Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project
Union Publ. Co. Springfield IL. 1883.
"U - V - W" Biographies: Utendorfer ~ Wright
Compiled & Contributed by Susan Steveson
[Page 850] G. P. Utendorfer is the harness maker in Rockwell. He went into business here in the fall of 1876, and is the only harness marker ever in the village. He was born in Warren Co., Penn., in 1851. His parents removed to Sauk Co., Wis., when he was a child. His father, George H. Utendorfer, died in June, 1878; his mother is still living. He learned his trade at Prairie du Sac, with James Bailey. Since he came here he has built up an extensive and lucrative business, is a good workman, and possesses the confidence and respect of the community.
His wife was Sarah Newell, a native of Pennsylvania. They have two children - Jay D. and Ada. Mr. Utendorfer is also a breeder of thoroughbred fowls, and his yard is known as the Kirtland Poultry Yard. He has several varieties, all of which are of the best blood in the country: Plymouth Rocks, Black Cochins, Houdans, S. S. Polish, White Leghorns, New American and Hamburg. He sells eggs from these finest blood at low prices.
[Pae 958] J. H. Valentine was born in Charlton, Saratoga Co., N. Y., Sept. 6, 1821. His parents, John C. Valentine, born in New York and of German descent, and Abagail Holmes, born and reared in Scotland, were married in Saratoga Co., N. Y., where twelve children were born to them, seven of whom are living. In 1837 they removed to Onondaga county, and in 1844 to Henry Co., Ill., where they lived until 1849, going from thence to Marquette Co., Wis., where the father engaged in farming. He died in 1854. He was a member of the Episcopal Church and an heir to the Trinity church property of New York city. He was a miller, by trade, which trade J. H. also learned and followed in connection with farming.
Mrs. J. H. Valentine is a native of Columbus, Wis. They have two children - Richard, a resident of Mason City, and Lucy, wife of I. P. Whitney, of Mason City.
Mr. Valentine came to Mason City in 1860, when it was a small village and the country sparsely settled, and associated with J. C. Cowles in general merchandise, but in a year purchased his partner's interest and continued alone six years, then embarked in agricultural implements, handling Buford goods, Moline plows, Minnesota chief, etc. He is a member of the Episcopal Church, and a charter member of the Masonic Lodge at Mason City.
[Page 647] Dr. Van Dusen, a talented young physician, located at Mason City in 1875, coming from Mineral Point, Wis. His father was, and still is, a prominent physician in Mineral Point, and the young man had the promise of making his mark in the medical world. The young man became the partner of Dr. W. W. Allen and remained in Mason City about one year, when he returned to his former home.
[Page 720] Henry Van Patter was the first treasurer and recorder of Cerro Gordo county. He was elected at the organization of the county in August, 1855. Henry Van Patter came to this county when about twenty-three years of age, with his father. They settled upon a farm north of where Mason City now stands, which they improved. Henry had married a daughter of John B. Long, and shortly after his election moved to Hardin county, where he died a number of years ago. He was a man of integrity and intelligence and made many friends. Mr. Van Patter did not serve his full term as treasurer and recorder, and Charles W. Tenney was appointed to fill the vacancy. He also resigned and George Brentner served as his successor.
[Page 960] J. H. Van Wie has resided in Cerro Gordo county since 1869, and has since been engaged in following his vocation. He was born in Cayuga Co., N. Y., Jan. 24, 1844. He is son of Henry and Lavinia Van Wie. His parents went to Wisconsin in 1850, where he was reared to manhood and received a common school education. At twenty years of age he fitted himself for the duties of his present calling.
In 1862 he enlisted in the 19th Wisconsin Volunteers Co. E. He was stationed at Newbern, N. C, and was in the service twenty-three months, when he was discharged on account of illness. He returned to Wisconsin.
In the spring of 1883 he formed a partnership under the firm name of Van Wie & Kisner. He is a member of the Odd Fellows' order, and in political faith is a republican.
Mr. Van Wie was married Jan. 8, 1879, to Addie Case, a native of New York. Their three children are - Arthur, Mary and Gertie.
[Page 923] L. M. VanAuken has been a resident of Portland township since June 1, 1872. He purchased his present farm of 160 acres in 1870, and now has the same well under cultivation. He was born in Cayuga Co., N. Y., June 5,1835. His parents were Moses and Eliza Ann (Dennis) VanAuken, also natives of the Empire State.
Mr. VanAuken received a common school education, helped till the soil, and, March 12, 1857, married Mary J. Lawrence. She was born in the city of New York, being a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Crosby) Lawrence. He followed farming most of the time, although he was for a time engaged in running a hotel, and for a few years did a large life insurance business. They have had seven children, five now living - Lawrence, Elmer, Grant, Julia and Harriet. Mr. VanAuken is an active worker in the ranks of the republican party. He is a member of Cato Lodge, No. 141, of the Masonic fraternity.
[Page 716] In the fall of 1859 George Vermilya was elected county judge to succeed Mr. Church. He served until Jan. 1, 1862. During his term of office the board of supervisors were elected, taking most of the work out of the hands of the judge.
George Vermilya, a pioneer of Cerro Gordo county, settled in Falls township in 1855, where he located land on a soldier's warrant. This property is still in his possession.
Mr. Vermilya was born in Albany Co., N. Y., Jan. 14, 1822. He is a son of Joseph and Susan (Pinkney) Vermilya, natives of the Empire State. They were the parents of six sons and five daughters, eight of whom are now living. The elder Vermilya was a radical in the full sense of the term; he interested himself zealously in all temperance work, and was foremost in the organization of the first anti-slavery society in his native town.
At the age of twenty-two Mr. Vermilya, of this sketch, came west to Cook Co., Ill. He was married in 1856 to Helen, daughter of Alvah Miller, of Tioga Co., N. Y. Mr. Miller came to Cook county in 1837. Mrs. Vermilya was born in Tioga county, Aug. 29, 1831. In 1855 Mr. Vermilya came to Cerro Gordo county, making the route by stage to West Union, and coming thence on foot to Falls township. Having located his land he returned to Illinois, and the following spring moved his family, coming through in a prairie schooner with three ox and two horse teams They lived in their wagon while constructing their cabin, 11x18 feet in size. Four years later the family moved to Mason City.
In 1859 Mr. Vermilya was elected judge of Cerro Gordo county. In 1861 he was elected treasurer and recorder, holding the office for two terms, receiving $300 per year. In 1866 he settled where he now resides. Mr. and Mrs. Vermilya have two sons and three daughters - Jessie, Theron, Grace, Lida and Guerdon. Judge Vermilya owns 700 acres of land mostly well advanced in improvements.
[Page 949] Nelson Vernall was the youngest, and now the only one living, of eleven children. He came to Iowa in 1869, and bought the southeast quarter of section 25, Mason township. He has improved his land and erected the dwelling in which he now resides. He was born in Franklin Co., N. Y., in 1821. His younger days were spent in school and on the farm.
He was married Jan. 1, 1845, to Miss E. B. Waite, of Vermont, and continued to live on the farm with his parents until their death, and until 1869, when he sold the homestead and came to their present home in Iowa.
Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Vernall have three children - Herbert N., Mary S. and Charles F.
Nelson's father, John Vernall, was born in Westchester Co., N. Y. July 10, 1775. He was married Sept.28, 1797, to Sophia Sponer, and settled in Franklin Co., N. Y., where they lived until 1831, then removed to Franklin Co., Vt., and bought a farm near St. Albans where he lived till his death, July 7, 1857. His widow, who was born June 5, 1779, died June 3, 1861.
[Page 960] Horace Vinton settled in Cerro Gordo county in 1870. In company with Mr. Fitch he engaged in the sale of agricultural machinery, under the firm name of Vinton & Fitch, which soon after became Vinton, Ensign & Dougan. This business connection continued a few years, and, in 1873, Mr. Vinton bought 160 acres of land in Lime Creek township, where he lived two years and returned to Mason City.
Mr. Vinton was born Aug. 27, 1809, at Willington, Conn. His father, Seth Vinton, was one of the minute men of the Revolution, who marched from Stoughton at the Lexington alarm. The father settled in Willington in 1781, where his father and friends were located. He died at Rockville, in Vernon township, Conn., at the residence of Mr. Vinton of this sketch, aged ninety-two years. His wife, Polly (Ruder) Vinton, died in the same house in 1853.
Horace Vinton was reared on a farm and acquired a good education. At the age of twenty he left home and found employment at $10 per month in a factory. He had to buy his time paying from his wages. He bought a site and built a mill at Rockville, which is now the site of one of the largest factories in Connecticut. He remained in Rockville twenty years.
In November, 1831, he was married to Lucretia Johns. He left the land of wooden nutmegs in 1854 and settled at Rockford, Ill., where he was interested in a planing mill and sash factory. Mr. and Mrs. Vinton are members of the Congregational Church, of which he is deacon.
[Page 820] Daniel W. Walker, a teacher of the public schools of Falls township in 1883, is a native of Iowa, born in Louisa county, May 28, 1853. His early education was received in the district school and advanced by four years' schooling at Grand View Academy, from which he graduated in 1873. He completed his education at Iowa College in 1880. In the meantime he had been teaching school, commencing when he was sixteen years of age. He was at one time principal of a school in Muscatine county for four years. In 1880 he went to Union, where he was engaged as principal of the schools. Two years later he was appointed postmaster there, the same year purchasing a newspaper, the Union Star. In September of the same year he sold his paper and resigned his position as postmaster and at once came to Rock Falls, where he was engaged as principal of the schools.
In 1876 he married Amanda Jones, of Muscatine county. They have three children - Arthur, Albert and an infant. His father, John P. Walker, is a Scotchman. He came to this country when but ten years of age and settled in Illinois. In 1836 he came to Iowa, settling in Louisa county, being a pioneer settler there. His wife, whose maiden name was Rachel A. Dickey, was a native of Ohio. She died in 1880. Her husband was still living in 1883.
[Page 656] George H. Walker, M. D., was born at Rockford, Ill., Feb. 21, 1845. His parents changed their residence to Avon, Rock Co., Wis., when he was but three years old. Dr. Walker was an industrious student in the common schools and later at Durand College, where he finished his education preparatory to his medical course, which he began in the office of Dr. S. B. Van Valzah, of Durand, Ill.
He attended lectures at Rush College, in Chicago, and received his credentials from that institution, Feb. 3, 1869. He commenced the practice of his profession at Calamine, Wis., and continued there one year. He then established himself at Durand, where he practiced until 1875. In that year he went to Plymouth and opened a drug store, where he operated two years. In 1877 he sold his interest therein and has since devoted his time and energies solely to the duties of his profession, and has met with signal success.
He was married in 1872 to Adelaide A. Buffington, of Bradford Co., Penn. Dr. Walker and his wife have five children - Lillian, Raymond, Arthur, Edith and Claude.
[Pages 785-86] In 1883 Rev. J. Walker was pastor [of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Clear Lake], with the following church officers: C. B. Christian, treasurer of stewards, and T. Carter of trustees. At this date the church had 145 members, with an average attendance of 185 at its services.
Rev. J. W. Walker was born in the providence of Ontario, Canada, in 1844. In 1870 he went to the United States and preached at St. Johnsbury, Vt., but feeling the need of a better education he took a preliminary course of study at the New Hampshire Seminary. After receiving his diploma he entered the Boston University, whre he graduated with honors, in 1876. The same year he joined the New Hampshire Conference and was stationed at Amesbury, Mass. Then he filled four of the best appointments in the Conference: Keene, MEthuen and Exter. Compelled by throat troubles to leave the sea-coast, he bade farewell to the classic town of Exeter in the autumn of 1882, joined the Northwest Iowa Conference and came to Clear Lake.
Mr. Walker is an impressive and effective speaker, his sermons having the true ring, and his efforts are greatly promoting the religious growth of his present charge. A beautiful church edifice was being erected in 1883 under his pastorate.
Mrs. Walker is a native of New Hampshire and received her education at the New Hampshire Seminary and Female College. After leaving school she passed three years in active temperance work and lectured successfully throughout that State, Massachusetts and Vermont. She left that platform to become a minister's wife, entering heart and hand into the work, and is beloved everywhere.
Two little girls - Ethel and Marion - make sunshine in their home.
[Page 828] Peter Wallraff, harness maker at Plymouth, opened his shop in 1877. He commenced to learn the harness making trade when but three years of age at Cross Plains, Wis., where he served two years, then went to Milwaukee and worked one year, then went to Black Earth. His health being poor, he was obliged to leave the shop, and do outdoor work.
In 1871 he went to Kansas, where he engaged in farming, at Minneapolis, in that State, one year, then returned to Wisconsin. In 1873 he went to Minneapolis, Minn., where he found employment on the railroad. He remained there one year and returned to Wisconsin.
He was married the 24th of July, 1875, to Louisa Strums, and settled at West Mitchell, Iowa, where he worked at his trade until 1877. He came from there to Plymouth.
Mr. Wallraff is a native of Germany, born on the banks of the river Rhine. March 25, 1851. He was but three years of age when his parents came to America, and settled in Dane Co., Wis., where he was reared and educated. He is one of the tallest men in the county, measuring six feet and four and one half inches.
Mr. and Mrs. Wallraff are the parents of two children - Harry and Oscar.
[Page 840] Francis Walter, son of Nelson and Elizabeth (Allbridge) Walter, has resided on section 10 since 1861. He was born at Milton, Saratoga Co., N. Y., Sept. 27, 1823, and lived in the same county until 1861.
He was married Nov. 10, 1847, to Frances S. Tubbs, who was born Sept. 26, 1824, in Galway, Saratoga Co., N. Y.
The father and mother of Mr. Walter were also natives of that county. His grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier. Mrs. Walter's father was born in Saratoga Co., N. Y. and her mother in Windham Co., Vt. Her grandfather, John Tubbs, was one of the six men comprising the guard of general Schuyler, when, in 1781, the British commander sent out a party of tories and Indians under John W. Meyer, to capture him at his home, in Albany N. Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter have two sons. J. N. is now living in Oregon, and S. A., who finished his education at the Iowa Normal School was, in 1883, a telegraph operator in Marshall Co., Iowa.
[Page 822] George Ward, railroad contractor, is a native of Kent Co., England. While yet a boy he became interested in railroading, and at fourteen years of age was employed on one of the railroads of his own country.
He was married in 1859 to Mary Chambers, of Kent county, and the same year proceeded to the United States. He went from New York to Port Jervis, Orange county, and labored as a woodsman for a short period, and again engaged in his former capacity. He went to New Jersey in 1861 and operated a toll gate on the Colesville and Deckertown turnpike. He then bought teams and gave his attention to teaming one year.
In 1865 he came to Waterloo, Iowa, and acted as superintendent for Elwell, Couch, Glass & Co., in excavating for the foundations of their great mill. On the completion of this he took a contract from the Burlington Railroad Company, whose line was in process of building between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Following this he engaged to construct a portion of the road between Charles City and Calmar, and afterward between Mason City and Algona.
In 1870 he took a contract to build a part of the road between Mason City and Lyle. On the laying out of the town of Plymouth, he bought lots and erected the first building. In 1874 he purchased the interest of the railroad company in the town plat, and has erected several buildings. In 1881 he built his present residence.
Mr. Ward was born July 16, 1831.
[Page 879] N. W. Warren resides on section 19, on a farm purchased of E. C. Johnson, and on which he settled in 1873. He was born in Massachusetts in November, 1835. When a boy, he accompanied his parents to Rushford, Allegany Co., N. Y., where his father died. In 1853 Mr. Warren emigrated to Columbia Co., Wis., and engaged as clerk in a general store. He subsequently bent all his energies toward farming, which has occupied his attention the greater part of his life.
His wife, Olive J. Williams, was born at Rome, N. Y. They have six children - Frank, Carrie, Fred, Charles, Rosa and Myra. Mr. Warren owns 130 acres of land. In religion, he belongs to the M. E. Society.
[Page 650] Dr. S. H. Washburn located in Mason City the fall of 1878, and has since followed the practice of his profession. Dr. Washburn is of the allopathic school; is a graduate of the Detroit Medical College and has an extensive practice.
[Page 890] Daniel Watts was born in England, in 1822, and received the training and instruction required for the duties of a bailiff, general auctioneer and appraiser. He is a man of unusually fine business qualifications and exhibits the rare qualification of ambidexterity, using both hands in penmanship with equal facility. He is highly esteemed by his fellow citizens and is prominent in all public interests.
He married Mary Ann Ind, and in 1854 emigrated to Canada, where he managed a meat market and afterwards a hotel until 1863, when he engaged in farming. Two years later he came to the United States and purchased a farm in the vicinity of Milton, Wis., where he resided, in order that his children might have the advantage of good schools. His wife died Sept. 27, 1868, leaving seven children - George A., James, Henry, Daniel, Fannie, William and Sarah. Mr. Watts married his present wife, formerly Mrs. B. A. Sumner, in 1871. He came to Iowa in 1875 and settled on section 28, Lincoln township, where he now resides.
[Page 890] George A. Watts, eldest son of Daniel mand Mary Ann (Ind) Watts, was born at Bristol, England, April 26, 1849. He came to Canada with his parents and in 1865, to Wisconsin, where he followed the trade of machinist in Milwaukee and Racine and afterwards at Chicago. He became a resident of Lincoln township, in Cerro Gordo county, in 1874. He purchased unimproved land, but has now a fine residence and a farm under good improvements.
He was married in 1869 to Mary J., daughter of Thomas and Jane Giddings, of Dane Co., Wis. Mr. and Mrs. Watts have three children - George Wilbert, Harry Earl and Lavergne G.
Mr. Watts is a man of good business qualities and is highly respected as a citizen, having been honored with several offices in his township.
[Page 994] S. B. Waughtal came to Mason City, in 1866, and has pursued his vocation here. The first coal he used after establishing his business he bought at Waverly, at a cost of $50 per ton.
Mr. Waughtal was born in Fulton Co., Ill., Jan. 5, 1834. His father, Frederick Waughtal, was a native of Virginia; his mother, Catharine Baughman, was of German descent. They were married in Fulton Co., Ill., and reared six sons and three daughters. In 1827 the father went to southern Wisconsin and engaged in mining. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk War, and was in action at Gen. Stillman's defeat. In 1852 he went to Richland Co., Wis., where he remained twelve years. He made his first entry into Cerro Gordo county in 1864, and in the fall of 1868 went to Missouri, where he died in the spring of 1877. The mother is still living.
Mr. Waughtal of this sketch was raised in the mining region of southern Wisconsin. At the age of sixteen he started to California, making the trip with ox-teams, which consumed four months. He there engaged in mining nineteen months, and returned to Wisconsin.
He was married, at the age of twenty-three, to Sarah Coney, a native of Randolph Co., Ill. Mr. and Mrs. Waughtal had ten children - Bashford, George, Catharine, Zillah, Elmer, Fred, James, Sadie, Edna and Alta. Mr. Waughtal learned his trade in Richland, Co., Wis.
[Page 995] Joseph Wauninger became interested in the establishment he now owns and operates, by purchase in the fall of 1881. It was instituted October, 1879, by Samuel Northcott, and in the fall of 1881 a company was formed, consisting of Samuel Northcott, J. Wauninger and O. F. Farrer. The two last named gentlemen purchased the interest held by Mr. Northcott and continued to operate until Jan. 1, 1883, when Mr. Wauninger became sole owner. He employs four hands, his principal work being the manufacture of single buggies and light wagons. His annual manufacture aggregates thirty-five carriages and seventeen cutters. His work is guaranteed to be of a superior make and finish, selected from the best material and constructed by skilled workmen.
Mr. Wauninger was born in Austria, Oct. 28, 1854. His parents came to America when he was three years of age, settling in Kewaunee Co., Wis. His father was a farmer and a blacksmith by trade, and lost his life by a falling tree in 1866. The mother is still living at the old homestead.
Mr. Wauninger learned the trade of a blacksmith when seventeen years old, and some years later was employed by the Racine Carriage and Wagon Company. He spent four years in Milwaukee, one year at Cleveland and one in Chicago, when he returned to Racine. He is a member of the I. O. O. F.
[Page 913] W. A. Wells, one of the oldest settlers of Owen township, located on section 20, in 1871. He is engaged in a dairy, raises stock and herds cattle. He was born in Canada. Sept. 7, 1834, and when eight years of age, his parents moved to Dodge Co., Wis., and were there among the early settlers. W. A. remained there until 1865, when he came to Iowa, settling first at Osage, where he lived six years, then removing to his present home.
He was married in 1860 to Mary E. Burgess, of New York, by whom he has had six children - Hattie, Amy, Diadama, Clara, Cora, Martha and Robert E., an adopted son. Hattie was born and died in September, 1862.
[Page 958] John West, one of the early settlers of Cerro Gordo county, was born in Yorkshire, England, Dec. 3, 1825. When eleven years old his parents emigrated to America and located in Cook county, where his parents shortly after died. The subject of this sketch was then thrown upon his own resources, working by month and day as he could get work. When seventeen years old, having accumulated a little money, he attended school receiving a good liberal education.
In 1845 Mr. West was married to Mary M. Allen. She was a native of New York. By this union there were two children - A. S. West and Olive Elizabeth, who married A. J. Burlingham. She died in 1880 at the age of thirty-four.
Mr. West was the first boy who hauled water into the city of Chicago, and the first to sprinkle the streets of that city, under a contract. In 1847 he commenced grading on the N. W. plank road. He also graded the principal streets south of Randolph. In 1851 he commenced railroading, which business he has followed, principally, up to 1882. In 1854 Mr. West came to Iowa and traveled extensively over the State. In 1855 he moved his family to Portland township. During the same year he built a saw mill at Nora Springs, where he remained for two years. In 1856 he went to his farm and commenced its improvement.
In 1862 he enlisted in the 32d Iowa Volunteer Infantry, company B, and was kept principally on guard duty. He suffered much from sickness, and was confined in the hospital for many months. He was discharged at Davenport, Iowa.
Mr. West commenced life a poor boy, but by fair dealing and good management he has accumulated a fine property, and today is one of the well-to-do business men of Mason City In politics he is a republican, and while on the farm was elected as justice of the peace. He is a member of the G. A. R. and K. of P.
[Page 650] A. L. Wheeler, M. D., is a prominent member of the medical fraternity of Mason City. He was born in Huron Co., Ohio, May 5, 1851. His father, N. M. Wheeler, M. D., graduated at the Medical Department of the University of Ohio. He went to Dane Co., Wis., in 1854, where he is now engaged in practice. Dr. Wheeler, Sr., and his wife, formerly Pamelia Turner, are both natives of Litchfield Co., Conn.
Dr. Wheeler, of this sketch, went to Wisconsin with his parents when two years of age. At the age of seventeen, he studied civil engineering, but soon relinquished it for the study of medicine. In 1872-3 he attended lectures at Rush Medical College, Chicago, and was graduated in 1875. He began his practice in Sauk Co., Wis., and there remained until 1879, when he came to Mason City. He is a member of the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, and also belongs to the Medical Association of Northern Iowa. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, as also of Odd-Fellowship.
D. A. Wheeler was married Sept. 1, 1875, to Sarah A., daughter of William and Sarah (Nixon) Crow, of English extraction, but a native of Wisconsin. They have one son - Louis A. Vera E., only daughter, died Aug. 11, 1882.
[Page 634] E. S. Wheeler was born in Oregon, Ogle Co., Ill., April 5, 1858. His parents were E. R. and Harriet (Stewart) Wheeler. His mother was an early settler of Winnebago county, and his father was a pioneer of Ogle county. In Ogle county Mr. Wheeler, Sr., engaged in trade, going thence to Rockford, Ill., and later to Chicago, where he died Oct. 14, 1871.
Mr. Wheeler, of this sketch, was educated at Rockford Academy. In 1875 he entered the office of McDavid & Knight, Chicago, going to Union Law College of Chicago, in 1876, where he graduated in 1878. In October of that year he came to Nora Springs, Floyd county, and began the practice of his profession.
He came to Mason City in 1880, and the law firm of Goodykoontz, Blythe & Wheeler was established. This relation was a brief one, and in October, 1881, Mr. Wheeler entered into partnership with M. S. Schermerhorn, which was dissolved in the spring of 1882. Mr. Wheeler returned to Nora Springs and embarked in a banking enterprise.
He was married in the fall of 1879 to Chloe I., daughter of Hon. W. P. Gaylord, of Floyd county. They have two sons - Edwin G. and Arthur R. Mr. Wheeler belongs to the I. O. O. F. and Patriarchal Circle.
[Page 962] J. S. Wheeler, one of the enterprising stock men of Cerro Gordo County, was born in Madison Co., N. Y., May 15, 1821. His parents were Joseph Wheeler and Sally (Shelton) Wheeler, natives of New York State. They were married in Connecticut and emigrated to Madison Co., N. Y., where he embarked in farming. They were the parents of seven children, three sons and four daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler were ardent supporters of the Baptist Church, of which they were members. In 1855 the family went to Boone Co., Ill., near Belvidere, where Mr. Wheeler embarked in farming, and where he remained until his death, which occurred in 1859. Mrs. Wheeler died ten years later.
J. S. Wheeler, the subject of this sketch, was reared as a farmer boy, receiving his education in the common schools. In 1855 he removed to Illinois with his parents, where he became acquainted with and married Nettie Catton. In 1871 they came to Cerro Gordo county, settling in Mason City, where he has been largely engaged in shipping and raising stock. Mr. Wheeler is among the largest stock shippers and growers in northwestern Iowa. In 1883 he had 800 head of stock on his farms, his shipments amounting to 900 car loads of stock and about fifty car loads of hogs. He has 2,300 acres of land in Cerro Gordo county, valued at thirty dollars per acre; 440 acres in Benton county, valued at thirty-five dollars per acre. He has a beautiful residence in Mason City, valued at $7,000.
Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler are the parents of one child - May, wife of James E. Moore. They are members of the Baptist Church of Mason City.
[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 (Weeks) boarded with Abiel Pierce. On Dec. 22, 1855, Abbott and Wicks went to see what is now Geneseo township, eight miles distant, 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.
[Page 781] The public schools of Clear Lake are managed by the following corps of teachers: Adolphus W. Wier, superintendent and principal of the High School; Miss Clara B. Wier, grammar department; Miss Janet Duncan, intermediate; Marion Duncan, 2d primary; Florence A. Nichols, 1st primary.
Prof. Wier is a native of Prussia, where he was born in 1844. He came to the United States when thirteen years of age, and located in Grant Co., Wis. He was educated at the Normal School, at Viroqua, Vernon Co., Wis., and at Iowa College, Grinnell, where he waas a student two years.
He began teaching in 1865, and the following year came to Iowa. Since 1869 he has been continuously engaged in school work. His first term of labor in this county was at Rockwell, where he continued until the autumn of 1882, when he was appointed to his present position.
[Page 933] N. E. Willard has resided in Pleasant Valley township since 1874, and owns a tine farm of 240 acres. He is a native of Oneida Co., N. Y., born Jan. 5, 1850. His parents were Edwin and Alvira (Green field) Willard. His mother died in New York. The family removed to Delaware in 186S. He received a good common school education, and in 1874 removed to Iowa.
Dec. 23, 1874, he married Charlotte Tree, of Rockwell, born at Marble Rock, Floyd Co., Iowa. They have two children - Lillian and Mary.
[Page 855] Pastor Charles W. Willey [ca. 1871 of the Congregational Church, Rockwell] was born in Ireland, Nov. 9, 1847, educated at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He removed to Marshalltown after a year's pastorate.
[Pages 810 & 893] Ira Williams, a native of New York, came to Falls township in 1855, from Illinois. He settled on section 17, where he made a hay house and strewed hay upon the ground for a floor. In this abode he and his family lived for two years, when they built a log cabin, which at first was roofed with bark, but later by shakes. In 1859 he sold out and moved over into Lincoln. He served as a soldier in the last war, and died in Lincoln township in 1877.
His widow, now the wife of O. E. Thompson, still resides in that township.
In the winter of 1856-7 two sons of Ira Williams, Reuben and David, aged twenty and fourteen years, respectively, went over to Horace Green's, a neighbor, to water his cattle. They left homea bout 10 A. M., and owing to the extreme cold weather, they had to go up the stream in search of another place at which to water the stock. They finally succeeded in watering them, but while doing so a violent storm arose with such fury that they could not get the cattle to return, and in their attempt they themselves were lost, and compelled to remain out all night.
After wandering around some time they found a small grove, in which they took shelter, and kept on the move all night to keep from freezing to death. They finally thought the storm had abated sufficiently to admit of their venturing home, but they again soon lost their way, and were also unable to return to the clump of trees around which they had tramped so many long hours as their only refuge.
David became exhausted and Reuben gave him his left hand, keeping his right one in his pocket, as he knew the one exposed would be frozen soon, and he took the precaution to save the right hand.
In this manner they moved along not knowing whither they journeyed, keeping pace across the stormy prairies, untill the bitter night had passed away, and the sun had made its cheerful appearnce in the eastern horizon, when they found, to their astonishment, that they were near Mason City. They were overheard by two men, who were cutting wood and came to their relief, taking them on into Mason City.
Reuben could still walk, but David, very naturally, was the first to receivemedical attention, and thus waas saved from much suffering endured by Reuben, who lost his right foot, and half of the other, also a finger on his left hand. David lost a part of his right foot and two toes from the other foot.
The latter resided in Worth county in 1883, and Reuben was a resident of Minnesota.
[Page 887] H. J. Willis became the owner of 120 acres of land in Lincoln township in 1868. At the date of his purchase it was an unbroken prairie, but he has placed it under fine improvements and erected a good residence, suitable and commodious barns and other buildings. The farm now includes 190 acres.
Mr. Willis was born in Massachusetts, Aug. 18, 1821. His parents were John and Elizabeth (Newcomb) Willis. He was left fatherless at eight years of age. His mother went, in 1832, to Onondaga Co., N. Y., and five years after to Wayne Co., Ohio. In 1842 she went to McHenry Co., Ill., where she died in 1854.
At the age of fourteen Mr. Willis commenced his struggle with the world as clerk in a mercantile establishment. When he attained his majority he adopted farming as his vocation in life.
He was married in 1844 to Fannie Bun, and in 1863 came to Iowa. He first went to Winneshiek, county, where he lived two years, and then made another transfer to Richland Centre, Wis. In 1867 he returned to this State and made a brief stay in Floyd county, after which he fixed his residence in Cerro Gordo county. To general agriculture he has added stock farming, and exhibits fine samples of thoroughbreds. Mr. Willis is a leading citizen of Lincoln township, and is valued by his townsmen on account of his meritorious character. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a republican in politics.
[Page 1001] Alonzo Willson, one of the settlers of 1855, is a real estate dealer, money loaner and broker at Mason City. He came to the county prior to its organization, locating in Owen township. He came to the city in 1878. He bought land, improved it and followed farming, buying, selling and raising cattle for many years. With the benefits derived from the abundant pasturage of the prairies, and the success which always attends persistent effort, he has accumulated the capital which he has used in his present vocation since 1878.
Mr. Willson was born at Adams Center, Jefferson Co., N. Y., July 21, 1822. When he was an infant his parents moved to Ontario Co., N. Y., where he remained until he was fourteen years of age. His father, Thomas B. Willson, a native of Windham Co., Vt., born May 10,1802, removed to Jefferson Co., N. Y., at an early age, where he married Phebe Wilson, a native of Washington Co., N. Y. Thomas B. Willson was of Scotch, and his wife of English descent. They had three children, two of whom are now living. The family located at Dead Man's Grove, Coles Co, Ill., in 1835, and afterwards resided in different counties in that State. In 1855 they came to Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa, where Mr. Willson engaged in teaching school and vocal music during the winters, and mason work in summers.
Alonzo was reared on a farm, and received a fair common school education. On the 2d of February, 1845, he married Catharine Reynolds, of Edgar Co., Ill. Her parents were B. B. and Monica (Brown) Reynolds, natives of Maryland. His wife, Monica Brown, while residing in Maryland, near Beardstown, frequently saw George Washington, and well remembered some of his conversation; also knew Mr. Bliss, who then owned a portion of the land where Washington City now stands. Mr. Reynolds went to Jefferson Co.. Wis., where he died in 1871 and in 1882 his wife died at the age of ninety-eight.
Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo Willson have eight children - Alice J., Bruce A., Emma C., Buford B., Leonora A., John D. R., Mary M. and Gertrude
In 1856 Mr. Willson was elected the first justice of the peace in Owen township, and has also held several local offices of the county. In 1853, and previous to his coming to Cerro Gordo county, he took a company, of men across the plains to California, together with a drove of cattle, and there engaged in the business of supplying the miners with provisions, carrying the same with pack mules over the mountains. He also ranched in Yolo county, on Cache creek, at which place he kept his stock. Mr. Willson built the first two-story log house in Cerro Gordo county, and also yet owns the land that he entered on the 25th of June, 1855 He is one of four residents of the county who can show an abstract of title which runs no further.
[Pages 777-78] No record of the first school at Clear Lake was preserved, but it has been found by old settlers that the first school was taught by Elizabeth Gardner, in the log cabin home of Joseph HEwitt. This was also the first school in the county.
Miss Gardner had one dollar per scholar and her board. The school had an average attendance of seventeen scholars, and was taught in the summer of 1855. Miss Gardner was a daughter of Rowland Gardner, who, with six of his family, was killed by the Indians in 1857 at Spirit Lake. Miss Gardner afterward married William Wilson, of Mason City, who froze to death at that place.
[Page 895] Thomas B. Wilson, a native of Vermont, came to Iowa from LaSalle Co., Ill., and in 1855 settled on section 27 [Lime Creek Township]. He died in 1871, and his wife died in 1878. Paul Dennis, a son-in-law of Mr. Wilson, came at the same time. He first located on section 27, and afterwards removed to section 20.
[Page 891] E. S. Winans first came to Cerro Gordo county in 1855, but as he was a single man, he remained but a short time. After leaving he followed boating on the Mississippi river. In 1862 he enlisted in company C, 3rd Wisconsin, and served twenty-nine months, and was discharged on account of disability, caused by a wound received at the battle of Chancellorville.
He returned to Iowa and engaged in farming in Worth county. In 1879 he came to Cerro Gordo county, settling where he now lives in Lincoln township.
He owns 180 acres of excellent farm land. His residence was erected in 1880, and is the best in Lincoln township.
He was born in Ohio, Nov. 6, 1829. His parents were H. S. and Rachel Winans. He resided in his native State until 1854. In 1857, at Berlin, Ohio, he married Amelia Faukell. They have three children - Henry S., Edward W. and O. B.
In politics he is a republican. He served as county supervisor of Worth county. He is amember of the Masonic fraternity.
[Page 859] Charles A. Winter, a prominent agricultural and stock farmer of Grimes township, is located on the northeast quarter of section 24. His farm of 240 acres was purchased by his father in 1871, and is devoted to stock-raising The present proprietor has been a resident since March, 1880. He has added buildings to the value of $2,010. and the place is supplied with all first class facilities for the business which chiefly occupies Mr. Winter's attention. His parents, William and Sarah (Robinson) Winter, settled in Black Hawk county, coming thither from Michigan, in August, 1859.
Mr. Winter was born May 13, 1856, and grew to manhood in Black Hawk county. He was reared to the duties of an agricultural life, and was married May 31, 1876, to Ida May daughter of E. M. and Mary J. Stead, of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Their two children are deceased. Mr. Winter is a gentleman of perseverance and energy, and of upright, trustworthy character. In politics he endorses the principles of the republican party, and has served his township as trustee and treasurer.
[Page 932] Among the places which deserve special mention, is the Pleasant Valley Stock Farm, of William Winter, located on sections 33 and 34, in Pleasant Valley township. In 1878 Mr. Winter erected a house on this land, and settled on it in 1880. He has now a fine residence, good and commodious barns, extensive cattle yards, substantial fences, groves, orchards and shade trees. The farm is well watered by the West Fork, and is one of the finest stock farms in northern Iowa. Still Mr. Winter is not limited to this farm, as his real estate numbers about 1,000 acres, and his cattle ranches are located all along the valley of the West Fork, in Pleasant Valley, Grimes and Union townships. For about ten years he has been engaged in breeding shorthorned cattle, and now has a herd of 120 full blood. He also breeds Poland China hogs, and has some good blooded horses. He also herds annually about 2,000 head of stock for other parties, keeping them in five different ranches.
William Winter was born in England, Dec. 5, 1832. On the 28th day of May, 1852, he married Sarah A. Robinson, and some years later emigrated to the United States and settled at Buffalo, N. Y. They have six children - William R., Charles A., Anna M., now the wife of W. A. Kaynor, of Sanborn; George E., Lizzie A. and Frank O.
Mr. Winter spent one year in the employ of Lewis F. Allen, who is the principal breeder of blooded stock in the United States, and it was during this time that he became imbued with a desire to engage in stock raising. After leaving Mr. Allen he engaged to supply the city of Buffalo with shade trees, and followed this for two years. The trees along Niagara street toward Black Rock and other parts of the city are monuments of his work. From Buffalo Mr. Winter removed to St. Joseph Co., Mich., thence, in 1859, to Iowa, and settled near Cedar Falls where he engaged in real estate, contracting and building, and stock growing until 1873, at which time he transferred his interests to Cerro Gordo county. He is a man of excellent business qualifications, and is especially adapted to the business in which he is engaged. In politics he is a republican, but does not take much interest in politics, and is a member of the A. O. U. W.
[Page 875] James B. Wood, of the firm of Wood & Berkley, wagon makers, was born in Henry Co., Ind., Nov. 10, 1839.
He married Mary Denslow, whose father was among the first settlers of Cedar county. He died at Council Bluffs about the year 1850, while en route for California.
[Page 873] Joseph Wood was born in Fayette Co., Penn., in 1804. His parents were not possessed of much of this world's goods, and the untimely death of his father left his mother with five little children dependent upon her for support. She fulfilled this duty as best she could and kept her family together until her son Joseph was eight years old, when she was obliged to place him according to circumstances. He spent his life in this way until nearly fourteen years old, when he put into practice a resolution to test the innate manhood he believed himself to possess, and set out to meet more than half way his struggle with life.
The small pack of his possessions placed on his back was lighter than his heart, as he bade good-bye to his friends and youthful associations, and set forth for a foot journey of more than 200 miles. He had but a few shillings, and made the route with the utmost possible self-denial, eating but four meals. Reaching Perry Co., Ohio, nature succumbed; he was too nearly starved to make further progress. This was in 1817; the country was well nigh a wilderness of primeval forest, and the settlers had but little to eat save corn and the wild meat which rewarded the hunter's toil. But they divided food and hearthstone with the forlorn boy, and he resolved to rest his travel-weary feet for a time, if he could find anything to aid in self-sustaining. He engaged to work for a shoemaker for the necessaries of life, in order to learn the trade. Food, clothes and instruction ranked alike in value, but he managed to go to school for three months of the year he stayed with this man, and obtained a slight knowledge of reading and spelling. He believed the future held a better fate for him, and once more he essayed a foot journey, with his knapsack on his back. He halted at Johnstown, Licking Co., Ohio, and worked there for eight and ten dollars a month until he was twenty-four years of age.
He was married at twenty-one, and in less than three years, he was a widower with two young children to care for. His small savings were exhausted by the expenses of his wife's illness and burial, and he was forced to begin anew. After a time he again married.
At thirty-two, having saved a little money, he removed with his family to Indiana. He was frugal and industrious, and in 1855 was enabled to come to Iowa. He made his claim on section 25, township 96, range 22, about a mile from Clear Lake. The severe winter of 1856-7 discouraged him and he went to Missouri and Kansas, where he stayed about two years, when, impelled by sickness, he returned and re-occupied his claim, of which happily, he had not disposed, and here has his lot been cast.
He stands among the best citizens. The traits which characterized his independent spirit in boy hood, have made him a valuable acquisition to the community where he has spent the strength of his manhood's years. His farm is under fine improvements, stocked with horses and cattle he has abundance of small and other fruits, and in his transactions with the community he is deservedly popular and trusted.
Of a family of ten children, resulting from his second marriage, but three are living - James B., Mrs. Eunice Hayden and Mrs. Sarah Stevens, all of whom are settled near their father, and are in easy circumstances. Mrs. Catharine McKinney is a daughter of Mrs. Wood by a former marriage. Peter R. Wood, another son, laid his life upon his country's altar. He was sergeant in the 32d Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was mortally wounded at the battle of Pleasant Hill, La.
Father Wood is a fine sample of the element that forced its way into the western wilds, and hewed success from the resources of the wilderness. His history proves the folly of the times. Nearly eighty years old, his judgment is still sound, his mental and moral strength firm, and the iron resolution that cast aside the misfortunes of his youth, is still unbroken. He lives with his wife in a green old age, passing down life's western slope, flooded with a brightness reflected from his noble and well-spent life, as fresh and rosy as the halo of the dawn that blesses the world in the mornings early June.
[Page 788] Rev. R. R. Wood, Congregational clergyman, was born in Franklin Co., Vt., in 1819. In 1837 he went to Grant Co., Wis. He entered the ministry in 1842 in connection with the Rock River Conference of the Methodist Church, and labored with that body until its division, when he became a member of the Wisconsin Conference. During the period of his labors as a Methodist minister, he had the following charges: Milford circuit in the R. R. Conference, the Dundee part of the Elgin circuit, Joliet, Black River Falls, Mission, Dodgeville, Delavan, Monroe, Sylvania circuits; thence to La Crosse, and was the first presiding elder of that district. He went from there to Providence, Wis., to Lancaster and Patch Grove, in Grant county.
In 1861, feeling impelled to aid in the suppression of the rebellion that menaced the life of the Nation, he took temporary leave of the pulpit and hastened to enroll himself as a defender of the flag of a united people. He raised a company of the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry which he commanded in the field during two year's service, after which he resigned. In 1864 he raised company A, 53d Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and was its leader until the end of the war.
He then engaged in mercantile business at La Crosse, and a year later resumed the ministry as a vocation, joining the West Wisconsin Conference and receiving the appointment of Leon circuit. His next charge was that of Black River Falls, where he continued one year. In 1869 he came to Iowa and was stationed at Frankville one year, after which lie went to Burr Oak, and during the five years next succeeding interested himself in farming.
In 1876 he came to Clear Lake and served as pastor of the Congregational Church two and a half years. In June, 1878, he went to Britt, Hancock county, and in December following he organized a Congregational society there, continuing its pastor until April 18, 1883, when he again resumed ministerial relations with the church at Clear Lake.
Mrs. Wood, formerly Sarah Ann Titsworth, was born in Logan Co., Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Wood have one son and four daughters.<
[Pages 797-98] In the winter of 1869-70, the first lumber yard at Clear Lake was established by Woodford, Wheeler & Johnson. The lumber was drawn by teams from Mason City,and the business transactions were conducted by the firm as named until the retirement of Mr. Johnson in 1873. In 1879 George G. Woodford was associated with the operating parties, Woodford & Wheeler when the style became Woodford, Wheeler & Co. The firm have (sic) a very extensive lumber trade, and deal largely in coal, lime and brick. The senior partner of the original co-partnership, Truman Woodford, is a resident of Milwaukee. He is a native of New York, and went to Wisconsin about 1856. His lumber interests are extensive and cover a period of twenty-five years. Mr. Wheeler is also a non-resident, being in charge of a yard at Nora Springs.
George G. Woodford is a nephew of Truman Woodford, and son of Romanta Woodford. He was born at Tioga Co., N. Y., Oct. 19, 1834. He grew to manhood on a farm, but was engaged for many years in lumber and stock trade in his native Statte.
He came to Clear Lake in July, 1869, and purchased his present lumber interests, removing his family to this place in October following. Mrs. Woodford was born in Ontario, Co., N. Y. They have two children - Charles R. and Susie, born in Tioga Co., N. Y.
[Page 681] David Wright was the first school fund commissioner of Cerro Gordo county. He was elected on the organization of the county in August, 1855, and served until his successor was elected in April, 1856. David Wright settled on Lime creek, three or four miles north of Mason City, in 1852.
He brought his family with him and engaged in farming, also spending a good share of his time hunting. In one of his hunting trips he killed a large buffalo just west of where the fair grounds are now located.
About 1857 he sold his farm and removed to Worth county where he died a few years ago. Wright was a man of a good deal of natural ability, and had a way with him that was calculated to make friends. His education was somewhat limited.
[Page 654] J. C. Wright, M. D., entered upon the duties of a medical practitioner at Clear Lake in the spring of 1878. He was born at Lancaster, Ky., in 1851. In 1857 his parents removed to Bloomington, Ill. He came to Iowa in 1872, for three years attended the Cedar Valley Seminary, and then began the study of medicine at Osage, Mitchell county, in the office of Dr. J. E. Nichols. He attended one course of lectures at Rush Medical College, Chicago, afterward matriculating at the Medical Department of Iowa State University, Iowa City, where he graduated in 1880. He initiated his practice at Forest City, remaining there one year.
Dr Wright is a gentleman of prepossessing personal appearance, skilled in his profession, in which he is sure to rise far above mediocrity. His business is rapidly and permanently increasing, and he is making swift strides toward marked success.
Mrs. Wright, formerly Agnes McLaughlin, is a native of New York, of Scotch lineage. Dr. Wright's parents were native Kentuckians.
[Page 808] James Wright, a native of Brown Co., N. Y., came to the township in 1854, purchasing a claim on section 17, but for some reason did not prove up, but sold his claim in the fall to Lewis Mosher, and took another claim, on section 5, where he built him a cabin, broke and fenced a few acres. In the fall of 1855 he again sold to George Frederick, and in the spring of 1856 removed to Minnesota, and from there to Kansas, where he died March 18, 1859.
His widow is now the wife of John D. Massey, who lives in Rock Falls.
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