Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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1883 History of
Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties, Iowa


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 as abstract of title which runs no further.

SOURCE: History of Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties, Iowa. p. 1001. Union Publishing Co. Springfield IL. 1883.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2011



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