Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



History of Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties, Iowa
Union Publ. Co. Springfield IL. 1883.

"R" Biographies:  Randall ~ Russell

Compiled & Contributed by Susan Steveson

Benjamin Randall

[Page 985] Benjamin Randall came to Mason City, in 1863, and began to work at his trade, that of a builder and joiner. After some years of successful effort, in 1872 he established his present business, which has steadily increased from its inception.

He was born in Madison Co., N. Y., Nov. 21, 1837. His parents, Elisha and Betsey (Brown) Randall, were both natives of the Empire State. They died in his early youth and he was brought up by an elder sister.

He was married in 1859 to Lucy A. Smith. They had four children- Charles, William, Fred and Ida. Mrs. Randall died in 1878. She was an exemplary Christian, and a member of the M. E. Church. Mr. Randall was married in 1880 to Mrs. C. N. Crandall. He belongs to the M. E. Church, and is an esteemed citizen. By his industry and cautious management he has prospered.

Elisha Randall

[Pages 981 & 1004] Hon. Elisha Randall, builder of the first saw and grist mill at Mason City, was one of the thirty-four men who organized the county. He is a son of Elisha and Betsey (Brown) Randall, of Madison Co., N. Y. He was born Sept. 22, 1818, at Brookfield, Madison Co , N. Y., where he gained man's estate, receiving a liberal education.

In the autumn of 1854 he came to Iowa, halting a short time at Waterloo; but the following June came to Cerro Gordo county to make it his home. Soon after he came, he, in company with Samuel Douglass, of Vinton, Iowa, built the first saw mill at Mason City, and two years later, a grist mill. In 1872 he patented a lime kiln, known as Randall's Perpetual Lime Kiln, which has since been sold in all parts of the country, and from which he has received a good royalty. Mr. Randall, better known as Judge Randall, from his having been county judge of Cerro Gordo county, was the first supervisor from Mason township. He was also justice of the peace for many years. He served the county as recorder one term and has held other important offices of trust. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and has been a member of the Methodist Church since seventeen years of age. In politics he was first a whig and later a republican.

Oct. 31, 1838, he married Lucy M. York, of his native county. Mr. and Mrs. Randall have reared twelve children. At the breaking out of the rebellion Mr. Randall had no sons old enough to send to the service; but he sent three sons-in-law, one of whom was Charles H. Huntley, adjutant of the 32d Iowa, who was killed at the battle of Pleasant Hill. Judge Randall is a modest, unassuming man, with whom it is a pleasure to converse, making warm friends wherever he goes. In 1883, though sixty-five years of age, he was still in possession of all his mental and physical powers, and comfortably situated, having a beautiful home in Mason City, where he was enjoying the rewards of a well spent, active life.


The first lime burned in Cerro Gordo county was burned by Elisha Randall, by placing limestone in a brush heap. This rude lime kiln, constructed in 1855, was made to produce a small amount of lime for plastering up a chimney. Mr. Randall a little later, constructed a regular kiln and produced the first lime sold and used in the county, and continued in the business for many years. upon the completion of the railroad to Mason City, he, with the other members of what was known as the Mason City White Lime and Stone Company, burned large amounts of lime for shipment to distant parts of Iowa and Minnesota.

In 1872 Mr. Randall invented and patented what is known as Randalls Perpetual Lime Kiln, which is being adopted in nearly every part of the country, and from which he is receiving a good royalty.

Heman M. Redington

[Page 810] Heman M. Redington was a pioneer farmer of Cerro Gordo county, where he located in 1855 on section 8, Falls township. Soon after he moved to section 7, where he died in 1865.

He was born Nov. 25, 1796, in the State of New York, and was married in 1819 to Christian Aurenger, also a native of New York, born in 1799. In 1842 the family moved to Illinois, where Mr. Redington bought a farm in Boone county, where he resided until he moved to Iowa. Mrs. Redington yet survives and lives with her daughter at Rock Falls.

Two sons, Martin and William, are residents of the same village. The first was the pioneer blacksmith of the town. A daughter, Clarissa Redington, was married in 1854 to James Wright and settled in Falls. He died in 1859 in Kansas. His widow was married in 1863 to John D. Massy, the proprietor of the hotel at Rock Falls.

Judge Robert G. Reiniger

[Page 627] Robert G. Reiniger succeeded H. N. Brockway to the circuit judgeship. He has since been re-elected his own successor, and is the present circuit judge. Robert G. Reiniger was born in Seneca Co., Ohio, April 12, 1835, the son of Gustavus Reiniger, a farmer, who still lives in Robert's native county.

Robert prepared for college at Tiffin, near his home; entered Heidelberg College, in that city, in 1853; pursued miscellaneous studies for three years, reading law at the same time, and was admitted to the bar at that place in September, 1856. In March, 1857, he came west and located at Charles City, where he still lives.

In May, 1861, Mr. Reiniger enlisted in the State service in one of the first companies formed in the Cedar Valley; but the regiment it was designed for was full, and not until the July following did he get into the United States service, going out as first lieutenant of company B, 7th Iowa Infantry. He was promoted to captain in the spring of 1863, and served until October, 1864.

Returning to Charles City, he resumed his professional labors. On the 10th of October, 1870, he was commissioned circuit judge, and was elected and re-elected in 1871, 1872, 1876 and 1880. As a jurist, he is cautious, conscientious and candid; has his prejudices, like other men, but lays them aside on the bench, and is impartial in his decisions.

Patrick Reynolds

[Page 903] Patrick Reynolds settled in the township in 1873. He was born in Ireland in 1830. When seven years of age, his parents moved to America, settling at Toronto, Canada, where they lived seven or eight years and then moved to Wisconsin, living a year at Milwaukee, then removed to Washington county. His father purchased timber lands of the government. He assisted his father in clearing up three good farms. In 1856 his father gave him forty acres of land and he, at the same time, purchased forty acres adjoining, thus making him an eighty acre farm, which he sold in 1869, and came to Iowa, purchasing land on section 2, Lime Creek township. He returned to Wisconsin and in 1873 made another purchase of land in this township, on section 34; this time moving his family on the place. His farm is well improved and shows every mark of being cared for by a thrifty farmer.

He was married June 21, 1858, to Susan Short, a native of Carroll Co., Ohio. They were blessed with nine children - John, Eliza, Frank, Maggie, Thorn, as, Lizzie, Eddie, Ella and William. Lizzie died when two and a half years old.

James A. Rice

[Page 771] James A. Rice was born in Lake Co., Ill., March 23, 1847. He came to Floyd county with his father in 1855. The latter kept hotel for some years and afterward settled on a farm.

Mr. Rice was married in 1869 to Laura A. Quinby, a native of Vermont, born in 1851. Her parents came to Floyd county in 1858. The children are three in number - Nellie, Addie and Carl. The latter died July 30, 1883.

In 1870 Mr. Rice came to Clear Lake and began operation in omnibus and dray business, which occupied his time until his death, April 26, 1883. He belonged to the orders of Odd Fellows and United Workmen, at Clear Lake. His life was upright and industrious, he was successful in business, and his energetic, reliable character won general esteem and respect.

B. G. Richardson

[Page 884] B. G. Richardson has been a resident of Cerro Gordo county since 1860. He is a farmer and a man of fine faculties, well read, genial and courteous, and a public spirited citizen of his township. Since the date of his residence he has been continually in local office, and is now secretary of the school board, and has been justice of the peace for the last fourteen years. He is an adherent of the republican party. His parents, S. M. and Locenia Richardson, emigrated from New York to Wisconsin, and in 1860 to Cerro Gordo Co , Iowa, where they settled with their family.

Mr. Richardson was born Aug. 3, 1840, in Cortland Co., N. Y., and became a resident of Lincoln township in 1863. While a young man he was engaged summers in farming, and in teaching winters. He was married in 1863 to Eliza J., daughter of Gabriel Pence. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson have the following children - Seth G., Ida M., Ralph, Roy, Rosa, Grace and Byron P. The homestead includes 174 acres of land.

George W. Richardson

[Page 774] George W. Richardson resides on section 7, where he settled in 1877. He bought his farm of H. Dunlap and Anna Fletcher. The farm was entered by Mr. Plummer, who sold it to Orville Hubbard, who transferred it to Hugh Dunlap, of whom Mr. Richardson purchased.

Mr. Richardson was born in Jackson Co., Mich., in 1841. His father, A. C. Richardson, was a native of Alabama, N. Y. His mother, Sarah (Scripture) Richardson, was born in Massachusetts. They, however, removed from Canada to Michigan.

Mr. Richardson went to Wisconsin from Michigan and thence to Winona, Minn., where he enlisted, Aug. 15, 1862, in company D, 7th Minnesota Infantry. He served three years, or until the close of the war. His regiment spent the first year of their term of service on the frontier, fighting the Indians. They then went south and joined the 16th corps, under A. J. Smith; were at the taking of Mobile, battle of Spanish Fort, Fort Blakely and others.

On the close of the war he returned to Minnesota and in 1869 came to Cerro Gordo county, and purchased a farm in Lime Creek township, where he lived until he came to Clear Lake township.

His wife was Frances Hall, a native of Wisconsin. They have three children - Alice, born May 12, 1868; Grace, born Sept. 7, 1869; and Edith, born Dec. 25, 1871.

Seth M. Richardson

[Page 767] Seth M. Richardson, justice of the peace, received his appointment to the office in 1873, and has been its incumbent most of the time since. He entered eighty acres of land in what is now Owen township, Cerro Gordo county, in June, 1855, on which he settled permanently with his family, Sept. 18, 1860. He removed, in 1865, to Clear Lake township, where he worked at the trade of blacksmith about seven years, when he was compelled by failing health to relinquish manual labor to a great extent.

Mr. Richardson was born in Herkimer Co., N. Y., and soon after, with his mother and family, removed to Cayuga county. He was brought up in Cayuga and Cortland counties. At the age of fifteen he learned his trade, which he has followed since for forty years. In the fall of 1854 he located in Dane Co., Wis., where he lived.

His wife, formerly Locena Salisbury, was born in Cortland Co., N. Y. They are the parents of four children - Byron, a resident of Lincoln township; Phebe L , Mrs. F. M. Rogers, resides at Mason City; Carrie S. and Melirra A., Mrs. G. E. Ehle, who resides at Clear Lake.

John M. Robinson

[Page 774] John M. Robinson, a farmer on section 10, is a son of the Emerald Isle. He was born in August, 1836, and accompanied his father's family to Canada in 1840. In 1865 he came to Iowa and remained in Wright county until 1878, when he bought the property he now owns of Joseph Case.

Mrs. Robinson, formerly Martha Rowen, is a Canadian by birth. She is the happy mother of six children - Eva, William, Irwin, Ira, Edwin and Freddie. Both parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Clear Lake. Mr. Robinson's father died in Canada.

George B. Rockwell

[Page 843] George B. Rockwell, one of the representative men of Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa, came to Geneseo township in 1864, and purchased the farm of J. J. Rogers. He brought his family there in December, of that year. The farm which he purchased of Mr. Rogers was the first farm settled in what is now Geneseo township, and includes the present town plat of the village of Rockwell. Mr. Rockwell is the proprietor of the town plat, and the town was named in his honor.

He was born in the town of West Milton, Saratoga Co., N. Y., Dec. 6, 1828. When he was four years of age his parents removed to Orleans county, and when seven years old, to Erie county, same State, and settled near the village of Akron, where his father died in 1874. George B. Rockwell received a good common school education at the grammar and high school at Akron, and at the age of nineteen he commenced teaching. He taught several terms in his native State, and in 1850 went to Walworth Co., Wis., and taught school the following winter. In February, 1851, became to Allamakee Co., Iowa, where he bought land and taught during the summer of 1851, at Guttenberg, Clayton county.

He was married Aug. 31,1853, in Erie Co., N. Y., to Elizabeth Jackson, of Erie county, same State. After his marriage he returned with his wife to Allamakee county, where he owned 200 acres of land, which he soon after sold and removed to Kane Co., Ill., purchased a farm and resided there for eleven years, at which time he came to Geneseo township.

He is a man of more than ordinary ability, energetic and fearless in maintaining what he believes right as well as opposing wrong. The cause of temperance finds in him an able advocate, and intemperance a determined and unrelenting foe. To him the town of Rockwell is indebted for its exemption from saloons and the liquor traffic In early life Mr. Rockwell was a democrat, but has been a republican since the formation of that party, yet does not allow party ties to interfere with his sense of duty and justice. By choice and occupation he is a farmer. His homestead, known as Grasdale farm, contains about 600 acres, and is one of the finest in the county, and is specially adapted to the cultivation of grain and the raising of stock. He makes a specialty of shorthorn cattle, and has a number of fine specimens of that valuable class of stock. He is editor of the agricultural department of the Phonograph.

Mr. and Mrs. Rockwell have three daughters - Mary E., wife of J. A. Felthous, born in Blackberry, Illinois; Julia Ruth and Grace. The two eldest were born in Illinois and the youngest in this township. Their second child and only son, David W., was born in Illinois, where he died in infancy.

Andrew Roder

[Page 758] Andrew Roder came in 1871 and bought the southwest quarter of section 32, renting land, however, on section 34 three years, and in the meantime improving his own land, upon which he built, and in the spring of 1875 moved to it. His land is now all under cultivation, having a splendid grove, a good barn and granary and all other necessary buildings. He was born in Germany, November, 1823. He attended school until twelve years of age, after which he was employed in herding sheep.

In 1856 he came to America, landing at New York, where he spent but a few days, then going to Buffalo, where he was two years engaged in general work, thence to Dubuque county, ten miles from Dubuque City, where he farmed, and then came to Cerro Gordo county.

He was married in 1854 to Mary Friend. They have eight children living - Kate, Barbara, Maggie and Annie (twins), Mary, John, Caroline and Andrew.

F. M. Rogers

[Page 725] F. M. Rogers came to Cerro Gordo county, in 1855, with his father's family. The father, J. J. Rogers, settled at what was then called Linn Grove, but is now the village of Rockwell. They left the State of New York in the fall of 1854 and passed the winter at Warren, Ill., then the terminus of the railroad. From that point they traveled overland with a team, and sheltered themselves in their wagon until their log house, 12x18 feet, was built. The floor of this primitive residence was of the sort known as "puncheon," made of split logs. Cedar Falls was their nearest point to obtain supplies, and the first year they lived on hulled corn and potatoes. Their nearest neighbor was at Owen's Grove, and, in 1860, George A. Fuller and family came, and other families soon followed. The family was in straitened circumstances when they came to Cerro Gordo county, but industry and thrift soon placed them in comfort and afterwards in competency.

Mr. Rogers, Sr., held several official positions during his life and died, in 1871, respected and honored. The mother is still living.

Mr. Rogers, of this sketch, was born in Erie Co., N. Y., May 20, 1838. He was raised on a farm and received a common school education. He enlisted in August, 1862, in company B, 32d Iowa Volunteers, and participated in many severe engagements of the war. He was discharged at Montgomery, Ala., in July, 1865, on account of disability. After his return to Cerro Gordo county he engaged in farming.

He was married in October, 1865, to Phoebe Richardson. She was a native of New York and came to Iowa in 1860. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers have three daughters and two sons - Lloyd, Maud A., Daisy J., Ross R. and Alice C. Mr. Rogers belongs to the A. O. U. W., No. 171, and is a member of the G. A. R., No. 42.

Jarvis J. Rogers

[Page 838] Jarvis J. Rogers was the first settler of the township. He settled on section 3, May 2, 1855, where he made claim to 160 acres of land, but when the land came into market it was purchased by other parties, of whom Mr. Rogers purchased. He and his family occupied this tract for nine and one half years and sold to George B. Rockwell. Mr. Rogers built a log house on the land, near where the residence of Mr. Rockwell afterward stood. This was the first house built in what was afterward Geneseo township, the ruins of which still were to be seen in 1883. In 1864 Mr. Rogers bought the farm of Mrs. George Fuller, where he resided at the time of his death.

Jarvis J. Rogers was born on Long Island in 1812, where he lived till he was twenty years of age when he removed with his parents to Erie Co., N. Y. Here he was married to Nancy Green, born on Long Island, but afterwards removed with her parents to Erie county. Mr. Rogers was brought up on a farm and followed farming during his life. He was one of the well known farmers of this county.

He died Sept. 1, 1871. His widow resides in section 10, on the farm her husband purchased after he sold his original homestead to Mr. Rockwell. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers had eight children, three of whom are living - Anna, Francis, of Mason City, and Mary E. The homestead farm where Mrs. Rogers and her daughter, Anna, resides, contains about 300 acres of land.

Howard W. Rood

[Page 932] Howard W. Rood came in 1873, and is engaged in stock farming, having an excellent farm of 280 acres. He was born in Dane Co., Wis., July 20, 1849. His parents, Abram and Elizabeth (Baker) Rood, still reside there.

He received a good education, attending the State University, at Madison. He farmed and taught until 1870, then spent eighteen months in Nebraska, when he returned to Wisconsin. In 1872 he came to Iowa and purchased eighty acres of his present home, then returned to his native State. He came to Iowa in 1873 and commenced improving and enlarging his farm.

He married Nettie E., a daughter of W. E. Thompson, July 21, 1874. They have two children - Arthur and Ida May. Mr. Rood is a republican in politics, and has held various offices of trust. They are members of the M. E. Church.

E. J. Rosecrans

[Page 726] E. J. Rosecrans was elected sheriff in 1879, and re-elected in 1881. E. J. Rosecrans, sheriff of Cerro Gordo county, was born in Delaware Co., Ohio, Feb. 22, 1849. His parents, M. P. and Lucy (Green) Rosecrans, emigrated to Hancock Co., Iowa, in 1850, where they were pioneers, settling there prior to the organization of the county. Mr. Rosecrans received a liberal education in his youth. In 1871 he was appointed deputy sheriff under W. B. Stillson and served one year. In the fall of 1879 he was elected sheriff and re-elected in the fall of 1881.

He was married Oct. 19, 1876, to Jennie B., daughter of James Spears, born in Carroll, Ohio, Feb. 6, 1858. Mr. Rosecrans is a member of the Masonic order and Knights of Pythias. He has been a resident of Cerro Gordo county since 1866, and has seen the growth and advance of northwestern Iowa from its almost unpeopled state to its present prosperity and development.

M. P. Rosecrans

[Pages 640 & 673-74] M. P. Rosecrans was born in Delaware Co., Ohio, March 28, 1822. His parents were natives of Pennsylvania. He received a solid common school education and spent a year at Kenyon College, where he was a schoolmate of Rutherford B. Hayes, now ex-President of the United States. Before he attained his majority, he served an apprenticeship as carpenter and builder, and worked at the trade some years.

In 1841 he went to Burlington, Iowa, then the capital of the territory. After a brief delay he proceeded to Washington county, then the extreme frontier of civilization. He returned the next year to Ohio, and in 1844 was married to a lady of Pennsylvania origin, Lucy A. Green.

In 1849 he returned to Iowa with his family, locating at Sigourney, the county seat of Keokuk county, where he remained until 1855. In that year he fixed his residence at Alden, Hardin county, where he entered upon the practice of law, and was the first attorney at that place. He had fitted himself for the duties of the profession amid the labors and cares of a life of more than ordinary activity. Two years later he went to Hancock county, and was regularly admitted to the bar at Eldora, Hardin county, Sept. 28, 1857. Having purchased a farm in Hancock county, he varied his professional duties with those peculiar to agriculture.

In June, 1858, he was elected county judge, being the first incumbent of that office in the county where he resided, and during eight successive years continued to discharge the duties of that position. Oct. 21, 1863, he was admitted to practice in the United States circuit court, Judge Love presiding. In 1866 he resigned his official position as judge of Hancock county and removed to Clear Lake, where he operated in general merchandise, purchasing the business interests of Tuttle & Goodwin, the sole establishment of the kind in the place. His transactions in trade covered a period of nearly two years. In the spring of 1872 he purchased the Cedar Lake Observer, and conducted that journal on independent principles about six months.

A notable fact connected with the experience of Judge Rosecrans as a journalist is, that the printing press used in publishing the Observer, was the one used by Lovejoy at Alton, Ill., and which was thrown into the Mississippi river by a mob of Missourians, who, in this characteristic manner, essayed to enforce southern principles.

Judge Rosecrans was, in early manhood, an adherent to the tenets of the democratic party, but when the integrity of the Union was assailed by the same element that destroyed Lovejoy's press and attempted to throttle the inherent liberties of every soul north of dixie, there was with him but one issue, the United States, one and inseparable, and he hurled every influence and power he possessed into the breach, devoting all his energies to the Union cause. Since the close of that terrific struggle he has been entirely independent in political principles, believing it the duty of all men to base their actions and convictions on a conscientious understanding of public measures, and he has twice consented to become the standard bearer of a forlorn hope, acting under the promptings of an honest heart and a self-sacrificing nature. He has twice been a candidate for the legislature on the independent ticket. He is also liberal in religious views, holding as sacred the privilege of men to be bound by no creed that hampers freedom of opinion. Judge Rosecrans is too well known in Cerro Gordo county to need the tributes of a casual observer. But these records are made in the interests of coming generations, and it is incumbent upon the local historian to put his claims upon their grateful consideration in no uncertain terms.

His life has been characterized by honesty. His integrity is stainless, and his record without a flaw. The versatility of his abilities has prevented his making a splendid career in a single direction, while his public spirit and devotion to general progress has precluded his giving much attention to individual emoluments. The construction of forensic bodies and the manipulations of the shystering element of the day, interfere very materially with the success of such as recognize the claims of justice from innate principles based upon the higher law.

Six, of seven children born to Judge Rosecrans, are living. Charles, eldest son, enlisted in the 32d Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and died while in service at Washington hospital, Memphis, Tenn.; Edgar J., second son, is acting sheriff of Cerro Gordo county; Juliet, eldest daughter, is now Mrs. G. G. Pritchard; Alice C, is the wife of George F. McDowell, M. D.; Flora is Mrs. Dr. Z. C. Green, of Belmond, Wright county; Harry M, is serving as deputy sheriff of this county; William, youngest son, is at Little Missouri, D. T.

The judge now resides in Clear Lake, in a comfortable, pleasant home, the result of his own labor; owes no man in the wide world one cent, and has held the office of treasurer of the incorporate town of Clear Lake for ten years in succession without opposition.

By Hon. M. P. Rosecrans.

"We found the country a wild and uncultivated wilderness, but a little more than a quarter of a century ago. The prairies were covered with buffalo, elk and deer; the timber and bushy portion held the wild boar, panther and lynx. The lake was covered with wild fowl such as swans, geese, pelican and ducks, while its clear placid water was full of the finny tribe. In fact this was a hunter's paradise. This wild and uncultivated savage, withhis canoe on the water in the moonlight glided from shore to shore, and whispered into the ear of some Indian maiden the tale of his burning passion - how he would take her to be the keeper of his humble wigwam, and let her raise the corn for him, cook his buffalo meat and venison, and do for him all his drudgery, while he, her lord, would smoke his pipe in the council of the braves, and there boast of his warlike deeds. Such, we say, was the state of the country but twenty-nine years ago, a time within the memory of our middle-aged men and women. There were no farms, no mills, no postoffices, no printing presses, no shops, no machinery. The settler lived in an humble cabin, without floor in many cases. Corn was pounded in wooden mortars, and wild meat with this was their only food. Winters were cold, snows deep, and the communicaiton in many instancs cut off.

"Now note the change!

"The lake is still there, its brigh and silvery water at sunset and sunrise reflecting the rays of light cast upon its surface; over it the steamer glides in stately pride, her decks adorned with the beauty and fasion of th southern and eastern cities, as well as the beauty and fashion of our own vicinity, while all over its surface may be seen the flutter of the white sail, as the boat to which it is attached scuds before the wind, bearing the white and civilized lover, who whispers in the ear of his fair obe the tale of the home he has prepared, where are books, pictures, music; where flowers bloom, and where he desires to carry his lovely and attentive listener. The shore of thd lake is still here, lined with pebbles and lashed by the waves as of old, but minus many a carnelian and moss agate, taken from thence to be placed in the cabinet of the geological student, or under the hands and skill of the workman, to adorn the breast or the finger of beauty and fashion while moving in the gas light in the mansion of wealth and refinement. The timber that line its banks still looms up darkly to the eye of the traveler as he crosses our broad and fertile prairies, save what has been destroyed by our settlers in making their improvements, but the bear that once roamed in its cool shades have all gone. The scream of the panther no more frightens the settler. This scream has been superseded by the shrill whistle of the locomotive or engine in the mills. The lynx and wild cat have been superseded by the Maltses or domestic cat. In the place of the wolf may be heard the barking of the mastiff and spaniel. Buffalo, deer and elk are no more seen on our prairies, but their places are filled by lowing herds of cattle, by horses and mules, while at sunset may be heard the bleat of sheep mingled with the merry song of the husbandman. The wild grass of the prairie has been, in great measure, changed to the fragrant clover and waving fields of golden grain. The rough, uncultured backwoodsman, clothed in his humble garb of skins, has been chaned into the cultivated and refined gentlemen of leisure who sports his gold watch, chain and rings. His old coon skin cap is replaced by a hat of the latest style, shining and glistening in the sun. Where water only was drank, now may be found the costliest wines and most delicious beverages. We say all this change has taken place - and more than this. We now have roads and bridges, schools and school houses, societies and church edifices, railroads and telegraphs, taxes and tax collectors. The old cabin of the settler has long since been torn down and superseded by the palatial mansion. Where once all was rough and uncouth, now may be seen beauty and refinement, harmony and order."

Judge George W. Ruddick

[Page 626] In the fall of 1870 George W. Ruddick, of Waverly, was elected judge of the twelfth judicial district, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge Fairfield. Judge Ruddick has been three times re-elected and still holds that position.

George W. Ruddick was born in Sullivan Co., N. Y., May 13, 1835. Until fourteen years of age he remained at home upon his father's farm, his time being spent alternately at work and in attendance at the district school. On leaving home he went to Chester, Ohio, where he attended a seminary for one year. He then went to Kingsville, Ohio, where he remained two years, then removed to Monticello, N. Y. After remaining in Monticello one year, he entered the law office of A. C. Niven, reading law with him two years and a half.

In the fall of 1855 he entered the Albany Law School, graduating therefrom in April, 1856. He was then admitted to the bar. In July, 1856, he started west, and on the 18th of August, 1856, arrived at Waverly, Bremer Co., Iowa. He at once entered upon the practice of his profession, and still makes Waverly his home. Judge Ruddick is a man of fine legal ability, with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the law, and has made an acceptable judge.

William A. Rugg

[Page 672] William A. Rugg, editor and proprietor of the Phonograph, was a native of Winnebago Co., Ill., born in 1854. He was brought up on a farm, where he remained until of age. He came to Iowa in 1875, lived in Floyd county, at Rockford, for two or three years, and removed to Rockwell in 1879, and at once became connected with the Phonograph. He is a good writer, well educated and posted, and is popular among all classes.

Duncan Rule

[Page 725] Duncan Rule was elected clerk of court in 1880, and re-elected two years later. The term which he is now serving will expire Jan. 1, 1885. Duncan Rule, clerk of court, was born in Dodge county, near Fox Lake, Feb. 19, 1856. His parents, James and Mary Rule, were of Scotch descent and the father was a farmer. Duncan was raised on the farm until fourteen, receiving a fair common school education, and afterward spent three years at the Iowa State University.

In 1881 he married Huldah Thompson, daughter of James Thompson, of Mason City. She was born in 1856. Mr. Rule is a staunch republican, and a hard worker for his party. He was one of the charter members of the Mason City Lodge, K. of P. Mrs. Rule is a member of the Baptist Church. Mr. Rule is now serving his second term as clerk of court. He makes an efficient, accommodating and satisfactory official.

James Rule

[Page 722] In 1873 James Rule was elected county treasurer, and being re-elected in 1875 and 1877 served six years. He is now vice-president of the Mason City Bank. He came to Cerro Gordo county in 1864, and worked on a farm summers and taught school winters. He became a resident of Mason City in 1868, commenced mason work, and in 1870 was appointed deputy treasurer of the county. He was elected to the office of treasurer in 1873 and re-elected in 1875 and 1877. In 1880 he formed his present business relations with Emsley and Denison in the City Bank.

Mr. Rule was born in Greene Lake Co., Wis., June 11, 1846. His parents, James and Mary (Cameron) Rule, were natives of Scotland, and came to the United States in 1844, locating at Fox Lake, Wis. The father engaged in agriculture. Mr. Rule acquired his education there, and when about sixteen years of age enlisted and went to St. Louis, where he was rejected on account of his youth. Mr. Rule was determined not to return home, and the officials finally assigned him to a position in the ordnance department, second division army of the frontier, under Gen. Herron, where he served about six months, and, on receiving his discharge, returned to Wisconsin.

In 1871 he was married to Jennie Gale. They have two sons-Arthur L. and Vernie H. Mr. Rule belongs to the Masonic Order, Chapter and Commandery.

John Russell

[Pages 895 & 965] John Russell has been a resident of Iowa since 1853. In that year he came to Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa, to enter land, and in 1855 moved his family, settling in Lime Creek township. He came to this county in company with David and Edward Wright. He built a log cabin in which his household resided a few years. It had a shed roof and no floor, and the fire place extended across one end of the building.

In common with pioneer testimony, both Mr. and Mrs. Russell say they never experienced happier days than there, when everybody tried to make the best of everything. The nearest trading post was Independence, 150 miles distant, a trip to which, made with an ox team, occupied two weeks, and the family left behind were in a region infested with Indians. Mr. Russell walked to Des Moines to enter his land, carrying with him $4,000 to enter land for other parties. The houses on the route were few and far between, and Mr. Russell had several times to sleep in the brushwood.

He was born in Westmoreland Co., Penn., Feb. 15, 1809. His father, John Russell, was a native of Scotland and emigrated to America early in life, with his parents. The grandfather of Mr. Russell was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and died at the age of 104 years. His father was a pioneer of Ohio, and he received his first rudimentary education in a log school house in the Buckeye State, which building was lighted through an aperture cut in the logs and shaded by greased paper. Slabs were used for floor and seats.

Mr. Russell was married in 1831 to Matilda Ferguson. Her father was a native of England and her mother of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Russell was born in Ohio. She became the mother of ten children. Four of her sons were soldiers for the Union, and two gave their lives defending their flag. Following is the list -McCollum, of Polk Co., Oregon; Harrison P., Jacob, Joseph A., deceased; Elizabeth, deceased; William, died near Vicksburg; Emily, wife of Dr. Harris; Sarah O., Mrs. Thomas Hodges, and Samantha.

~ ~ ~ ~

In 1855 John Russell came to Cerro Gordo county, removing from Jackson Co., Iowa, with seven or eight yoke of oxen, and at the same time bringing about forty head of cattle. When he arrived in the county he purchased more stock, thus increasing his herd to over sixty head. The following winter, 1855-6, was very severe and as his stock was not properly sheltered over forty head perished in the storms.

Mr. Russell first settled in the timber near Lime creek in a log cabin 20x32 feet. It was covered with the fashionable roofing of that day, shakes, which was made by himself. This spacious cabin had a wide doorway so as to admit a yoke of yearling steers, with which he used to haul large logs into the cabin to be burned in the fire-place. In 1856 he came to Lime Creek township and settled on section 30; one year later he removed to section 29. He now resides in Mason City.

John J. Russell

[Page 895] John J. Russell is the son of John and Matilda (Ferguson) Russell, pioneers of Cerro Gordo county. He was born in Knox Co., Ohio, Nov. 5, 1838. His parents became residents of Iowa, and he reached man's estate under the personal care and guidance of his father.

In October, 1861, Mr. Russell made the cause of the Union his own, by enlisting in the 14th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. His command went to Fort Randall, Dakota. In 1864 he was transferred to the 41st Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and later to the 7th Iowa Cavalry. He received an honorable discharge Oct. 31, 1864, and returned to his home. In 1867 he located upon the farm he has since occupied, on the northwest quarter of section 33, in Lime Creek township.

He was married in 1866 to Miss Hartshorn, of DeKalb Co., Ill. William Arthur, Hester H., Charity, Mary E., Nannie, Julia and Bettie are the names of their seven promising children. Mr. Russell has been several times chosen by the votes of his townsmen to fill offices of trust, and is the present assessor.



  • Return to 1883 Biography Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Biography Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


    © Copyright 1996-
    Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
    All rights Reserved.