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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Biographies - 1891 History of Harrison County Iowa

Page Seventeen

R McGavren | Peasley | Brayton | Martin | Duhig

MCGAVREN - Dr. Robert MCGAVREN, one of the few hardy pioneers, who ventured into the then wild section of Western Iowa, during the year 1850, will form the subject of this biographical notice. He came to Pottawattamie County May 4, 1850, forty years ago, and lived within one-half mile of the Harrison County line, until October 16, 1858, when he moved to this county. He practiced medicine and carried on farming at the same time. He assisted in breaking up a farm in this county in 1851, which was then the property of William DAKAN. In 1863, Dr. McGAVREN came into possession of the place which he still owns.

Dr. McGAVREN was born in Indiana County, Pa., between Blairsville and Johnstown, May 22, 1821. He is a son of George and Nancy (EWART) McGAVREN. The father was born in Scotland and when seven years old emigrated to the County Monaghan, Ireland. He was born August 15, 1778, and learned the weaver's trade. He came to America in July, 1800, and first located in York County, Pa., and two years later removed to Indiana County, engaging in farming, which he followed the remainder of his days in connection with weaving. In 1829 he removed to Ohio, locating in Columbiana County and to Hardin in 1833. He died August 27, 1853. His wife died July 7, 1861. The former was buried at Westminster, Allen County, Ohio, and the latter at Oak Grove cemetery, near Old St. John's, Harrison County, Iowa. George McGAVREN was a soldier in the War of 1812.

The EWARTS were of Danish extraction; the great-grandfather, Thomas EWART, moved to Ireland in an early day, and our subject's uncle, Samuel EWART, came to America during the year of 1808, and was engaged in the latter days of the War of 1812 as surgeon. Our subject's mother was born December 23, 1782. By this marriage twelve children were born, six dying in infancy, and six sons grew to manhood, our subject being the tenth child. There are three now living: Samuel, of Elk Grove, Jefferson Township; George H., a resident of Missouri Valley; and Robert, our subject.

Dr. McGAVREN attended the common schools of the Buckeye State, and when seventeen years of age learned the plastering and brick-laying trade, following it a few years, but in 1843 began the study of medicine, which profession he began to practice in 1848 near where the town of Ada now stand, in Hardin County, Ohio. In 1849 he entered into partnership with Dr. McCHESNEY, at Huntersville, Ohio, and continued until April 4, 1850, when he saw visions of the New West -- Iowa, he went by boat down the Ohio and up the Missouri Rivers, and landed at Kanesville (now Council Bluffs) Iowa, requiring an even month to make the trip, landing May 4th. On May 18th he moved to the northwest quarter of section 1, township 78, range 44, where he remained until he removed to St. John's in 1858. Here he practiced his profession until 1870, and was engaged in the hardware trade for five years, but lost his store by fire in November, 1872. He has carried on farming and stock growing, on an extensive scale for many years, and has a thousand acres of Missouri Valley land, having fourteen hundred acres, all told, in Harrison and Pottawattamie Counties.

When he first came to the county the settlers were nearly all Mormon believers, and he was only called upon (when it was a matter of necessity) in his professional capacity. Therefore one can see that as money scarce and winter coming on, something must be done. October 7, he packed his grip, leaving his wife and children, started for Missouri, going to Gentryville, Gentry County, he stuck out his shingle and immediately began to have a good practice. After a few weeks a Dr. JETT, who had looked over the ground before, came, and finding our subject with plenty to do, persuaded him to sell out to him. Dr. McGAVREN then returned home arriving on November 17th, with $212, the result of about six weeks' work. The first Monday in December, 1850, he began a school in what was then known as "Tennessee Hollow," now a portion of St. John's Township. This school was taught in the Mormon "Tabernacle" and he received his pay in various commodities, one portion paying in rails, another in a churn and tub, while others brought beef, and in one case two bushel of turnips were brought to him; but seldom ever seeing any cash. He continued to teach until March, 1851, having for his pupils, some who were men of a family. After mingling with the Mormons, in the capacity of a school-teacher, his practice as a physician began to increase, and from 1852 up to 1870, his services as a physician were in great demand.

In February, 1851, our subject was appointed on a commission to locate the county seat of Fremont County, and was also appointed by the Legislature of 1850-51, on a commission to locate the State road running from McKissick's Grove, on the Missouri and Iowa line, to Chase's Ford on the Little Sioux River, the same passing through where Missouri Valley now stands.

Politically, the Doctor was a staunch supporter of the Democratic party. He served in the capacity of County Supervisor of Harrison County for about nine years and was School Treasurer in both Pottawattamie and Harrison Counties, thirty-four years in all. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Valley Lodge, No. 232, of A. F. & A. M.; Triune Chapter, No. 81, and Ivanhoe Commandry No. 17, at Council Bluffs. He was the first Worshipful Master and a charter member of the Missouri Valley Lodge. He also belongs to Lodge No. 170, I.O.O.F. as well as the Encampment, No. 78.

He was united in marriage March 12, 1846, in Hardin County, Ohio, to Elizabeth R. KIRTLAND, of Scotch descent, but the family have been in this country for many generations. Our subject's wife was born in Licking County, Ohio, August 28, 1826, and they are the parents of six children -- James K., a resident of Missouri Valley, who has served the State in various capacities, including that of a member of the Legislature; George William, living in St. John's Township on a farm; Mary E., wife of E. A. BOIES, a resident of Missouri Valley; John Samuel, cashier of the First National Bank at Missouri Valley; Horatio Seymour, located at Stromsburg, Polk County, Neb., in the practice of medicine; the youngest child died in infancy.

There are but few men living within Harrison County to-day who have a wider acquaintance, more friends and a better detailed knowledge of western Iowa than Dr. McGAVREN. It will be remembered that he came to the country three years before the organization of Harrison County and watched the civilizing, transforming power for all these years. He has seen the country in its wilderness state, the last of the deer and elk, the advent of the first locomotive, was the first physician to practice among the pioneers, taught one of the earliest schools, was one of the proprietors of Old St. John's, and has seen first buildings erected in every town and hamlet in Harrison County. His life has not been one of an idle looker-on, but one of business energy which, together with his skill as a physician, has enabled him to make for himself a handsome -- indeed a princely competency.
Source: 1891 History of Harrison County Iowa, pp. 307-309
McGavren Family Researcher.
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PEASLEY - Rufus L. PEASLEY was born May 5, 1815 in New Hampshire, a son to Jacob Peasley. He married Matilda J. LORD and settled in Crawford County, PA. They had seven children: Eunice, Sylvester, Lucinda, Eliza, Bradford, Alsina and Elizabeth. In 1854 Matilda died leaving Rufus a widower. He soon married Mary Adele WALDEN and started a second family. They moved to Edna, Cass County, Iowa.
About 1870 after his discharge from the military he came to Little Sioux, Harrison County, IA, with his wife Mary WALDEN PEASLEY and their large family. Here they raised their children Charles, Mary Elizabeth, Julinette, Oliver, Edward and Thomas.
Rufus died March 13, 1904 and Mary died May 21, 1926, both buried at Little Sioux Cemetary. Rufus's son Sylvester PEASLEY was a prisoner of war at Andersonville during the Civil War. Bradford PEASLEY was in Iowa's 9th Cavalry. Grandson Clarence served in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Military: Rufus served with the military as a drummer in the Black Hawk War. Chief Black Hawk was captured in 1838. Rufus volunteered in 1862 for military service. After two years of service, he was discharged (April 13, 1864) for disabilities. He served with Company I, 23rd Inf and was discharged in Davenport, IA.
Source: Little Sioux newspapers, National Archives, and Census Records.
Peasley Family Researcher: James Reagle.
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BRAYTON - William BRAYTON of Logan, one of the early settlers of Harrison County, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, September 15, 1838. He is the son of Stephen and Catherine (COLEMAN) BRAYTON. The father was born in Lower Canada, and the mother in Pennsylvania. The father died in Rock Island County, Illinois, in 1882, at the age of seventy-five years. He settled in the above county in 1834. The mother still (in 1891) survives and is seventy-eight years of age. They were farmers throughout their days, and reared a family of eleven children, as follows: Mary J., widow of B.F. BROWN, a resident of Dallas County, Iowa; Joseph, deceased, was in Company H, Forty-fifth Illinois Infantry, and died while in the service of his country; Stephen, a resident of Illinois, was in Company H, Forty-fifth Illinois Infantry, and lost his right arm at the siege of Vicksburg; William, our subject; Coleman, a resident of Illinois, served three month's service in the Civil War; Gideon F., a resident of Persia, Harrison County, Iowa, served in Company B, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry for three years; Lucy A., deceased, wife of B.F. BROWN; Elizabeth, wife of James SEDAM, of Rock Island, Illinois; John, a resident of Nebraska, and two children who died in early childhood.
William, our subject, was reared in Rock Island County, Ill., amid the scenes of farm-life, and educated in the public schools. At the age of twenty-one he commenced to do for himself. For ten summers in succession he broke prairie, before and after he was of age. August 11, 1862, when the mutterings of the great conflict -- the Civil War -- were heard and men were being offered by the hundreds of thousands, our subject enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and served until August 12, 1865. After his discharge he returned to his old home in Illinois, and in September of the same year, he engaged in the Government employ, in the telegraph service, and was sent to Arkansas, and remained at this until April 1866, and then went to Jansas and spent a year at various pursuits, spent the following winter in Illinois, and in March, 1868, came to Harrison County, Iowa, crossing the Mississippi River on the fourth day of that month, on the ice, with wagon and team, making the entire trip by wagon. For two years he rented a farm, and engaged at breaking prairie. His first crop of wheat was taken by the grasshoppers, which was rather discouraging to a new beginner in a new country, but he kept pressing onward toward success. After having been in the country a little over one year, in July, 1869, his father-in-law gave him a deed to sixty acres of prairie and timber land, and he purchased a tract of forty acres of slightly improved land, located on section 7, of Jefferson Township, and October 15, of that year he moved his family, consisting of himself and wife, to his new home, where they lived and labored until 1891, with the exception of two years, 1882-83, when they lived with the father of our subject's wife (Henry REEL). Mr. BRAYTON kept adding to his landed estate from time to time, until he owned two hundred and sixteen acres. They first commenced house keeping in a shanty fourteen feet square and one story high, which served them four years, at which time they erected a more commodious abode. And again in 1881, they erected a fine two-story brick farm house, which now graces the farm.
Our subject made valuable improvements upon this land, and put in a fine system of water-works for stock purposes. He has always devoted himself to farming and stock-raising, and March 2, 1891, having sold his farm, moved to the old homestead farm belonging to the late Henry REEL, who was his wife's father. This place adjoins the northwest corner of the corporation of Logan. The same consists of fifty-one acres, which he purchased and is now improving, having made an addition to the residence, and has contructed a system of water-works for domestic and stock purposes. August 22, 1891, he purchased the livery barn of G.O. CURTIS, of Logan.
Our subject was united in marriage December 27, 1868, to Lydia REEL, the only surviving child of pioneers Henry and Catherine REEL, whose sketch appears in this work. Mrs. BRAYTON was born May 31, 1841, in Putnam County, Indiana, and came to Iowa with her parents early in the 1850's. Mr. and Mrs. BRAYTON are the parents of eight children -- a daughter who died in infancy; and Effie C., born August 31, 1870; Henrietta E, June 14, 1872; John B., December 4, 1873, died April 25, 1874; Martha J., Jauary 14, 1875; Cynthia I., January 8, 1877; William P., March 31, 1878; and Mary A., August 8, 1880.
Our subject and his wife are members of the Regular Predestinarian Baptist Church. Politically, Mr. BRAYTON is a radical Republican.
Source: 1891 History of Harrison County Iowa.
Brayton Family Researcher: -- Home Page
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MARTIN - John J. MARTIN was born in Ireland in March, 1826, possibly in County Donegal where his mother Anne FERRY was born (St. Joseph Church records - Lucinda, PA). From late 1826 to early 1828 John and his parents, Charles and Anne, arrived at St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Also making the journey was John's older brother Daniel. John's younger brother, Laughlin, was born in Canada in July, 1828 and was baptized at Immaculate Conception Cathedral within or near an area called "New Ireland". By 1832, the family was living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where younger brother Charles was born. By 1836, the family had moved to Elk Township, Clarion County, Pennsylvania homesteading near the village of Cheerful and the Sheppenville Post Office.

John married Catherine (Kate) Bridget Sweeney on March 22, 1848 at St. Michael's Church in Fryburg, Pennsylvania. The following year they were blessed with their first child, Ann Elizabeth, followed in January 1851 by son Daniel.

In the spring of 1851 John and his brother Daniel moved to Washington Township, Dubuque County, Iowa near the Post Office of Buncombe (defunct village), and purchased farmland. Around 1860, John and his family moved to western Iowa and homesteaded on Section 36, St. John's Township, Harrison County, Iowa. This was close to where Kate Sweeney-Martin's parents lived in Boomer Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. John's brother Loughlin (Laughlin) also lived in this area. John's brother Daniel moved about the same time to Otter Creek Township, Jackson County, Iowa.

During the Civil War, John served three years in the 29th Iowa Infantry, Company D. By 1882 the farm was 120 acres. He passed way on August 25, 1896, with Kate surviving until March 18, 1902. Both are buried at Mt Carmel Cemetery, Missouri Valley, Harrison County, Iowa.

John and Kate's children included: Ann Elizabeth (CLARK), born 29 Apr 1849; Daniel, born 13 Jan 1851; Margaret Louise, born 03 Oct 1853; Mary Philomena (CRAIG), born 16 Apr 1856; Catherine Bridget (O'ROURKE), born 19 Sep 1858; and John Laughlin, born 22 May 1861.

John Martin's parents were born in Ireland in the 1790's. His brothers and sisters included Daniel Francis, 11 May 1825; Laughlin Alphonsus, 28 Jul 1828; Charles John, Jan 1832; Mary Ann (HOY), born 1836; James Patrick, born 1838; and Edward, born 24 May 1841.
Source: Various Records.
Martin Family Researcher: Dennis Walsh
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DUHIG - Thomas DUHIG came to Harrison County in April, 1854, and engaged at work in a saw mill with Thomas Dennis for three years. He entered 200 acres on section 13, then sold after a couple of years to a Mr. MOTZ, and then purchased 120 acres on section 13 of Clay Township.
He was born in County Limerick in 1830, the son of David and Henora (O'BRIEN) DUHIG. When he was 14 years old his father died, and in 1846 he came with his mother and two brothers to America and located in Kentucky. In 1852 the mother and Thomas moved North spending time in Missouri and in Illinois before coming to Harrison County.
Thomas married Miss Ann ESLEY on August 29, 1859 and had six children: Mary and Henora (deceased before 1891); David, Ella, Ellen and Thomas. Ann ESLEY was born in Ohio and accompanied her parents to Harrison County. Thomas DUHIG's family was Roman Catholic and belonged to the Modale Catholic Church.
Source: 1891 History of Harrison County Iowa.
Duhig/g Family Researcher: Bill Duhig.
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