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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 288~



James Conrad

James Conrad, who is engaged in farming on section 7, Smithfield Township, is numbered among the early settlers of the county who, since the pioneer days have witnessed its growth and progress and aided in its development and upbuilding. He was born in Chautauqua County, N. Y., in September, 1845, and is a son of Gilbert Conrad who was born in Otsego County, that state, November 10, 1806. At the early age of eight years his father began life for himself as a farm hand and with his employer went to Ohio at the age of thirteen. They settled near Columbus, then a mere hamlet, in the midst of a wild country which was yet frequented by wild game and other animals. When a young man he returned to New York where at the age of twenty-one years, on the 19th of June, 1828, he was united in marriage with Miss Roxena Walden, the union being celebrated in Erie County. The lady was born August 25, 1812, and after their marriage they removed to Chautauqua County, where most of their children were born. Mr. Conrad was a cooper by trade and followed that occupation for twenty years, after which he devoted his energies to farming.


 Thinking to better his financial condition he started westward on the 4th of September, 1829 (This should probably be 1849.) and settled in McHenry County, Ill., on a farm about sixty miles from Chicago. A wild prairie stretched away toward the horizon with hardly an improvement upon it to break the monotony. For ten years he there engaged in farming when in 1859 he came to Fayette County, Iowa, and settled upon his present farm. He purchased eighty acres, only seven of which had been broken, and in true pioneer style began life. He was in very limited circumstances, having only enough money to pay the expenses of the journey, but prosperity attended his efforts in his new home and he has long since retired from business cares with a comfortable competence sufficient to supply all his wants through remaining years. He cast his first Presidential vote for Jackson, afterward was a Whig, later a Free-Soiler and has been a Republican since the organization of that party. For sixty-five years he has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and has long served as Class-Leader. His wife was reared in the Baptist faith but at the age of twenty joined the church to which her husband belonged. Together this worthy couple have traveled life's journey for sixty-two years, sharing with one another its joys and sorrows, pleasures and grief's, adversity and prosperity. They are now in the evening of life, but in looking back over the past they have little to regret, and without fear they can look forward to the future knowing that they have conscientiously tried to do their duty and follow the guidance of their Master.


In their family were eleven children: William, who died in Illinois in 1854 at the age of twenty-four years; Mrs. Harriet J. Kidder, who died at her home in Brush Creek in 1890; George, who is now a mason of Maynard, enlisted in the Illinois Infantry for the late war and took part in the celebrated march to the sea under Sherman; Benjamin F., a farmer and carpenter of Olmstead County, Minn., was a member of Company F, Third Iowa Infantry, and was discharged after having lost the sight of one eye at the battle of Hatchie's Run; Joseph E., who was a member of Company D, Ninth Iowa Cavalry, is now living in Fremont Township; Orlando, who served in Company C, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, is now living in Pleasant Valley Township; Lorenzo D., also a member of Company C, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, lost an arm while firing a salute in honor of the fall of Richmond and died October 12, 1889; James, whose name heads this sketch is the next younger; Martha A. is now living in Washington; Mrs. Mary E. Chase makes her home in Harlan Township; Mrs. Alice E. Beckner is a resident of Greeley, Delaware County, where her husband is engaged in merchandising, and the youngest of the family. It will be seen that the Conrad family was well represented in the late war and the same faithfulness that characterized their army career has marked their lives as private citizens. (Only nine are named.)


Our subject was a lad of four summers when the family left the East and became residents of Illinois, where the succeeding ten years of his life were spent. On coming to Iowa he began life for himself as a farm hand and whatever success he has achieved is due to his own unaided efforts. Like his brothers, he manifested his loyalty to the Government by enlisting in the service of his country. On the 6th of May, 1864, he became a member of Company D, Forty-sixth Iowa Infantry, for one hundred days and went into camp at Davenport, whence the troops were ordered to Memphis, Tenn. At Colliersville, Tenn., he did guard duty and was discharged September 23, 1864. He then returned home and shortly afterward began the improvement of the farm on which he now resides. It comprises two hundred acres of fine land under a high state of cultivation and its entire surroundings indicate the thrift and enterprise of the owner. He is a stockholder in the Creamery Association.


On the 18th of October, 1868, Mr. Conrad led to the marriage altar in Maynard, Miss Mary M. Rich, daughter of George Rich, who was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., July 16, 1813, and when a child accompanied his parents to the Western Reserve of Ohio, where he grew to manhood. He wedded Mary S. Pond October 12, 1835. She was born April 23, 1811, and died in Ohio August 15, 1844, leaving one child, Mrs. Conrad, who was born July 28, 1844. In 1851 Mr. Rich removed to Boone County, Ill., and after four years came to Iowa, locating in Clinton County. He was elected Justice of the Peace and Township Clerk at the first election after his arrival. At the age of eighteen he was licensed an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church, but the following year united with the Christian Church. In his younger years he was a great debater and his logic and clearly presented arguments won many adherents to the cause he advocated. On a certain occasion he held a three days' debate in De Witt, Iowa, with the infidel orator, Col. James R. Sanford, in which he completely routed his opponent. He came to this county in 1861 and in 188 removed to Nebraska, where he is still living. On the 30th of March, 1845, in Auburn, Ohio, he married Maria Brown and unto them were born six children - Sarah, C. B., Ann, Hattie, Laura and Ida, deceased.


Mr. and Mrs. Conrad have one child, Albert E., born October 11, 1869. He was educated in the public schools and pursued a three years' course of study in the Upper Iowa University, of Fayette. He has successfully engaged in teaching and is now aiding his father in the cultivation of the home farm. The parents are members of the Christian Church, in which they take an active part, and in politics Mr. Conrad is a firm and inflexible adherent of Republican principles. He has often attended the conventions of his party, takes an active interest in its success and served as census enumerator for 1890. He is a strong temperance man and his son is a third party Prohibitionist. The Conrad household is noted for its hospitality, and the members of the family hold a high position in the social world, where true worth, intelligence and merit are taken as passports into society.





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