Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project
Union Publ. Co. Springfield IL. 1883.
"A" Biographies: ABBOTT ~ ARMSBURY
Compiled & Contributed by Susan Steveson
[Pages 600 & 928-29] Andrew Jackson Abbott came to the county in June 1855, and located on section 32, and commenced making the necessary improvements preparatory to sending for his family, who were still in Vermont. Abbott and Charles Wicks boarded with Abiel Pierce. On Dec. 22, 1855, Abbott and Wicks went to see what is now Geneseo township, with three yoke of oxen, to get some logs with which to build a stable. When they left in the morning the atmosphere was mild, and a pleasant day was expected; but while they were in the timber, a violent storm came up, and it is supposed they left the timber for home about three or four o'clock in the afternoon, and at one time must have been within two miles of home. But they evidently had become lost and bewildered, probably on account of the wind having changed its course. It seems, however, that the animal instinct taught the oxen to even face the piercing blast and make directly for their home, while the men urged them in an opposite direction, against an almost uncontrolable determination upon their part to go home. At last they abandoned the cattle and started from the sled on foot, taking a southeastern course. Mr. Wicks, being the weaker of the two, soon became exhausted. He was no doubt, assisted, and perhaps dragged along for some distance by his comrade, Abbott, but at last had to succumb. Mr. Abbott marked the fatal spot by sticking his ox goad in the deep snow drift, and haning an old sack, in which was left the remains of their lunch, upon it, which could be seen at quite a distance.
Abbott then proceeded alone until he became exhausted. No doubt, when he laid down, he evidently fully realized that he was about to sleep the long sleep of death, as he straightened himself out upon the snow and folded his arms in order, over his breast, as if conscious of the awful fact that a terrible fate had overtaken him. He was found in this position by Alonzo Willson about three days afterward. From facts soon ascertained, it was found he had wandered fourteen miles from home, and at one time was within 200 yards of a turnpike road, which had he been fortunate to have gained, would have guided him homeward. The following day the storm abated about 10 o'clock, A.M., when Owen, Willson and Pierce started out in search of their friends, Abbott and Wicks, and by following the trail of the sled, left perceptible in the snow, they finally found the sled. This was just at sundown the first day of the search. This proved to them beyond doubt that the men had been lost and turned the oxen loose. They resumed their hunt the day following and succeeded in finding Wicks, who was sitting with his face upon his arms, leaning against a bunch of frozen weeds and grass. The sight, as described by Mr. Willson, who was one of the first to discover him, was terrible, indeed, as he evidently had been bitterly weeping, and his face had frozen in a manner that put this beyond doubt in the minds of those who saw the frozen form. His body was taken to his boarding place and home of Mr. Pierce. It was with the utmost exertion that his limbs could be straightened sufficiently to get his form into a coffin.
On the third day after the storm, the neighborhood again went forth to find Abbott, and after following dim traces for weary hours, they found him as before described, laying upon his back, with his frozen features but slightly distorted. Alonzo Willson went to Mason City in search of coffins for the two unfortunates, and owing to a scarcity of lumber, was obliged to take part of a store counter furnished by Judge Long, out of which to make them, and, with the help of a carpenter, the rude coffins were finally made, and the remains of the poor unfortunates were buried at Owen's Grove.
Of Charles Wicks but little was known, save that he was a native of Massachusetts, and a single man who made his home at Mr. Pierce's.
Andrew Jackson Abbott was from New Hampshire. He was born in October, 1825, and remained with his parents on a farm until nineteen years of age, at which time he commenced working at the trade of stone cutter, following it for several years in the New England States. He was married Jan. 3, 1854, in Rutland, Vt., to Louisa C. Marsh, a native of the same county and State. For some time he was overseer of the stone works on the Wabash railroad, in Indiana. In March, 1855, he took his wife and daughter back to Vermont, remaining there a short time himself, then returned to the west, coming to Iowa in search of work, meeting the sad fate recorded.
Mr. Abbott's young wife, Mrs. Louisa C., daughter of A. S. March, was about this time on her way from New England to her new home at Owen's grove. Imagine her grief when arriving at Dubuque, where she first heard the sad news of her bereavement.
His daughter, who was a mere babe at the time of his death, was afterward Mrs. H. M. Vernall. In December, 1857, Mr. Abbott's widow married his brother, Emri Abbott, and by this union were two children - Andrew J. and Roberta E. Emri Abbott enlisted in the 32nd Iowa volunteers, served one year, and his health failed him, and after a lingering illness at his home, he died Feb. 22, 1866. Mrs. Abbott has since had the care of the estate, which included 400 acres of land in Cerro Gordo county, 120 of which was deeded to her eldest daughter, Mrs. Vernall.
[Page 937]J. D. Abrams came to Iowa in 1869, first settling, in Franklin county, but in 1876 located on the northeast quarter of section 36, Pleasant Valley township, where he has since resided and owns 160 acres of land. He was born Sept. 24, 1842. in Wayne Co., N. Y.
His parents, Henry J. and Rachel (Ray) Abrams, emigrated with their family in 1857, to Lee Co., Ill., where J. D. Abrams was brought up on a farm. In 1862 he enlisted in company K, 75th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, served three years, participated in the battles of Perryville, Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and the Atlantic campaign, after which he returned home and resumed farming until he came to this county.
In 1867 he married Almira Shoudy, whose parents, Israel and Abigail Shoudy, were among the earliest pioneers of Lee Co., Ill. They have three children - Fred C., George D., and Le Roy. Mr. Abrams is a republican, has been clerk of Pleasant Valley township since its organization, and is a member of the G. A. R., and enjoys a social chat with old comrades.
[Page 710] Charles M. Adams, court stenographer, came to Mason City in 1856, when he was twelve years old. His parents N. M. and Emma (Childs) Adams settled here in that year. They were the parents of five sons and three daughters.
Mr. Adams was born in Worcester, Mass., Dec. 29, 1843. Had his growth with Mason City, and in 1862 was appointed deputy recorder and treasurer under Judge Vermilya. In August of the same year he enlisted in the 32d Iowa Infantry, company B, and was in the Union service three years. Soon after being mustered in, he was detailed as clerk, and was afterwards appointed chief clerk at the headquarters of the Sixteenth Army Corps, at Memphis, where he remained eighteen months. He was afterwards transferred to New Orleans, and was mustered out at Davenport, Iowa, Aug. 11, 1865. On his return to Mason City he was engaged in teaching a short time. In the spring of 1866 he entered the office of I. W. Card as correspondent, and in the fall of the same year, he was elected county recorder.
He was married Jan. 11, 1872, to Mary A., daughter of William E. Dunbar, of Rockford, Ill. Anna P. Adams is their only child.
[Page 644] J. W. Adams is a native of Ohio. In his early youth his parents, now deceased, settled in Appanoose Co., Iowa. Mr. Adams there acquired his education, graduating at Moulton college in 1876, and fitting himself for his profession in the law office of J. O. Cad, Esq., of Moulton. He began his studies in 1877 and was admitted to the bar in 1878 by the circuit court of that district, Judge Sloan presiding. Mr. Adams settled at Clear Lake in December, 1880, when the firm of Lee & Adams was formed. They have an extended and rapidly growing business in the State and Federal courts, and Mr. Adams is now the attorney for the Iowa Vigilant Live Stock Mutual Insurance Company, and also one of the directors.
[Pages 786-88] The Congregational Church of Clear Lake was organized, in 1870, by Rev. A. S. Allen, who continued to be their pastor until 1876, when by an accident and old age he was obliged to give the work over to other hands. His labors were under the auspices of the American Home Missionary Society. The first organization consisted of nine members, and when his pastorate closed there were twenty-six. The Congregational and Methodist societies built a union church that finally became the sole property of the Methodists, after which Rev. A. S. Allen commenced to build a house of worship, and succeeded in getting a foundation and frame up when his labors ceased.
The following befitting tribute to Rev. A. S. Allen was published in the Cerro Gordo County Republican, under the head of "A good man fallen - Father Allen:"
"The people of Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo county in general suffered a great loss in the death of Rev. A. S. Allen, who departed this life Nov. 8, 1876. His death was not unexpected to his friends, but when the final hour came, they were shocked and greatly mourned the sad event. Mr. Allen was a remarkable man in many respects, and one whose works will live long after him, to bless the coming generations. He was born in Medfield, Mass., in the year 1797, and in his youth removed to Andover, N. Y., where he practiced law and was afterwards elected judge of one of the State courts. While under direction of Rev. Dr. Hunter he studied theology, and in 1833, he entered the ministry and preached ten years to Congregational Churches in that State, at the end of which time he removed to Wisconsin, and soon after devoted his entire time and talent to the work of a home missionary. His benevolence was one of his adorning traits of character. When he began his ministerial career he was worth $30,000, but by his donations to charity and benevolence, he expended nearly all of it. He was one of the first peace commissioners at Phildelphia. In 1848 he lost his wife - the choice of his youth - leaving a family of small children, to whom he was devotedly attached.
"In 1868 he located at Clear Lake, and afterward served Cerro Gordo county as school superintendent, to the entire satisfaction of all. He continued in his work with vigor and success until a few months prior to his death, when he, by reason of advanced years, was compelled to give it up.
"Mr. Allen stood out prominently as one of the noble grand men, who seemed to have come down to us, as from the past. His heart and soul was in his work, and to do good was the chief aim of his life. But this grand Christian character has passed away, and he has been gathered to his fathers, like a shock of ripened grain is gathered into the garner to await its reward.
"The deceased has left two sons and six daughters. Of the former, one is our well known townsman, Dr. [William W.] Allen, and the other, Gen. Thomas Allen, of Oshkosh, Wis., editor of the Northcrest, and for four years Secretary of that State. The daughters are excellent types of pure Christian womenhood, whose lives have been devoted to the elevation of their sex and race. One was a missionary to Jamaica for years, and another a teacher among the Freedman of the South. In fact the impress of their father's goodness waas distinctly marked in the life and character of all his children.
"The funeral services of this man - this pioneer patriot and Christian - was conducted by Rev. Mr. Adams, of Waterloo, Iowa."
[Page 646] Dr. William W. Allen located at Mason City in 1866, and began the practice of medicine. He remained at Mason City for many years,prominently identified with its growth and progress. The block known as the Dyer House is a monuement to his enterprise and industry, although to him it proved rather disastrous, financially. He was a man of much ability, energetics and an untiring worker. He died at Independence, Iowa, June 18, 1878, and was buried at the Clear Lake cemetery with Masonic honors.
[Page 912] Malcom C. Andrews came to Cerro Gordo county in 1869, and bought the northeast quarter of section 5, Owen township. Here he erected a comfortable frame house, improved his land and made this his home until his death, which occurred July 24, 1877, leaving his wife and eight children.
He was born in Middletown,
Conn., May 15, 1830. When he was quite
young his parents located in McHenry
Co., Ill., where he grew up on the farm,
receiving a common school education. He
was there married in 1855 to Phoebe D.
Bailey, born in Cambridgeshire, England.
They lived on his father's farm in McHenry Co., Ill., until 1861, when they
moved to southern Illinois, bought a farm
in Shelby county and spent the summer
there, but in the fall of the same year sold
out and returned to McHenry county,
where he remained until 1863, when he
came to Iowa. Upon arriving here he
rented a farm in Delaware county on which
he lived until he came to his home in
His children are —
George W., James B., Walter S., Richard
J., Andrew J., Nellie A., Frank, John R.,
Harriet A., (died in Illinois, aged two
[Page 828] Capt. Samuel R. Apker is a native of Lycoming Co., Penn., born July 7, 1834. Early in life he went to South Carolina, where he resided a few years with an uncle. He then went to Baraboo, Wis., and after a three years' engagement in a saw mill, he entered into mercantile business. In December, 1861, he enlisted in company H, 17th Wisconsin Volunteers. He was mustered into service as first lieutenant and a few months later was promoted to the rank of captain. In July 1863, he veteranized and was discharged at Louisville, Ky., July 14, 1865. He participated in a number of battles, among them being that at Corinth, Atlanta and the siege of Vicksburg. He marched to the sea with Sherman and was under fire in the numerous frays of that notable campaign. During his period of service he led his command in twenty-one general engagements.
Following is a reprint from a Madison paper:
The members of company H, 17th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, presented Capt. S.R. Apker with a beautiful gold watch and chain as a token of their love and esteem for him as an officer and a gentlemen.
On receiving his discharge Capt. Apker returned to Madison, and after a month's stay came to Iowa. He opened a hotel at Conover, Winnesheik county, where he did business two years. He was burned out and came to Cerro Gordo county. After a brief stay at Clear Lake and Mason City, he went to Nora Springs and managed a billiard hall four years. In 1874 he engaged in mercantile business in Plymouth in which he has since continned.
He was married in 1866 to Rosa Valley. Ralph and Maud L. are the names of their two children.
[Page 912] Garret S. Armitage, trustee of Owen township, is a farmer by vocation, and is a pioneer settler of the township where he resides. He was born in Hoosick, Rensselaer Co., N. Y., and was there brought up a farmer, and obtained a fair education at the district schools.
He was there married to Mary Randall, of Berlin. Three years after marriage he settled in Wisconsin, where he was a pioneer of Dodge county. He bought a farm in Hustisford township, improved the land and built a house. He resided there fifteen years, when he sold and located in Hampden, Columbia county. Five years later, in 1867, he came to Iowa and rented a farm near Osage until 1869, when he came to Cerro Gordo county and spent the summer of that year in the Owen House at the grove. That fall he moved on to his farm, which he purchased in 1868, in Owen township, on section 9. He made first-class improvements from the beginning. He has a comfortable house and granary and temporary outbuildings, and a large number of shade and fruit trees. He has added to his real estate at times, by purchase, until he own 440 acres of land. Mrs. Armitage died Feb. 23, 1859.
Mr. Armitage was married again, Jan. 23, 1861, to Polly Wells, a native of the province of Ontario, Canada. The family includes two children.
[Page 762] George C. Armsbury, engaged largely in real estate, is the son of Collins F. and Amanda (Boomer) Armsbury, born in Belleville, Jefferson Co., N. Y., Oct. 15, 1850. He was a member of the Hungersford Collegiate Institute in 1870, since then has been employed with his father, who is a large owner of real estate in the west as well as New York State.
He was married in June, 1879, to Ida V., a daughter of Gardner and Deziah Fowle, who died Jan. 11, 1882, leaving him one son — Alonson A. Mr. Armsbury spends some time each year in Bath township looking after the landed interests of his father here.
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