Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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WHEELER, J.H. Vol. II. Pp. 750-54. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910


Edward Fessenden, owner of one of the best improved farms in Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, is entitled to pioneer rank both by reason of birthright and emigration. To him belongs the distinction of being the first white child born in Sublette township, Lee county, Illinois, and he emigrated to his present location when this part of the country was nearly all wild prairie land.

Edward Fessenden was born April 4, 1839, a son of Thomas Fessenden and wife, both natives of New Hampshire, the former born in 1805, the latter, in 1804. The mother died at the age of sixty years, the father reached the ripe age of eighty-three. In their family were eleven children, of whom four are now living: George T., of Los Angeles, California; Edward; Caroline, widow of B. Dexter, of Monrovia, California; and Warren G., of Amboy, Illinois. Thomas Fessenden was a clock peddler in New Hampshire in early life, and later turned his attention to farming. In October, 1837, he left his New England home en route to Lee county, Illinois, and made the journey across the country in a wagon, bringing with him eight hundred dollars in cash. At that time he could have purchased the whole of Chicago for eight hundred dollars, as it consisted of only a few log cabins surrounded by a "frog pond. He made his home in Lee county until 1870, when he sold out, retired from active life and went to Santa Barbara, California, where he passed the rest of life and died.

On his father's frontier farm in Lee county Edward Fessenden was reared and early became familiar with all kinds of farm work as carried on in those days. A short time before reaching his majority he married and engaged in farming for himself, which he continued there for a few years, with the exception of time spent in the army. On August 13, 1862, he enlisted in Company E, Seventy-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and with his command went to the front. Eight days after they crossed the Ohio river they were in the battle of Perryville, and out of the eight hundred men composing the regiment three hundred and fifty were lost. After a year's service in the army Mr. Fessenden, on account of illness, was transferred to guard duty, and became a member of what was known as the Veteran Reserve Corps, which was stationed at Elmira and Buffalo, New York, and later at Rock Island and Chicago. Mr. Fessenden's eldest brother, George T., enlisted in the same company at the same time he did, and served until the close of the war, during which time he never missed a day, was never on the sick list, and was never wounded.

After his discharge the subject of our sketch resumed farming in Illinois, and remained there until 1886, when he came to Iowa. That year he boiight one hundred and sixty acres of his present farm in Lake township, Cerro Gordo county. Only fourteen acres had been broken, and the largest tree on the place, as he expresses it, was a wild rose bush. The following year he moved his family to the new home, landing here on the 12th of March. The household goods were brought by wagon from Mason City dviring a heavy snow storm one of the severest in many years and after the goods were unloaded and placed in the house the snow melted and the water had to be shoveled out. He had the pioneer spirit, however, and, undaunted, he went to work. Today he has two hundred and forty acres, one of the finest improved farms in the county, on which are over thirty varieties of trees and shrubs, some of which he brought here from California. For years he made a specialty of breeding fine cattle, his herd including many thoroughbred Durhams.

On February 26, 1860, Mr. Fessenden married Miss Harriet Dexter, who was born in Lee county, Illinois, April 7, 1843, and died March 17, 1898. Four children were born to them, of whom two are living: Francis D. and James II. The former, a resident of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, married Miss Anna N. Pedelty, and has four children: Manard C, Warren, Helen and Esther. James II., since his mother's death, has had charge of the home farm. He married Miss Margaret L. Hinkle, and they, too, have four children: Robert, Alta, Edward and Evelyn.

Mr. Fessenden has been a life long Republican, and is a member of C. H. Huntley Post, 6. A. R. In his religious views he has for years harmonized with the Congregational church, of which he is a worthy member and to which his good wife also belonged.

NOTE: Edward Fressenden died in Mason City on April 30, 1911. Edward and his wife Harriet were interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery, Mason City IA.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2014



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