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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 432 ~

Franklin S. Downs

Franklin S. Downs, an honored veteran of the late war and a representative of one of the pioneer families of the county, resides on section 33, Auburn Township, where he is engaged in farming. A native of the Keystone State, his birth occurred in Troy, Bradford County, on the 25th of September, 1842, he being a son of David Henry and Margaret A. (Chesley) Downs, the former a native of New York, and the latter born in Bradford Co., Va. In their family were five sons and three daughters of whom Franklin S. is the eldest; Jane, wife of Julius Smith, was born in Green County, Wis., in April, 1844, and died in Auburn township, Fayette County, Iowa, in July, 1873, leaving one child; John, born in Green County, Wis., 1846, married Louisa VanDorn of West Union, and removed to Oregon with his family, consisting of wife and seven children, where they now reside; Mary, born in Green County, Wis., in 1848, died December 18, 1873, in Linn County, Iowa; Albert, born in Auburn, Fayette County, in April, 1851, is the next younger; Alonzo, born in Windsor Township, this county, March 18, 1853, resides in Oregon, where he owns and operates a farm; Hattie, born in Windsor Township, in 1855, died October 7, 1874; Edwin, born in 1861, in Auburn Township, died in June, 1864.


When a babe, our subject left his native State and by his parents was taken to Wisconsin, where he remained until seven years of age when the family removed to Fayette County, Iowa, locating on a farm in Windsor Township. In the usual manner of farmer lads Franklin spent his boyhood days and assisted in the cultivation and improvement of the old homestead until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he enlisted in Company F, Third Iowa Infantry, placing his name on the roll of the country's defenders May 25, 1861, in West Union. He served for three years in that regiment and participated in a number of important engagements. The battle of Blue Mills Landing, Mo., in which he bore a part, was followed by that of Shiloh where he received a wound in his left breast from a musket ball which necessitated his returning to camp. As soon as he had sufficiently recovered he resumed his place in the ranks, and the troops met the enemy in battle at Hatchies River, where he was again wounded by a grape shot which tore off his right thumb and injured the wrist joint. The next engagement in which he was able to participate was at the siege of Corinth, then followed the battles and siege of Vicksburg, and in the battle of Jackson, Miss., he was wounded in the left arm. This wound proved of so serious a nature, he was sent to the hospital and in addition to his injuries gangrene set in, which proved much more painful and dangerous than the original wound. His term of service expired prior to his recovery and he was discharged on the 11th of June, 1864, in Davenport, Iowa. It was his desire to re-enlist but on account of the injuries which he had already sustained his services were refused and he was obliged to retire to the life of a civilian much to his regret.


Not long after his return home, Mr. Downs was united in marriage with Miss Amy S. Chapman who was born in Ohio in 1849, and is a daughter of L. C. and Hannah Chapman. Their children, three in number are Clara B., who was born in Auburn Township, October 9, 1866, and is the wife of John Bell, who is engaged on railroad work as a car painter in Omaha, Neb.; Henry L., born September 28, 1868, makes his home with his father; Charles A., born May 24, 1870, is engaged in farming in Clay County, Iowa. Mr. Downs divorced his wife and married Patience Thompson, on June 15, 1873. She is the daughter of Rufus and Lucy Thompson, and by their union have been born seven children - Mary Ann born April 13, 1874; Alice, October 11, 1876; Lucy, February 22, 1879; Garfield, September 4, 1882; Hattie, September 2, 1884; Judson, November 12, 1886; and Rufus, February 1, 1889.


Mr. Downs makes farming his business and is the owner of one hundred and seven acres of choice land in Auburn Township. Much of this is covered with timber but that which has been placed under cultivation produces large crops of all kinds of cereals and grasses. He is an enterprising, progressive business man both as regards his farming interests and otherwise. He was one of the most faithful soldiers during the late war and only when his wounds forced him to remain in the hospital was he ever off duty. He valiantly defended the old flag and to the faithfulness of such men was due the Union's preservation. His father also served in the war, enlisting in Company F, Ninth Iowa Infantry, and died of disease at Franklin, Mo., December 24, 1861.


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