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Charles Severance

Charles Severance, who resides on Section 1, Palermo Township, is one of Grundy County's leading farmers. He owns one hundred and eighty acres of arable and valuable land, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation. The fields are well tilled, and the many improvements upon the farm attest the thrift and enterprise of the owner, who is regarded as one of the leading and successful farmers and stock-raisers of the county. He makes a specialty of breeding thoroughbred Short-horn cattle, keeping on hand registered stock.

Mr. Severance was born in Greenfield, Franklin County, Massachusetts, September 5, 1838. His father, Pliny Severance, was born in the Bay State, and after arriving at years of maturity, wedded Sophia Risley. Her father was a soldier in the Revolution. The father of our subject was a hatter by trade, and followed that business until thirty years of age, when he turned his attention to farming, continuing in that work until 1856. That year witnessed his arrival in Grundy Co, where he resumed farming.

Charles Severance was reared in Franklin County, Mass., and attended school until seventeen years of age. With his mother and two sisters he then removed to Grundy Centre. There were only three families living in this place at that time, and we see that our subject is one of the oldest citizens in years of continued residence in the county seat. Their home was erected in the autumn of 1856, and the lumber for that purpose was hauled from Dubuque, a distance of one hundred and twenty-five miles. Mr. Severance continued to make his home in Grundy Centre until about the close of the war (Civil), when he removed to the farm upon which he yet resides. There were no improvements upon the place, it being still in its primitive condition. The land, a tract of two hundred and forty acres, was entered by his brother, Henry Severance, who mysteriously disappeared some years ago and has never been heard from since.

On the 28th of May, 1880, the subject of this sketch was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth E. Robson, who came to Grundy County at a very early day. Three children have been born of their union, a son and two daughters: Gertie, Bertha and Frank. All are still with their parents.

In his political views Mr. Severance is a Republican, but has never been an aspirant for official honors, preferring to devote his entire time and attention to his business interests, in which he has met with success. He is numbered among the honored pioneers of the county, and his name is inseparably connected with the history of this community. He has watched its growth and upbuilding, has aided its development, and has ever borne his part in the work of public advancement. He is enterprising, public-spirited and progressive, and the best interests of the community find in him a friend. He has a wide acquaintance through-out the county, and by all who know him is held in high regard."
p. 388-389


Chicago, Biographical Publishing Co, 1894.

Charles was born in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA on 9-15-1838. [MAVR] He died 9-15-1888 in Grundy, IA. In 1856, he moved to Grundy Center, IA with his mother and two sisters to where his father and the rest of the family had settled a short time earlier. At that time there were only three families living in Grundy. Charles7 spent the rest of his life in that area. On 5-28-1880 Charles married Miss Elizabeth E. Robson, a daughter of Thomas Robson of NY state.

Charles (7) was a Republican but never aspired to official office. He was held in high regard by all who knew him. He was enterprising, public spirited and progressive.

He made a specialty of breeding thoroughbred short-horn cattle, keeping on hand registered stock. He was one of the leading farmers in Grundy County with his 180 acres under a high state of cultivation. (3)


Spouses Birth Death Occupation Education
Elizabeth (Libbie) ROBSON 6,4,3,7 May 1853 Herkimer Co, NY 22 Feb 1938 Grundy Center, Grundy Co, IA Teacher,wife, Mother Mt. Carroll, Buffalo, NY High School 1 Year
Religion Father Mother Marriage Children
Baptist Thomas ROBSON Mary UNKNOWN ROBSON 28 May 1880 Grundy Center, IA Bertha (-1912)
Frank B. (ca1886-)


Pliny Severance was born in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA on 24 July 1796. [MAVR]
He married Sophia Risley (Wrisley) on Jan. 1, 1822. Sophia was born 25 Sept 1799 and died 28 May 1871 in Grundy Center, IA. She was the daughter of Samuel Risley and Experience Hollister. Pliny was a hatter trade and followed that business until he was about 30 years old. At that time he began farming in Grundy Center, IA. In 1855, eldest son, Henry, came west to IA to locate a suitable location for the family. Pliny and Sophia are buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Grundy Center, IA.

Children: [MAVR Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA]

1. Henry Severance born 25 Jan 1823 in Greenfield, MA. In 1855, eldest son Henry came west to IA and located property and made arrangements for the family to come west in the spring of 1856. He mysteriously disappeared under conditions indicating foul play while on a business trip by horseback sometime after 1872 and was never heard from again. He never married. He owned the farm now (1956) occupied by Ben Van Geest north of Grundy Center.

The SEVERANCE house originally stood on East Main Street on the present site of the Mobile Oil Station. It now stands west of the canning factory and occupied by Mr. Venenga. (R.H.S 1956) There were only four houses in Grundy Center when they came in 1856.

2. Edwin W. Severance was born 16 July 1825 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. He married Caroline Agatha St. John. They settled in Lincoln, IA. The family left IA after 1880 and settled in Jefferson Co, KY. They had a total of 7 children, only 6 were living in 1900.

3. George Severance was born 30 November 1827 in in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. He married Eliza Elizabeth Bacchus. George moved to East Hartford, CT in 1854 and worked at his trade as a burnisher until 1856, when he removed to and located in Grundy Co, IA and moved to Hudson, IA in 1860. The 1900 census shows them living in Black Hawk, IA.

George Severance held offices of School Director one year, and Road Supervisor for three years. He was the first Road Supervisor elected in Grundy Co. There were only two houses in Grundy Center when George brought his family. He hauled the lumber from Dubuque, with an ox team, and built the first frame house in Grundy Center. He came through from Chicago to Waterloo with a team in 1856. He said “it rained every day but one while on the way.” They had 5 children.

4. Sabra Sophia Severance born 28 Feb 1830 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. Did not marry. Buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grundy Center, IA. She taught school in Grundy Center and was the first postmistress in Grundy Center. She had a variety store there about 1870.

5. Mary Severance born about 1832 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. She did not come west with the family. Married a jeweler in Bridgeport, CT. Had a daughter, Minnie.

6. Ellen Maria Severance born 4 July 1835 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. She died 25 Jan 1873. She married Alfred Alline. Lived in Grundy Center, Waterloo and LeMars IA after 1871. Four children.

7. Charles Severance born 30 Sept 1838 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. He married Elizabeth E. Robson. (See posted biography about Charles.)

8. Frederick Hollister Severance born 24 Sept 1841 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA. He served three years in the First IA Cavalry, Co. G, as a bugler, in the Civil War. He married Katherine Lyman Graves in Northampton, MA. They settled in Grundy Center, IA where he was in partnership with his brother, Charles, in the stock raising business. They later moved to KS, NE and CA. They had 4 children, 2 living to adulthood. They both died in Los Angeles, CA

1. THE SEVERANCE FAMILY, compiled by Ralph H. Severance, January, 1964, Fort Wayne, IN. unpublished.

2. THE SEVERANS (SEVERANCE, SEAVERNS) GENEALOGICAL HISTORY, compiled by Rev. John F. Severance of Chicago, IL. R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, 1893.
3. THE SEVERANCE GENEALOGY, David C. Dewsnap, Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, MD, 1995.

Frederick Hollister Severance. He was born in 1841 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA and died in 1928 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co, CA. He served in the Civil War as a Bugler, First Iowa Cavalry, Company G. He was the son youngest son of Pliny Severance and Sophia Risley. He is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA,

Sophia Wrisley (Risley) Severance, wife of Pliny Severance. She was born in 1799 in Greenfield, Franklin Co, MA and died 1871 in Grundy Center, Grundy Co, IA. She is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Grundy Center. She was the daughter of Samuel Risley and Experience Hollister.

Katherine Lyman Graves Severance taken about the time of
her marriage 1877 in Northampton, Franklin Co, MA. She was the daughter of William Augustus Graves and Julia Ann Lyman. She was born in 1853 in Brattleboro, Windham Co, VT. She died in 1932 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co, CA.

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