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Topliff, John Nelson 1836 – 1915


Posted By: Joy Moore (email)
Date: 2/6/2015 at 09:51:31

Decorah Journal June 16, 1915, Page 2



John Nelson Topliff was born in Newark, New Jersey, July 24, 1836, and died at his home in this city Wednesday, June 9, 1915, at five o’clock a. m

Mr. Topliff came to Winneshiek county in 1847 with his parents, Elias and Sarah Topliff who settled on a farm in Bloomfield twp. The journey from Milford Center, Ohio, where the family then lived, was made by wagon. In 1848 Elias Topliff took up a half section of land in Winneshiek and Allamakee counties. In 1852 he was elected judge of Allamakee county and the family moved to Columbus, which then was the county seat. He was the first judge of Allamakee county. He held office as a Democrat until his death in Waukon in 1860. The late judge L. E. Fellows of Lansing once was his deptuy{sp} when he was county treasurer.

The subject of this sketch operated the home farm as a young man. In 1860 he was married to Rachel Elizabeth Reed, daughter of David and Mary Reed, who were among the first settlers in the county. In 1865 he bought his mother’s farm. There he and family lived till 1891, when he sold out and they moved to Decorah. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Topliff: Charles, John, Ann Grace, Frank, and Ray. Of these three survive, Charles, the well-known dentist of Decorah, John, who is a farmer of Bruce, Wis., and Dr. Ray Topliff of Postville. Ann Grace Topliff died in 1877 when nine years old, and Frank died in the same year, the two deaths occurring just a month apart. The deceased is survived by his widow.

Mr. Topliff was a member of the Unitarian church. He was a Mason and an Eastern Star. He was not a man who courted notoriety, but he won the esteem of all those who became acquainted with him. In Decorah he enjoyed a reputation as a man of upright life and kindly disposition. Many friends extend sincere sympathy to the widow and the children in their loss.

The funeral was held Saturday, Dr. H. H. Green having charge of the service. The Masons attended in a body and J. G. McCallum, W. M., took part in the burial rites at the Phelps cemetery.

Decorah Republican June 10, 1915

John L.{sic} Topliff, Sr., passed away yesterday morning at his home on Washington street, death being due to the infirmities of old age. Mr. Topliff has not been in good health for a year or more and during the past month has failed rapidly.

Mr. Topliff was one of three survivers of one of the first families of Winneshiek county. He was born on July 24 1836, in Newark, N. J., the son of Elias and Sarah Topliff. The senior Topliff prospected in northeastern Iowa in 1847 and upon deciding to locate here returned to Ohio and brought his family to Bloomfield township in 1848. Three hundred and twenty acres of land, partly in Winneshiek and partly in Allamakee, were taken up. In 1852 he was elected judge of Allamakee county and John N. Topliff took charge of the farm, which he operated for five years. Elias Topliff died in 1860, and in 1865 the subject of this sketch bought his mother’s share in the farm and there made his home until 1891 when he retired and came to Decorah to reside. In 1860 Mr. Topliff was married to Rebecca Elizabeth Reed, whose parents were co-pioneers with those of her husband. Five children were born to them, two of whom died in early childhood. The surviving children are Dr. Charles L. Topliff of Decorah, John N. Topliff, Jr., of Bruce, Wis., and Dr. F. Ray Topliff of Postville. During all his life Mr. Topliff was a man of keen observation, following the activities of state and nation with intelligent interest. He was a staunch Republican in politics and occupied positions of trust, such as school director and deputy county treasurer. His religious affiliations were with the Unitarian church, and he was also a member of the Great Lights Lodge A. D. & A. M. In all ways he was a good citizen, respected throughout the community.

No definite arrangement has been made for the funeral, but it will probably be held Saturday.

Transcriber’s Note: Mrs. Topliff’s name is indicated as Rachel in one article and Rebecca in the other. According to her gravestone, it was Rachel.

Phelps Cemetery gravestone

Winneshiek Obituaries maintained by Bruce Kuennen.
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