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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 1048~




Smithfield township, Fayette county, has no more progressive and public spirited citizen than William Cross, who was born February 19, 1844, in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry and Hannah (Leonard) Cross, the father a native of New Jersey and the mother of Scotland, the former dying in 1848 and the latter in October, 1852. Henry Cross was successful in his business life, owned considerable land and was a money lender. He and his wife were the parents of the following children: Lydia, deceased; Fannie, deceased; Julia A., living in Virginia; S.B., of Jackson county, Missouri, was in Company H, Ninety-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry; Simeon, who is now deceased, was a teamster in the Union army for two years; William, of this review; Asher, who died in Texas, was in the Sixteenth New York Infantry, later in Company M, Twelfth Illinois Cavalry; Charles was killed on a railroad in Pennsylvania; the youngest child died in infancy.


William Cross received a limited education, having attended school only five months, but he is a well-read man. In the fall of 1852 he went to Elmira, New York, and in 1854 he came to Dixon, Illinois, where he farmed until 1861, when he went into the Union army, enlisting on September 7, 1861, in Company B, Thirty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After being drilled, he was sent to Shiloh, Mississippi, and was wounded in that battle, April 2, 1862, having been shot through the left side. Having been left on the field for dead, he lay there one night and one day without attention, then was taken to a hospital in St. Louis; but he recovered rapidly and was back in his regiment by May 16th following. He was sent to Corinth to participate in the siege there, later went to Iuka, Mississippi, and was in several other battles, including those near Chattanooga, also went to Perryville and Louisville, Kentucky, Crab Orchard, Lavergne, Stone River, Resaca, Lookout Mountain and many other battles and skirmishes. He was in front of Atlanta in 1864; after remaining in Chicago for six weeks, whither he was sent on guard duty, he reached home on October 31, 1864. He then re-enlisted in the Eighth Illinois Cavalry and was sent to Fairfax Court House, where he did scout duty. He went all through Virginia and Maryland, after Mosby on his famous raid, remaining in the service until the close of the war, receiving an honorable discharge in August, 1865, at St. Louis, Missouri. He was also wounded at the great battle of Stone River, December 31, 1863, and was taken prisoner and held for ten days, when he was paroled. In crossing the Cumberland mountains he was caught in a rope and dragged part way down the mountainside, but a comrade ran after him and cut the rope, preventing his being literally torn apart. From the effects of this experience he has never fully recovered. In spite of his parole, he and a number of comrades returned to the army and performed effectual service, the cause for their action being that the Confederates sent twelve thousand of their men to the front before being exchanged. He made a most faithful and gallant soldier, according to his comrades, always at the front and never shrinking from duty. In recognition of his bravery, General Rosecrans conferred on him the distinction of having a third button sewed on his sleeve as a distinguishing mark. This intention was vetoed by the war department, but the recognition was a source of much gratification to Mr. Cross. After the war Mr. Cross spent one year in Whiteside county, and one year in Lee county, Illinois, and he came to West Union where he remained for four years. He then moved to Center township, and bought eighty acres, remaining seventeen years in that township. Then selling out there, he, in 1888, moved to Smithfield township in section 3, buying a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres.


Mr. Cross was first married in Illinois, on February 15, 1866, to Hannah Carse, who was of Scotch-Irish descent; she died in 1895 and he married, sometime thereafter, Ellen M. Hotchkiss, of Illinois, a daughter of Charles and Maria (Crandall) Hotchkiss, the father a native of Chanango county, New York, where the mother was also born. They grew to maturity and married there, and came to Fayette county, Iowa, May 19, 1856, and settled in Center township on wild land which they transformed into a good farm, and there Mr. Hotchkiss lived until his death, in February 1903; his widow is still living on the old place, having reached the advanced age of eighty-four years. Mr. Hotchkiss was a blacksmith by trade and highly proficient in the same. He and his wife became the parents of four children, namely: Mary is the wife of Frank Dewey, living in Harlan township, Fayette county; Charles is single and is living on the old homestead with his mother; Sarah J. married Henry Sidler, of Oran township, Fayette county; Ellen M. is the wife of William Cross, of this review. Mr. Cross has become the father of the following children: Fannie, widow of Harvey Applen, lives at Seymour, Iowa and is the mother of three children; Joe is living in the state of Washington; William, who married Effie Neffin, lives in Oakland, Iowa; Lizzie B. Married J.C. Campbell of Nebraska; John, who married Nellie Perkins, lives in Oakland, Iowa; Asher, who is single, is living in Omaha, Nebraska; Roy, who married Bessie Vanmeter, is living at Oakland, Iowa; Pearl and Ruby are both living at home; Sarah, the fifth child in order of birth, married William Rogers, of Perry, South Dakota. Mr. Cross was formerly a member of the Grand Army of the Republic post at Randalia, Iowa, but he now belongs to Warner Post No. 46, Fayette, Iowa. He was commander of the post for three years and he has held all the other offices. Politically, he is a Republican and has held some of the township offices, always with credit and to the satisfaction of all concerned. Mr. Cross has a fine farm, well improved and which he has kept carefully tilled. He has been very successful raising stock, being a breeder of registered Polled-Angus cattle, draft horses and Poland-China hogs. He has devoted his entire life to farming and, having made a success, has retired, having been living quietly at his pleasant home for some time. He is well known and has many warm friends throughout the county. He has had some hair-raising experiences and narrow escapes from death. In 1891, he was attacked by a vicious steer and had it not been for the actions of his faithful dog he would have been killed. 


~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Nancy Schroeder


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