Presbyterian Church. His wife survived him some twelve years, dying in 1858. She also was a member of the Presbyterian Church.

They were the parents of twelve children, Eli being the only son now living. The surviving daughters are, Harriet J., who married James Sherman, now deceased, and resides at Monticello, Minn.; Parmelia, who married Alvin Messenger, now deceased, and resides near Minneapolis, Minn. The deceased are Harry, Sanford, Norman, Esther, Maria, Elizabeth B., Horatio, Cordelia and Alfred. Maria died in Ohio and was buried in the cemetery near Wellington; Elizabeth B. was buried in Lorain County, Ohio. Horatio, who made his home with his brother Eli for many years, and who was greatly attached, was buried in the Grace Hill Cemetery, in Washington County, Iowa; Cordelia was buried in the cemetery near Huntington, Ohio; Alfred died and was buried in Oregon.

When nineteen years of age our subject commenced life for himself, and being an expert with the ax, commenced clearing time by contract. On the 21st of October, 1835, he was united in marriage with Miss Lucia Snow, who was born Sept. 5, 1814, in Portage County, Ohio. She was a daughter of Franklin and Lydia (Alcott) Snow, who were the parents of eight children, Lucia being the fifth in number. Having traded for land in Jefferson County, where the city of Fairfield now stands, Mr. Humphrey went with his family to that place in February, 1844. He made the trip through by land, and on his arrival commenced the improvement of the place. In the winter of 1845, he returned to his old home, going part of the way by water. On arriving near Grave Creek, Va., the boat was ice bound, and Eli purchased and old “jumper” and a blind horse, with which to make the rest of the journey home. Having no harness, he cut some sticks to make harness, and braided rope for tugs, and started on his way. On arriving at his brother’s, his little nephew was sent out to unharness the horse, but was unable to do so, not having a very clear idea of the style of harness which his uncle Eli had made. Mr. Humphrey says he purchased the old horse for the reason that he heard the crops had failed in that part of Ohio where he was going, so he thought if he was unable to obtain feed, he could easily kill the old horse and get him out of his misery.

In 1852 Mr. Humphrey made a trip to California, and was three weeks going from Fairfield to Omaha. He crossed the river at that place on the 10th of May, and was four months making the journey across the plains. He remained in California two years. In 1855 he came to Washington County and purchased a tract of land in township 74 north, range 9 West, lying upon the north side of Skunk River, that portion now attached to Dutch Creek Township. On the 16th of May of that year, he moved to this farm, and there remained until 1861, when he moved to his present place of residence. At this time, the war of the Rebellion had just commenced, and Mr. Humphrey raised a company of home guards, of which he was elected Captain, but when he offered his services to the State he was rejected on account of his age. Abandoning the idea of serving his country in the field he returned to his farm and has since given his attention exclusively to farming. He is now the owner of 728 acres of land in his township. The home farm consists of 406 acres. The improvements upon his farm of the better order, there being a good family residence, large barn and other out-buildings.

Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey have three children: Henrietta, born Oct. 30, 1836, married Elias Griffith, and died May 16, 1872; Julia A., born Sept. 22, 1839, is the wife of George W. Griffith, of Franklin Township; Edwin, born Dec. 2, 1841, died Aug. 3, 1876, and was buried in Grace Hill Cemetery; he was a bright young man, and his death was a great loss to the old couple. Mrs. Humphrey is a well-preserved woman, and is now in her seventy-third year. She is quite active, and insists on doing all her household work. In her maidenhood she taught school a number of terms. Her father was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died about 1863, at the age of eighty-five. Her mother died in 1819. She has many relics which were left by her parents, among others, a quilt that she has had for sixty-eight years. Shortly before her father’s death, he made a cabinet, consisting of as many drawers as there were States in the Union. This cabinet he presented to President Lincoln, the receipt of which the President acknowledged in very graceful terms. This letter is also preserved among the relics. Mrs. Humphrey has yet living a half-sister, Mrs. Hannah Lewis, now residing in Oberlin, Ohio. Her sister, Mrs. Rebecca Squire, died Aug. 11, 1887.

Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey observed their golden wedding Oct. 21, 1885, an occasion which was remembered by a number of their friends, a very pleasant and sociable time being had. While a resident of Ohio, Mr. Humphrey served in the State Militia, and filled all the offices from Sergeant to Colonel of the 2d Regiment. Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey have each passed their threescore years and ten of life. That they may live to enjoy many more years of a live of usefulness, is the sincere desire of all who know them.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa (1887). Excerpt from Biographical Sketch of Eli Humphrey, pages 291-292. Biographical Portrait found on page 290.


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