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Fayette County, Iowa
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
Stephen Masters, who is engaged in farming on section 9, Smithfield Township, has for a quarter of a century resided on the farm which is now his home. He is of English birth, but his fellow-townsmen agree in saying that Fayette County has no better citizen. He was born in Somersetshire, England, January 22, 1820, and belonged to one of the highly respected families of that shire. His grandfather, William Masters, was born in the same community, and there spent his entire life. He owned an extensive farm, became quite wealthy and was a prominent man in the neighborhood. He filled a number of official positions and was a member of the Church of England. His son William, the father of our subject, was born and reared on his father's farm and received the advantages of a liberal education. He wedded Mary Eads, also of Somersetshire, and after her death was a second time married. He too became an influential citizen of the community and was highly respected by all who knew him. His last years were spent upon the farm where he first opened his eyes to the light of day, passing away in 1862. The children of his first marriage, five in number, are widely scattered. Two reside in this country, Stephen and William, the youngest, who is engaged in farming in Smithfield Township; Matilda and Elizabeth, the two daughters, reside in England; and Robert is engaged in the hardware business in Australia.
Under the parental roof Stephen Masters was reared to manhood and early became familiar with farm labor. He received his education in the public schools and continued on the old homestead until 1841, when he led to the marriage altar Miss Ann Taylor, whose maidenhood was spent within a mile and a half of her husband's home. The marriage ceremony that united Mr. and Mrs. Masters was performed in St. John's Church, Glastonbury, England, April 13, 1841. They began their domestic life in the land of their nativity but after four years, bidding good-by to home and friends, they crossed the broad Atlantic to America, landing in Philadelphia. They took service upon a farm in Delaware, where for seven years Mr. Masters devoted his energies during the greater part of the time to the dairy business. In 1851 we find them residing near Whitewater, Wis., where he purchased forty acres of land, and after it had been improved and his financial resources were increased, added to it until within the boundaries of his farm were comprised two hundred and forty acres. At length selling out, he came to Fayette County in 1864, and during the past quarter of a century has resided at his present home. He at first secured two hundred acres, of which but a small portion had been placed under the plow, while a house constituted the improvements. Year by year saw the amount of cultivated land increased, until within a comparatively short time the entire farm was yielding him a ready return for his labors. The once wild prairie was transformed into fertile fields, every necessary improvement was added and many of an ornamental character enhance the value of his place. The farm is now one hundred acres in extent, his gifts to his sons having decreased his acreage.
Mr. and Mrs. Masters are the parents of six children - Maurice married Emily Smith and is now deceased; Mary Ann is the wife of Horatio Gray of Harlan Township; Ellen is the wife of William Spatcher, a carpenter of Brush Creek; Stephen, who operates a threshing machine, lives on part of the old home farm; Mina is the wife of Clinton Chase, of Harlan Township; and Thomas, who wedded Miss Charlotte Pall, operates his father's farm. The two eldest children were born in England the remaining four in Wisconsin. The parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and have led consistent Christian lives. He gives liberally to the support of the church, is charitable and benevolent, and many acts of kindness, unostentatiously performed, have endeared him to the hearts of friends and neighbors. He voted for Buchanan after becoming an American citizen, then supported the Republican party until the second election of Grant, since which time he has been an advocate of Democratic principles.
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