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Nathan Littler


Posted By: Joanne Breen (email)
Date: 5/14/2023 at 14:51:53

Nathan Littler
By Charles Littler, Des Moines business man, son.

Nathan’s words: I was born in Fulton County, Illinois, some two or three miles west of Canton, October 15, 1825. My father, Seth S. Littler, was born in Highland County, Ohio, February 20, 1804, and raised there in what is now Madison Township, Greenfield, the largest town. He married Miss Fanny Brown, my mother, of Fayetteville County, Illinois the latter part of September, 1825.

My father died October 19, 1827. On November 8, 1827 my mother was married to Thomas Ritchey with whom she lived till his death, February 12, 1848. (Marriage date to Ritchey was copied from Ritchey Family History by E. J.) With this family I was raised. The family came early to Warren County, Illinois and settled near Monmouth. In April 1837 we moved to Henry County, Iowa and settled on what was then called the East Fork of Crooked Creek, a few miles lower down than where Winfield is now located.

In March of 1839 we came to Washington County and settled about three miles in a straight line southeast from Washington. We left this place and moved to Washington about 1847. In 1848 my stepfather died. I was never so situated as to get a good education, was sent to such schools as there were in the neighborhood in private houses; attended subscription schools two or three terms, or parts of terms, in Washington. The rest of my education, no inconsiderable part of it, was obtained from reading and studying books at home, or wherever I could get them. I was brought up a farmer and followed such work until 25 years old.
October 15, 1849 I was married in Fayette County, Ohio near the village of New Martinsburg, to Ellen Merchant (sometimes spelled Marchant), and brought her to Washington, November 1849. When I was a boy of 18, I taught a subscription school in one of my father’s log cabins southeast of town. In the winter of 1852, I taught the district school in Washington, the only one of the kind there. In the spring of 1850, I was elected constable and served a full term of two years. In 1852 I succeeded Enoch Ross as justice of the peace, and resigned in May, 1853 to go to Richmond to clerk in a store for James Dawson and George Brokaw. I clerked for them nearly two years at a salary of $20 a month, and boarded myself; then bought them out and ran the merchandising business till 1868.

I returned to Washington April 12, 1869 and located in College Grove and still remained there (1877). (The house he built, at the south end of Marion Avenue is still standing, occupied by Mrs. Alma Perry, and is very good condition. E. J. 1975).

I joined the Free Masons at Richmond about 1854. In December, 1853 I united with the Missionary Baptists at Richmond, and myself and wife were baptized at Bunker’s Mill in the English River the spring of 1854. In 1863 I was elected to represent my county in the Tenth General Assembly of Iowa, which I did.

I have been interested in the mercantile trade directly from March, 1854 to the present time, though a small part of the time I have been a silent partner.

I have a family of four children, all of whom are dead, except the youngest Charles Sumner, born December 1, 1855. He is now a partner in the mercantile establishment in Keota, Keokuk County, Iowa, where my mercantile interest is placed. In March last, I became a silent partner and expect to spend my time mainly at home, hereafter.

I have always been an active, energetic kind of man. Now I feel that I ought to take life a little easier, do a little less of worldly business and care more for the interests of the future world.

I politics I was first a Whig, then a Free Soiler, then a Republican; now Independent. But I vote mostly for Republicans if good men; more frequently have voted for Democrats when worthy.

I am, and have been, an uncompromising total abstinence, temperance man since December 31, 1849, and expect to remain so. I quit using tobacco on January 1, 1875, after using it for 25 years. I give about half my income to benevolence, mainly in the channels of the Baptist denomination. I manage by strict economy to live on the remainder. I have been for many years clerk of the Baptist Association with which my church is connected. I have always been the clerk of the once called Washington.

I am intending, Providence permitting, to gather up all the history I can obtain of Washington County from its settlement to this date, and publish it in some kind of printed form, probably in chapters through some of our weekly county papers. I am secretary of the Old Settlers Association of Washington (Aug. 3 1877).

My mother says that she and my father started from Highland County, Ohio to move to Fulton County, Illinois on September 16, 1825 and landed in Illinois, October 7, 1825.

The following paragraph is supplied by the son (Charles S Littler):

He moved to Des Moines the 20th of April, 1887. Between the years 1877 and 1887 he was a county supervisor one term. (That would be in Washington County). He also published the Old Settlers’ History in the Washington Gazette. He was afterwards in real estate business with W. E. Kerr. He sold his interest in the Keota store in 1887 and moved to Des Moines, April 20, where he invested in real estate. He was united with the First Baptist Church, of which he was a member when he died.

He had been failing a little all winter but was confined to his bed but a few days. He was taken with intermittent fever, which ran into spinal meningitis. He died at 4:00 o’clock Saturday afternoon, March 3 1888. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa.

Source: Nathan Littler’s History of Washington County 1835-1875; Published by Jonathan Clark Conger House, Inc., Washington, Iowa, 1977

Note: Littler’s history was first published in 1879-80 in the Washington Gazette.


Washington Documents maintained by Joanne L. Breen.
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