JAMES M. BAXTER (DECEASED), LEWIS.
Twenty years ago James M. Baxter was the largest farmer in Cass county, as well as one of its most enterprising and public spirited citizens. He was a young man, the son of a Vermont agriculturist, when he arrived in Cass township, Marh 11, 1856, the country then being very sparsely settled. One small dry-goods store at Lewis was the only one in the county. There was no blacksmith shop and the settlers were obliged to go to Council Bluffs for all their blacksmithing. There was occasionally a school, but not a school house in the county. Mr. Baxter worked for two years as a farm laborer, but the first summer bought eighty acres of land six miles southwest of Lewis, and began to improve this tract in 1858. Within the following twenty years he broke and improved 2,000 acres of prairie soil, built many houses and miles of fence, sunk wells and developed the agricultural resources of Cass and Bear Grove townships generally. At one time he was the owner of 1,600 acres, all under fence and in tame grass, pastures and crops. He also paid much attention to improved stock. On June 10, 1880, a cyclone carrying away small barns and sheds, a hog house 125 feet long, and 125 hogs, 95 pigs and 4 horses. Mr. Baxter was also a leading member of the County Board of Supervisors, and long connected with the township government in various capacities.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 107.
Full of years and of honor and held in the highest esteem by all classes of the people for his sterling manood, his unyielding integrity, his productive and unceasing industry, and his fidelity to duty throughout his long residence among this people, which covered forty-three years, the late James M. Baxter of Cass township, this county, whose extended life closed at the age of seventy-three, in June, 1904, was a fine example of the race of pioneers who first settled this region and gave it its start on the march of progress and civilization. He was a native of Windsor county, Vermont, born near the city of Rutland, on August 13, 1831, and a son of Don Carlos and Sarah (Pateridge) Baxter, also natives of that State. They were farmers, and prospered at the business. The father was prominent in military circles, holding a high office in the State militia. He died in his native State, as did the mother. They had a large family of children, four of whom are now living. Two reside in Cass county, one lives in California, and one in Kansas.
James M. Baxter grew to manhood and obtained a limited common school education in Vermont, and farmed in that State until 1856, when he came to Burlington, Iowa, by rail, then journeyed on to Denmark in the adjoining county of Lee. There he met Oliver Mills who brought him to Lewis, this county, and for whom he worked one season. He then purchased a tract of land in Pottawattamie county, on which he lived four years. At the end of that time he sold it and bought the farm in Cass township, this county, on which he died. He broke up the virgin prairie of this farm and improved it from year to year, setting out the trees on it and putting up the buildings, and keeping it under progressive cultivation until he made it one of the best in the township.
Mr. Baxter was married on August 12, 1859, to Euphemia Richardson, a native of the State of New York. Her parents, William and Sarah (Gruggs) Richardson, were early settlers in this county, locating here in 1860. They lived with Mr. and Mrs. Baxter for a time, then moved to Lewis, where they died. Mr. and Mrs. Baxter had six children, five of whom are living: Charles M., of this county; Mrs. Marie R. Parsons, of Lewis; William D., who manages the farm; Henry P., of this county, who is married and has one child, and one other whose name was not ascertained.
Mr. Baxter, the elder, was a leading Abolitionist and an earnest worker on the "Underground Railway," often hauling its dusky passengers to his home by night and keeping them there for a time. The celebrated John Brown of Ossawatomie was a frequent visitor at his house. After the formation of the Republican party he always ardently supported its principles and candidates. He served as member of the County Board of Supervisors and in numerous township offices. In fraternal life he was a Freemason, and the church affiliation of himself and his wife were with the Congregationalists. He came to this county a poor boy and by hard work, frugal living and judicious investments became in time the owner of over 1,500 acres of land, giving a fine and impressive exemplification of the value of thrift and enterprise, and also illustrating in a striking manner the abundance of opportunity this country afforded to men of pluck and perserverance in its early days.
WILLIAM BAXTER, the son of James M. Baxter, who is operating the home farm, and is following in the footsteps of his father in manhood and attention to daily duty, was born at Lewis in 1866. He was reared and educated in this county, and has been a tiller of its prolific soil from boyhood. In 1894 he was united in marriage with Caroline Richardson, a native of Montgomery county in this State. Her parents, John M. and Caroline (Yarde) Richardson, were born in England and came to Iowa more than thirty years agol One child has been born in the household of William D. Baxter, his son Carlos. The family is one of the oldest and most respected in the county, and its members have borne faithfully their part in all the forces of progress and development in this part of the State.
HENRY P. BAXTER, another son of James M. Baxter, the honored pioneer, was born in Cass township, this county, in May, 1878, and like his brother William, has followed farming all his life. He grew to manhood and obtained his education in his native township, and has taken an active and serviceable interest in every phase of its industrial, agricultural and commercial activity. He owns 133 acres of first rate land improved with good buildings, and keeps both his land and its improvements up to a high standard of excellence. He was married in March, 1894, to Effie Albright, a daughter of William W. Albright of Lewis. She is a native of Montgomery county, Iowa. They have one child living, their daughter Hazel G. Mr. Baxter, while always zealous in the service of his township and county, has taken but little part in political contentions and has never sought or desired public office. He is fortunate as to worldly wealth, and also enjoys in a marked degree the regard and good will of his fellow men, as do all the other members of the family.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp.260-262.