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1907 Past and Present Biographies

Karle C. Latta

Karle C. Latta, proprietor of the leading drug store at Paton and one of the representative business men of Greene county, was born in Louisa county, Iowa, on the 12th of December, 1865. His father, Francis Marion Latta, was a native of Ross county, Ohio, born February 24, 1831, and in 1840 he accompanied his parents on their removal to Louisa county, Iowa, the family home being established there during the pioneer epoch of its history. On the 14th of March, 1865, he married Miss Sarah M. Cowles, a daughter of Oliver and Hannah (Olmsted) Cowles, of Monroe, Jasper county, Iowa. Mrs. Latta was born August 6, 1839, in New York and was a teacher inIowa at a very early day, being thus connected with the Indianola Seminary, which was established in 1860 under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal conference. Rev. Fleming was on its board of trustees and through his influence Mrs. Latta’s sister, Huldah C. Cowles, was the first teacher of the primary department and Professor Grey was the principal, but at the close of the year he resigned and went to the front as an oflicer in the army, being succeeded in the school by Professor E. H. Winans, a graduate of Mount Pleasant. In the spring of 1862 Mrs. Latta took her sister’s place as teacher in the first primary department and also as teacher of vocal music and penmanship. It was in the war times and money was scarce so that they could not have special instructors for each branch as they do at the present day. The seminary was obliged to close after that year for want of funds, the teachers being over worked and poorly remunerated. Mrs. Latta did not receive her salary for her last term until five years after. In the meantime the school had been opened again as the Simpson Centenary College, named in honor of the man who gave the school an endowment. Following her experience as a teacher in the Indianola Seminary, Sarah M. Cowles gave her hand in marriage to Francis M. Latta. In 1866 they removed to Dublin, Washington county, Iowa, and Mr, Latta purchased a five hundred acre stock farm, upon which he lived until his death on the 19th of March, 1887. He carried on this business with considerable success becoming one of the best known stock farmers in that locality. He belonged to the Congregational church and was very prominent in its work, while in community affairs he was also active and influential, serving for a number of years as township trustee. His remains were interred in New Haven cemetery, Dutch Creek township, Washington county, Iowa.

In the family were five children: Karle C. is the eldest; William F., the second son, is engaged in the manufacture of pearl buttons at Muscatine, Iowa. Kate is the wife of S. M. Overholt, a resident of Columbus Junction. Ed Lynn, born near Dublin, Washington county, Iowa, September 17, 1870, lived on the home farm until his father’s death. He afterward learned telegraphy and for a number of years was an operator on the Chicago Great Western and on the Missouri Pacific Railroads, being located for a time at Cripple Creek, Colorado. In the fall of 1900 he entered the drug business at Ada, Indian Territory. On the 19th of June, 1899, he married Miss Mabel J . Smith, at Eureka, Kansas. He was not long permitted to enjoy his new home in the south for he died at Ada, November 13, 1902, and was there buried with Masonic honors. To his widow he left a good property, including a store building at Ada, known as the Latta building. Rose Isabelle, the youngest of the family, is the wife of Richard Van Dresky, a real-estate dealer in Muscatine.

Karle C. Latta spent his boyhood days in Washington county, Iowa, whither his parents removed when he was but six months old. He attended the common schools and spent one year in the academy at Washington, after which he remained on the old home farm until his father’s death in 1887. The following year he went to Washington and for a year was in a real-estate oflice, while during the succeeding year he was employed in a clothing store. On the 5th of January, 1891, he came to Paton, where he purchased the drug business of Dr. J . M. Sherman. He learned the business in his own store and became a registered pharmacist in September, 1892. He has since conducted his store with growing success and has been at his present location on the east side since 1897. He carries a complete line of drugs, patent medicines, paints, oils, wall paper, toilet articles, magazines and stationery, and has the leading establishment of this character in Paton. Moreover, he is one of the organizers of the Paton Mutual Telephone Company and since its formation in 1903 he has been its secretary. In 1906, in company with L. S. Carl, under the firm name of Carl & Latta, he founded and has since been publisher of the Paton Portrait, a weekly eight-page paper which is printed in the Globe office at Grand Junction. It now has a good circulation and its patronage is steadily increasing.

On the 6th of October, 1891, at Columbus Junction, Iowa, Mr. Latta was married to Miss Rowena B. Overholt, who was born at that place on the 21st of August, 1864. She is a daughter of Dr. D. W. and Isabelle (Latta) Overholt, both of whom died at Columbus Junction in the year 1906. The maternal grandfather of Mrs. Karle C. Latta was a brother of her husband’s father. His name was Samuel Nicholas Latta and he was born in Ross county, Ohio, May 31, 1818. In 1840 he was brought to Iowa by his parents, who located in Louisa county, and he attended the common schools at intervals until he attained his majority. He then took up the study of law, and was a student in the Cincinnati College up to the time of his graduation in 1849. He was then admittcd to practice in the superior courts of Ohio and Iowa and continued a member of the bar of the latter state until his removal to Kansas in 1855. At that time he purchased a claim adjoining the city of Leavenworth. He became recognized as a leader of the free state party and in the summer of 1855 was elected a member of the convention which framed the Topeka constitution. At the organization of the free state party he was elected a member of the convention to name candidates for state oflices and he was nominated and elected and re-elected one of the supreme judges of the state of Kansas. He was one of the armed party who defended Governor Reeder in his first address at Leavenworth in behalf of the free state policy. The same year - 1855 - General James H. Lang went to Leavenworth to address the people and the border ruflians assailed him with threats of his life. Lang laid his revolver upon the table and commenced speaking, and Judge Latta and others organized a force for his protection, and amidst cries from the opposition of “Hang him,” “Kill him,” they triumphantly sustained the freedom of speech in defiance of an almost overwhelming opposition, in which courage and nerve prevailed over brute force. In all memorable engagements between the free state and border ruflian forces in the conflicts of 1855-6-7, Judge Latta’s influence and personal etforts were recognized as a power in defense of right. After the accession of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, this patriotic statesman, recognizing the services of Judge Latta in behalf of freedom, appointed him agent of the Indians of the upper Missouri, in which capacity he had charge of seven tribes: the Sioux, Arickarows, Mandas, Growbouts, Assiniboines and Grows, extending up the Missouri river from Fort Randall, Dakota, to near Fort Benton, Montana. He held the office from 1861 until the fall of 1866.

Judge Latta subdivided his claim into what is now known as Latta’s addition to the city of Leavenworth and spent large sums in building dwellings and business houses there, contributing extensively to the early growth and prosperity of the city. In 1871 he was elected to the house of representatives from the city of Leavenworth, was re-elected in 1873 and was recognized as one of the most useful and influential of the working members of that body. In fact, he left the impress of his individuality and his influence for good upon the history of the state through many years, nor was it an inessential factor in molding public opinion at a time when the interests of the country centered upon Kansas. He was reared in the Presbyterian faith and was a believer in the Christian religion.

In 1840, in Louisa county, Iowa, udge Latta was married to Miss Sarah Ann Thompson and by that union had nine children. In January, 1863, he was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Nina M. Irvin, by whom he had three children. He died very suddenly of heart disease, May 11, 1880.

As stated, Judge Latta was the maternal grandfather of Mrs. Karle C. Latta and the uncle of our subject. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Karle C. Latta has been born a daughter, Isabelle, whose birth occurred on the 14th of August, 1892. Mrs. Latta belongs to the Christian church. Mr. Latta was reared a Congregationalist and now largely attends the Presbyterian church. In politics he is a stalwart republican and for seven years has served as a member of the village council, while for five years he has been village clerk. In the discharge of his official duties he has ever been prompt and reliable and his efforts for public progress in his community have been far reaching and beneficial. Fraternally he is connected with Gem Lodge No. 429, A. F. & A. M., of Paton, and for ten years has been its valued secretary. In all life’s relations, whether in his varied business interests, his oflicial duties or in social circles, he has ever been the same honorable and upright gentleman, whose genial manner has made him popular, while his genuine worth has gained him uniform respect.

Transcribed from "Past and Present of Greene County, Iowa Together With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead,"
by E. B. Stillman assisted by an Advisory Board consisting of Paul E. Stillman, Gillum S. Toliver,
Benjamin F. Osborn, Mahlon Head, P. A. Smith and Lee B. Kinsey, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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