USGenweb Linn County IAGenweb IAGenweb


A  B  C  D   E   F  G   H   I  J   K   L  M   N   O  P   Q  R  S  T  V  W  Y  Z


This well-known and influential farmer residing on section 7, Franklin township, Linn county, Iowa, was born in Michigan on the 3rd of September, 1848, and belongs to a good old colonial family of Scotch origin. His paternal great-grandfather fought for the independence of the colonies in the Revolutionary war, and his grandfather was a major in the United States army during the war of 1812. The latter was born in Kentucky, and removed to Michigan when it was still a territory, being one of the three who drew up the papers that it be admitted to the Union. He successfully engaged in farming, and also operated a large sawmill, and became quite wealthy.

Josiah Odell, the father of our subject, was a native of Ohio, and at an early day removed to Michigan with his family. he enlisted during the Black Hawk war, but his regiment only got as far as Chicago, when they learned that the war was over. Subsequently he came to Ohio and operated the large sawmills belonging to N. D. Brown, at Cedar Rapids, remaining here until 1861, when he returned to Michigan and afterward went to Ohio. In the latter state he enlisted in the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the dark days of the rebellion, and was taken ill from exposure, dying in 1864. He was a Republican in politics, and attended the Presbyterian church, of which his wife was an earnest member. In Michigan he married Elizabeth White, also a native of Ohio, who died in 1856, and was buried seven miles west of Cedar Rapids. They had only two children, of whom our subject is the older, and his sister, Sarah Elizabeth, died at the age of two years.

Lewis H. Odell was six years of age when he accompanied his parents on their removal to this country, and he was reared on a farm seven miles west of Cedar Rapids, his education being obtained in the district schools of Linn county. At the age of thirteen he went to live with his uncle, John White, and remained with him for twelve years, and then commenced farming on his own account. His first farm consisted of eighty acres in Bertram township, which he owned for five years, and to this he added eighty acres, and on disposing of it he bought two hundred and sixty acres in the same township, on which he made his home for ten years. When he sold that place in 1897, he purchased four hundred and twenty acres of land on section 7, Franklin township, where he now resides, but has since sold one hundred and twenty-eight acres of this amount to Jacob Smyth, retaining the balance, however. In connection wit general farming he is engaged in buying and selling stock, and in all his undertakings has been quite successful.

At Cedar Rapids, Mr. Odell was married in 1886 to Mrs. Helen Dinninny, a native of Indiana. The Republican party has always found in him a stanch supporter of its principles, and he has taken quite an active interest in public affairs, serving as secretary of the school board for a number of years and also as road supervisor for some time, his official duties having always been mostly capably and satisfactorily performed. He is a prominent member of the Presbyterian church of Mt. Vernon and is one of the trustees of the same.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 15-16.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Orrie C. Olney, the secretary and treasurer of the Cedar Rapids Candy Company, was born on a farm five miles east of Marion, in Linn county, Iowa, on the 5th of December, 1871, his parents being Charles and Margaret (Gibson) Olney. His mother died when he was but eight years of age and he then became a member of the household of James E. Bromwell, a prominent neighboring agriculturist, with whom he remained until he had attained his twenty-fourth year. When fourteen years of age he went to work as messenger boy in the A. Daniels Bank at Marion and was later promoted to a clerkship, continuing in the employ of the institution for about six years or until its failure. Subsequently he spent three years as clerk in the Daniels Hotel at Marion and then came to Cedar Rapids, here accepting a position as billing clerk in the wholesale grocery establishment of P. C. Frick & Company, whom he served for about nine months. He next became bookkeeper in the wholesale fruit house of Lagomarcino-Grupe Company and thus served for three years, resigning in 1898 in order that he might accept a similar position in the office of the Cedar Rapids Candy Company. On the 1st of January, 1906, he became a stockholder in the concern and was made secretary and treasurer of the company, in which official capacity he has ably represented its interests to the present time. He is widely recognized as one of the progressive, enterprising and successful business men of Cedar Rapids and has justly earned the proud American title of a self-made man, having worked his way steadily upward from a position of obscurity to one of considerable prominence for one of his years.

On the 30th of April, 1903, Mr. Olney was united in marriage to Miss Clara A. Morehead, a daughter of Dr. James and Lydia (Stream) Morehead, of Marion, Iowa. He is a republican in polities but has never sought nor desired public preferment. The Cedar Rapids Commercial Club numbers him among its members and he also belongs to the Cedar Rapids Country Club. He delights in golf and fishing as a recreation. In the county which has remained his place of residence from his birth to the present time he has an extensive circle of warm friends, many of whom frequently gather at his handsome and hospitable home at No. 119 North Seventeenth street East.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 339-340.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


This well-known boot and shoe dealer is one of the leading German-born citizens of Cedar Rapids, and in his successful business he has shown the characteristic thrift and enterprise of his race.  He was born in the Kingdom of Wittenburg, Germany, February 25, 1840, a son of Frederick J. and Mary (Seger) Ottmar, who spent their entire lives in that country, where the father followed the shoemaker’s trade throughout his business career.  In their family were ten children, of whom our subject is the sixth in order of birth.  He has only one brother living, Jacob, a boot and shoe dealer of Iowa Falls, Iowa.  Of those who came to America Frederick and John were both killed in the Civil war, the former being a member of an Illinois regiment, the latter of an Iowa regiment; Gottfried died in Illinois; and Mary died in Omaha, Nebraska.  The others remained in Germany, and one of the number died in infancy.

During his boyhood Michael Ottmar attended the common schools of his native land, and learned the shoemaker’s trade with his father.  At the age of seventeen years he came to America and settled in Lafayette, Indiana, where he followed his trade for a number of years, during which time he became accustomed to the ways of the new world.  Having brought with him to this country some capital he then embarked in business on his own account at Delphi, Indiana, and during the two years and a half he spent at that place he steadily prospered.  Having a good opportunity to sell he did so in 1869, and came direct to Cedar Rapids, which was then a town of only five thousand inhabitants.  Here he opened a retail boot and shoe store, and also did some manufacturing.  As the city grew his trade expanded, and he did a very thriving business for many years, but now leaves the management of his store to his son, while he practically lives a retired life.

Mr. Ottmar has been twice married, his first wife being Mary Kief, the marriage ceremony being performed at Rockfield, Indiana.  She died in Cedar Rapids, leaving one child, Eliza, who is now Mrs. O.W. Zimmerman, of St. Paul, Minnesota.  She has one child, Edna.  In 1875 Mr. Ottmar was married, in Cedar Rapids, to Miss Mary E. Moore, who was born in this city April 7, 1857, her parents, Martin and Nancy (Kimball) Moore, being among the pioneers of Linn county.  Her father, who was a native of Belfast, Ireland, came with his father to Cedar Rapids from Poughkeepsie, New York, in the fall of 1856, and here found a wide field for his labors as a contractor and builder.  After following that occupation for a number of years he retired to private life. His death occurred in 1893.  His first wife died in 1856, leaving four children, namely: Leslie, a bridge carpenter by trade, has taken quite a prominent part in public affairs, and is now serving as street commissioner of Cedar Rapids; Frederick is a carpenter and contractor of bridges at Council Bluffs; Mary E., wife of our subject, is next in order of birth; and Nannie is the wife of James Williamson, an engineer of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, residing in Cedar Rapids.  For his second wife Mr. Moore wedded Mary L. Webb, by whom he had four children, who are still living. Mrs. Ottmar pursued her studies in one of the school houses of Cedar Rapids, built by her father in 1873, and since its organization has been an active member of the Women’s Club, whose object is for study and social benefits.

Mr. and Mrs. Ottmar have one son, Frederick Michael, who lives with his parents.  He was graduated from the Cedar Rapids public schools in 1893, at the age of eighteen years, and has since been associated with his father in business, now having complete charge of the store on First avenue.  During the Spanish-American war he enlisted in Company C, Forty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was in the service thirteen months.

Soon after coming to Cedar Rapids Mr. Ottmar became prominently identified with its people socially, and has since been numbered among its most highly respected business men.  He has confined his attention solely to the boot and shoe trade, which he has found quite profitable.  He owns his store building and a good residence.  He is a member of the German Social Club and the Odd Fellows Lodge, and is an active worker in the latter society, in which he has filled all the chairs.  Politically he has always affiliated with the Democratic party, and has served as alderman from the sixth ward and also as alderman at large for two terms, during which time he was a member of different committees.  A man of sound judgment and good business ability, he has met with well-merited success in life, and his career has been such as to commend him to the confidence and high regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 167-8.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


J. S. Ovington, deputy recorder of Linn county, and proprietor of one of the leading livery, feed and sales stables of Marion, was born in this county February 2, 1872, and is the seventh son of T. S. and Matilda (Morrow) Ovington.  The other all died in infancy with the exception of Bennie, who passed away at the age of eleven years.  The father was born in Hull, England, in 1815, and there learned the merchant tailor’s trade, which he continued to follow throughout the greater part of his life.  On his emigration to the United States in 1839 he located in Albany, New York, where he made his home for two years, and then removed to Louisville, Kentucky.  In 1845 he came to Marion, Iowa, and after working for A. Daniels for a time he embarked in business for himself as a merchant tailor.  In 1865 he embarked in the dry goods business, and after disposing of that he turned his attention to the hardware trade, in which he was engaged until his retirement from active business in 1885.  He was one of the leading and influential citizens of Marion, and always took an active and commendable interest in public affairs, especially along educational lines.  For a number of years he was a member of the school board and served as its president for some time.  His acquaintance was extensive, and at one time he knew almost every man in Linn county.  His upright, honorable life won for him the confidence of his fellow citizens, and no man in Marion was held in higher regard.  He died on the 15th of May, 1895.  He was three times married, our subject’s mother being the third wife.  She was born in Indiana in 1830, and is still living.  Our subject has two half sisters: Jennie, wife of A. A. Mccoy, of Trenton, Nebraska; and Anna E., at home.  Their mother was Mary Cook.  Mr. Ovington also has a half brother, Charles, now a resident of Clinton, Iowa, who served three years in the Civil war as a member of Company A, Sixth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was under the command of General Sherman.  His regiment was the first to form in line of battle before Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.  At Shiloh he was captured and was held a prisoner at Andersonville for four months before being exchanged.  He was once wounded while in the skirmish line.  Two other half brothers are now deceased: Thomas C. died April 23, 1878, and Samuel died February 6, 1900.

Mr. Ovington, of this review, attended the Marion high school, which he left at the close of the junior year, and then took a course at a business college in Cedar Rapids.  He has been identified with several business enterprises, and is now a director of the telephone company, a stockholder of the Savings Bank of Marion, and a member of the Building & Loan Association of that place.  In August, 1898, he embarked in the livery business as the junior member of the firm of Hutchinson & Ovington.  They have a well-equipped barn, having about ten vehicles of various kinds, and about fifteen horses.  Some of these are registered stork, including several brood mares.  Mr. Ovington is also sole agent for the William Cashmore gun, which is the finest on the market, the retail price being from one hundred to one thousand dollars.  He is a wide-awake, energetic young business man, and is meeting with well-deserved success.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 159-160.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion

Thomas S Ovington

THOMAS S. OVINGTON, a retired merchant living at Marion, of which city he was a pioneer of 1845, was born at Hull, Yorkshire, England, Nov. 10, 1815.  His parents were Charles and Ann (Sherwood) Ovington, both natives of Yorkshire.  Mr. Ovington served a regular apprenticeship to the tailor's trade, and was married in March, 1837, to Miss Jane Leve, and to them one child was bora.  Both mother and child departed this life on the same day.

Mr. Ovington of this notice emigrated from England to the United States in 1839.  He made his home at Louisville, Ky., where he worked at his trade, and where, on the 20th of October, 1840, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary, daughter of Samuel Cook.  She was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and their union was blest with five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom are living except one.  Charles, born Dec. 6, 1841, married Miss Flora Roberts, and they are living at Clinton, this State; Mary J., born March 18, 1844, is the wife of Alfred McCoy, of Trenton, Neb.; Thomas C. born in Marion, Iowa, Oct. 20, 1848, married Josie Walton; he died and she is living at Ft. Henry, Iowa; he was a Knight Templar Mason.  Samuel, born Jan. 13, 1851, is yet single, and resides in Nebraska; Annie E., born April 21, 1854, is unmarried and living at home.  Mrs. Ovington died Nov. 9, 1855, at Marion.  Mr. Ovington was married again June 8, 1858, to Miss Matilda, daughter of John Morrow; she was born in Pennsylvania.  Of this union seven children were born, only one of whom is now living.  The record is as follows: John was born Aug. 30, 1859, and died September 24 of the same year; Arthur, born Aug. 10, 1860, died September 27 of the same year; Edward, born Oct. 1, 1861, died Sept. 24, 1862; Edwin, born March 10, 1864, died Aug. 30, 1864; William, born June 15, 1865, died Aug. 16, 1865; Bennie, born Oct. 30, 1866, was killed by a horse Aug. 12, 1878; Joseph, the youngest, is yet living, and was born at Marion Feb. 2, 1872.     

Mr. Ovington came to Marion in June, 1845, and here engaged in business as a merchant tailor.  He followed that line of trade for twenty years, and then merged it into the dry-goods trade.  He continued in the latter business until 1881, during which time he had accumulated a snug fortune, and then embarked in the hardware business, but not finding this line so profitable, he sold out in March, 1885, and since that time has not been actively engaged.

Mr. Ovington is a Republican in politics.  He has always taken a warm interest in educational
matters, and has served several years as a member of the Marion School Board.  He joined the I. O. O. F. in his native land when twenty-one years of age, and on coming to this State again united with the order, and is now a member of Osceola Lodge No. 18, of Marion.

Source of portrait and biographical sketch (verbatim transcription):  “Portrait and Biographical Album of Linn County, Iowa”, 1887, pages 609 - 610

Submitted by: Eric & Marcia Driggs


This well-known and highly-esteemed citizen of Mt. Vernon was born at Saratoga Springs, New York, on the 22nd of February, 1836, his parents being William C. and Hannah B. (Bliss) Owen, also natives of that state.  The latter was an own cousin of Colonel P. P. Bliss, who was connected with the Moody and Sankey revivals, and was killed in a railway disaster at Ashtabula, Ohio, while trying to save his wife.  The father, who was a carpenter by trade, continued to make his home at Saratoga Springs until called to his final rest in 1893, at the age of eighty-six years.  His wife died in 1883, at the age of seventy-four.  They were the parents of ten children, but only our subject and his sister, Mrs. Emma Harrington, of Saratoga Springs, are now living.

At the age of sixteen Henry W. Owen left home and went to western New York, where he worked for an uncle for five years, and then returned to Saratoga Springs, where the following year was passed.  In 1858 he removed to Illinois, and was engaged in farming near Peru for a time, afterward locating in Livingston county, that state.  While there he enlisted in 1864, in Company F, Thirtieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, at Peoria, and was in the service until the close of the war, being discharged at Washington, D.C., in 1865.

On his return to Illinois Mr. Owen engaged in farming in Bureau county for one year, and at the end of that time settled near Chatsworth, in Germanville township, Livingston county, where he followed the same occupation until his return to New York in 1875.  The following two years were spent in Saratoga Springs, and at the end of that time he came to Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he has since made his home, an honored and highly respected citizen.  At present he is serving as commander of W. C. Demmitt Post, No. 400, G. A. R., and is a supporter of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Mr. Owen was married, November 1, 1860, the lady of his choice being Miss Rachel S. Davis, by whom he had four children, three born in Bureau county, Illinois, and the youngest in Saratoga Springs, New York.  In order of birth they are as follows: Llewellen is at home with her parents; Una E. is the wife of W. G. Power, a book dealer of Mt. Vernon, a sketch of whom appears in this work, and they have two children, Ruth and Wilbur; Adlebert, an engineer residing in Kewanee, Henry county, Illinois, is married and has two children, Hazel and Isla; and Charles W. married Vera Vaughn, of Wyoming, Iowa, and is clerking in a store at Mt. Vernon.

Mrs. Owen is a native of Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Benjamin and Unity (Smith) Davis.  Her father was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, and continued to make his home in that state until Mrs. Owen was fourteen years of age, when he removed with his family to Bureau county, Illinois, where he was engaged in farming many years.  During his last days he lived retired at Peru, Illinois, where he died at the ripe old age of eighty-seven years.  Mrs. Owen’s mother had passed away twenty years previous.  In their family were nine children, six sons and three daughters, eight of whom are still living and reside in various parts of the country.  The oldest son, Llewellyn, was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1835, and was a soldier of the Union army from 1861 to 1866, serving as first lieutenant of his company.  In 1867 he was appointed deputy United States revenue collector for La Fayette and Saline counties, Missouri, and held many offices of honor and trust in the former county, being a prominent lawyer of Lexington, the county seat of that county.  In 1868 he was elected state senator.  He was killed in a railroad accident in California.  His brother, Thomas, was also in the Civil war, and is now a resident of Washington, Kansas.  On the paternal side Mrs. Owen is of Welsh extraction, her grandfather, Thomas Davis, having come to this country from Wales at an early day and settled in Chester county, Pennsylvania, where he followed farming for many years.  He died there at the advanced age of ninety-six years.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 143-5.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


A deep feeling of sadness spread throughout Bertram township when it was announced that Albert Oxley had passed from this life, but while those who knew him remain his memory will be cherished because of his life of helpfulness, of good cheer, of broad sympathy and his deep interest in and labors for the benefit of his fellowmen. Mr. Oxley was born in Linn county, in 1849, a son of William and Mary (Grey) Oxley, who were natives of Indiana. They settled in Linn county at an early day, the father establishing his home on a farm, which he operated until 1864. He then disposed of that property and purchased two hundred acres in Washington county, Iowa, which he operated until his death, both he and his wife passing away at their home in that section of the state. Seven sons were born unto Mr. and Mrs. William Oxley, namely: Thomas, Albert, Perry, William, deceased, Randolph, Simpson and Jacob.

Albert Oxley was reared in the usual manner of farm lads of the period, assisting his father in the work of the home farm until he attained his majority. He then began life on his own account, purchasing one hundred acres of land in Marion township, this county, which he operated for ten years. He then disposed of that place to advantage and invested his money in a tract of ninety acres, also located in Marion township. This remained his home until 1900, when he sold and bought eighty acres on section 20, Bertram township, and to the cultivation of this place he gave his time and attention until his death, which occurred in 1901. He made some improvements on the place and brought the fields under a high state of cultivation, so that it annually yields good crops. This property is still in possession of Mrs. Oxley, who makes her home thereon.

In 1865 Mr. Oxley was married to Miss Sarah E. Patterson, a native of Marion township and a daughter of George and Eliza Jane Patterson. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Oxley were born three children, two daughters and a son, but the daughters, Ellen C. and Mary E., are both deceased. The son, Albert M., is at home and assists his mother in the management of the farm.

Mr. Oxley gave his political support to the democratic party and while he was ever found loyal to the best interests of his county he never sought nor desired public office. He was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which his wife also belongs. He was a man most highly esteemed in the locality in which he so long made his home and his death was a source of regret not only in his own household but among his many friends and neighbors. His remains were interred in the Oak Shade cemetery at Marion.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 724-5.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Edgar Milton Oxley, who passed away on the 24th of May, 1902, was for a number of years identified with industrial interests in Marion as a bridge carpenter in the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company. His birth occurred near Springville, Linn county, Iowa, on the 21st of September, 1857, his parents being James Milton and Mary (Reaneau) Oxley, both of whom were natives of Indiana. They came to Linn county in the early ‘40s and here the father continued to reside throughout the remainder of his life, his demise occurring in Springville. The mother, who still survives, has now attained the age of seventy-nine years and makes her home in Springville, where she has an extensive circle of friends. She reared a family of seven children, as follows: Mrs. Julius White, of Rolfe, Iowa; Mrs. Mattie Gill, Mrs. Cora Stone, Mrs. Alberta Pickering and Mrs. Althea Beck, all of whom reside in Springville; Edgar M., of this review; and Evart T., living in Dana, Iowa.

On the 31st of March, 1880, Edgar M. Oxley was united in marriage to Miss Elma F. Bear, who was born in this county on the 28th of September, 1859, a daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Raffensparger) Bear, who were natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively. The year 1850 witnessed their arrival in Linn county and here they made their home on a farm until called to their final rest, the father passing away on the 8th of August, 1884, and the mother on the 18th of October, 1867. Their children were four in number, namely: Mary, the wife of Nelson Paulson, of Kenwood Park, Iowa; John A., living in this county; Mrs. Oxley; and Marion A., who resides near Kingsley, Iowa. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Oxley was horn a son, Homer, who lives in Marion. Homer Oxley married Miss Maude Osborne, a daughter of Jackson and Mary Osborne, of Marion, and unto them have been horn two children: Edgar J. and Mary F., aged four and two years respectively.

The year following his marriage Mr. Oxley took up his abode on his father’s farm near Springville and the next year removed to Greene county, this state, where he remained for three years. On the expiration of that period he went to Bayard, Iowa, and in 1890 came to Marion, where he entered the service of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company as a bridge carpenter, remaining a trusted and valuable employee of the corporation until the time of his death. Fraternally he was identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, who had charge of the funeral services, which were held in the Methodist Episcopal church of Marion. His remains were interred in the Oak Shade cemetery. He was ever a devoted husband and loving father and, though modest and retiring in disposition, his friends were many. His widow still lives in Marion, where she is well known and highly esteemed as a lady of many excellent traits of heart and mind.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 147-8.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Among the progressive and enterprising business men of Marion, Iowa, is Henry C. Oxley, a prominent stock dealer of that place, who is now serving as alderman from the Second ward. He is a native of Linn county, his birth having occurred in Marion township on the 3rd of September, 1848. His father, John S. Oxley, was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1809, and married Jane Hawley1, a native of Virginia. For ten years they made their home in Indiana, and in 1840 came to Iowa, being numbered among the pioneers of this county. Here the father first took up three hundred acres of timber land from the government and also secured two mill sites on Big creek, in Marion township, and later purchased six hundred acres of prairie land adjoining his first purchase, all of which is still in possession of the family. He and his brothers took a very active and prominent part in the early affairs of this locality and were members of the vigilance committee, which was quite an important necessity in those days save their horses from being stolen. He died in 1878, honored and respected by all who knew him. His wife, who was an earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal church, is also deceased. Their children were Everet, who was born in Indiana, and died in Marion township, this county, at the age of twenty-seven years; Emeline, wife of John W. Gray, of Marion; James P., a farmer of Marion township, who was a soldier of the Civil war, and was twice taken prisoner, being confined in Andersonville prison for four months; Celia J., who married Elihu Ives, and died March 28, 1891; Georgian, wife of A. M. Secrest, a farmer of Marion township; Henry C., our subject; John T., a constable of Marion; and Marshall and Robert A., both farmers of Marion township.

Henry C. Oxley grew to manhood on the home farm in Marion township, and is indebted to the public schools of this county for his early educational advantages, though he later attended school in Mt. Vernon for one year. In 1870 he crossed the plains to California on horseback as the advance guard of the train consisting of mules and horses and was about four months upon the road. After prospecting in that state for five months he returned home by way of Wyoming. He made his expenses and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, which did him a great deal of good, as he gained forty pounds in weight. On his return to this county Mr. Oxley resumed farming, which he successfully carried on until March, 1888, when he rented his farm and removed to Marion, where he has since engaged in the stock business. He deals principally in cattle and sheep, making a specialty of milk cows. He still owns two hundred and thirteen acres of improved land valued at sixty-five dollars per acre, some of which was entered from the government by his father in 1842.

On the first of January, I872, Mr. Oxley was united in marriage with Miss Alice A. Ives, whose parents, George and Hannah (Jones) Ives, were also pioneers of this county and were from Connecticut and Ohio, respectively. By this union have been born three children: namely Maybelle Clare, who was graduated from the Marion high school, is now living at home; Carl L., also a graduate of the high school, won the scholarship out of a class of thirty-two, and is now a student in the second year at Coe College, Cedar Rapids; Hazel, still a pupil in the high school of Marion. The parents are both members of the Baptist church and are worthy representatives of two of the most prominent and well-to-do pioneer families of this county. Fraternally, Mr. Oxley affiliates with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and politically is identified with the Democratic party. While in this country he served as township assessor and school director, and in 1896, and again in 1898, was elected to the city council from the Second ward of Marion. As one of the leading business men and representative citizens of that place he is justly entitled to prominent mention in the history of his native county, with whose interests he has always been closely identified.


Source: Printed in Linn Biographical Record, 1901, pgs 963 & 964. Article scanned by Alison Newhall,
Photo contributed from file of Alison Newhall.

Submitted by: Alison Newhall


Marshall Oxley, a prominent and prosperous agriculturist of Linn county, has spent his entire life within its borders and is now the oldest settler in the community where he makes his home. His birth occurred in Marion township on the 18th of February, 1853, his parents being John S. and Jane (Halley) Oxley, who were born in Kentucky a century ago. Clair Oxley, the great-grandfather of our subject, came to this country from England in colonial times and lived to attain the remarkable age of one hundred years. His remains were interred in Rush county, Indiana. Everett Oxley, the grandfather of Marshall Oxley, passed away near Louisville, Kentucky, when forty-five years of age, his death being occasioned by an accident. While hewing timbers for a cabin the broad ax which he was using struck his knee and inflicted a wound which proved fatal. In 1824 the Oxley family left Kentucky and took up their abode near Crawfordsville, Indiana, where the parents of our subject celebrated their marriage September 1, 1831. The year 1840 witnessed their removal to Linn county, Iowa, the date of their arrival being October 18. John S. Oxley built the first grist mill in this county in 1842-3 and the third sawmill. He devoted his attention principally, however, to general agricultural pursuits throughout his active business career and at one time was personally acquainted with every white man in the county.

Marshall Oxley attended the district schools during the winter months but the methods of instruction at that early period were quite crude as compared with the educational advantages afforded to the youth of today, and when a pupil had mastered the three R’s his schooling was considered ended. He early became familiar with the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist and the work of the fields has claimed his attention throughout his entire business career. The farm on which his birth occurred has remained his home to the present time and he now enjoys the distinction of being the oldest settler in the community. In connection with the tilling of the soil he has been extensively engaged in the raising of stock and also deals in notes and bank and commercial paper. The success which has attended his efforts is indicated by the fact that he is now the largest individual tax payer in Marion township.

On the 4th of September, 1878. Mr. Oxley was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary M. Ellison, whose natal day was March 18, 1859. The ceremony took place at the home of the bride three miles north of Mount Vernon. Mr. and Mrs. Oxley now have three children, namely: Clarence R., who was born February 17, 1880, and now resides in Marion; Ralph W., born June 28. 1889, who is at home; and Bertha, whose birth occurred February 12, 1895, and who is also under the parental roof. Clarence R. Oxley was united in marriage to Miss Lizzie B. Groll on the 7th day of May, 1902, and they now have two children: Helen, who was born July 5, 1906; and Marshall, Jr., who first opened his eyes to the light of day on the 10th of October, 1908.

For the past twenty-eight years Mr. Oxley has been a contributing member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and, in accordance with the teachings of that order, has endeavored to ‘‘help his fellow man in time of need.’’ It has ever been his desire to exemplify that well known motto of a celebrated man: "The world is my country and to do good my religion.” Mr. Oxley has never been an aspirant for public office, having, as he expresses it, been ‘‘more content in endeavoring to make two blades of grass grow where but one grew before.’’ His political views are epitomized in the words. ‘‘equal rights for all and special privileges to none.” Having been a resident of Linn county for the past fifty-seven years, he is largely familiar with its annals from pioneer times down to the present and can relate many interesting anecdotes of the early days. He can distinctly remember several incidents in connection with the marshalling of troops for the Civil war. He was a chum of Perry Byam, the youngest soldier who enlisted in the war, the records at Washington acknowledging’ him as the youngest, for he was only about nine years of age. He witnessed the building of the first railroad in Linn county and was present at the barbecue in Cedar Rapids when the first railroad entered that city. It is to such men as Mr. Oxley that this county owes its splendid development, and the wonderful transformation that has taken place in this part of the state has been a source of much gratification to him. He has traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, has crossed the great corn belt of the Mississippi valley and the wheat fields of the Dakotas and has gazed with wonder and admiration on the sun-kissed mountains of the west; yet in all sincerity he eon say:

“You may roam this wide world over;
You may boast where you have been:
But the place to rear your babies
Is in the good old county of Linn.”

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 562-3.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Robert S. Oxley is now living practically retired in Marion but still supervises the operation of his fine farm in Marion township. His birth occurred in that township on the 4th of August, 1856, his parents being John S. and Jane (Halley) Oxley, both of whom were natives of Kentucky. They came to Linn county in 1840 and more extended mention is made of them in connection with the sketch of Marshall Oxley on another page of this volume. Their son James P., now living in Marion, was a soldier of the Civil war.

Robert S. Oxley obtained his education in an old log schoolhouse such as was characteristic of the period and locality. On attaining his majority he rented a part of the old homestead farm and later bought a portion thereof. As his financial resources increased, owing to his untiring energy and good management, he purchased more land from time to time until his holdings now embrace three hundred and seventy-five and a half acres on sections 11 and 12, Marion township, all under a high state of cultivation and improvement. In connection with the tilling of the soil he made a specialty of raising and feeding stock and in all of his undertakings met with a gratifying and well merited measure of success. He has now put aside the active work of the fields, however, and is living retired in Marion, where he is well known as a respected, representative and prosperous citizen.

On the 13th of October, 1880, Mr. Oxley was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth E. Hoover, who was born in Lisbon, Iowa, on the 16th of November, 1857, her parents being Benjamin and Sarah (Bresler) Hoover, both of whom were born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They came to Linn county in the late ‘40s and here spent the remainder of their lives. They had a family of four children, two of whom yet survive. Mrs. Oxley’s uncles, Henry and Christian Hoover, participated in the Civil war, fighting for the Union cause. Mr. and Mrs. Oxley have become the parents of four children. Nellie E., whose birth occurred February 11, 1882, passed away on the 7th of May, 1905. She was the wife of W. T. Beach, by whom she had a daughter, Gladys Clara, who now lives with our subject. Sarah J. is the wife of Harry Horn, of Marion township. Harrison B. Oxley is a resident of this county. Lucy May Oxley is a high-school student.

In politics Mr. Oxley is an earnest republican and has capably served in several township offices. The cause of education has ever found in him a stanch champion and he has done effective service in its behalf as a school director. Both he and his wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal church, in the work of which they are deeply and helpfully interested. Having spent their entire lives in Linn county, they have a wide acquaintance within its borders and enjoy the unqualified respect and esteem of those who have come to know them intimately.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 639-40.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson

If you would like to contribute contact the
Linn County Coordinator