George Adair

Among the pioneer settlers of Butler county George Adair is numbered. Six decades have been added to the cycle of centuries since he arrived in this section of the state. In fact no other resident of Shell Rock has so long lived in this district and throughout the entire period he has played well his part as a public-spirited citizen and an honorable man. For sixteen years he has been president of the Shell Rock Creamery Company and for an extended period was actively identified with farming interests. In fact he has contributed much of the agricultural development to this section of the state and became widely known as proprietor of the Oakley Stock Farm.

Mr. Adair was born near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, January 21, 1847, and is a son of George W. and Elizabeth Ellen (Smith) Adair. The father was born near Lexington, Virginia, October 31, 1813, and the mother's birth occurred in Michigan, March 24, 1824. Coming to Iowa, he settled in Muscatine county, east of West Liberty in 1837. He was accompanied by his younger brother, William. In the same year Elizabeth Smith arrived in company with her father and settled in the same locality. They were married at Cedar Rapids in 1840 and there resided until 1853. In 1849, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, Mr. Adair drove an ox team across the country to the Pacific coast, being absent from home for two years. He was in hopes that the trip would benefit his health and found that it did. He spent some time in the mines, returning in 1851, and the following year he came to Butler county. Here he purchased forty acres of land of Alex Glenn and the following year purchased more land from Aaron Moore. Twelve blocks of the city of Shell Rock have been laid out on the forty acre tract which he purchased in 1852. The plat was recorded in 1855. It was in the spring of 1853 that he moved his family here, and that year he built a sawmill and dam across the Shell Rock river. He operated the mill, sawing for the settlers, and he also rafted timber down to Waterloo. He continued in the mill until 1869.

However, in the meantime, in 1867, he opened a hotel known as the Shell Rock House and conducted it until 1878, when he went to Kansas to visit a son and daughter. He died at Smith Center, that state, on the 3d of September, 1879. He was most prominently identified with industrial activity in this county at an early day. He built, between 1855 and 1857, the west side flouring mill in connection with his brother William, and soon after they sold their grist-mill to John F. Wright. In 1867, in company with E. W. Metzger, he built the east side flouring mill, which he operated for a number of years. He was thus closely associated with the business development of the community, and his enterprises were of untold value to the early settlers, who depended upon his operations for breadstuffs and for lumber. He was one of the incorporators of the first Methodist Episcopal church and erected the first house of worship in Shell Rock, it being the first church organized in the county. He took an active and helpful part in the church work throughout the remainder of his life and his wife was equally earnest in her cooperation with all that pertained to the moral development of the coimnunity. He was earnest in his support of the temperance cause and in politics he was a democrat but never took an active part in politics aside from casting his ballot. He labored untiringly, however, to check the use of alcoholic beverages and was a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars, the meetings of which were held in his house. His life was indeed one of usefulness to the community and his worth was acknowledged by all who knew him. His wife survived him for almost a quarter of a century and died in Shell Rock in 1902. She shared with him in all his good work for the benefit of his fellowmen and many have reason to bless their memory.

They had a family of nine children: Mary Jane, the eldest, became the wife of E. Town of Shell Rock, but is now deceased. John, of Sioux City, Iowa, enlisted in June, 1861, as a member of Company B, Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry and after veteranizing served until July, 1865. He participated in many battles, his first engagement being at Belmont, Missouri. He was a member of what was called the Hornet's Nest Brigade and took part in the battles of Shiloh and Lookout Mountain and the Atlanta campaign. He also went on the campaign through the Carolinas and participated in the grand review in Washington, D. C. Lucy Ann became the wife of R. D. Bowen of Smith Center, Kansas. George is the next of the family. William W. is living in Kansas. Elizabeth Ellen is the wife of A. A. Allburn of Sioux City. Sarah Maria is the wife of Thomas Rawlings of Wakefield, Nebraska. Blanche A. became the wife of Charles Herrington of Wakefield, Nebraska. Nettie is the wife of George E. Mead of Shell Rock.

George Adair was a little lad of six siunmers when brought by his parents to Butler county, where he has resided continuously since, covering a period of sixty years. There is no resident of Shell Rock whose connection with the district antedates his and as a pioneer settler he has witnessed almost the entire growth and development of this part of the county. On the 14th of May, 1864, when a young man of seventeen years, he enlisted as a member of Company E, Forty-fourth Iowa Volunteer Infantry and served for one hundred days. He has always been actuated by a spirit of patriotism and has ever taken a helpful part in upholding the interests of county, state and nation. His reminiscences concerning this county are most interesting. He recalls the first Fourth of July celebration which he ever witnessed. In fact it was the first held in this county, the celebration taking place at Shell Rock in 1855. The people came in ox teams and on that occasion nearly every man, woman and child in the county was here.

Through his boyhood George Adair attended the district schools and worked in his father's sawmill. Since 1869 he has been identified with agricultural pursuits and is now the owner of three hundred and sixty acres of valuable land two miles southeast of Shell Rock. He still gives supervision to the place, although his son is actively operating it. The farm is splendidly improved and has upon it an immense barn fifty-two by ninety feet, also two concrete silos and every modern improvement. The place is known as the Oakley Stock Farm and Mr. Adair was the first breeder of Holstein cattle in this locality, continuing the breeding business for thirty years. While he is not active in the operation of the farm, he keeps in touch with every feature of the business and, moreover, he has for the past sixteen years been president of the Shell Rock Creamery Company, a cooperative creamery business which is incorporated. For fourteen years he was president of the Butler County Farmers Institute and he is a life member of the County Fair Association, of which he has been a director and treasurer. His association with the last two organizations indicates his deep interest in all that pertains to the development and improvement of the county along agricultural lines.

In 1872 Mr. Adair was united in marriage to Miss Ella Mason, who was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, July 5, 1853, and in 1856 was brought to Iowa by her parents, who located in Madison township, this county, but afterward removed to Cedar Falls and later came to Shell Rock. Her father, William Mason, was a native of England and was a woolen manufacturer. After coming to Iowa he purchased a half interest in a woolen mill in Shell Rock. While in Massachusetts he married Amelia Murgatroyd, also a native of England. Mr. and Mrs. Adair became the parents of five children : Claude Duvall, who is living on his father's farm, married Inez Temple and they have five children, Rex C, Zella Leone, Keith C. and Forest C, twins, and Victor Bruce. Allison G. was the second in order of birth and died at the age of two years, and ten months. Allen L., the third of the family, is a resident of Eagle, Idaho. He married Hilda Benson and they have two daugh- ters, Ellen A. and Esther. Ada Lucile is the wife of A. F. Garner of Shell Rock township and they have two sons, George Mathias and Vernon Adair. William Mason, of Shell Rock, married Maude Irma Goodsell and is employed as a butter maker in the Shell Rock Creamery. 

In his political views Mr. Adair is a democrat and has been his party's candidate for county supervisor and for representative. For thirty-three years he has been identified with the Odd Fellows Society and was chairman of the board of trustees of the Orphans and Old Folks Home of the Odd Fellows at Mason City. His life has been one of intense and intelligently directed activity. As the years have gone by he has put forth his effort in such a way that substantial results have accrued. His labors have enabled him to overcome all difficulties and obstacles and gradually he has advanced until he now occupies a position among the substantial citizens of the county.