Later life

Chapter 3

Return to home – – cradling grain and general work – – driving team to Acheson Kansas – – Farming, running threshing machine – –clerking in store – – getting badly frightened – – moved to Dallas County, Iowa – – trade for land – – chopping rare road ties in cordwood – – mille explosion – – buying oxen – – breaking prairie and brushed flatland – – handling a large plow, with many yoke of oxen – – cupids work – – engaged in mercantile business – – financial loss in 73 – – new brick store – – Postmaster and County commissioners – – employees – – trades another Dls – – move to Nebraska – – banking and farming – – visit Comrade Ashford – – Bank burglarized – – politics and press comments – – death of wife vanished – children living – – religious views – – travels and conclusion

    Again I take up the general routine of farm life. It was harvest time. There had been  much rain during the summer, and water stood in many wheat fields on low ground. Some ground was so miry that the wheat cannot be cut with the machine. I did my first and last cradling grain that harvest on father’s farm. Some time in September that fall, father was married to Mrs. Nancy Harris. She had two sons, Jefferson and Winfield, age about 10 and 12 years. To their union was born one.daughter Ginevra, who is now the wife of Mr. Charles Johnston living at Columbus City, Iowa. Father died in 1894; his wife died in 1912. Harvest over, brother Mifflin and a man named Cleeland bought a threshing machine. I  hired to them to go with the machine at $1.25 per day. We finished threshing about the last of November. Cleeland had been to Kansas that summer and taken a homestead near Atchison. He was wanting to move there, but when it was coming on and he had a family, they do not want to take them overland. He offered to pay my expenses if I would drive his team through with a load of household goods. I was anxious to get some kind of employment for the winner, and all kinds reports were in circulation of work and

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high wages to be had in Kansas and Missouri. So I accepted Cleveland’s offer I left home the last November with his team and wagon heavily loaded. December 3 I was overtaken in Ringgold County by a heavy snow storm. From that time on I made slow headway, as the snow was 10 or 12 inches deep and the weather very cold. I finally reached Maryville on Saturday night and stayed over Sunday with my old friend and comrade Jake Ashford. Monday morning I pushed on toward St. Joseph. The day before I arrived there a farmer was taking a load of corn to town to sell, when he was attacked by robbers, killed and late under a bridge, and his team, wagon and corn taken to St. Joseph and sold. When I heard that, it made me nervous, as I was alone with a fine team of horses and wagon. Leaving St. Joseph, I On the east side of the river, expecting to reach Atchison at night, that the snow being deep I made slow progress. I got within about 4 miles of Acheson, when night came on, and being in heavy timber in deep snow I was unable to follow the main road. I finally came to a log cabin in an open field of a few acres. Tab Here I stopped to see if I could stay all night. At the house I found two women regular Missourians. I asked if they would keep me overnight, explaining that I was a stranger, and unacquainted with the road, and it would be impossible for me to reach Atchison at night. After considerable insisting, they reluctantly agreed to keep me. I put the horses in a long smokehouse near the cabin, and went in the house, seating myself near an open fireplace. There seemed to be no man about the house. I had been sitting there but a short time when I heard stamping on the step of the front porch. Presently the door opened and in sprang two very large black Newfoundland dogs, the largest I had ever saw. They ran up to me and commenced smelling around. In a moment a large man with long black hair came in the door. He had two Navy revolvers and a large knife strapped on him and a gun in his hand. For a moment I thought my time had come. The man noticing me said “Good evening” he then proceeded to take off his army equipments. Seating himself beside me, his first question was “Where are you from?” I replied “Iowa”. “You are a northern man then”, he said. I said “yes.” Then he said “You’re lucky you struck the right place.” I felt better then.

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    He said “I go this way” pointing to the armament he had taken off, “for there are some fellows around here if we meet, one of us will bite the dust. I was a union man and had to leave here when the war broke out. I just returned a short time ago.” Bed time came and we occupied the same bed, with the two dogs lying across the foot. It was a nice, clear moonlight night, I could look out through the cracks between the logs of the building and see my horses. Morning came. I pushed on to Lathrup, a small town just across the river from Atchison in Missouri. The ice in the river had just frozen over. The day before I arrived there a man undertook to lead a horse across the river and the ice broke and the horse was drowned. I stayed at the hotel in Lathrop that day. The next morning Cleeland came over and we drove the team down to the river, then unhitching the horses we hitched one to the end of the wagon town and preceded to cross the river, Cleeland leading the one hitched to the wagon, I the other. Reaching the opposite bank in safety, I bid Cleeland goodbye and never saw him afterward. I could find no work there. In a few days I returned to Maryville and spent the balance of the winter doing chores for a man by the name of Jones. Early in the spring my friend Jake Ashford and two other young men and I arranged to go to Leavenworth, Kansas and hire to the government to drive freight teams across the plains to California. There was no railroad then to California. A few days before the time agreed on to start, one of the party backed out, so we all gave up the trip. Then I hired to Mr. Jones for four months at $25 a month. I cleared off two acres of ground for him in the north part of Maryville. He only had one horse. T. L. Robinson, a merchant in town, had one horse and owned 40 acres of land adjoining the town. Jones and he spliced teams and I broke up the ground I had cleared for Jones, Then I plowed and planted 20 acres of corn on the Robinson land and cultivated it. On the same land where I plowed corn, the best residences in the State normal school in Maryville now stand. Harvest time came in a man by the name of Bond from Iowa (the same man I pulled machine out of the mud for with the oxen), and his brother-in-law, W. D. Ashford bought a threshing machine and Ashford hired me to take his place with the machine. John Hall, a brother-in-law of Bond’s and I,


went to St. Joseph with teams and got the machine and hauled it to Maryville. At that time there was no railroad at Maryville. During the fall we threshed most all over Nodaway County. The jobs were small, few and far between. While threshing over on Nodaway River, about 12 miles from Maryville, Sunday came and we stayed over. There were two young ladies there. Sunday afternoon home I went walking with them. Hall afterward married the one he took walking. While threshing we found some tough places to board. One Friday evening we pulled to his backyard quite a ways from the house. I had a tip before we went it went that it was a tough place to board. We went to the house, and when passing the back door I noticed a large mud hole with some pigs in it. At the front door was a larger one with some pigs and ducks in it. A plank was laid across it to get the house. When we entered the house a woman and her daughter were preparing supper. The woman was rolling some dough on a table to make biscuit. Soon a pig weighing 50 or 60 pounds jumped in at the door. The woman told her daughter to chase it out. She ran around the room several times as it went out of the back door her mother struck it across the back with the rolling pin. Then she wiped the pin across her apron and proceeded to roll the dough. It rained that night, as usual in such places. When morning came Hall and I rode to Maryville for breakfast. Before we left we told the man “we would be back early Monday morning, for him to have his hands ready.” Monday morning we got up at three o’clock, got something to eat and were at the stack yard ready to thresh, by sun up, finished the job and left before dinner. We got through threshing and I was arranging to start to Iowa. One day Mr. Robinson, of the firm of Beale and Robinson, came to me and wanted to know if I would work for them, in the store. I told him that I knew nothing about the mercantile business. He replied that perhaps I could learn. That they were willing to take me on trial for a couple of weeks, at the end of the time, if they or I was not satisfied, I could quit. He offered me $200 for a year and board. I went into the store and stayed a year. I boarded half the time with Mr. Robinson and half with Mr. Beale. It was a good investment for me, as the experience gave me some knowledge of the

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business that proved very useful in after years. About the time I went into the store the notorious James boys and Younger brothers were starting out committing all kinds of depredations and there was much stealing and robbing going on. The county treasurer of Nodaway County had purchased a safe, in which to keep the county funds in Beale and Robinson store, as there was no bank in Maryville. I was sleeping in the store alone. During the night one night I was sleeping on the counter, with my bed under this pipe that ran from the stove in the center of the room, to the flue on the side of the wall. About midnight I was suddenly awakened by something striking me. My first thought was a robber had struck at me, with an iron instrument scraping my nose and body to my feet. I threw up my hands and screamed at the top of my voice. I presume I could’ve been heard a quarter of a mile. I was more frightened than I ever was in the Army. As I recovered from fright, I lit a lamp and found that about a yard square of plastering had broken loose above the stove pipe and fallen on me. The next summer (1867), while I was working in the store, there was an earthquake shock felt in town. It threw loose bricks off the walls of the first M.E. church, then being built.

            When my time is out in the store Mr. Robinson wanted me to remain longer. He offered to sell me an interest in the store (I had no money to buy), and wait on me if I would stay. But I had an attraction back in Iowa. So I bought a horse and rode back. One evening, when nearly dark, while riding through the timber on the Des Moines River bottom, I was badly frightened. I met two men on horseback, leading another horse. When I rode up they stopped and asked me to stop, said they wanted to look at my horse. I didn’t stop. I put it to my horse and was soon out of their sight, and within a mile reached a farmhouse, where I stayed all night.

            Brother Mifflin was married to Miss Lizzy Stillwell, the Fourth of July that summer, 1867. He had been out to Dallas County, and traded for a piece of land and was preparing to move there. He wanted me to go along. We got ready and left home about the middle of December. Mifflin, with his wife and wagon, three horses and their household goods. I rode my horse and traveled with them until near Sigourney, in Keokuk County then

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I left them and rode on. The weather was cold and stormy. After several days travel I finally arrived at my uncle Frank Wilson’s near sundown on the 21st of December. Wilson then lived about 20 miles west of Des Moines, in Dallas County, near the main Coon River, where the town of Van Meter now stands. The next morning when I got up and took in the country and the general surroundings, there was a blue boy. I would be given much to have been back in Maryville. At that time where the town of Van Meter now stands was a cornfield. A large flour mill and a steam saw mill stood on the bank of the river about a quarter of a mile from uncle’s. I don’t believe there was a half dozen other buildings to be seen. The river bottom was covered mostly with heavy timber, and the hills round was scrubby oaks and hazel brush. About a month after I arrived the saw mill blew up killing the engineer. At the time of the explosion I was chopping at a tree that stood on the bank of the river about 200 yards above the mill. Pieces of boards and brick were thrown through the tops of the trees near where I was at work. One end of the mill boiler weighing about 600 pounds was blowing past me some 50 yards and fell on the ice on the river. Several years afterwards, one spring, when the ice broke up and was running out of the river it tore a hole in the dam and washed under the North end of the mail. In less than one hour after it was discovered washing, the mill turned over into the river. At that time it happened there were about 6000 bushels of wheat, and several hundred sacks of flour in the mill. Most of the flour was gotten out. The dam was ruined and the mill never rebuilt.

            Mifflin and his wife arrived at Wilson’s a few days after I did. He rented a small house that stood near the where the M. E. church now stands in Van Meter. Then I made my home with him. It was while chopping stove wood near this house, a short time afterward, that I first saw Miss Ruth A. Clayton, who afterward became my wife. She and a lady friend passed along the road. In a short time I traded a horse, saddle and bridle to a man named Schaffer for his equity and 40 acres of land adjoining brother Mifflin, near Van meter. As part of the contract I was to break out 40 acres adjoining mine, for the Wilson; also to build a half mile fence, made split rails and

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nailed to the posts and assume payment of the note given by Schaffer of $150. Then Mifflin and I went into the timber and began chopping railroad ties and cord wood, calling them to the C. R, I. and P. Railroad, then building from Des Moines to Council Bluffs. In the meantime we cut logs and hauled them to Adell, 8 miles, to have them sawed for a frame for Mifflin’s house.

    When spring came, Mifflin built his house, then we moved into it. His land was not  broke out. Early in the spring I bot two yoke of oxen. I heard of a party living near Mitchell’s mill, who had cattle to sell. One day I rode up there and met the man about a half mile from home with two yoke going to the timber for wood. I had never met him before. I asked him if the cattle were for sale. He said he would sell them if he could get his price. I ask is price. He said $240 for the two yoke. One yoke was three, the other four years old. I told him I only had $140, if he would take that and wait on me for the balance till January first. I would take the cattle. He took the offer and some chances for the balance of these money. I took the cattle home with me and used them to haul the logs from the timber to build my fence. A short time afterward Mifflin and I bought two more yoke of cattle. About the 10th of May, we began breaking prairie, or rather brush land, with four yoke of cattle. We broke out the 40 that I had agreed to break and some for Mifflin and other parties that summer. On the fourth of July, 1868, the first Traina passenger cars on the C. R. I. and P. Railroad ran into Van Meter. A celebration was held in a grove on the south side of the river about a half mile below the town. I borrowed $.25 to attend the celebration. I met Ms. Clayton there and ate dinner with her and her folks. During harvest time I bound wheat for the neighbors. That fall I went with a threshing machine about three weeks. Then I build a shed for my cattle and prepared feed for the winner. I also husked corn for the neighbors and worked part of the winter chopping in the timber. The last of December I made a trip to Louisa County, got two horses and rode one to Van Meter, leading the other. When spring came brother Taylor bought Mifflin’s interest in the cattle, then he and I went in partnership. We bought another yoke of cattle, that may decide you. Early in May, we began breaking on my land and had about 10 acres broke but Mr. Van meter came to us

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one day and wanted to know what we would take for one team and outfit and come and break for him. He lived about 2 miles from us. I told him that I must break mine first. Then he wanted to know what we would take after breaking mine. He had almost 80 acres, mostly heavy brush, and small timber, to break. He said that he would buy our team at a reasonable price and pay us a darn half each a day to run it for him. Taylor and I talked the matter over a short time and finally told him that we would take $700 for the outfit after breaking mine. He took us up. Paid us $300 cash, the balance when we went to work for him. We finished breaking mine about the middle of June, then went to work for Van meter. At that time Van meter was running to breaking files with seven yoke on each team. He had a plow made-to-order especially for plowing out brush and grubs. It was the largest plow I ever saw. It weighed over 600 pounds.

    The beam was 6 x 8 inches and 12 feet long. The landslide was 6 feet, with share 5 feet long. Mr. Van Meter said he wanted Taylor and me to run the large plow and for us to pick out for his best yoke of cattle and put with the team we sold him. We did so. That made nine yoke for each plow, and one poor yoke extra he turned on grass. We began work and at times would pull that large plow in between stumps, until it would take three euro to pull it back out. Sometimes we would stall, then we would double-team, that made 18 yoke of cattle .1 plow. Hence I claim the distinction of handling the largest plow and pulling more yoke of oxen on it than any man in the sta okay te of Iowa, or Nebraska, except brother Taylor. One day in the afternoon, while at work here, there was a totally eclipse of the sun (1869) and the oxen all stopped and looked scared. While breaking near the railroad, a special train, with silver mounted engine, carrying President U.S. Grant and party, passed by. They had been attending a celebration of the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad at Ogden, Utah. It was said at the time, the president drove gold spike connecting the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. I am doubtful despite being there now. Harvest came and we couldn’t work for Van meter. During harvest I helped the neighbors. I remember binding week for Mr. A. Golden; he paid me a $1.75 a day, which was the most I

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ever got for such work. Brother Enoch afterward (1874), married his daughter Alice

; they now own and live on the farm. Harvest being over, I worked at other jobs into a corner asking time. In September Taylor rented a farm near Van meter, then he and I batched until in October, when Taylor married Miss Elizabeth Hunt. “Lib,” we always called her. The wedding took place at miscounts uncle Jackson Wilson, who had lived near Hanover, Iowa. This Clayton and I attended the wedding. Father Jennings was also there. Then we had three in the family. Taylor and I went havers in furnishing and his wife did the cooking and washing for her part. Of necessity, we were quite economical in our living. I have no account of the expenses that have recently been informed that our average expense per week was $.75 each. That would hardly get a “square” meal these days specially on a dining car. We didn’t use “diners” in those days.

            Early that spring (1869) I bought a span of young horses of Simeon Clayton, paying $250 for them. I bought a wagon and husked corn by the bushel that fall and winter. Before I get through husking there came a deep snow. Then I used a sled. I was husking for William Hofstott and finished on Christmas Day. It was very cold. I pulled the tongue out of my sled and froze my fingers getting it back in. The latter part of that winter I worked some in the timber and hauled cord would to the railroad. The next spring I began farming for myself. I sowed 10 acres of wheat on my land and put the balance to corn. The land was broke Gurley the year before in the summer being very wet roads inside did not rot well, so the weeds took most of the wheat and the corn was poor. When harvest came I had but little to cut.

And Taylor had a fair crop. I help them and others through harvest. Then I put up some hay for myself and help the neighbors and striking.

The Part Cupid Played in My Life.

          To tell this part of my story I return to the time we came to Iowa. The year before we came, a man by the name of Joshua Marshall came from Ohio, and settled about 2 miles south of where we did. We were not acquainted in Ohio. He has a large family of children. His second child was about or named Virginia (called Jenny) she and I were born the same year.  

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            For a number of years we attended the same school. We were then both quite young and gave little attention to each other. The school district was divided. Then we did not associate together for a number of years. In the meantime Miss Marshall went to make her home with an uncle who lived about 9 miles from where we did. During the summer and fall of 1862 the war excitement ran high through that part of the country and many public meetings were held. One Saturday a meeting was held in the woods about a mile from our house and by chance Miss Marshall and I met there. She went home with a lady cousin of mine who lived near us and took supper. That night we all went to a writing school in the neighborhood. I accompanied Miss Marshall home. From that time until I went to the Army we met quite often at church, singing school and other social gatherings. While in the Army we corresponded. When I came home we met each other several times, until I went to Missouri in November ‘65. Again we corresponded the two years I was gone. When I returned Miss Marshall was again making her home with her uncle. I called on her twice, the last time I told her that I was going to the west part of the state with my brother does try and find a home. I suggested the idea of her going too. She replied that “she did not want to leave her folks.” I told her that “I was going but would be back in a year or so.” We continued to correspond in till I returned the latter part of December, ‘ 68. I called on her again and during the meeting I asked her “if she made up her mind to go west?” To which she again replied that she did not like to leave her folks, but that she might change her mind. I told her that I cannot think of coming back there to live. We separated in quick corresponding. I returned to Van meter. Miss Clayton and I had been going together more or less since our first acquaintance. I had been frank, telling her that I had a lady friend back home with whom I was corresponding. About the time I came to Van Meter a good Templars Lodge was organized. The meetings were held in a small schoolhouse that stood on the corner of Simeon Clayton’s land, about a quarter of a mile south of where the town of Van Meter now stands. I joined the order. It and the G. A. R. organization are the only secret societies I ever belonged to. The night I was submitted to the Lodge Miss

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Clayton read the ritual service. I accompanied her home from the meeting. From that time we went together quite frequently. Late in the fall of ‘ 68 Miss Clayton went back to her old home in Indiana to visit relatives and friends. On my return to Van Meter I wrote her the result of my trip back home. When St. Valentine’s Day came I bot the nicest valentine I could find in Van Meter and sent it to her. She kept it to the day of her death. From that time on, we corresponded until she returned home about the first of April,’ 69. She taught school that summer and winter and the next summer. In May 1970 we were engaged. The coming Fourth of July, a celebration was held in Van Meter. The states were represented by ladies and gentlemen on horseback. If Clayton and I represented Iowa and rode the head of the procession. I’ve always thought that was on the happiest days of her life. I don’t believe that the Fourth of July ever passed while she lived, but what she made mention of that event. About the first of September, to my great surprise, I received a letter from Ms. Marshall, stating it she made up her mind to come west. It was too late then. She afterward married a man by the name of Allen, and lived Atlantic, Iowa she died about three months after my wife. Some three years prior to her death, I was passing through at Lanigan called on her. Neither would have recognized the other. When she saw me crossing the street, coming toward her house, she said to her daughter she believed that was Will Jennings. “What made you think so?” I asked “By your walk,” she said hence I can conclude that I must have a very peculiar walked to be remembered by one for over 40 years.

            October 4, 1870, Miss Rose A. Clayton and I were married. It was a double wedding. Ruth’s sister Lou being married to Mr. .E. A. Trueblood. I have many times said that my wedding day was the best day’ s work I ever did. After our marriage we make a trip in a wagon, to Louisa County to visit my people and relatives. On our return we brought a cousin of mine Milton Jennings, orphan boy, with this. He made his home with us that Wenner and went to school, and work for me next summer. We began housekeeping in the kitchen of the house where brother Taylor was living. The room was about 12 to 18 feet

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            Our furniture consisted principally of cook stove and a few cooking utensils, a homemade cupboard, table and three wooden chairs and a bed, with no carpet on the floor. That would be considered a pretty hard start by most young people these days. While we had but little ready money we had plenty to eat and wear and were happy and contented and got along fine with our neighbors. Taylor’s wife and Ruth’s were fast friends from first acquaintance. I believe there are but few people who enjoy each other’s company more than they did. Lib has told me since Ruth died, that in all their social relations extending over 40 years that nothing ever occurred tomorrow their friendship. I spent most of that winter in the timber cutting logs and hauling them to the sawmill, to build me a house, and getting up wood for the summer. The fall before I was elected assessor of Van meter Township. In the spring I did the assessing for which I received a little over $60. In the latter part of winter I traded my team of horses for a span of mules. About the first of April 1 one-day brother mesclun came to me and said that he was thinking of going to Kansas and take a homestead, but if I would read his place he would go. That proposition just suited me as I did not have money enough without borrowing to build a house on my land. So I rented his place and we moved there. Before Mifflin started Kansas, I traded my mules to him for his horses. As I now remember, I gave him $25 to boot, and in the trade my wife had a silver watch that we put in at 12 or $15. I believe there was a clock in the deal in some way that we got. I bought two young horses, then rigged up two teams and my cousin and I began farming. We had walking stirring plows, double shovel one horse corn plows and a wooden harrow. We put out about 30 acres of spring wheat and 40 acres of corn and raised a good crop

        Sometime during the month of June, one day while plowing corn a Mr. Semans came to  see me and wanted to buy the 80, that was my 40 and brother Mifflin’s 40. Mifflin had written me to sell his land, if I could, as he had taken a homestead in Kansas. So Semans and I made a deal. He gave me $25 per acre and I agreed to give possession September 1st.

            July 9, 1871, our first child was born. To our union 12 children were born as follows: Mary E., Johnny S. and his

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twin sister Anna V. Rosa B., W. H. Jr., Edith L., Lula R., Amy M. and Herman B., in Iowa; Milton M. and Beulah in Nebraska. Johnny S. died in his sixth year, his twin sister at birth. Amy M. died in her 12th year. Lulu R. Died in her 19th year.

             I raised my corncob crop, then harvested my wheat, threshed and sold 600 bushels at $.90 a bushel. The first of September was coming on and we were yet undecided as to what to do. I wanted to engage in the mercantile business, but my wife had always lived on a farm and she did not like the idea of going to town to live. I proposed that I would go to Kansas and look at the country and she could go home to her people until I returned. But that plan was not altogether satisfactory. We finally decided that I should go into the mercantile business. I bot out a man by the name of Ellis, who was running a general store at Van Meter. I traded him my corn crop in the field at $12.50 per acre and one team and wagon on the store building and goods. My other team I traded for a small one room dwelling house and lot in town. We invoice to stalk of goods the last days of August and moved to town the first of September. We moved into a room attached to the store building. The building and stalk of goods invoiced some over $3000. I had about $800 in money. I had to give my notes for $1600 they were made payable every 60 days. The stalk was very poor and badly run down. But I went to work to win , if possible. Afterword brother Franklin clerked for me about two years. Then I employ different clerks. I had but little capital to work on. The first two years I bought most my goods in Des Moines, in small quantities. In the fall of 1873I went to Chicago and bought about $5,000 of the different lines of goods. I went in debt about $4000.

            I’d not got all my goods home when J. Cooke & Company, brokers of New York City, failed and that precipitated the panic of 1873. I had gone heavily in debt and my obligations were out to be met at certain times. Money became very scarce and hard to get. But I was determined to meet my obligations when due, if possible. I reduced prices on all my goods and made ever shift to get money. Selling some of the goods that I’d recently bought for less money than I paid for them. I met all my obligations when due, but owing to the appreciation of values,


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And having to sell my goods for the less than I paid, I lost about $1500 that year. However I did not give up. I Right on and in a short time money matters changed and I began to make some money.

            In the summer of ’73 I build an addition to the house I had traded the team for, then we moved into it. That fall my sister Ellen, then living in the Louisa County, made me a visit and stay for months. She came back in April, 1873 and made her home with us until 1877, when she was married, on Christmas day, to Mr. A. H. Trundle. In 1876 I was appointed postmaster at Van meter and received a commission signed by U. S. Grant, then president. The president postal money order system was established while I held the office. I was postmaster eight years. I imported an assistant and to clerks a part of the time. Miss Atta Nelson was my assistant for about six months. Mr. H. B. Shepard clerked for me nearly 7 years. My store building was old and my trade had increased until was it was inadequate for my trade. During the summer of 1880 I moved the old building off and build a brick building in its place. It was the first brick building in Van Meter. I saw it recently and it is still in good repair, after nearly 34 years. In 1881 I was elected one of the County commissioners of Dallas County. I served one term and refused to serve longer. In the spring of 1873, Mr. S. B. Kenworthy and I started a hardware store in a building and joining my store. My brother, Franklin, ran the business for us. We had run only a short time when I bot Kenworthy out. I continued to run it for some time, then traded it to C. W.Bogue for 120 acres of land in Jasper County. I kept the land about a year, then sold it. In 1883 Mr. Frank Hester and I bought a stock of goods from Wm. Hemphill in DeSoto. We ran the business about a year when I traded my interest to Mr. Hester for a farm about two miles south of Van Meter; I afterwards sold the land to Mr. Stephen Hester.

             In the fall of ’84 I traded a half interest in my store at Van Meter to my brother-in-law, Mr. A. H. Trindle, for 240 acres of land about 3 miles south of data import, Nebraska. The following spring, in March, I came to Davenport; I bought for my half acres of ground and built a house.

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            In May we moved from Iowa to Davenport. I still retained a half interest in the store at Van Meter. I did little that summer until fall, when I went to Iowa and to Chicago and bought a stock of goods for the winter. On my return to Davenport, the banking firm of Pratt, Andersen & Co. was organizing. I went in with them, stayed one year, acting as cashier, then sold out. In the spring of ’86 I traded my half interest in the store in Iowa to Jacob Trindle, for a quarter section of land about 5 miles south of Davenport.

            That cleared up my business transactions in Iowa. I had sold goods in Van Meter about 13 years, starting with about $1500 and getting out with about $16,000, not very much for 13 years work, but I guess about as good as any merchant has since done in the place. In the spring of 1886, Mr. J. F. Walker and I bought out Pratt, Andersen & Co., and formed the Jennings and Walker Banking Company. Shortly afterward we also started a bank and Ong, Nebraska. We continued in business about two years, then consolidated with the State Bank of Davenport. I served as cashier until the spring of 1894, when I sold out, the bank paying me a little over $20,000. The following September I organized the Jennings State Bank and built the building now occupied by the post office. While occupying this building in November, 1896, the bank was robbed. I insert an account of the robbery as given in the People’s Journal of Davenport:

            On Friday night, or rather, early Saturday morning, the Jennings State Bank, of Davenport was relieved of about $2800 in money and some watches and jewelry. Debbie is a white had placed $1700 in the bank for safe keeping. This was all taken, also about $1100 belonging to the bank, besides watches and jewelry belonging to Rev. Bollman, Lutheran minister at this place, and R. Tweed one of the businessman of the town.

            The burglars went to the blacksmith shop in secured tools to assist them in carrying out their design. Thence they preceded to the bank, making ingress through the back door, and with a sledgehammer and possibly some dynamite forced entrance to the door of the vault. They next opened the inside door of the vault, evidently without much difficulty, but it must’ve taken adepts at the business to get into the square door bank safe, which was supposed to have been

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done with glycerin, since a bobble that Lakewood was afterward found by some boys. The safe door was shattered to pieces in the safe cracked in other places. The time clocks stopped at three o’clock which evidences the fact that the safe was blown open at that time. Several persons in the town heard the explosion, but thought little of the matter are paid no attention to it. Mr. A. F. Siebrass was up early in the morning to investigate and soon discovered what had been done. He informed the W. H. Jennings, cashier of the bank, who arrived on the scene about six o’clock. The building was still filled with smoke. The news soon spread and there was great excitement and interest manifested.

            Some cards, offering rewards for the capture of the robbers, were sent over Nebraska and Kansas, giving a description of three persons who were supposed to have committed the deed. Men went out from Davenport in all directions to get some clue or trace of the thieves, the bandits contrived to elude their pursuers and reach their headquarters at Hanover, Kansas, as was afterwards discovered. They boarded the early westbound passenger which was late, passing through here about four o’clock. They stopped off at Hansen and got their breakfast, and then took the first train back over the same road and passed through here on the 9:32 train; succeeding in reaching their home in Hanover, and naturally thought they were out of danger.

            Word was sent out that two suspicious characters had taken the train at Hansen. A. S Whipple bordered the same train when it stopped in Davenport. He rode as far as Hanover and saw the two men leave the train at that place. Mr. Whipple returned home on the afternoon train and reported what he had seen.

            Mr. Jennings sent word to Hebron for the sheriff to meet him at Belvidere, Saturday night, as he intended to go to Hanover. He left here on the 10:45 train and found Chief of Police from Hastings on the train, and they were joined by deputy sheriff Enslow at Belvidere; they informed the conductor of their intentions and wanted it so arranged that they could get into Hanover without being seen. They were joined by a man

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from that place the first station this side of there. The stop was made at the station but there seemed to be no passengers from Davenport. The train pulled out made another stop a mile beyond the town, where the four men got off and were piloted by the man from Hanover to town by a circuitous route; rig was gotten ready about 3:00 a.m. and they were driven over to Washington, the county seat, a distance of 15 miles, in an hour and 15 minutes. Sheriff John Mitchell and the county attorney went with them, and they got back to Hanover about sunrise. They went to dwelling house in the edge of town where the suspects were supposed to be, and surrounded it, approaching it from opposite directions, and the arrest was made about seven o’clock Sunday morning. The prisoners were handcuffed and searched, and $1300 was found on one of them. Three men were arrested, the third party being the saloon-keeper, but having no satisfactory evidence against him he was released. A vacant house about 15 steps distant, was searched, also the saloon, but nothing worthy of notice was discovered. Mr. Jennings, not being satisfied with the search that had been made, went back to the deserted house, went through a trap door into the cellar but was unable to find anything. On leaving for home Sunday evening, for the purpose of getting requisition papers, he suggested that Chief of Police Lapinski and Deputy Sheriff Enslow make a thorough search of the vacant house, which they did, and found the jewelry and about $500 in gold and silver, which had been buried in the cellar. On Monday the saloon-keeper was arrested and confined with the others at Washington. Attorney M. S. Gray took charge of the requisition papers, Monday, carried them to Gov. Holcomb at Lincoln, thence to Topeka, Kansas were he found Gov. Morrill. From there he went to Washington arriving at that place Tuesday evening. The prisoners were taken from there to Hebron and safely lodged in jail to await the preliminary examination will which will take place tomorrow.


            The theft is committed Saturday morning a through clock; the thieves escaped into Kansas; they were pursued in arrested; requisition papers were gotten which had to be presented to the governors of both states; the prisoners were taken from Washington to Hebron; $1800 and jewelry were recovered, all done

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by 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. According to statistics this is the second instance in this part of the country within the past 10 years were burglars have been captured and any money recovered. After the prisoners were secure there were policemen and detectives from all parts of the country offering their assistance, too late, however, to be of service.

            A number of Davenport people will attend this preliminary trial at Hebron tomorrow.

            Mr. Jennings was in the chase from start to finish, traveled a distance of 251 miles by rail, 97 miles with the team and sent 41 messages.

            At the trial two of the men were convicted and sentenced to serve six years in the penitentiary. One died before his time is out. The other served his time and was reported killed about six months afterwards in a robbery in Missouri.

            I was under no legal obligation to pay Mr. White, who lost his money by robbery, and in the money recovered, but I did prorate with him according to our loss.

            This was the only loss I ever had a burger or a period the night before we left Van meter, to remove to Davenport, burglars entered the basement of the store and border panel half out of the door leading to the main room. At the time there were parties sleeping in the room. It was thought the burglars were frightened away by them. In March, 1897 we bought out the State Bank of Davenport and moved into its building, where we are doing business at present. The bank stock is owned bythe Jennings’ is of which I own a large majority. I am president in the bank, but for some time past I have not been actively engaged in the business. My son Herman is cashier of the bank, and Milton assistant. They look after the business. W. H., Jr., is cashier of the State Bank of Arnold, and Custer County in which we all own stock.

            During the fall of 1898I visited my old friend and comrade; Jake Ashford, who was still living in Nodaway County, Missouri. I found him attending a soldier’s reunion, at Quitman on the Nodaway River. Jake has done well. He’s raised a large family, owns a good farm in is making money. While attending the reunion we had our pictures taken a get together again. This picture was taken 33 years after our soldier pic-


ture at Louisville, Kentucky. A photographer was taken on the grounds and Jake suggested that we have our pictures taken. So we went in at Tant and while waiting, Jake said to me “ Will, have you got the picture we had taken together at Louisville, just before we were mustered out?” I’d replied that I had. “Well,” said Jake “ you remember we both bought new hats that day?” I said I did. “Well, sir, “ said he, “do you know that I forgot to pay for mine?” It seems a little queer what short memory some soldiers had little incidents that occurred during the war that came to their minds many years afterwards.

Political Views

            In politics I’ve always affiliated with the Republican Party, but not always approving of its acts. I was never an office seeker. I did most of my work for the other fellow. I’ve been a delegate to many county and state conventions. In 1901 I was chairman of the Thayer County delegation to the congressional convention held at Beatrice, and cast the deciding vote of the 13 delegates, nine and 4, two hundred times without change. On the 342 ballot the candidate for whom I voted, first and last, was nominated. I served two terms in the State Senate representing the twenty-third Senatorial District of Nebraska. The second term I was nominated and elected without opposition and was made president pro tem of the Senate. I had the distinction of being the only senator of that session that was elected without opposition. I was solicited to run for a third term, but due to my business affairs declined. During my second term in the Senate some of my political friends urged me to become a candidate for governor of the state, but I had more sense than to aspire to the position, for I knew that I was not qualified to fill the office. I guess some comments of the press of my work during the time I was Senator:

State Senator


            The Journal congratulates our friend, W. D. Jennings, on securing the nomination for State Senator. Mr. Jennings has long been identified as the business and social circles of damn port, it is a man of ability and strict integrity. This is the first time in history the county when the Republican Party has nominated a man outside the county seat for Senator. This



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It’s quite an honor for Davenport precinct and Mr. Jennings is a man who will carry the full strength of his party vote – People’s Journal, Davenport.


            W D. Jennings of Davenport precinct, Thayer County is in the city today looking up his chances among the people for the election to the office of State Senator. Mr. Jennings is well worthy of the honor to bestowed in the election to this office. He’s a representative man, has been a resident in this county for a score or more years and is a worthy citizen and an honored neighbor. If Mr. Jennings is elected, and we see no reason to the contrary, he will make an ideal senator, and one in which the people may place the utmost confidence. We hope he may be successful – – Carlton Leader.

             Senator Jennings, so the dealer he papers report, made a stirring speech the first week, against the creation of a special Board of pardons. He desired to leave the matter in the hands of the Governor are not burdened taxpayers by the creation of any more state boards, believing that enough pardons were already given without the aid of an additional board. – – Hebron Journal.

            We heartily in accord with Senator Jennings’ bill to abolish capital punishment the State and Nebraska. Capital punishment is a relic of the dark ages and has no place in and among civilized people. Even if her were not a relic of the past, we would not be in favor of it, because we do not believe it is either human or right. Just because the state legalizes it is no indication that one murder will atone for another. Two wrongs do not make a right and there are other means of punishment beside the taking of human life, however great the seeming provocation. We are of the opinion that capital punishment would have long since been abolished had it not been for the laws delay in bringing criminals to justice, which opened the way of many to escape altogether or be only slightly punished. Times have changed and conditions have changed so that now the guilty party who escapes his just deserts is the exception rather than the rule. – – FairBury Gazette.

            W. H.. Jennings of Davenport, was in town Wednesday, Mr. Jennings is a candidate for the nomination for State Senator, and has a good chance of getting the same. Mr. Jennings is well




Qualified to fill a position to which he aspires. He’s popular in parts of the county where he is well-known. If nominated and elected will make a Senator of whom the district may well be proud. – – Hubbell Standard.

            W. H. Jennings, State Senator from Thayer County, with permanent residents of Davenport, won his spurs in an encounter at the Senate can a chamber Saturday, in a speech delivered before that body, upon the bill to abolish capital punishment, and although the vote went against him, yet everyone praised his efforts and pronounced it the best that has ever been presented before that body. It was published in full in the Sunday State Journal, and is well worthy of your reading. – Chester Herald

            The Journal this week prints a synopsis of Senator Jennings speech on the bill to abolish capital punishment, as published in the Sunday State Journal. Mr. Jennings has been very highly complimented on his masterly effort. Many contending that he was the best speech delivered in the Senate this season.

            Thayer County should be proud of their State Senator, W. H. Jennings of Davenport. Although the majority was against him, everyone praised his effort. He said in part:

            Mr. President: the bill under consideration by the Senate at this hour, to my mind, and follows moral principles of the greatest magnitude in a republican form of government. I am not in sympathy with crime or criminals. Capital punishment, inflicted upon a criminal cannot compensate for the crime committed. If we are going to inflict punishment upon the criminal commence or assembly atrocious crimes committed, let us return to the mode of punishment practiced in the dark ages – – let us apply the scorge, the giblet and the rack. Let us hang the cul-

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prit alive upon a pole and place him on a raft, send him adrift upon the high seas for the birds and the vultures to pluck his eyes out – – let us quarter him alive and drag his mangled body through our public streets.

            If capital punishment is to be inflicted for the purpose of educating and elevating society into debt or others from committing crime, the execution that took place a few days ago within the closed walls of our penitentiary, should’ve taken place on the Capitol grounds in the whole population invited to attend. Who knows the surrounding aggravated conditions that actuated the man to take the life of his wife and mother-in-law, by enforcement of your law and the execution of Batman, you have illegally cast the stigma upon his living offspring and created a spirit of revenge that time cannot efface.

            What is the object to be attained by afflicting the death penalty?

            To my mind are but two principles involved in this question.

            It must be to elevate the morals of society or to appease that revengeful spirit and man that has marked the pathway of the race in blood.

            Under our representative form of government, I am clothed with power to assist in making or unmaking laws, I feel there is a moral responsibility resting upon me from which I cannot escape..

             When I give my voice or vote in support of capital punishment I am imposing a responsibility and duty upon an officer that I would not perform myself.

            The Senator from Butler ridiculed my colleague, the Senator from Sherman, for quoting Robert Ingersoll in support of this measure.

            While I do not endorse the religious views of Ingersoll, I want to say to the Senator from Butler, to my mind, no man in this nation had a higher code of morals and Ingersoll or a better conception of government.

            A few days ago the Senate passed the bill are induced by the Senator from Butler, creating a Board of pardons. In my judgment, if the Senator desires to lessen crime and elevate society, he had better by far introduce a bill to create a Board of com-

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petent physicians to examine the mental, moral and physical condition of those court to enter the marriage relation to propagate the race.

            The Senator from Butler and the Senator from Fillmore, in support of their position, have gone back to the smoke of Sinai, they have quoted that old Mosaical doctrine “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” I want to say to the distinguished senators that they forget when God gave that wonderful law to Moses that was to govern Israel politically and religiously that the sixth article Derian says “Thou shall not kill,” that law has never been abrogated. If we are to fall back to the old Mosaical aw and custom, to establish our moral right to inflict capital punishment, then I say slavery is right and polygamy is right. But thank God, we are not living under that dispensation or that code of morals.

            Mr. Chairman, for nearly 100 years the people of this nation tried by legislative enactment to make themselves believe the slavery was right. If there is no higher principal morals to be recognized in government than was recognized by that distinguished jurist, Chief Justice Cheney in that famous Dred Scott decision when he declared that he knew no higher law than the Blue Ridge for the government of a black man, then, sir, the senators opposing this bill are in the right.

            I want to say to the senators on this floor that over 1800 years ago there was given to the world the code of morals that should enter into the principles of government as well as the lives of men. Those principles were not “an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth,” as the senators were opposing this bill are advocating. Had the principles they advocated been adopted by the reformers in the 15th and 16th centuries, I doubt if any Senator within the walls of this chamber would have had in existence today. The revengeful spirit of ambitious men in that age was to be crowned hero at the sacrifice of human life. The senators declared if this bill passes it will be a step backward. I am surprised at such a statement coming from these intelligent gentleman. Why, servers, you only to go back in the history of the world a little over a hundred years and you will find that the Penal Code of England come contained 156 acts for which men were executed. The Senator from Fillmore inter-


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rupts me to ask.” If you should you will lynchings increase?” I am not prepared to answer that question. I will say to the Senator that if he will investigate the lynching record, I believe he will find in states where the percent of illiteracy is the greatest the largest number of lynchings occur.

             The Senator from Gage asks “what are we going to do with these degenerated wretches?” I answer: So amend your law and constitution that criminals sentenced to life can only be pardoned by an act of the legislature, then clamor for capital punishment will cease.

            Six states in this union that rank well in point of intelligence have already abolished this cruel torture and statistics show that crime has not increased. Let us repeal this law and for ever bury this ancient relic of ignorance and barbarism then and place Nebraska, that boasts of her intelligence, where she rightly belongs – – at the head of the progressive states of the Union – – Hebron Journal from Lincoln State Journal.

            On all questions of progressive reform, Senator Jennings took a firm stand. Concerning his work on the liquor bill, the world – Herald commented as follows:

            Senator Jennings’ bill to make the place of delivery of intoxicants the place of sale has gone to its long sleep. The bill has been carefully and intelligently pushed since its introduction, and finally reached a place near the head of the general file in the Senate. At about that time, however, the Senate sifting committee was chosen and resisted all opportunities to look the bill see daylight.

            Yesterday Senator Jennings, who is a born fighter, determined on heroic measures. He moved that the bill be advanced over the head of the sifting committee. Senator Jennings had organized in advance for this motion, which came as an entire surprise to the opponents of the bill. But some quick sharp work done by the representatives of bowl Omaha Brewers won out in the motion to advance was tabled by a vote of 20 to 10. The bill has been denounced from the beginning by its enemies as a covert attempt to place the state upon a probation basis, as under its provisions intoxicants could be shipped to no point in Nebraska unless the shipper had


A license to do business in that place. This would make it impossible, of course, to ship the liquor into a no license town.

Not Under Ancient Law

            Davenport, Nebraska., March 28. – – to the editor of the State Journal: it seems to me that many of the advocates of capital punishment are very inconsistent in their arguments and overlooked one very important fact in the taking of human life and that is the affect, ofttimes, on the wife and offspring of the victim.

            You take the life of a husband or father by law, they say. Yes, that by so doing you ostracize the wife in the child from society and for ever disgrace them, and ofttimes create a spirit of revenge that can never be eradicated.

            Then again, many of the advocates of capital punishment are willing to impose a duty, by law, on their fellow man that they are not willing to perform themselves. They say it’s alright for a share for warden of the penitentiary to hang criminals, but they don’t want to be the share for warden.

            No good citizen ought to impose an obligation, even by law, upon his fellow man that he would not willingly perform himself.

            For over 40 years I’ve been strenuously opposed to capital punishment, believing it to be morally wrong, and that no legalizing can make it right, and that crime does not increase in states that have abolished it. Let’s all admit that neither side has positive proof as to what the results would be to abolish the monster. Let’s try the experiment. Let’s get Nebraska out of the dark ages, and place her in the advance calm of Christian civilization, and if after a fair trial it is found that crime has increased, we are not under the ancient wall of the Medes and Persians, it can reinstate the wall again

            I hope the state will pass the bill to abolish this heathenish and barbaric practice. W. H. Jennings

            The Honorable W. H. Jennings, who was nominated Wednesday for float senator from this and Thayer counties, is a resident of the latter, but nevertheless has a warm place in the hearts of Jefferson County Republicans who will take special pleasure in rolling up a good big majority for him next November. He is one of the sort of politicians you can trust, and he’s usually found on the right side of all questions. During the last session of a legislative body he succeeded in getting several measures


through that are of especial interest to the people. He is successful in these own business affairs and enjoys the most perfect confidence of these friends and neighbors and Thayer County, which has been his home from the early history of the state. He is clean in his public and private life, and with such men as Mr. Jennings upon the ticket the Republicans will not have to enter the campaign on the defensive. – – Fairbury News.

            W. H. Jennings, of Devonport, will represent Thayer and Jefferson counties in the upper house of the Nebraska Legislature again this winter. The very flattering and brilliant record made by this gentleman in the last session entitles him to the very favorable consideration of this entire people. DB Cropsey of fair berry, will be the float representative –– Fairbury Gazette.

            Senator W. H. Jennings of Thayer County is now serving his second term in the Senate. He begins his second term as president pro tem. In the Legislature two years ago he is one of the most active members of the committee on finance Ways and Means. His kindly manner meeting one of the most popular members of the legislature. His private and public life is without reproach. The fusionist of Nebraska, although trying with might and main to elect a majority of the legislature, did not deem it worthwhile to nominate a candidate in his district last fall. At the election he led all other candidates on the state and county tickets and came within a few votes of having as many as were cast for President Roosevelt. The Gazette extends Senator Jennings congratulations on the honor conferred and his fellow colleagues on their excellent choice.

How Cropsey Elected Jennings

            All the credit for the election of Senator W. H. Jennings of Thayer County is credited to Representative D. B. Cropsey of Fairbury. Mr. Cropsey is float representative for Jefferson and Thayer these counties in the Senate. Senator Jennings has served one term in the Senate was so popular that the fusionist did not feel like going to the trouble of nominating a candidate to oppose him. The same is true of Mr. Cropsey, the fusionist of failing to nominate an opposing candidate. There being no opposition, it was a foregone conclusion that both candidates would be elected if they received only one vote each. On the morning of the election, soon after


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the polls opened, Senator Jennings received the following telegram:

            Fairbury Neb., Nov. 8, 1904 – – Senator W. H. Jennings Davenport Nebr. – – Congratulations; you are re-elected; I have just voted for you.

                                                                                                                         D.B. Cropsey

            If all the other electors in this district had refrained from voting, Mr. Cropsey’s vote would have been sufficient to reelect Mr. Jennings. It happened, however, Mr. Jennings received more votes in this district than any other Republican candidate, with the exception of President Roosevelt. Mr. Jennings lives in the county that has many railroad lines in going to and from the state capital he’s obliged to change cars several times. It is said his large vote is due to the fact he has changed cars at so many crossroads that he has become personally acquainted with every voter in the district. – – State Journal

            W. H. Jennings of Davenport, Thayer County, Nebraska., has been elected president pro tem of the 1905 session of the Nebraska Legislature. The people of Thayer County are rejoiced at the honor having a man who is so worthy to fill such an important position, and we are glad that Mr. Jennings is able to merit all the honors the legislature able to confer upon him. We feel to congratulate the Honorable Jennings and Thayer County, for the favorable position in which we both been placed. – Fairbury News

            During the summer of 1907, I moved my old house and built a more modern one. In October 1910, we held a family reunion of my brothers and sisters. They were all present.

            My wife had not been in good health for about two years. In July, 1912, I took her to Colorado, hoping that a change of climate might improve her health. She returned home the fifth of September, apparently somewhat improved, but soon afterward began failing very rapidly, and died September 22d. Her death was the severest mental shock I ever received and the day of her death the saddest day of my life. It has cast a cloud over life’s pathway, that I’m unable to dispel. I’m unable to find words to express a fitting tribute to her sacred memory. I can truly say that she was a noble companion, a loving and devoted wife and mother. She was never complaining or faultfinding and only seemed happy and contented with home and


its surroundings. Ours together was a happy life, indeed. To me it seems almost cruel that after we had fought life’s battles together nearly 42 years, that she should be taken. Whatever success I’ve made in life I attributed largely to her counsel and encouragement. Ruth Ann Clayton was born near Salem, Washington County, Indiana, January 7, 1847. She was the eldest of a family of eight children. Her father Simeon Clayton, was born near Roxburgh North Carolina 1810, and died in 1892. Her mother Anna White, was born near Salem Indiana in 1825, died in 1884. They were married in 1845. They belonged to the Society of Friends, and were zealous in their religious belief. They came to Iowa first in 1851, remaining three years, then returned Indiana, making the trip both ways with team in writing. In 1866 they came a second time to Iowa, this time by railroad and stage, and settled in Dallas County near Van meter, where they both died. Their son L. W. Clayton now owns and occupies a farm owned by them.

            Of my children eight are now living, Mary, married Mr. J. O. Walker in 1890, he died in 1908 – – their children are Jay, Ruth, (infant son deceased) Harald, Helen, deceased, Burdette, Mary and Ralph, Rose B. married Mr. J. E. Abbott in 1899 – – their children are Russell and Irene. W. H., Jr., married Miss Ida Amos in 1905, they have one son, Robert. Melvin M. married Miss Flora Morrison in 1912, they have one daughter, Janet. Beulah married Mr. Harry R. Ankeny in 1914. Anna V. is librarian at the State Normal School at Kearney Nebraska, where she has been employed the past nine years. Edith L is a faithful home keeper. Herman B. lives at home.

My Religious Belief

            There was a time in my life when I had serious thoughts that was my duty to interim ministry, but having a large family to support, and fully realizing my weakness in the limited knowledge I had, I failed to take up the work. Perhaps I have made a mistake in my calling. So I will have to bear the consequences.

            I never was aware that there was anything in my physical makeup or general demeanor that should lead others to think that I was a minister, but several times in my life, when among

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the strangers I have been asked if I were a minister. I was raised a Baptist, that is to say, my father and mother were consistent members of the Baptist Church. Among my early recollection of events that transpired, was when they were baptized. I was not present. But I recollect seeing the minister, Reverend v Wharton baptized them; he came to our house that day for dinner. Brother Alvin’s middle name was for that this man. From the time I was almost read the Bible and form my own opinions I never could agree with the Baptist doctrine. Yet I cannot help believing that father and mother were sincere in their religious belief, and were just devoted Christians. I can best express my views on the subject of water baptism by inserting here the view of Dr. Collier:

            Various are the views held by scholars respecting baptism. In Christ’s time, when a pagan became a Jew, he was baptized, in token that his old paganism was washed away and he became the possessor of a new faith and the citizen of a new and spiritual kingdom. Christ never baptized, but the Christian Church took over the Jewish form and adopted it as a symbol of Christian conversion and dedication. I regard baptism, then, as simply a symbolic rite which is used to express either the dedication by an adult of himself to God, or the dedication of parents of their children to God. In either case the final effect of this baptism depends on the seriousness and sincerity of the dedication, and the dedication may be made, as it has been by Quakers, without baptism; and if it’s sincere and serious is no less vital for their company by baptism or not. The direction of Christ to his disciples to go into all the world, baptizing in the name of the father and of the son of the Holy Spirit, I regard, not as the creation of a new right, nor as a command rendering obligatory a peculiar ceremony, but as an authority for the use of an old right with the new significance and in a new spirit.

            My church relation has been with the United Brethren and Methodist. Not from choice, but for convenience. When I was married, my wife was a member of the friends Church, and I have little doubt that had we lived where we couldn’t attend services in that society that she would have remained a member


of that church during her life. Perhaps I’m too liberal in my religious creed. I place no bar on any intelligent individuals conscientious conviction of his religious duty. But I believe of a truth that “God is no respecter of persons.” But “in every nation and he that fear of him and worked with righteousness is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34 – 35, regardless of church or creed. While I do not believe that church membership is a condition to salvation, yet for the moral effect and good of society, I believe that all men and women should belong to some church organization and strive to live the life of the lowly Nazarene.

            From early life I’ve been unable to harmonize the doctrine of total depravity, as usually taught and generally believed. This may be due in part to my early environment. For my earliest recollection of knowing right from wrong, I am unable to tell the time when I did not feel it was my duty to do right. By some means or in some mysterious way I have always lived under some moral restraint. In saying this I would not be understood as claiming to avoids done right. No, but what I did wrong, I did it in violation of moral restraint!

            My time has been too much taken up with business affairs to do much traveling. Yet I’ve been in a large majority of the states of the Union. In 1893 I attended the World’s Fair at Chicago. My daughter Anna and son William accompanied me. My wife and I made a trip to the Pacific coast in 1894, visiting at Los Angeles and attending the Mid-Winter Fair at San Francisco. At the time we also went to Salem, Oregon and visited friends and then to Portland to see my wife’s sister, Mrs. Trueblood. We returned by way of often in Salt Lake City. We attended the Omaha exposition in 1898 and made frequent visits to different states. Our last long trip was to the Seattle exposition in 1906. We went by way of Billings, Wyoming and Spokane and returned by way of Portland, Salem, Oregon, Salt Lake, Colorado Springs and Denver.

    During this last summer, 1913, in company with my daughters Edith and Beulah, we took a trip east, going by way of Chicago to Detroit, to Buffalo in Niagara Falls. From there to Lewistown by rail, than by boat to Toronto. From there by boat to Montréal, thence by rail to Rouse’s Point, then by boat down

W. H. Jennings Family 

Back Row: Anna, Mary, Herman, William, Rosa, and Edith

Front Row: W. H., Beula, Lulu, Melvin and Ruth

This photo is from my files but is identical to the one in the book but of better quality.

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Lake Champlain to Lake George and to Albany, N. Y. From there to Boston, or we spent several days, taking in Lexington, Concorde and Bunker Hill and other points of interest in revolutionary days. Then to fall river where we took the boat to New York City. We viewed the great metropolis, visiting her recite park and general US Grant’s tomb. In a glass case in his tune we sell the battle flag of the 15th Iowa Regiment, with the names of all the battles through which it passed calmly inscribed across it. We made a side trip up the Hudson and West Point. From there to Philadelphia where we viewed the old Continental Congress Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed; and other points of interest. From there to Washington, D.C., visited the Capitol and White House and the different U.S. buildings. I could see there had been quite a change in the city and its surrounding since the day I rode up Pennsylvania Avenue, as a soldier in 1865. We attended the reunion at the battlefield of Gettysburg, visited Mt. Vernon, the home and burial place of George Washington. Were also at Arlington Heights, the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, now a national Cemetery, where lie buried many of the soldiers and sailors and noted generals of the Civil War. At this cemetery I stood by the monument, erected by the Iowa brigade at the grave of General Beltnap.

            The past summer we made a trip to the Pacific coast, visiting Yellowstone Park, where are to be found some of nature’s most wonderful works. We also visited friends and relatives in Washington, Oregon and California. While in San Francisco we visited the Palomar exposition grounds and saw the wonderful buildings under construction, returning by way of Salt Lake. We spent some time in Colorado.

          I have always tried to live an honorable, upright life, and set an example before my children which they need not be ashamed. I’ve never formed the habit of using profane language. I never played any game of cards or gambled in any way. I’ve never used intoxicating liquors, chewed or smoked tobacco, except while in the Army at Louisville, Kentucky, I smoked a few cigars to keep the mosquitoes away. But I am glad that I’ve never formed the filthy habit.

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in all my dealings with the public for over 40 years, I’ve always tried to be honest. I wanted my word, at all times, to be just as good as my bomb, and I voice tried to make it so. On all questions affecting public morals LaVoy stood for what I believe to be right, regardless of others. But I have my faults and have made many mistakes is but human. I’ve never knowingly wronged anyone. In all my business career, I’ve not had a half a dozen suits in court. I constantly endeavored “as far as lieth in me to live peacefully with all men.” I’ve had but few quarrels, and I’m not conscious of an enemy that I could not take by the hand and wish them well. I feel that in a sense I’ve been successful, at least, beyond the average. I’ve always felt the need of a better education, believing that I could’ve been more useful to my fellow man. I never was a plunger in finance or tried to get rich quick. Perhaps I’ve been too conservative in my opportunities to accumulate great wealth. But I have no complaint to make. I am satisfied with my accumulations. I feel that unless something unforeseen happens, then I have plenty to keep me in to give my children a fair start life. I’ve raised a large family and tried to give them a fair education and teach them industry, economy, honesty and round the. How well I’ve succeeded other must judge.

            I have not written a story feeling that I’ve accomplished any great things in life are that anyone who reads it will be greatly benefited thereby. If by chance my story should be the means of helping anyone, I shall feel amply rewarded. In looking back over alive for nearly three score years and ten, and noting the wonderful changes that have taken place in this country, the development and progress that is being made, I’m led to believe that I’m crossing the stage of human action during a most wonderful period in the history of the human race.

            During my lifetime, nearly all the great labor saving machines and many other useful inventions have come into use. The slow plodding ox-cart, the stagecoach and pony express have given way to the automobile, electric streetcar in the Overland Limited train.

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            By means of the telegraph, the telephone and wireless telegraphy the world has become as one great household. In fact it would seem that as far as industrial improvements are concerned that we have about reached the climax. But if we are to judge the future developments by the pass, the flying machine is only the beginning of greater achievements.

            I have lived to witness an attempt, by traitorous hands, to destroy this grand union of states, and trample the flag of our glorious country in the dust. I have lived to see the shackles of slavery torn from over 4 million of human beings. And were it consistent with nature, and in harmony with divine will, I would rejoice to live to see the time the greatest enemy of the human race, that demon of intemperance were banished from this fair land. But notwithstanding all this wonderful progress and achievements that I have seen, from observations, and from what little information I’ve seen been able to gather from history of the conditions of society, I am ready to conclude that since the days of Adam, civilization has made a wonderful change, human nature but little.

            While closing my story there is being waged among the greater nations of Europe, the most gigantic and useless war of modern times – – if not of all time. This magnitude is seriously affecting all the industrial, commercial and financial conditions of the world. The result of the conflict will doubtless change the political map of the Eastern Hemisphere, and will entail a debt that will impoverish future generations, if not bankrupt them. If in all history there is recorded so little excuse for nations engaging in war, as that now being waged in Europe, I have no knowledge of it. For many years I’ve been strenuously opposed to the policy of our national government and continually preparing for war. I firmly believe the only way to prevent war is to stop preparing for war. General Sherman never told a greater truth when he said “war is hell.” It has been well said “had a crimson cord been fastened to the garden post of Eden and stretched to Calvary it would have marked the pathway of the human race.” From present indications it would seem that only the end of time will stop this bloody trail. I am unable to reconcile a bald man being created in the image of the divine maker, when he is most brutal and destructive

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animal of all God’s creation. Even the most ferocious beast of the forest does not prey upon and destroy its own species with the viciousness and brutality of man. The closing months of the year 1914 will doubtless marked the beginning of the most wonderful epic in the history of human race. I believe it can be truly said that “we are living, we are dwelling, in a grand and awful time.”