Isaac Havens, a retired farmer and capitalist of Elkader, has made his fortune by the exercise of his qualities of industry and enterprise, as when he came to Clayton County about half a century ago he was almost entirely without means. His various ventures have almost always met with success and he has shown himself to be a good financier and sagacious in his business judgments. In public improvement and other matters relating to the general good he has always been active and has used his influence in the progress and upbuilding of Elkader, where he makes his home.
A native of the Empire State, Mr. havens was born in Steuben County, July 16, 1816, and is a son of William and Hannah (Hale) Havens. The father, who was also a native of New York, died in that state. He was a son of one of the soldiers of the Revolution, and his family comprised twelve children, of whom our subject is the fourth in order of birth. The mother, whose birth occurred in New York State, also passed away there. The early years of Isaac Havens were passed in the state of his nativity and his educaiton was obtained in the common schools.
On reaching his eighteenth year our subject started out to make his own livelihood, and believing that he could do this better in the west, he proceeded as far as Michigan, where he remained for one year. Coming further west, he arrived in Dubuque March 2, 1837, where he began mining operations, which he conducted for several years, meeting with fair success. During the years of 1841 and 1842 he ran the ferry across the Mississippi River at Dubuque. It was in 1846 that he landed in Clayton County, where he entered land and commenced devoting himself to agricultural pursuits, following the same for a number of years, his efforts being attended with success. After acquiring considerable property and an ample competence to last him the remainder of his days he retired from active business, making his home in Elkader, and occupying himself in looking after his real-estate and other business interests. For two terms Mr. havens was Sergeant-at-Arms in the State Legislature, and in politics is independent, choosing to reserve his judgment and give his influence to those whom he considers best qualified for positions regardless of party lines. When the First National Bank of this place was organized he was one of the promoters, becoming a Director in the same, and he also occupies a like place in one other bank. His opinion and judgment are often consulted by those who know him; as he has made a success of his own ventures in most instances, therefore his fellow-townsmen rely on his judgment in financial matters. Ever interested in educational affairs, he has taken his part in the promotion of the best interests of the community in that direction and has upheld the good of the people.
In 1846 in this country, Mr. Havens married Miss Sarah Wagner, who was born and reared in Ohio. Her father, John Wagner, was one of the early settlers and agriculturists of this county and a man esteemed for his upright and worthy career. Mr. and Mrs. Havens became the parents of six children, but two daughters only still survive: Ella, wife of H.S. Merritt, of Elkader; and Jennie, wife of Thomas Williams, of McGregor.