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Gideon Gardner
New Hampton
DEACON GARDNER, as he is called through Chickasaw county, is a native of Massachusetts, and was born in P1ainfield, Hampshire county, on the 23d of February, 1807, his parents being Benjamin and Molly Tirrill Gardner. His father, the youngest of seven brothers, carried a musket during the strife for independence. The head of the Gardner family came over in the Mayflower, and Governor Gardner, of Massachusetts, was one of his descendants. William Gardner, an uncle of Gideon, was aid-de-camp to General Washington.
Benjamin Gardner was a farmer, and Gideon was raised in the calling, remaining in Massachusetts until 1831, working awhile in Pittsfield at the mason's trade. In the year just mentioned he came as far west as Ohio, halting in the town of Chester, Geauga county, working at his trade and teaching music. Three years later he went to Medina county, laid brick in the summer and taught music schools in the winter, carrying on a farm, buying wool and dealing in stock also part of the time. He spent three years as merchant in Chatham, Medina county, and in 1854 immigrated to Grinnell, Iowa. There he aided in laying out the town, founding the college and organizing the Congregational Church, at which time he was chosen deacon. He remained there two years, tilling land part of the time, and managing a store for another man, and in the autumn of 1856 made a permanent location at New Hampton. He was the original proprietor of most the present site of this little city, surveyed and platted it, there being less than half a dozen families here then. It is a beautiful spot for a prairie town, and is blooming like a rose as we write this sketch in the summer of 1877.
In July 1861 Mr. Gardner went into the army as captain of company B, 7th Iowa Infantry, and was discharged in September, 1862, on account of age and disability, serving as major when left the regiment.
While in Medina county, Ohio, he was assessor of the county two years, and during his early residence at New Hampton was justice of the peace for sometime; was chairman of the county board of supervisors for a number of years, and has been mayor of the city one term.
Mr. Gardner was originally a whig, then a freesoiler, and latterly has been a republican. He has been a member of the church forty-five years; helped to organize the New Hampton Congregational Church, and was its first deacon. His Christian character has never been questioned; his life is a model of the purest religious type, and has been a power in keeping up the moral tone of the place.
In 1827 Miss Naomi Parker, of Plainfield, Massachusetts, became his wife, and she is living still, a moderately healthy old lady, with treasures enough on earth to make her comfortable, and treasures enough in heaven to make her happy. They have had three children, none of whom are now living but one son, Weston D., who is married, his wife being Harriet Lyon, of Medina county, Ohio. They have four children. The son resides in New Hampton; kept the Gardner House several years, and is like his father, a much respected citizen.
Deacon Gardner has entered on his seventy-first year, yet never stood more erect. He is six feet and two inches tall, well-built, and a fine specimen of manhood. He has married grandchildren who venerate his name, as also do the citizens generally, for his unblemished and useful life.

Source: Iowa Biographical Dictionary, 1878, page 226.
Transcribed By Mike Peterson

Edward P. Greeley
Many of the men who may well be called the fathers of thriving young cities west of the Mississippi river are still in their prime and enjoying the fruits of their early privation and toil. Twenty or twenty-five years ago, coming from the east and selecting a home in the wilderness, they made the first important improvements and gathered around them other enterprising men, and in a few years found themselves the center of small but lively and constantly growing towns. Of such men is Edward P. Greeley, who for twenty-one years has been a resident of Nashua, Chickasaw county, where he settled in March, 1856, at which time not more than half-a-dozen families resided there. The town was then known as Woodbridge, so called for Enoch D. Woodbridge, who was the pioneer settler. Mr. Greeley changed the name to Nashua, he being a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, where he was born on the 27th of February, 1833. He is a son of Colonel Joseph Greeley, a prominent citizen of that city. The maiden name of his mother was Hannah Thornton, a granddaughter of the signer of the "Declaration of Independence" of that name. His paternal grandfather was among the first to enlist in the war for freedom from the British yoke, and was wounded at the battle of.Bunker Hill.
The subject of this sketch spent his youth in school and at farming on the old homestead. At sixteen he went to Boston, Massachusetts, and after being nearly six years in the commission house of Parker, Wilder and Co., came to Iowa, as before mentioned. He built the first store in Nashua, and spent one year in trade. He then bought the waterpower on the Cedar river at this point, of Woodbridge and Sample, and milling has since been his principal business. In 1862 he put up a merchant mill, with granite foundation and frame above—a substantial structure, with four run of stone and a capacity for two hundred thousand barrels of flour per annum. This marked an epoch in the history of Nashua, making it a rallying point for business, and guaranteeing for the place more than simply "a local habitation and a name.' Mr. Greeley early saw that the Cedar valley must, at a not very remote day, have a railroad, so he set a civil engineer to work to survey the route, and a few years afterward, in 1868, he enjoyed the pleasure of hearing the rumbling of cars rushing into town. .
With the exception of the work he did in getting a railroad to this point, Mr. Greeley has attended exclusively to his milling business, never holding a political office. He seems to be contented with being a first-class miller and the leading builder of a beautiful little city. While we write he has a brick dwelling-house and two or three stores under way, and nearly every year has witnessed his enterprise in this direction. .
Mr. Greeley lives in a Gothic frame house on a rise of land overlooking the city from the west side, with a profusion of shrubbery, shade trees and other attractive surroundings,— the finest residence in this immediate section of the Cedar valley. .
In politics, he is an independent or liberal republican, and liberal also in his religious sentiments. .
The wife of Mr. Greeley was Miss Mary A. Roby, of Nashua, New Hampshire; married on the 12th of May, 1859; she is the mother of three children, only two of them living. The varied qualifications of his wife make her an ornament and a general favorite in society. .
At the celebration of our national independence, in 1877, at Nashua, Mr. Greeley was president of the day, and in the opening speech indulged in the following reminiscences of the "day of small things" in that now thriving young city: .

"The multitude here assembled demonstrates your continued appreciation of this great day, the anniversary of our nation's birth. The first celebration of this kind in Nashua happened twenty-one years ago, when the town was without form or even a street, and when there was not a completed frame building to he seen. Two log palaces and a few slab villas constituted the abode of her people. The few settlers up and down the Cedar joined the villagers and marched behind the fife and drum to Highland Grove, situated on the bluff or bank of the river, where a stand and seats were rudely constructed. The late Deacon Woodbridge officiated as president of the day, and the late Elder Babcock as chaplain. Hon. Moses Conger delivered an eloquent oration and I read the Declaration. The office of marshal was filled by Andrew Sample, and it required every other man present to fill the rest of the offices."

Source: Iowa Biographical Dictionary, 1878, page 256.
Transcribed By Mike Peterson


Ingeborg Maria (Mamie) Vaala was born August 18, 1879, the daughter of Ingeborg Maria (Mary) Munson and Alf Oleson Vaala. Mamie lived in a log cabin for six years before the large farmhouse was constructed in 1885. Alfheim (Alf' s home) farm was one of the first farms settled in Utica Township, Chickasaw County, and is so noted in the historical atlas.

The barn standing today is the third barn as a result of green hay fires. Electricity came to the farm in 1942, which meant a refrigerator, electric milking machine and other additional conveniences. While there was no electricity until 1942, there was running water in both house and barn in 1917. A tank in the attic held water caught from rain, and water pumped (by hand) from a well in the basement.

Mamie attended what is now Northern Iowa University at Cedar Falls and taught high school at Britt, Iowa. Mamie married Hans Grimso from Calmar (a native of Norway) on September 10, 1910. They lived on the Alf Vaala farm at Saude, and did not have a family.

All her life, Mamie was a faithful member of the Lutheran Church where she enjoyed singing in the choir (Hans was the director), and playing the organ. Mamie was also an outstanding gardener and enjoyed giving away the vegetables and strawberries, which her grandchildren would later love.

Three-year-old Halvor Roy Munson (son of Alfred) came to live with Mamie, Hans and her mother, Mary, 1911, after his mother died. Halvor took over the farm chores after Hans died in 1933, and Mamie adopted him in 1934. He married Ardis Johnson in 1935, and continued to live on the farm giving her four grandchildren. Mamie remained active in management of the Holstein dairy herd until into her 80's.

Mamie died at Saude July 27, 1966 at age 86. She was buried beside Hans in the Saude Lutheran Church cemetery.

Written by Carol Munson Graham
Contributed by Jim Johnson, October 2009

Harrison Gurley
New Hampton
The Gurleys of whom Harrison is a descendant were from Scotland, the original settler in this country coming over at an early day and locating at Northampton, Massachusetts. Roger Gurley, the father of Harrison, was a mechanic and farmer, and resided in Mansfield, Tolland county, Connecticut, where the son was born on the 14th of January, 1815. The maiden name of his mother was Pamelia Bicknell. His father was a captain of militia in the war of 1812-15, the youngest child in a large family. At fifteen years of age Harrison commenced a commercial life by entering a store at Willimantic, Windham county, having previously been educated in common and select schools. With the exception of one winter, when he taught school, he was a salesman and bookkeeper until 1840, when he went into business for himself at Hartford, in company with Charles Boswell, and afterward with Homer Hastings. After a few rears the latter firm dissolved, and Mr. Gurley continued the mercantile business in the same place until he removed to Iowa in 1855. In the autumn of that year he landed at Grinnell with a stock of goods and opened the first clothing store in that place. In October, 1856, he moved his stock to Chickasaw county and bought the first building, a log hut, ever put up on the site of New Hampton. It stood directly in the middle of the street between where the Gardner or Dixon House and his second store now stand. There were not more than half-a-dozen buildings, huts and all, on the site of the town. This humble log building Mr. Gurley used one year for store and dwelling house. It was afterward used for a postoffice, school-house and church, and was torn down only a few years ago. Mr. Gurley bought about thirty acres of land, which is now the southern part of the city plat, Gideon Gardner having purchased forty acres of the land on the north side. The next year Mr. Gurley erected a two-story building, which was used by him seventeen or eighteen years as a store, and part of which, at an early day, was used for a dwelling house. A county court was held in it before it was completed, and for a short time the county offices were in the front room on the second floor.
...Mrs. Gurley taught the first school in New Hampton, and had nine or ten pupils, taking them into her own house, in the winter of 1857-58.
...During the first winter in Chickasaw county Mr. Gurley had occasion to pass back and forth on foot between Bradford and New Hampton. The snow was very deep, and on one or two occasions he came very near perishing from exhaustion and cold.
...During the eighteen years that Mr. Gurley was a merchant at New Hampton he owned and cultivated more or less land. He still has a farm of two hundred and ten acres, one mile northwest of town, under fine improvement, and has done his full share to develop the agricultural wealth of the county. As a merchant, he was a straightforward dealer, and at an early day commanded the trade for eight or ten miles around.
...In May, 1876, in connection with other parties, he opened the Bank of New Hampton, a savings institution, of which he is the president, and which, under his direction, is quite prosperous.
...Mr. Gurley has been a very active member of the school board for a long time;.was influential in getting a railroad to New Hampton, and is vigilant in looking after every interest of the city and county. He has been a member of the Congregational church about forty years and an officer of the same no inconsiderable part of the time. He was one of the founders of the New Hampton Church. His influence in every respect is healthful, and the high moral tone of this young city is owing in a large measure to such men as Mr. Gurley, Deacon Gideon Gardner and Captain Powers.
...Mr. Gurley is very liberal; was originally an antislavery whig, and then and now a republican.
...His wife was Miss Isabella Hamilton, of Canaan, New York. They were married on the 10th of September, 1846, and have had three children. Only one of them, Royal Harrison, aged sixteen, is living. He is receiving a good education.

Source: Iowa Biographical Dictionary, 1878, page 684.
Transcribed By Mike Peterson


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