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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1008~


William Colby

"A man who has long been identified with the progress and advancement of Fayette county, one of the favored sections of the great Hawkeye state, where he has maintained his home for nearly a half century, is William Colby, who has attained gratifying success in connection with the development of its resources, successful in whatever line of business he sought to pursue, but who is now living in honorable retirement in West Union, surrounded by evidences of thrift and comfort as a result of his former years of activity. He was born October 14, 1830, in Oakland county, Michigan, where he remained till eleven years of age and received his education in the common schools. In 1841 he came to Rock county, Wisconsin, and in 1854 came to Windsor township, Fayette county, Iowa, and entered government land, twenty acres of timber and eighty acres of prairie land. On September 13, 1863, he was married to Mary Delzene, who was born May 9, 1844, in Missouri, and whose death occurred on May 8, 1875. Two children were born to them, both dying in infancy. William Colby taught school three winters in Wisconsin. Previous to his coming to West Union he also taught two years in Fayette county.

The father of William Colby, Samuel Colby, was born is New York, the son of Ephraim Colby, who came from New Hampshire and settled near Rochester, New York, the Colby family having been early settlers in Vermont. Samuel Colby was reared thirteen miles west of Rochester, New York, and there received his education. He followed farming during his active life and spent his last days with his children in various parts of the United States, and died in Wisconsin. He was a Democrat up to the days of Buchanan, afterwards a Republican, always taking an active part in local politics, and he served as school trustee. Religiously he was a Baptist. David Colby, brother of William, who lives in Beloit, Wisconsin, was a soldier in the Civil War in a Wisconsin regiment, having acted as guard at various places. S. F., another brother, enlisted in 1862 in the Thirteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served until the close of the war. There were five sons and one daughter in Samuel Colbyís family.

In about 1878 William Colby left the farm in Windsor township and came to West Union, Iowa. He was married a second time to Grace Jamison in September, 1881; she was the daughter of James and Jane (Boale) Jamison, who were born in Ireland and who came to America, first settling in Pennsylvania and in 1852 came to Fayette county, Iowa. Mrs. Colby was born before the family left Pennsylvania. Mr. Jamison engaged in the mercantile business at Auburn when he first came to Fayette county, as a partner of Joseph Boale. He later engaged in farming until his death. One daughter, Jennie Alice, was born to Mr. Colby and his second wife. She was educated at the West Union high school, also spent one year at the Northwestern University and had two terms in school at Cedar Falls. She studied oratory at the Northwestern University and became highly educated and cultured. She was first married in West Union to Morton F. Blake, and her second marriage was in 1907, to C. W. Forche, a druggist of Kellogg, Jasper county, Iowa. Mrs. Colby, who received her education in West Union and Fayette, taught two terms of school successfully. She is a member of the Womanís Missionary Society and the Temperance and Aid societies of her church, being the treasurer of the temperance organization. She is an earnest and efficient worker in all good causes.

William Colby was justice of the peace in Windsor township for two years and he held that office for a period of twenty-eight years in Union township while a resident of West Union township and he proved to be a very efficient and faithful public servant, his decisions being fair and unbiased and seldom reversed by higher tribunals. He was a member of the county board for four years while living in Windsor township and was secretary of the school board in that township for a period of eleven years, and he was also township clerk and held other offices. In Wisconsin he was township collector and treasurer for two years, and he taught school there during three winters. He was the first mayor of the city of West Union, to which office he was elected in 1894 and which he held for a period of four years, during which time many movements were inaugurated that have made for the permanent good of the city, in fact, he has been as faithful in the discharge of his duties in all the offices he has held as if he was looking after his individual business. He was mayor when the electric lighting plant was installed, also the town clock.

Mr. Colby has been a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal church for a period of twenty-eight years; his wife also belongs to this church. They have always been active in the affairs of the church.

Mr. Colby has been a director in the State Bank of West Union for the past twenty years, almost since its organization, and he has been one of the examiners since the first organization of the same. He has been very successful in his life work, because he has been both honest and industrious, always considerate of the interest of others."

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