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Among the honored veterans of the Civil war and representative citizen of Linn county none stand higher in public esteem than Henry Sailor, who is now successfully engaged in farming on section 35, Franklin township. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, December 6, 1830, and is a son of Peter and Margaret (Bitting) Sailor, who spent their entire lives in Berks county, that state. In their family were nine children, all of whom are now deceased with the exception of Kate, the sixth in order of birth, who is now the widow of Solomon Deem and a resident of Reading; and our subject, who is the next youngest. The others were Harriet, wife of Alexander McDowell, of Reading; William, whose widow, Mary Grauel, is a resident of Reading: Elizabeth, who married Jacob Hall, and both died at that place; Joseph, who married Eliza Himmelburger, a resident of Reading; Rebecca, who married George Shenfelter and both died in Reading; Frederick, who married Amelia Haves, and she is now a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Ellen who died in infancy.

In early life Henry Sailor attended the public schools of his native city until sixteen years of age, and then engaged in brick making there for four years. At the age of twenty-two he went to Lewiston, Pennsylvania, where he followed that pursuit for the same length of time. On the inauguration of the Civil war he responded to the president’s first call for troops, enlisting, April 24, 1861, for three months, as a member of Company A, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. They first went to Harrisburg, and from there to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then through the Cumberland valley to Hagerstown, Maryland, whence they proceeded to Williamsport on the Potomac. They next went to Bunker Hill and Harpers Ferry, Mr. Sailor being at the latter place when his term of enlistment expired. From this time on his war record, which is a very interesting one, may be best given in his own words:

“After I went home from the three months’ service, I was ill for a few weeks. Everybody felt patriotic, I along with the rest, and as soon as I was able I re-enlisted in Independent Battery D, Pennsylvania Artillery, commanded by George W. Durell, at that time encamped at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and attached to the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment, commanded by W.W.H. Davis, of that place, who was later pension agent at Philadelphia. I was mustered into the United States service September 24, 1861, and proceeded to Washington, the regiment going into camp at Kalamarama Heights, where we stayed for a few days and were then detached from the One Hundred and Fourth Regiment and marched down East Capitol street into an artillery camp, where we received our horses, harness and Parrott guns. From there we moved across the river into Virginia to a place called Munson’s Hill, where we went into winter quarters and formed a brigade consisting of Battery D, commanded by Captain Durell; the First Rhode Island, commanded by Captain Monroe; the Second New Hampshire, commanded by Captain Garish; and a regular battery, commanded by Captain Gibbon, afterward General Gibbon. Here we went into regular drill theoretically and practically. The non-commissioned officers had to recite twice a week to Colonel Monroe. Our regular drill ground was at Bailey’s Cross Roads. We remained here until spring, when we were among the troops that went to Centerville prior to McClellan’s campaign on the peninsula, and were then ordered to report to Alexandria to accompany that general to the peninsula, but for some reason we were not taken along.

“We were then connected with McDowell’s corps. From this on we marched up and down the country, going as far as Fredericksburg, and were under McDowell’s command until Burnside came up from South Carolina, when we joined the Ninth Corps under that general. The first engagement in which the battery took part was at Kelly’s Ford, and I fired the first gun that was fired in this engagement. It happened in this wise: The lieutenant of the section had gone to his supper in another part of the army, when across the river we could see the enemy coming out of the timber into any open field. General Reno came up and asked me what the distance was between us and the enemy, and I answered four thousand yards. ‘Could you throw a shell that distance?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘Then let them have one,’ he said. I fired three rounds. The next morning we were ordered across the river to make a reconnaissance, and were briskly engaged with the enemy. The next engagement of our battery was at Bristoe’s Station under General Hooker. From there we went to Bull Run, where my piece was dismounted by a solid shot striking the axle, this happening just before we commenced to retreat. I first spiked the piece, but during a short lull I saw that I could throw the piece under the limber and in this way took it to Washington. The next engagement was at Chantilly. My piece being disabled I had no gun to command, but my men and myself made ourselves useful at the other guns. From thence we went to Washington, where I drew a new gun. Later we were in the engagements at South Mountain, Antietam and White Sulphur Springs, where we lost Lieutenant McElvain. We were in the battlefield of Fredericksburg and wintered at that place, and then went to Fortress Monroe and Newport News on the James river.

“After staying there for a while our corps were ordered west. We put our battery on steamboats and went to Baltimore, where we shipped on cars and went to Pittsburg, and on into Ohio as far as Cincinnati. Here we crossed the Ohio river and went to Paris, Kentucky. We visited Mt. Sterling, Lancaster, Richmond, Stamford, Crab Orchard and Lexington, and then shipped for Louisville on cars. From that place we went by steamboat to Vicksburg, and unloaded on the Louisiana side, but soon re-shipped and went up the Yazoo river to Snyder’s Bluffs. From that time on we were in the rear of Vicksburg, watching Johnston until the surrender, and then went to Jackson, Mississippi. Our corps was on the left of the line and my piece was on a small hill near the asylum. I fired into the city a day and a night at five minute intervals. After the evacuation of Jackson we went back to the Mississippi river, near Vicksburg, and from there shipped to Covington, Kentucky.

“By this time we had lost so many horses and so many men by sickness that we could hardly move our battery, some one having been left in nearly every hospital along the Mississippi, while twenty-two men had died from disease contracted in the swamps of the south. We went into camp at Covington, while the rest of the corps proceeded to Knoxville, Tennessee, but our battery being so short of men was left behind. The government had commenced to re-enlist soldiers as veterans, and I was one of the first of our battery to enlist as such and was to have received four hundred dollars. I gave the government my services, but never received the money. After re-enlisting I went home on a leave of absence, and on the expiration of that time returned to the company. Our battery was then transferred to the eastern army and landed at Annapolis. There I fired a salute for General Grant when he came to inspect the troops. Thence we went to Washington, where we had the company filled with new recruits, drew new guns (six three-inch Rodman guns), new horses, and got ready to take part in the Wilderness campaign. While in Washington I was promoted to senior second lieutenant, skipping two duty sergeants, orderly sergeant and quartermaster sergeant. We were on that march from that on until we came to Petersburg, June 17. We were in the engagement at Cold Harbor and then crossed the peninsula. After crossing the James river with our battery had an artillery duel with the rebel battery, but the distance was so great that they did no harm and we could not tell whether we did any or not. We then marched on to Petersburg, and had more or less firing every day until its evacuation, April 2, 1865. Our battery was right in front of the explosion of the mines, only fifty yards away. The two lines were only sixty yards apart and our dead were lying between. The enemy would not accept a flag of truce so that we could bury them for a few days. When at last we did so I went over to see them buried and saw such sights as no one would care to witness.

“From that time on we were in different places on the line to Petersburg, as far to the left as Poplar Grove Church and Hatchie’s Run. About this time I was promoted to senior first lieutenant, October 1, 1864. My section was placed in Fort Sedgwick in Battery 21, commonly called “Fort Hell.” The lines of infantry were about twenty-five yards apart and the line of forts about four hundred. Here they fired almost continuously day and night. After the fall of Petersburg we followed Lee, but at the time of the surrender we were about twenty-five miles behind. We were then ordered to Alexandria, and after the grand review at Washington we turned over our horses and guns to the government. On the day of the review I was in command of a Massachusetts battery. While at Alexandria I was examined by General Tidball and offered a position in the regular army as second lieutenant of artillery, but since the war was over I felt, like so many others, ready to go home. From Alexandria we went to Philadelphia, and were mustered out of the service June 13, 1865.”

In February, 1866, Mr. Sailor came to Linn county, Iowa, where he at first worked as a section hand on the railroad, and then engaged in the manufacture of brick at Lisbon for six years. At the end of that time he purchased a farm on section 13, Franklin township, now owned by Dick Peet, and on selling that place he bought one hundred and sixty acres on section 1, Cedar township, Johnson county, to which he later added one hundred and fifty-two acres on section 2, the same township. He has made many improvements upon this place, including the erection of three fine large barns, over which float at all times the stars and stripes. He also has an elegant home upon his farm, and a good residence on South Washington street, Lisbon, and owns eighty acres of land on section 35, Franklin township, Linn county, the same amount on section 36, that township, and ninety-eight acres in Cedar township, Johnson county.

At Lisbon, August 23, 1866, Mr. Sailor was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Meyers, who was born near Dayton, Montgomery county, Ohio, November 9, 1846, and is a daughter of Henry and Priscilla (Livingood) Meyers, natives of Pennsylvania, who removed to Ohio in 1845, and after residing in that state for seven years came to Lisbon, Iowa. They located on a farm near that place, where the father died April 20, 1892, the mother June 6, 1899, and the remains of both were interred in the Lisbon cemetery. Unto them were born nine children, all of whom are living, namely: Simon married Minnie Escher and lives in Cedar Rapids; Mary E. is the wife of our subject; Henry C. married Martha Davis and resides in Lisbon; Jacob married Amanda Heller and also lives in Lisbon; William H. married Becky Short and makes his home in Cedar Rapids; John married Sarah Heisey and lives in Lisbon; George married Emma Zeller and resides in the same place; Jennie is the wife of Frank Barr, of Armstrong, Iowa; and Abe is also a resident of Lisbon.

Mr. and Mrs. Sailor have a family of seven children. (1) Anna L., born March 12, 1867, was married, April 20, 1892, to Elsworth Phelps, a retired farmer and lumber merchant of Sutton, Massachusetts, and they have three sons, Henry E., Heston and Sailor. (2) George D., born February 28, 1869, married Edith Durrell, of Dayton, Iowa, and is an attorney of Springville, this county. (3) Edwin, born December 6, 1873, was graduated from the medical department of the State University at Iowa City, April 3, 1901. (4) Carl, born November 9, 1875, is at home with his father. (5) Maggie Louise, born December 4, 1877, is a professional nurse in Iowa City. (6) Robert O., born January 30, 1880, is at home. (7) Ira T., born March 19, 1882, is with the firm of G. & A. Rinkle at Lisbon. There were two children, one son and one daughter, who died in infancy.

In political sentiment Mr. Sailor is an ardent Republican, and for twenty years he has most efficiently served as president of the school board. Fraternally he is a prominent member of Franklin Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Lisbon; Lisbon Lodge, No. 162, I. O. O. F.; and John A. Buck Post, No. 140, G. A. R., at Lisbon; and had the honor of being chosen the first commander of that post. He is widely and favorable known throughout his community, and well deserves the high regard in which he is uniformly held, as he was not only true to his country in her hour of need, but has always been found a useful and valuable citizen.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 160-6.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion

JOHN B. SCOTT  (from 1901 History)

After many years of active labor, first as a contractor and builder, and later as a farmer, John B. Scott is now living a retired life in Marion, Iowa, enjoying a well-earned rest. He was born in Knox county, Ohio, on the 12th of August, 1825, and is a worthy representative of a prominent pioneer family of that state. His father, Allen Scott, was born in York county, Pennsylvania, April 17, 1780, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and was married, January 21, 1808, to Jane Newell, who was born in Washington county, Cross Creek village, that state, November 8, 1784. Soon after their marriage they removed to Ohio, making the journey on horse back, and settled on a heavily timbered tract of land in Knox county, where they endured many of the hardships and privations incident to pioneer life. In those early days people coming west always settled in the woods, shunning the prairie land where fever and ague was more prevalent. To clear the land and convert it into well cultivated fields was a arduous task, but the spirit of adventure which filled the sails of the Mayflower has ever been the soul of American pioneer enterprise, and has been the means of making this nation one of the greatest on earth. Largely by his own work Allen Scott opened up farms in Knox county, Ohio, where he continued to make his home until death. He had a fine orchard of thirty acres of apple and peach trees, and in those early days gave away thousands of bushels of his best fruit to those who had none. He always took a great delight in fruit culture, and was never more happy than when distributing his apples and peaches among the poor. At present in that part of Ohio peaches cannot be raised, and the apple crop is poor. Mr. Scott was a very kind-hearted man of generous and noble impulses, and no one ever had a truer friend or better neighbor than he. For a number of years he was an elder in the Presbyterian church, but on account of the slavery question the elders of the church to which he belonged formed a free church, which was later merged into the Congregational church which is now the leading church of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He was a strong abolitionist, and a soldier of the war of 1812. His wife was a member of the same church and was a most estimable lady. She died while on a visit to her son in Marion, Iowa, in 1855, at the age of seventy-two years, but his death occurred in Mt. Vernon, Knox county, Ohio, in 1848, when sixty-eight years of age.

In the family of this worthy couple were ten children, of whom only our subject and his oldest sister, Mary, are now living. She is the widow of Israel Murphy, and the mother of ten children. Although ninety years of age she is well preserved both in mind and body, except that her hearing is somewhat impaired. Recently she came alone from Hastings, Nebraska, to Chariton, Iowa, and is now spending the winter with her brother. The names and dates of birth of those of the family now deceased are Hugh, March 27, 1809; Margaret, February 19, 1813; Eliza J., married George W. Madden, and died in Plumas county, California, in 1815; Eleanor, 1817; James A., a farmer of Linn county, March 24, 1820; Thomas S., October 2, 1822; and Harriet, March 15, 1829, died in the spring of 1900.

John B. Scott’s early educational advantages were somewhat meager, as it was then believed by most people that study of the “three R’s” was sufficient for most boys. When nearly grown, however, he attended an academy for three months. While there he boarded with his uncle, Judge McGibboney, who kept a station on the famous “underground railroad.” For nine days nine negroes were concealed under hay in the Judge’s barn, and our subject carried food to them. They were almost white, having very little African blood in their veins, and were among the finest looking men physically that Mr. Scott has ever seen, but their mother was a slave and consequently they were held in bondage. They had escaped from their master in Virginia and were on their way to Canada, when cared for by Judge McGibboney.

At the age of twenty-one Mr. Scott commenced learning the brickmason’s trade, which he followed in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, for about nine years. He then, in February, 1853, located in Muscatine, Iowa, where he remained until July 3, 1854. It was on that date that he came to Marion. Here he followed his trade for five years, and among the building he erected is the Hotel Daniels.

In October, 1859, he located on his farm in Marion township, where he has four hundred and twenty acres of valuable land on sections 8 and 17, well improved with good buildings. In connection with farming he engaged in stock raising, his specialty being shorthorn cattle, of which he had a fine herd. He continued active farming until the spring of 1890, when he removed to Marion and purchased a comfortable home on the corner of Eleventh street and Fourteenth avenue, where he has since resided.

On the 14th of April, 1855, in Washington county, Iowa, Mr. Scott married Miss Mary E. Rissler, who was born twelve miles from Winchester, in Clark county, Virginia, July 29, 1825. Her father, John Rissler, was born March 6, 1790, and died November 24, 1878. He was married December 14, 1814, to Catherine Madden, who died June 28, 1832, when Mrs. Scott was quite young. The father’s people being mostly of the Quaker faith. In their family were seven children, namely: Sarah J. and Harriet C., twins, the former of whom married Harrison Wiggins, and lived in Pennsylvania, where her death occurred, white the latter died young; Phebe A., who married Stephen Snider, and both are now deceased; William L., a resident of Tarkio, Missouri; Mary E., wife of our subject; John, who died at the age of seventeen years; and Eliza, wife of Brown Hadden, who lives near Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott have four children: (I) Henry A., residing on the home farm, married Sarah Wiggins, and they have three children, Bertha, Harry B. and Donald. (2) Edward, who has been cashier of the Security Savings Bank of Cedar Rapids since its organization, married Jessie Loper, and they have one child, Dorothy. (3) Lucy E. married W. W. Vaughn, a prominent stock dealer of Marion township, and they have four children, Howard, Edward, Mary and Ruth. (4) John B. is a resident of Tacoma, Washington.

Mr. Scott and his wife both hold membership in the Congregational church, and he is also connected with the Masonic fraternity. At one time he was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and took and active interest in the same. He was one of the organizers of the Republican party in this county, and has always been one of its stanch supporters, but never a politician in the sense of office seeking. He has served as road master and school director for many years, but has never cared for political honors. He has also been a director of the First National Bank of Marion and of the Agricultural Society. As a citizen he ever stands ready to discharge any duty devolving upon him, and justly deserves the high regard in which he is held by all who know him.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 90-92.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion

JOHN B. SCOTT  (from 1911 History)

John B. Scott passed away in Marion on the 27th of February, 1905, in his eightieth year. Here he had resided as one of the revered patriarchs of the community, whose tales of the early days compassed the period when railroad building and telegraph construction were in their infancy. While he lived to enjoy the benefits of improved and modern agricultural implements, he could remember the time when most of the farm labor was done by hand or with very crude machinery. For a number of years he was identified with agricultural interests in this part of the state and for some time prior to his demise lived retired in Marion. He was born in Knox county, Ohio, August 12, 1825, and belonged to one of the pioneer families of that state. In the paternal line he came of Scotch-Irish ancestry.

His father, Allen Scott, was born in York county, Pennsylvania, April 17, 1780, and, having arrived at years of maturity, was married January 21, 1808, to Miss Jane Newell, whose birth occurred in the village of Cross Creek, Washington county, on the 8th of November, 1784. Not long afterward they removed to Ohio, making the journey on horseback. He settled on a heavily timbered tract of land in Knox county, where they had to face many hardships and privations incident to pioneer life. Much difficult labor confronted them. Their land was covered with timber and it was therefore necessary to clear away the trees ere they could plow and plant their fields. Allen Scott was energetic and determined, however, and largely through his own efforts he opened up and developed several farms in Knox county, Ohio, where he continued to make his home until his death. He was also among the first to successfully engage in raising fruit in that part of the state. He had thirty acres planted to apple and peach trees and in those early days gave away thousands of bushels of fruit to those who had none. He was greatly interested in the subject of horticulture and found the keenest delight in giving the products of his orchard to the poor. Mr. Scott took an active part in the religious development of the community, serving for some time as an elder in the Presbyterian church, but on account of the slavery question the elders of the church to which he belonged formed a free church, which was later merged into the Congregational church and became the leading religious organization of Mount Vernon, Ohio. He served his country as a soldier of the war of 1812 and became a stalwart advocate of the abolition cause. His wife, a most estimable Christian woman, held membership in the same church. She passed away in 1855, at the age of seventy-two years, while on a visit to her son in Marion, Iowa, while the death of Allen Scott occurred in Mount Vernon, Knox county, Ohio, in 1848, when he was sixty-eight years of age.

In his family were the following children: Mary, who became the wife of Israel Murphy, lived to the advanced age of ninety years. Hugh died March 27, 1809. Margaret passed away February 19, 1813. Eliza J. became the wife of George W. Madden and died in Plumas county, California, in 1815. Eleanor passed away in 1817. James A., a farmer of Linn county, died March 24, 1820. Thomas S. passed away October 2, 1822. Harriet died in the spring of 1900. John B. completes the family.

In his youthful days J. B. Scott attended the public schools near his father’s home. His educational privileges, however. were extremely meager, for at that date it was not regarded as necessary that a boy should be instructed in much beyond the elementary branches of learning. However, he later had the benefit of three months’ instruction in an academy and during that time there occurred an event which made an indelible impression upon his mind, he was boarding with his uncle, Judge McGibboney, who conducted a station on the famous underground railroad and who for nine days had nine negroes concealed under the hay in his barn. To these John B. Scott carried food and he described them as among the finest type of men physically that he had ever seen. They were almost white, having very little African blood in their veins, hut their mother was a slave and consequently they were held in bondage. They had escaped from their master in Virginia and were on their way to Canada when cared for by Judge McGibboney.

Mr. Scott was about Twenty-one years of age when he began learning the brickmaker's trade, which he followed in Mount Vernon, Ohio, for about nine years. In February, 1853, he became a resident of Muscatine, Iowa, and there remained until July 3, 1854, the latter date witnessing his arrival in Marion. There he followed his trade for five years and among the buildings, he erected is the Hotel Daniels. In October, 1859, however, he put aside building interests and became identified with agricultural pursuits, owning and cultivating four hundred and twenty acres of valuable land on sections 8 and 17, well improved with good buildings. His farm was equipped along at modern lines and was the exponent of a spirit of progressiveness, as manifest in his buildings and the farm machinery, as well as in the high grades of stock, he made a specialty of raising shorthorn cattle and was widely known because of his fine herd. In 1890 he retired from the farm and removed to Marion, where he erected a comfortable home. Throughout the remainder of his days he lived retired, enjoying a well earned rest. His former activity brought him substantial success, supplying him with all of the comforts of life in his later years.

It was on the 14th of April, 1855, in Washington county, Iowa, that Mr. Scott wedded Miss Mary E. Rissler, who was born twelve miles from Winchester, in Clarke county, Virginia, July 29, 1825. Her father, John Rissler, was born March 6, 1790, and died November 24, 1878. On the 14th of December, 1814, he married Catherine Madden, who died July 28, 1832, when Mrs. Scott was quite young. In their family were seven children, while unto Mr. and Mrs. Scott were born four children. Henry A., who married Sarah Wiggins, resides on the home farm. Edward, who married Jessie Loper, is mentioned on another page of this work. Lucy E., is the wife of W. W. Vaughn, a prominent stock dealer of Marion township. John B. is a resident of Tacoma, Washington.

Mr. Scott for some years was connected with the Agricultural Society and at one time was a director of the First National Bank of Marion. He gave his political allegiance to the republican party and was called to serve in some local offices but never had marked aspiration along political lines. He belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Masonic societies and both he and his wife were for many years identified with the Congregational church. The entire record of John B. Scott was characterized by qualities of noble and upright manhood and citizenship. His residence in Iowa covered fifty-two years and since the 3d of July, 1854, he had lived in Linn county, so that he had largely witnessed its development and progress. He related many interesting incidents of pioneer times and his memory formed a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present. He was nearing the eightieth milestone on life’s journey when called to his final rest and he passed away honored by all who knew him. The number of his friends practically equaled the number of his acquaintances, for his life was ever straightforward in its aims and its purposes, his deeds were just and kindly and he manifested a keen appreciation for good qualities in others. These characteristics gained him a firm hold on the regard of those with whom he came in contact.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 22-26.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Albert Moroni Secrist, who is now living retired in Marion, was for many years an active and successful factor in the agricultural circles of Linn county as an extensive farmer and stock buyer. The period of his residence in this county now covers more than a half century and in 1909 he was honored by election to the presidency of the Old Settlers Association. His birth occurred in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, on the 5th of August, 1849, his parents being David W. and Susan (Burkett) Secrist. Removing to Virginia, the family resided in that state for about five years. David W. Secrist journeyed westward in 1858 and the following year brought his wife and children to Linn county, Iowa, purchasing and locating upon a farm on section 12, Marion township. Here he continued to reside until called to his final rest on the 12th of June, 1885, his demise being the occasion of deep and widespread regret. His wife, who survived him for more than a decade, passed away on the 18th of April, 1896.

Albert M. Secrist began his education in the Keystone state, studying under the preceptorship of his father, who was a teacher by profession. After coming to this county he pursued a course of study in Cornell College of Mount Vernon and then became identified with educational interests as a teacher, imparting clearly and readily to others the knowledge that he had acquired. During all this time he also assisted his father in the work of the home farm, having early become familiar with the duties and labors which fall to the lot of the agriculturist. After completing a commercial course at Dubuque he took up farming and stock buying in association with his brother and carried on those lines of activity extensively and successfully until the time of his retirement. He still owns two farms on Crab Apple creek and is widely recognized as one of the prosperous and respected citizens of the community. lie is the vice president and also one of the directors of the Farmers & Merchants State Bank.

On the 6th of May. 1885, Mr. Secrist was united in marriage to Miss Georgiana Oxley. by whom he had a son. DeWitt Clinton. who passed away at the age of three years. They have an adopted daughter. Ruth Elizabeth, who is attending the high school and is quite proficient in music.

In fraternal circles Mr. Secrist has attained high rank, being now a thirty-second degree Mason and belonging to the blue lodge, the chapter, the command-cry and the shrine. lie and his family are well known members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the work of which they arc deeply and helpfully interested. ‘Widely known in the county where he has resided from boyhood days, he has an extensive acquaintance here and has won uniform trust and good will by reason of a life which in all of its phases has been straightforward and honorable.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 44-47.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Among the progressive and enterprising agriculturists of Marion township none are more deserving of mention in this volume than William P. Secrist, who successfully follows his chosen occupation on section 4. He is a native of the Old Dominion, his birth having occurred in Augusta county, Virginia, January 28, 1856. His parents, David W. and Susan B. (Burkett) Secrist, were natives of Franklin county, Pennsylvania, from which state they removed to Virginia about 1853, and made their home in Augusta county until 1857, when they returned to the place of their birth. In early life the father engaged in business as a merchant, but later followed farming. In 1859 he came to Linn county, Iowa, and located on section 12, Marion township, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of prairie land and forty acres of timber. He removed his family to that place the same year and at once commenced the improvement of his farm. He continued its cultivation until called to his final rest on the 12th of June 1886. He was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity at Marion. His wife is still living and continues to reside on the old homestead in Marion township.

Unto this worthy couple were born eight children, namely: A. M., a farmer of Marion township [see biography above]; Luther B., who was also engaged in farming there until his death, which occurred April 7, 1892; Alice, wife of C. M. Plummer, of Marion township; Daniel B., who died on his farm in that township August 12, 1882; William P., the subject of this sketch; John W., a farmer, who died in Cedar county, Iowa, June 7, 1896; Charles V., a farmer of Marion township, this county; and Benjamin F., a farmer, who died in Marion township September 20, 1899. The children were principally educated in the common schools of this county, while some of the family attended Cornell College and the Dubuque Business College.

On starting out in life for himself William P. Secrist took up the occupation of farming, to which he had been reared, having become thoroughly familiar with that pursuit while aiding his father in the operation of the home place. He was married, April 16, 1879, the lady of his choice being Miss Nancy E. Van Fossen, of Linn county, whose parents were Benjamin and Julia Ann (Matheny) Van Fossen, natives of Ohio. At an early day her family came to this county, where her father, who was by occupation a farmer, died January 28, 1882, while her mother passed away in May, 1862. Mr. and Mrs. Secrist have six children: J. Earl, Susie Mae, Carl Owen, Bertha Alice, Julia Belle, and Ruby Ellen.

Mr. Secrist engaged in farming on the old homestead until 1879, when he purchased ninety-six acres of his present farm, then known as the Durham place, eighty acres of which had been cleared, while ten acres were still covered with timber. In 1880 he bought the Goudy place, consisting of forty acres on section 9, Marion township; in 1882 he purchased seventy-six acres of cultivated land and ten acres of timber, known as the J. S. Torrence farm; in 1894 purchased the Garry Treat place of forty acres on section 9; in 1898 bought forty acres of prairie land on section 12. He also purchased five acres of land in Linn township in 1884. In 1893 he rebuilt his residence on section 4, Marion township, and the year before erected a good barn. He has made all of the improvements upon his place, which is today one of the most valuable and desirable farms of the locality. He carries on general farming, but has made a specialty of the raising of cattle and hogs, and in all this undertakings has met with marked success.

In politics Mr. Secrist is an ardent Republican and takes an active interest in public affairs, especially along educational lines, having served as president of the school board for several years. He is also serving his third term as member of the board of trustees of Marion township. Religiously he is a faithful and earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal church. His life demonstrates what can be accomplished through industry, enterprise and fair dealing, his successful career being due entirely to his own unaided efforts and good management. As a citizen he is highly respected and esteemed, and well merits the confidence so freely accorded him.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa. Illustrated. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1901. pages 63-64.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


The subject of this biography is serving as justice of the peace in Mt. Vernon, a position which he has filled for eighteen years with credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. He is thoroughly impartial in meting out justice, his opinions being unbiased by either fear or favor, and his fidelity to the trust reposed in him is above question. He is regarded as one of the leading and most highly respected citizens of the place, and it is, therefore, consistent that he be represented in a work whose province is the portrayal of the lives of the prominent men of this county.

Mr. Sessions was born in Cortland county, New York, September 28, 1827, and is a son of Uriel and Nancy (Price) Sessions, natives of Connecticut and New York, respectively. When a young man the father located in Cortland county, New York, where in the midst of the forest he cleared and improved a farm. The greater part of his life was devoted to agricultural pursuits, but he also taught school in New York for some years, and served as justice of the peace in Cortland county. He died at the age of sixty-seven years upon the farm where he had located when only twenty-one. His wife survived him some years and also died in Cortland county. All of their six children married and reared families, but only two of the number are now living, these being Charles M., of this sketch; and Sallie A., wife of Rev. O. L. Torry, of Marathon, Cortland county, New York, by whom she has one son, Jay.

Charles M. Sessions obtained his early education in the common schools near his boyhood home and at Cortland Academy in Homer, New York. On completing his education he taught school during the winter and aided his father in the work of the home farm through the summer months until twenty-five years of age. On the 14th of January, 1852, he was married, in Marathon, New York, to Miss Mary J. Armstrong, who was born in Pennsylvania, but her life was largely spent in the Empire state prior to her marriage. Her parents, John and Harriet (Hornsbeck) Armstrong, are both deceased, her father being killed in Jones county by lightning in 1863. By trade he was a stone mason. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Sessions, as follows: (1) Frank J., a resident of Waterloo, Iowa, was county superintendent of schools in Linn county for a number of years, and for eleven years was superintendent of the East Waterloo schools, but resigned that position in the fall of 1900, and is now in the employ of Rand, McNally & Company, of Chicago, as their agent in thirteen counties of northeastern Iowa. He has been superintendent of the Chautauqua Assembly at Waterloo since its organization. In the fall of 1900 he began lecturing on Liquid Air and has since devoted considerable of his time that wonderful discovery. He married Clara Fisher and they have four children, Alvina M., Thomas, Charles and Harriet. (2) Ida M., married A. T. Bartholomew and has one child, Mary. (3) George W., agent for the New York Life Insurance Company at Los Angeles, California, is married and has two children, Romaine and Samuel. (4) Harriet married John H. Merritt, now a grocer of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and died at the age of thirty-five years. (5) Charles E., who is with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company at De Kalb, Illinois, married Huldah A. Richardson and has four children, Grace, Bertha, Georgiana and Edward.

In May, 1852, Mr. Sessions came to Iowa and located at Fairview, Jones county, where he engaged in farming for two years, though the summer of 1852 was spent in Mt. Vernon, where he aided in the construction of the first building erected by Cornell College, it being now known as science hall. On leaving Fairview he entered the Methodist ministry and traveled for seventeen years throughout Iowa and New York. Later he was engaged in the harness business in Hopkinton, Delaware county, Iowa, for three years, and in 1872 located in Mt. Vernon, where he has since made his home. For about ten years he was engaged in the grocery business at this place, and for the past eighteen years has filled the office of justice of the peace. He is an earnest and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and has led an upright, honorable and useful life, well worthy of emulation.

Source: Biographical Record of Linn County, Iowa. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, p. 124-126.

Contributed by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


A brilliant example of a self made American citizen and a grand exemplification of the progress that an ambitious foreigner can make in this country of unbounded opportunities, is shown in the case of W. F. Severa, a well-known manufacturing pharmacist of Cedar Rapids. His singular success is due to his own energy and the high ideal which his lofty and laudable ambition placed before him. Success in any walk of life is an indication of earnest endeavor and persevering effort, ---characteristics that he possesses in an eminent degree.

Mr. Severa was born in Bohemia, September 3, 1853, and is a son of John and Anna Severa, also natives of that country, where the father devoted his entire life to farming and died at the age of fifty-three years. Subsequently the widowed mother came to America and spent her last days in Cedar Rapids, where she passed away when nearly eighty years of age. Our subject is the youngest of seven children, all of whom grew to maturity and came to the new world.

Mr. Severa of this review was educated in the common schools of his native land and was fifteen years of age when he crossed the broad Atlantic and settled at Racine, Wisconsin, where he first worked as a farm hand for his board, but later was given five dollars per month. After two years spent in this way he learned the trade of trunk manufacturing in the city of Racine, and devoted his time to that occupation for seven years.

In 1876 Mr. Severa came to Cedar Rapids, where he engaged in the trunk business for one year, and for the following four years clerked in a drug store in Belle Plaine, Benton county, during which time he thoroughly mastered the business. Having saved a little money, he embarked in the drug business on his own account at Cedar Rapids, in 1880, with a very limited stock, which he gradually increased as his means permitted and his trade grew. After a time he commenced manufacturing proprietary medicines and doing a wholesale business, and now employs two traveling salesmen, who cover the western and central states. He also sells to druggists in all of the large cities of the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago, and his mail order trade is quite extensive. In 1892 he started the Bohemian State Bank at Cedar Rapids, which was afterward changed to the Bohemian American Savings Bank, and in 1898 was consolidated with the City National Bank and the name changed to the American Trust & Savings Bank, and in 1898 was consolidated with the City National Bank and the name changed to the American Trust & Savings Bank. For six years he was president of the Bohemian American Savings Bank, and is now a stockholder in the American Trust & Savings Bank, and Citizens National Bank. He was a director of the Security Savings Bank until 1893, when he resigned to take charge of his own banking business. He conducts a printing office in connection with his drug business, publishing his own circulars and small bills, and issues an almanac of over one-half million copies printed in nine different languages.

On the 6th of July, 1881, Mr. Severa married Miss Josephine Dusil, a native of Cedar Rapids, and a daughter of Joseph Dusil, one of the early settlers of the city, who is represented on another page of this volume. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Severa taught in the public schools of Cedar Rapids for some years. Our subject and his wife have two children: Lumir and Zulina, both now in school.

Politically Mr. Severa is a Democrat, but in 1896 voted for William McKinley, the Republican candidate for president. As a boy of fifteen years he came to America alone empty-handed, in fact he had to borrow the money to pay his railroad fare from New York to Racine, Wisconsin. He was not only without means but was unable to speak the English language. While working as a trunk maker in Racine, he managed to save a little from his meager wages to buy books, and attended a private night school for a time, it being his ambitious desire to become conversant with the ways and language of America. From a humble position he has steadily worked his way upward to a position of affluence, and his success is due entirely to his own well-directed, energetic efforts for he is a man of good business ability, sound judgment and keen discrimination.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 94-5.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


For more than a half century Jacob Shadle has made his home in Linn county, so that he well deserves mention among the pioneer citizens in a history of this character. He was born in Center county, Pennsylvania, October 18, 1831, the youngest and the only surviving member in a family of fourteen children born unto Jonathan and Mary Shadle, who were likewise natives of the Keystone state, where they lived and died.

Jacob Shadle was thrown upon his own resources at the early age of seven years and from that time on he has depended upon his own labor for a livelihood. He managed, however, to acquire a common-school education and in early life learned the blacksmith’s trade, which he has followed during the greater part of his life. At the age of twenty-four years he sought a home in the middle west, journeying as far as Illinois in 1855, and spending two years in the Prairie state. In 1857 he made a permanent location in Linn county, Iowa, and purchased his present farm of one hundred and five acres, situated on section 12, Marion township. He made all of the improvements on the place and for many years was actively identified with its cultivation, while he also followed the blacksmith’s trade. He still makes his home on his farm and although he has reached the advanced age of seventy-nine years, he still give supervision to his farm work.

It was after locating in Linn county, that Mr. Shadle was married, in 1860, to Miss Mary G. Patterson, who was born in Ohio in 1841, a daughter of Joseph and Grace (Beck) Patterson, who were likewise natives of the Buckeye state, where they lived until called to their final rest. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Shadle have been born three daughters, namely: Sarah E., the wife of L. F. Emmons, of Linn county; Rachel E., the wife of 0. H. Winchel, their home being in the state of Washington; and Nettie, the wife of L. F. Marshall, a resident of Springville, Linn county.

Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Shadle has voted for the candidates of the republican party but he has never been active as an office seeker. He was reared in the faith of the Methodist church, while Mrs. Shadle was reared in the faith of the Friends Society. Mr. Shadle is well known as a pioneer of the county and is a most industrious and useful man, whose probity is an unquestioned element in his career. In daily life he is genial and affable, intelligence and goodness are his decisions of merit and neither Love nor power can make him oblivious to principles of right and duty. He stands today crowned with honors and years, respected by young and old, and now in the evening of his days lie can look back over a life well spent, feeling that he has not lived in vain.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 335-6.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


One of the pioneer business men of Cedar Rapids is Stephen A. Shattuck, now retired from commercial activities and enjoying the competence acquired in former years. He has many interesting reminiscences of early days in this county, Cedar Rapids being a mere village of about four hundred inhabitants when he located here in the spring of 1852. With its growth and development he has been actively identified and takes a just pride in its prosperity as it now ranks among the leading cities of the state.

A native of Worchester county, Massachusetts, Mr. Shattuck was born thirty miles west of Boston, on the 12th of June, 1824, his parents being Captain Stephen and Hannah (Carter) Shattuck, also natives of the old Bay state. The mother was born in Reading, of which place her father was an early settler. The original ancestor of the Shattuck family in America was William, who was born in England in 1620 or 1621, and who came to this country about 1641, locating in Massachusetts. He died at Watertown, Massachusetts, August 14, 1672. Our subject’s paternal grandfather, who also bore the name of Stephen Shattuck, was born in one of New England states, and fought for American independence as a soldier of the Revolutionary war. Captain Shattuck, the father of our subject, grew to manhood in Massachusetts, and as captain of a company of cavalry was one of General LaFayette’s escorts when he visited the United States in 1824. He was always handy with tools and for several years worked at the carpenter’s trade, always making his home in his native state. In his family were four children, namely: Mrs. Miranda Holt, a widow, who was born in 1818, and now resides in Fort Scott, Kansas; Elijah, who died in 1899, when nearly seventy-nine years of age; Hannah, who died in St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of seventeen years; and Stephen A., of this review.

The early life of our subject was passed in Massachusetts, and he had fair educational advantages, attending both the common schools and an academy. From the age of ten to sixteen years he spent most of his time upon a farm, and then turned his attention to learning the carpenter’s trade, serving a three-years’ apprenticeship. During the following four years he worked as a journeyman in his native state, and then entered a furniture factory at Dedham, Massachusetts, where he was employed at cabinet work for three or four years.

In 1851 Mr. Shattuck came west and after visiting a sister in Iowa City for some time, he located in Cedar Rapids in June, 1852, and soon afterward embarked in merchandising with his uncle, Henry A. Carter, under the firm name of Carter & Shattuck. This relation was continued for about three years, when George Dewey purchased the interest of Mr. Carter, and the title of the firm was changed to Shattuck & Dewey. The first place of business occupied by Mr. Shattuck was on First street, between First and Second avenues, it being a frame building one story in height. At that time there were not over four or five brick buildings in the place. They continued on First street until Mr. Carter sold his interests. In 1856 he built a brick block, forty feet front and eighty feet deep, three stories in height, which building is still standing. Mr. Shattuck was subsequently interested in other enterprises, and continued in active business until 1890, when he laid aside business cares, and has since lived a retired life. In 1856 he erected the third brick block in the city, it being located on First avenue, and in 1855 built his present brick residence, into which he moved in the spring of the following year. It is believed that no man in the city has so long resided in one house, it having been his home for the long period of forty-five years.

On the 1st of January, 1856, Mr. Shattuck was married in Berlin, Massachusetts, to Miss Harriet Rice, who was born in Northboro, April 2, 1831, that state, which was also the birthplace of her husband. Her parents, Captain Seth and Persis (Bartlett) Rice, were also natives of Massachusetts. Soon after his marriage Mr. Shattuck brought his bride to the new home he had prepared for her reception in Cedar Rapids. They had two children. William Lemuel, who was well educated in the Cedar Rapids high school, died in Los Angeles, California, March 3, 1886, at the age of twenty-six years. Nellie L. is at home.

In early life Mr. Shattuck voted with the Old Free Soil party, and he assisted in organizing the Republican party, voting for John C. Fremont in 1856, and for all the presidential candidates since that time. He has never sought political honors, but served as alderman of the city two years; township assessor one year; and township trustee three years. He has been a delegate to numerous conventions of his party, and has always taken a deep and commendable interest in public affairs. For some years he was a member of Oak Lodge, No. 53, I. O. O. F. Wherever known he is held in high regard, and as an honored pioneer and highly respected citizen he is certainly deserving of honorable mention in the history of his adopted county.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 126-7.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


For many years this gentleman was one of the most active and enterprising business man of Cedar Rapids, but he has now laid aside all business cares and is spending the closing years of a useful career in ease and quiet at his home, No. 603 Second avenue. He was born in Sussex county, New Jersey, and belongs to a family of German origin, which was founded in the new world about 1775 or earlier, his ancestors being among the pioneers of Sussex county, New Jersey. His parents, Abraham and Mary (Carroll) Shaver, were also natives of that county, and the latter was descended from one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. At an early day the father removed with his family from New Jersey to St. Catherines, Ontario, where he purchased a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits throughout the remainder of his life.

Isaac H. Shaver is the youngest son in a family of seven children, and was principally reared in Canada, his education being mainly acquired through his own unaided efforts. On leaving home when a young man he went to Rockford, Illinois, where he engaged in farming and also in buying and shipping produce. In 1856 he removed to Iowa and located in Vinton, where he had previously purchased land, making his home there for about eight years. During his residence there he traveled over the state as general agent for the C. H. McCormick Reaper Manufactory, overseeing the agencies in twenty-two different counties.

In 1863 Mr. Shaver came to Cedar Rapids and embarked in the cracker business. Later he built a factory and engaged in the manufacture of crackers here, and subsequently established a similar enterprise at Des Moines, carrying on that business successfully for twenty-five. He was associated first with Sampson C. Bever and later with S. L. Dows in this industry. At the same time Mr. Shaver was also interested in other business enterprises, and erected several business houses and dwellings in the city. He is a stockholder and director of the Merchants National Bank, and also the Farmers Loan & Trust Bank on the west side. He was one of the organizers of the Merchants National Bank, and an original stockholder. Mr. Shaver was the first man engaged in manufacturing crackers west of the Missouri river, and had a very heavy output. He has a fine home at 603 Second avenue, where he has lived for twenty years.

In Williamsville, New York, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Shaver and Miss Esther C. Witwer, who was reared in that state, and to them were born five children, namely: John H., now manager of the cracker factory, is married and has three children; Ella S. is the widow of George Umpstead, of Cedar Rapids, and has two children; Bessie S. is the wife of John S. Ely, of Cedar Rapids, and has four children; Frederick H., a business man of the same city, is married and has two children; Marie died in Vinton, Iowa, in 1859, at the age of four years.

Since casting his first presidential ballot for John C. Fremont in 1856 Mr. Shaver has been an ardent advocate of Republican principles, but at local elections he votes independent of party lines, supporting the men whom he believes best qualified for the offices. Religiously he and his estimable wife are members of the Christian church. Mr. Shaver’s success in life has been by no means the result of fortunate circumstances, but has come to him through energy, labor and perseverance, directed by an evenly balanced mind and by honorable business principles. He has always made the most of his opportunities, and well merits the prosperity that has come to him.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 74-5.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion

John Little Shearer
John Weare Shearer

The Shearer family was founded in America during colonial days and several of its representatives participated in the Revolutionary war, while others have been prominently identified with public affairs and all have occupied honorable positions in life. The first to come to the new world was James Shearer, who was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1678, and on crossing the Atlantic in 1720 settled in Union, Connecticut, but later removed to Elbow Corners, now Palmer, Massachusetts, in 1726. He became a prominent man of the community and had charge of the building of the first church there. He died on the 21st of June, 1745, at the age of sixty-seven years. In his family were three sons, of whom John was the eldest. He was born in 1706 and in early manhood married Jane Williams. When the colonists resolved to throw off the yoke of British oppression he joined the Continental army as corporal, while his brother served as a lieutenant and participated in many battles. Other members of the family were also in the Revolutionary war, including Thomas and Reuben Shearer. John Shearer took part in the battles of Lexington, Saratoga and Bennington and was always found to be a brave and loyal soldier. He died in June, 1802, at the extreme old age of ninety-six years. In his family were eight children, of whom Noah Shearer is the next in direct line. He, too, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, participating in the latter part of that struggle, and was in the battle of Bennington. He was born September 4, 1764, and at an early day left New England and removed to Western New York. He married Terzah Merrick, May 8, 1791, and to them were born seven children that reached maturity. His death occurred in 1849 when he had reached an advanced age.

John Little Shearer, a son of Noah, was born in Palmer, Massachusetts, February 12, 1804, and was reared upon a farm, acquiring his education in the district schools of the neighborhood. Losing his mother as he approached manhood, he went to New York and later spent several years in Ohio and Indiana. In 1832 be enlisted for service in the Black Hawk war and subsequently secured a land warrant, which entitled him to a certain amount of land in the Mississippi valley. Subsequently he was engaged in merchandising in Otsego, Michigan, and while at that place he was married on the 3d of May, 1836, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Weare, commonly called by her relatives “Betsey,” who was born in Derby Line, Vermont, April 11, 1812, and was the eldest child of John and Cynthia (Ashley) Weare. Later in the year of his marriage Mr. Shearer removed to Allegan, Michigan, where he continued to engage in mercantile pursuits for three years.

It was in 1839 that he came to Iowa and first located at what was then known as Bloomington but is now Muscatine. From there he removed to Cedar county, but in 1841 located a claim in Linn county prior to the surveying of this region. His place was located eighteen miles north of Marion and upon it he settled in the spring of 1841. The rude dwelling in which the family lived caused much sickness and Mr. Shearer was at length compelled to seek another location and a better dwelling. The only vacant dwelling available that would suit the purpose was a log cabin on the banks of Cedar river, five miles from the county seat and where a town site was much talked of. At that time there was only one other dwelling on the east bank of the river and it was occupied by a family named Shepard. Coming to Cedar Rapids in the summer of 1842, the Shearer family became the first permanent settlers of the city. Their first home was a log house built by John Young on the river between Fourth and Fifth avenues, and since that time they have been prominently identified with the upbuilding and development of this region.

Mr. Shearer was a man of more than ordinary ability, was industrious and persevering and was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him. He erected one of the first frame houses in Cedar Rapids on the lot now occupied by the Grand Hotel at First avenue and Third street. The studding and rafters of this structure were made of poles or small trees, shaped with a broad axe by his own hands. At that time lumber was very scarce and it required considerable time to convert the trees into building material, as most of the work was done by hand, but he persevered and finally completed the dwelling. For some years he served the town in the capacity of justice of the peace, being the first to hold that position in Cedar Rapids, and he and his wife were among the most active members of the First Presbyterian church, early becoming identified with its struggle for existence during pioneer days. For many years Mr. Shearer served as ruling elder, continuing to occupy that position up to the time of his death, which occurred on the 20th of February, 1859. His wife did not long survive him but passed away on the 9th of December of the same year. She was a woman of sterling worth in the community, the possessor of fine intellect and a tender, sympathizing heart and was always charitable and ready to aid and counsel the unfortunate or ailing. She was a rare woman, familiar with all the trials and hardships incident to life in a new country, and these she bore with heroic courage. She was one of the few who knew how to adapt herself to her environments and was always mistress of any situation no matter how trying. She had many warm friends among the early settlers and was always considered a true friend and a safe adviser. She was of greater value to the community than wealth and her death was mourned with sincere regret.

There were seven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Shearer, but three of the number died in infancy, while Cynthia died at the age of ten years in Canton, Illinois, and Mary M. died in Paterson, New Jersey, January 20, 1890. For many years the last named had been a successful and prominent educator in the Cedar Rapids public schools. She seemed especially adapted for this vocation, but on account of ill health was at length compelled to abandon her life work. She was a women of rare excellence of character and earnest and active piety. The only remaining daughter is Miss Elizabeth J. Shearer, who was for some years an active worker in the city missions of the east but now resides with her aunt, Mrs. Daniels, of Cedar Rapids. John Weare Shearer, the only son, is now a resident of Algona, Iowa, and is editor of the local newspaper at that place known as the Upper Des Moines-Republican.

John Weare Shearer, son of John Little Shearer, was born in 1855 in a concrete house which formerly stood on the corner of B avenue and North Second street, Cedar Rapids, which at that time was the home of his mother’s brother, John Weare, for many years president of the First National Bank. In 1880 J. W. Shearer was married to Carrie A. Walter, eldest daughter of Dr. L. J. and Mrs. D. M. Walter, the latter of whom is still a resident of Cedar Rapids, her husband passing away m 1892. Four daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs. Shearer. The eldest, Harriette Gertrude, was married to R. B. Allard in September, 1904, and is a resident of West Waterloo, Iowa. Lilah Elizabeth was united in marriage to James David Keister in June, 1910, and is a resident of Cedar Rapids. Mr. Keister being the chemist for the Douglas Starch Works. The other two, Mary Weare and Katharine Daniels Shearer, live with their parents in Algona, Iowa.

J. W. Shearer was a printer by trade and learned the business in the old Observer office in Cedar Rapids, which later became the Cedar Rapids Republican and in which office Mr. Shearer continued to work the larger part of the time for about twenty-eight years, or until he started into country newspaper work for himself which continues to be his life business.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 728-730.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Mr. and Mrs. John L. Shearer came to Cedar Rapids in 1842. They first lived in the log house built by Mr. John Young, on the river between fourth and fifth avenues.

Mr. and Mrs. Shearer, with their family, we regarded as valuable acquisitions to our community. They were the first family who became permanent settlers of Cedar Rapids, that of Mr. Shepherd, of course, being regarded as transient and temporary. Mr. Shearer was a man of intelligence, and he always had a hearty welcome for his friends wherever he met them, either at his own house or elsewhere. He was very industrious and persevering in whatever he undertook. One of the first frame houses in Cedar Rapids was built by him on the lot now occupied by the Grand Hotel, on First avenue and Third street. The studding and rafters were made of poles or small trees which he worked out with chalk line and broad-ax, with his own hands. As lumber was still so scarce, it was no easy matter to build a house, even of moderate dimensions; but Mr. Shearer persevered till he had his dwelling completed and ready for occupancy. For some years he served the town in the honorable capacity of Justice of the peace, he being the first to hold that office in Cedar Rapids. He and his wife became highly esteemed members of the First Presbyterian church, after its formation, and rendered valuable aid during its early struggles for existence. Mr. Shearer held for many years, and up to the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 20, 1859, the office of ruling elder of the church.

Mrs. Shearer was a woman of sterling worth in our community. She was possessed of a fine intellect and a tender sympathizing heart. In time of sickness or trouble of any kind, she could always be relied upon to give counsel and help such as few women are capable of rendering. She knew very well from experience what the hardships and trials of a new country meant, but she bore them with a courage that was little less than heroic. She was one of the few women who knew how to adapt herself to her environments, and to be mistress of the situation however trying it might be. She had many warm friends among the early settlers, and her society was sought as one who was a safe adviser and a true friend. She was one of those characters that always adds to a community something better than wealth, whose coming is welcomed as a benediction, and whose departure is mourned with sincere regret. She survived her husband only a few months, and on the 9th of December, 1859, she ceased from her earthly toils and sorrows, to enter upon the rest and reward of the redeemed.

Mr. and Mrs. Shearer were the parents of seven children, three of whom died in infancy. Cynthia died at the age of ten years at Canton, Ill. Of the three who lived to mature years, Mary M. died Jan. 20, 1890, in Patterson, N.J. For several years she was an honored and successful teacher in our public schools. For this vocation she seemed eminently fitted. Even in her childhood her tastes seemed to run in that direction, and her favorite employment was to gather about her, her younger companions of the neighborhood and form them into a school and teach them. Her health, however, was never very firm, and after some years of active service in the school-room, her bodily strength gave way, and she was compelled to abandon her work that she loved so much. She, however, was spared a number of years after this, exhibiting a character of rare excellence, and of most earnest and active piety.

Elizabeth J., who was for some years actively engaged in the work of city missions in the East, is now a resident of this city, her home being with her aunt, Mrs. Daniels.

John W., the youngest of the family, who is a practical printer by trade, is connected with the Daily Republican of this city.

Mr. Shearer was born in Palmer, Mass., February 12, 1804. Mrs. Shearer was born in Derby Line, Vt., April 11, 1812. They were united in marriage at Otsego, Mich., May 3, 1836.

Source: Carroll, Rev. George R., Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1839 to 1849, pages 82-84, Times Printing and Binding House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1895.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson

Osgood Shepherd – The First Settler in Cedar Rapids

Our next neighbor was Mr. Osgood Shepherd, who occupied the only human habitation on what was afterwards the original plat of Cedar Rapids. His house was built of logs, after the usual pattern of those days. It was a somewhat squatty looking structure, about 16 x 20, covered with clapboards, which were held in place by logs on top, with ends protruding at the gables, the corners also being somewhat jagged and unsightly.

Mr. Shepherd brought his family here, consisting of his wife and two or three children, and his aged father, sometime during the summer of 1838, he having been here earlier for the purpose of erecting his house. This being the only house on the east bank of the river, it became per force of circumstances, the stopping-place of the newcomers, and the few travelers that came this way. And so, naturally enough, it became known as “Shepherd’s Tavern.”

Mr. Shepherd was quite a large man, of sandy complexion, and was said to be good-natured in his disposition, and, as might easily be surmised, he was an accommodating and agreeable landlord. Unfortunately, however, his morals were of a low order. While many good people were temporarily sheltered under his roof, and fed at his table, everybody believed that he also entertained horse-thieves, and these latter seemed to be his special favorites, and he showed himself ready to shield and encourage them in their villainous work.

It was afterwards currently reported here, that he himself, was finally convicted of horse-stealing in a neighboring state, and sent to the penitentiary.

After writing the above account of Mr. Shepherd, I am more than pleased to add that word has come to me from a source that I regard as trustworthy, that in the latter part of his life he became a professor of religion and was active in church work. That such a change is possible I am most willing and ready to believe, and I can but hope that the good report is true in every particular.

Many years ago, in Wisconsin, Mr. Shepherd was accidentally run over by the cars and killed. This first house was located at the foot of First avenue, where now stands the splendid building of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Around these premises many exciting scenes transpired. Here the first deaths occurred, and here the first child was born. Here deeds of darkness were concocted; and honest men and women made their plans for founding a town that would prove both an ornament and a blessing to the surrounding country in the years to come.

Mr. Shepherd’s father and one of his children died in this little cabin, and from it were borne to their last resting place on the adjacent hill, not far, as some say, from where the Episcopal church now stands. Others think the burial place was near the ground now occupied by the Congregational church. And here, too, a year later, perhaps, a little Shepherd first opened its tiny eyes upon this strange world.

Source: Carroll, Rev. George R., Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1839 to 1849, pages 70-74, Times Printing and Binding House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1895.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson

N. B. Sherk

Franklin township has no more highly respected or honored citizen than the gentleman whose name introduces this sketch. He was born in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, May 18, 1841, but was very young when he removed with his parents, Casper and Elizabeth (Basehore) Sherk, to Dauphin county, that state, and later to Lebanon county, and was only four years old when his father died in the latter county, in February, 1845. He had seven children, namely: Eliza, who died in infancy; Mary M., who died at the age of three years; Abraham, a resident of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who first married Anna Light, second Sally Heisy, and third Maggie Frontz; Malinda, wife of Adam Runkle, of Lisbon, Iowa; N. B., our subject; and Catherine, wife of Samuel Hawk, of Franklin township, this county. After the death of the father the family remained in Dauphin county for some years, and our subject attended its public schools, but when the mother became the wife of Rev. A. Steigawalt the children became scattered.

Our subject then went to Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, where he worked for a cousin of his father until fifteen years of age, and the following five years were passed at Mt. Nebo, that state. He next made his home in the city of Lebanon until the spring of 1863, when he came to Lisbon, Iowa, where he worked at his trade of blacksmithing and attended school for a time. In the fall of that year, however, Mr. Sherk enlisted in Company K, Eighth Iowa Cavalry, and after being mustered in at Davenport went to Louisville, Kentucky, and from there to Nashville, Tennessee. The regiment went into winter quarters at Waverly and did scout and guard duty until spring, when they returned to Nashville and later went to Cleveland, Tennessee. As a part of Wilson's cavalry they took part in all the raids and skirmishes in which that command took part. The second winter was spent at Waterloo, Alabama. Under command of Generals Croxton and McCook they traversed that state and later went to Macon, Georgia, where they remained until honorably discharged from the service in the fall of 1865, being mustered out at Clinton, Iowa.

Mr. Sherk returned to Lisbon, but in 1866 he went back to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where he marred Miss Lydia Behny, who was born at that place November 29, 1840, and is of German descent. Her parents, George and Mary (Walter) Behny, were also natives of that state, and there the father died in 1870, but the mother is still living and makes her home in Mt. Nebo, Pennsylvania. In their family were six children, namely: Matilda, deceased wife of Samuel Wengert, of Lebanon county, Pennsylvania; George, who married Amanda Mease and lives at Mt. Nebo; Lydia, wife of our subject; Henry, who married Savilla Peiper and resides in Steelton Pennsylvania; Lizzie, wife of Thomas Fisher, of Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania; and Mary, wife of Ephraim Gingerich, of Lebanon county, Pennsylvania.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Sherk were also born six children: (1) Herman, born April 17, 1868, is engaged in farming at Spirit Lake, Iowa, He married Lizzie Koch and they have five children, Ruth, Hope, Dorothy, Gladys and Cecil. (2) Mary E., born November 10, 1871 is the wife of Rev. Samuel Streyffeler, of Alburnett, Linn county, and they have four children, Carrie, Earl, Harland and Florence. (3) Anna M., born January 19, 1873, died November 21, 1894. (4) Carrie P., born June 16, 1876, was educated at Cornell College and has become very proficient in music, which art she now teaches. She resides at home with her parents. (5) Ella R. born March 7, 1878, and (6) Cora L., born March 2, 1880, are also at home.

After his marriage Mr. Sherk went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he followed coach making for five years, and then entered Dickinson College, where he spent two years preparing for the ministry. He then became connected with the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Evangelical church, and took charge of the churches in the Jersey Shore circuit, where he remained one year. In the fall of 1875 he returned to Lebanon, and was there until the following spring. He was then assigned the church at Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania, and remained there until the spring of 1877, when he again came to Lisbon, Iowa, and was assigned to the Buffalo circuit for one year. He then purchased a farm of eighty acres on section 16, Franklin township, and since his retirement from the ministry has devoted his attention to agricultural pursuits. He has made many improvements upon his farm and has added to it until he now has one hundred and nineteen acres under a high state of cultivation. He makes a specialty of his stock raising, and feeds all his grain to his stock.

Fraternally Mr. Sherk is an honored member of W. C. Dimmick Post, G. A. R., of Mt. Vernon and religiously is a member of the Evangelical church, of which he is one of the trustees and stewards. He still takes quite an active and influential part in church work, and his upright, honorable life commands the esteem of all who know him. In politics he is a Republican with prohibition tendencies, and he has filled the office of school director for a number of years.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 51-53.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Colonel William H. Shuey, of Western, Linn County, Iowa, was born in Augusta county, Virginia, August 11, 1823. His father, Jacob Shuey, was born on the same farm June 20, 1797, and died at Shueyville, Iowa, in 1867. His mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Lowman, daughter of Bernard Lowman, of Middlebrook, Virginia. She was born June 13, 1804, and resides in Western, Iowa. The grandfather, Lewis Shuey, was born near Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1754; and was a soldier in the Revolutionary war; removed to Virginia in 1795, and died in 1839. Lewis Shuey’s father and grandfather, whose name was Philip Shuey, were born in France – were Huguenots, and on account of persecutions in that country, came to America about the year 1699.

William H. Shuey, the subject of this sketch, was raised on a farm, and like most of farmer’s sons in that day, worked through the Summer, and attended school in Winter. He attended a classical school one year, and gave special attention to the study of land surveying, and has been for the last thirty years a practical surveyor. In the early part of his life he gave some attention to school teaching in his neighborhood during the winter months.

On the 20th of April, 1847, he was married to Catherine V. Baker, daughter of Frederick Baker, of Boonsborough, Washington county, Maryland. By this union there are four children living, Frederick B., Ann E., Ella V., and William H.

In the days of Virginia militia, when “Big musters” were the days for which all others were made, he took his part in home military duty. At the age of twenty-one he was elected captain of an armed and uniformed company, called the Middlebrook Rifles, and at the age of twenty-seven colonel of the 93rd Reg. of Virginia Militia, and still has the original commission signed by John B. Floyed, then Governor of Virginia. All able-bodied men from the age of twenty-one to forty-five in that state were compelled to do military duty, and on the parades and drills of that time, he was frequently associated with men who afterwards became noted in the Confederate service, such as Generals Stonewall Jackson, Imboden, Magruder and Baldwin.

In 1852 he became editor of the North-Western Observer, a Whig paper at Buchanan, Upsheer County, West Virginia, and in 1854 settled at Shueyville, Johnson County, Iowa and engaged in farming. In 1861 he went into the army, and served as Captain of Co. f, 14th Iowa Infantry. This regiment commenced active duties at Donaldson, then Shiloh, and at the battles of Corinth, October 3d and 4th, 1862. Captain Shuey was the senor officer of his regiment. He was with his regiment in the campaigns in Tennessee and Mississippi, and in Banks’ Red River expedition in 1864. For a good part of this year he was on General A. J. Smith’s staff, and won his respect as a brave and efficient officer. Captain Shuey served his three years in the army, and was honorably discharged November, 1864.

From 1865 to 1868, he served as a member of the Board of Supervisors of Johnson county, and one of the years as chairman, and in the two following years he was a member of the Board of Supervisors of Linn county. He has been residing in Western since 1868.

Colonel Shuey was connected with the Western College Advocate and Reporter as one of the editors, the most of the time from 1856 to 1864, and with the Western Gazette from its first number in 1869 till the time of its discontinuance, with the exception of one year, when it was edited by A. H. Neidig, now of the Cedar Rapids Republican. In politics he is a Republican. He has been a member of the U. B. Church for over thirty-seven years. His father and mother and grandparents on both sides, were members of that church. He is one of the incorporators of Western College, and much is due to his exertions and influence for the present location of the college and he has been ever since one of its warmest friends.

Having given his attention to the study and practice of law, he was admitted to practice at Marion in 1874, and has established an office at Western, where he attends to all business pertaining to his profession. He is also engaged in mercantile pursuits, full of business, he is always willing to assist in every enterprise which has for its object the material, intellectual and moral advancement of the community. He shares in a large degree the confidence and respect of his fellow citizens.

Source: A. T. Andreas Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875. Page 385.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


For many years the subject of this sketch was one of the practical and progressive farmers of Rapids township, but is now living a retired life in his pleasant home, No. 344 Third avenue west, Cedar Rapids. He was born on Elkhart Prairie, Elkhart county, Indiana, October 17, 1830, and is a son of William and Elizabeth (Riggs) Simpson, who were born, reared and married in Tennessee, and in 1828 removed to the Hoosier state, becoming early settlers of Elkhart county, where the father entered land and improved a farm. He was one of the prominent agriculturists of the community and continued to make his home there until called to his final rest in 1878, at the age of seventy-six years. The mother of our subject died about 1836, and the father later married Miss Elizabeth Longacre.

In his native county Henry B. Simpson grew to manhood on the home farm, and obtained his education in the district schools of the neighborhood, which he attended when his services were not needed in the operation of the farm. On the 19th of February, 1852, he was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Garnant, who was born in Ohio, August 8, 1831, but was reared in Indiana, her father, John Garnant, being one of the early settlers of Elkhart county. After his marriage Mr. Simpson followed farming in that county for nine years, and at the end of that time sold his property there, and in the spring of 1861 came to Linn county, Iowa, where he purchased a farm in College township. He operated that place for two years, and on the expiration of that time he sold it and bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Rapids township, near Cedar Rapids, to the further improvement and cultivation of which he devoted his time and energies for many years. He erected thereon a good house and barn, set out shade and fruit trees, and made many other improvements which added greatly to the value and attractive appearance of the place. Renting his farm in 1892, he removed to Cedar Rapids, where he purchased a lot and built a neat residence which has since been his home. He has also erected two other houses in the city, and is now enjoying the income derived from his property.

Mr. and Mrs. Simpson are the parents of six children, namely: Sarah Alice, wife of William M. Krebs, of Cedar Rapids; William J., a farmer of this county; Mrs. Rosa Krebs, a widow residing in Cedar Rapids; Charles J., a mechanic of that city; Arvilla, wife of George L. Mentzer, of Cedar Rapids; and Cora, who married H. H. Jacobs, of Cedar Rapids, and died in 1891, leaving one daughter, Cora R., who makes her home with her grandparents and is now attending the Cedar Rapids schools.

In 1863, during the dark days of the Civil war, Mr. Simpson offered his services to his country, but on going to Iowa City, was discharged on account of illness. The following year he was drafted and furnished a substitute. Politically he has been a life-long Democrat, but at local elections where no issue is involved he votes independent of party lines, supporting the men whom he believes best qualified to fill the offices. He never sought political preferment, but served as road commissioner while engaged in farming, both in Indiana and Iowa. He and his wife are both members of the Baptist church and are people of the highest respectability, whose sterling worth has gained for them many friends.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 208-209.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


SinclairTHOMAS McELDERRY SINCLAIR, deceased, was born in Belfast, Ireland, May 11, 1842, and departed this life in Cedar Rapids, March 24, 1881.  An early life of rare beauty and consecration closed in the grave of Thomas M. Sinclair.  It was a short life, but it was one so earnest and so filled with Christ, that its work was accomplished at noon, and our readers will doubtless welcome a few details of a life so useful and so honored.
     Thomas M. Sinclair was the second son of John and Eliza (Pirie) Sinclair, natives of Belfast, Ireland.  The parents had a family of ten children, nine of whom grew to attain the age of man and womanhood.  John Sinclair carried on a pork-packing establishment in Ireland, and by constant attention to business became well-to-do in the possession of this world's goods.  He departed this life in 1853.
     It was the desire of the father of our subject that he should be educated for a mercantile life, and when Thomas M. reached an age which enabled him to judge and select a vocation in life for himself, he chose that of a mercantile career as being the sphere in which he concluded he would succeed.  He accordingly entered the establishment of his uncle, Thomas Sinclair, and subsequently rose to considerable eminence in the commercial world.  He soon mastered the details of his business, and in 1862 proceeded to prosecute it in the United States.  After some years of varying fortune, he came to Cedar Rapids, and in 1871 laid the foundations of what is now one of the first packing concerns in the United States.  On the corner-stone of his establishment our subject laid the deep requirements of the fourth Commandment, and he so planned his work that no labor was ever required to be done in his establishment on Sunday, and, contrary to the predictions of many, he never lost by so doing.  The name of his firm was a synonym for honor and reliable dealing in every exchange in America.  To his workmen he was rather a father than a master, he was a benevolent and working Christian gentleman, having joined the church in 1859, uniting with the congregation worshipping in the church which was erected in honor of his father, and known as Sinclair Seaman's Church, Belfast, Ireland.  He was a member of Dr. Morgan's Church, Belfast.  His zeal for missions found admirable scope with the Sunday-school Auxiliary, organized in 1860 by Mathew Kerr.  He subscribed largely to numerous charitable institutions, and was a respected citizen of each and every community in which he resided.
     On coining to this country in 1862, Mr. Sinclair brought with him his Christian activity, in its fullest degree.  It was in Cedar Rapids that his capacities found their widest sphere, both as a Christian gentleman and a man of business.  He re-organized the Water Board, regulated its finances, and secured to the people a bountiful supply of good water.  He took a prominent part in educational matters and his purse was always open, and his counsel freely given in that direction.  As his means increased, his plans of usefulness developed and enlarged, and it was a real pleasure to ask him for help, for his expressions of sympathy were as refreshing as the gift itself.  He gave largely to foreign missions, and it was a retired missionary from Persia who attended him in his last hours and offered the first prayer for his widow and orphans beside his deathbed.  No wonder that when such a man died the whole city was moved and the voice of mourning was heard in every house, and it was nothing more than a reflection of the overwhelming feeling when the Mayor, by proclamation, requested a cessation of business during the period of our subject's interment.
     Mr. Sinclair of this notice was married in Virginia, in 1870, to Miss C. C. Soutter, daughter of Robert and Philadelphia (Campbell) Soutter, natives of Virginia and Scotland, respectively.  Her father was engaged in the mercantile business at Philadelphia for many years, removing thence to
New York City, where he continued in the same vocation until within a few years prior to his death, which occurred in 1873.  He had a family of twelve children, only four of whom are now living and all residing in Cedar Rapids: Charles B.; Mrs. Sinclair; Fannie and H. B.  Robert Soutter was a devout Christian gentleman, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and when twenty-one years of age an Elder in a congregation of that denomination.  He was a liberal giver to all charitable institutions, and respected and loved in all communities in which he resided.  His father, also Robert, was a native of Scotland, and married Margaret Taylor.  They came to Norfolk, Va., where the father was engaged in mercantile pursuits and where they both died.
     Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair of this notice, six children have been born: J. Falconer; Robert S.; Elsie C.; Amy; Fannie S. and Agnes M.  Mrs. Sinclair resides on an elevated plateau on the Boulevarde, on a tract of ten acres of land.  It is a beautiful site for a residence, and her home is one of the attractive features of the city in which she lives.  She is a kind-hearted, Christian woman, belonging to the Presbyterian Church, and, like her good husband gone before, freely gives of her bountiful store for all charitable purposes, and also for the calls of her Master.
     The portrait of no citizen of this county will be received with greater favor than that of Mr. Sinclair, which we present on a preceding page.

Source of portrait and biographical sketch (verbatim transcription):  “Portrait and Biographical Album of Linn County, Iowa”, 1878, pages 165 - 166, portrait on page 164

Contributed by Eric & Marcia Driggs


While Thomas M. Sinclair was early called from this life, the memory of such a man can never die while living monuments remain upon which are imprinted the touch of his noble soul. His life history forms an integral chapter in the annals of Cedar Rapids. The city benefited materially by his business activity and just as largely by his influence, which was felt on the side of right, justice and truth. He was born in Belfast, Ireland, May 14, 1842. His earthly career covered less than four decades, yet he accomplished in that time a work that would be a fitting crown to a life of much longer duration. His parents were John and Eliza (Pirie) Sinclair, who were also natives of Ireland, and their family numbered ten children, nine of whom reached adult age. The father was a merchant of Belfast, whose business interests were both varied and important. He was connected with many enterprises, his principal outside interests being in the shipping industry of Belfast, which then, as at present, proved a satisfactory source of income. However, that which brought him into greatest prominence in business connections was his establishment and conduct of the business carried on under the name of James E. Sinclair. This undertaking gained a world wide reputation, being known in all civilized countries when the Chicago packing houses were still in their infancy. It was his ambition not only to extend the trade of the house but also to make its products favorably known, and that he realized his ambition is conceded by all who are students of the commercial history of the world. Such was his reputation in European countries that his word was good for any obligation he might assume. His commercial integrity was unassailable and he demanded that in the conduct of every branch of his business the methods employed should be of a most irreproachable character. He passed away in 1853, leaving a goodly competence acquired as result of his foresight, unfaltering diligence and initiative spirit, enabling him to recognize opportunity and to co-ordinate forces.

It was his father’s desire, coinciding with his own, that influenced Thomas M. Sinclair to enter the establishment of J. & T. Sinclair on the completion of his education, and the old adage, ‘‘like father, like son,’’ again found verification in the life of Thomas M. Sinclair, who rapidly acquired not only a general but also a working knowledge of the business which had made his forebear famous. Such was the success of the undertaking under the management of Thomas M. Sinclair that it became necessary to look for new worlds to conquer, and in 1862, in company with his cousin John, he came to America, landing in New York where he established a packing house for the curing of bacon and hams during the winter season, according to the process that had won fame for the ‘‘Irish cured Sinclair hams and bacon’’ and had gained an international reputation. This was previous to the discovery of the process of summer cured and it was the custom of the Sinclairs to close their plant at the end of the winter season. Later Thomas and John Sinclair decided to withdraw from the old firm and establish an independent business for themselves in New York. From its inception their venture was a success and they were constantly observant of every opportunity that tended to further their interests

Realizing that it would he much to their advantage to be nearer the source of supplies, Mr. Sinclair in 1871 arrived in this city, found conditions favorable and determined to locate here. With his customary energy he bought property, built a packing house and established what has since grown to be not only one of the most important industries of Cedar Rapids, or of Iowa, but of the United States. The Sinclair motto might well be ‘‘right is might and will prevail,’’ for the spirit thereof has been the motive force in all the dealings of the house with its patrons and with its employees. In this day of trusts and combination of capital, the name of Sinclair stands out as the representative of one important packing industry that is independent and alone, unbound by the dictates of a monopoly which would formulate the entire policy of the trade in this country, without regard to the rights and privileges of the individual. Linn county and its citizens may well be proud of a personality such as Thomas M. Sinclair, and fortunate in that it numbered him among its adopted sons.

In Virginia, in 1870, Mr. Sinclair was married to Miss Caroline C. Soutter, a daughter of Robert and Philadelphia (Campbell) Soutter, who were natives of Virginia and Scotland respectively. Her father was for many years engaged in merchandising in Philadelphia, and following his removal to New York city continued the conduct of a similar enterprise at one location within a few years of his death, which occurred in 1873. By her marriage Mrs. Sinclair became the mother of six children and she and her sons are still interested in the packing house, which is a most flourishing enterprise and gives employment with a good living wage to numerous workmen. Mrs. Sinclair occupies a beautiful, home at No. 800 Second avenue east, where she is spending the evening of her days in the ease and comfort that comes as a reward of a well spent life. She has about her children and grandchildren who delight in ministering to her welfare and happiness. Her reminiscences of the early days are most delightful, as she describes with clearness and vividness those events which mark the early progress and development of the city along material, intellectual and moral lines. She tells of the time when in the winter it was necessary in order sometimes to have water to melt ice which had been carted from the river and was then thrown over the fence to be picked up and converted again into liquid form.

It was incidents of this kind that first caused Mr. Sinclair to bend his energies toward meeting the needs of the community of five thousand people, who at that time called Cedar Rapids their home. With others he organized the water department, giving the people a bountiful supply of pure water in their homes, using not only his time but a liberal portion of his means in the furtherance of his plans. This was but the beginning of his endeavors in behalf of the interests of Cedar Rapids, for there was never a movement proposed for the benefit of humanity or for the upbuilding of the city that did not find in Mr. Sinclair an enthusiastic and loyal supporter. His life had its motive force in a religious belief and sentiment that characterized and colored all that he did. He recognized his obligations to his fellowmen as few have done. He gave largely to foreign missions, to many varied and worthy charities at home, and his financial support did much to promote the interests of the schools. He was a man of strong and determined purpose in pursuit of a course which his judgment sanctioned and he never faltered in carrying to completion his projects whether for the advancement of his church, his business, or the welfare of his fellow beings. The feeling of respect uniformly entertained for him throughout Cedar Rapids was publicly manifest when the mayor by proclamation requested a cessation of business during the period of his interment - a request that was most willingly complied with. He died March 24, 1881, surrounded by the members of his family, and his passing was a matter of the deepest regret to all with whom he had come in contact. He had followed closely in the footsteps of Him he acknowledged as Master, making his life of service and of benefit to his fellowmen, and while twenty-nine years have passed since his death, he yet lives in the hearts of those who, knowing him, loved him, his memory remaining as a blessed benediction to all with whom he came in contact.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 35-7.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Another of the worthy citizens of our town was Mr. Absalom Sines, who for many years was the miller in the Ely mills. He was one of those modest, quiet bodies that said but little and thought a great deal.

Although not a member of any church, nor making any public profession of religion, he lived an upright life and sustained a character that was above reproach. He was a man possessed of a kind heart and a most amiable disposition. If he had a single enemy in the world I am quite sure that he never made himself known in these parts. Everybody entertained for Mr. Sines the highest respect as a man and citizen. He was always gentlemanly in his conduct, and kind and accommodating in his intercourse with others.

In 1854 he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Wadsworth, a young lady of great amiability of character, who lived only about a year after her marriage.

During the war Mr. Sines enlisted in the service of his country, and fell at the battle of Champion Hills, August 11, 1862. A truer, nobler patriot never wore the uniform of a United States soldier.

He was a native of Wilmington, Delaware.

Source: Carroll, Rev. George R., Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1839 to 1849, pages 165-166, Times Printing and Binding House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1895.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


The subject of this sketch, who is successfully engaged in farming on section 3, Grant township, Linn county, Iowa, was born on the 4th of March, 1844, in Williams county, Ohio, a son of Thomas and Susanna (Phillips) Sinkey, also natives of the Buckeye state. In 1850 the father came to Iowa and took up his residence in Jones county, where he at first purchased forty acres of land, and later entered one hundred and sixty acres from the government. This was all unbroken with exception of ten acres of the forty-acre tract, but acre after acre was placed under the plow until it was all under cultivation. The mother of our subject died in 1851, at the age of thirty-one years, and was laid to rest in Jones county. She had three children, of whom Frank is the eldest, and two are still living. For his second wife the father married Emily Hildreth, by whom he had six children. He died in 1895, at the age of seventy-four years, and was buried in Woodbury county, Iowa.

Frank Sinkey was a child of six years when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Jones county, Ohio, and he is indebted to its public schools for his educational privileges. He remained at home until after the inauguration of the civil war, but on the 19th of August, 1862, he enlisted at Wyoming, Iowa, in Company K, Twenty-fourth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, for three years, and was mustered into the United States service at Muscatine, Iowa, September 18. He participated in the engagements at Port Gibson and Champion Hills, the sieges of Vicksburg and Jackson and the battles of Carrion Crew Bayou, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Cane River, Middle Bayou, Marksville, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek. At Champion Hills he was wounded and taken prisoner, but was soon released on parole and returned home for a short time. He was under the command of General Sheridan in Shenandoah valley, and at different times also served under Generals Grant and Banks. His discharge papers were made out at Savannah, Georgia, but his company was not disbanded until reaching Davenport, Iowa.

Mr. Sinkey then returned home and for two years operated the farm on the shares. At the end of that time he went to Buchanan county, Iowa, where he resided until 1876. In the meantime he purchased forty acres of wild land in Grant township, Linn county, in 1868, and six years later bought an adjoining tract of the same size, which was partially improved, but he did not locate upon this place until 1876. Since then he has extended the boundaries of his farm, and now has one hundred and sixty acres of well improved and highly cultivated land, on which he is engaged in both farming and stock raising. When he first settled in Grant township there was no road past his home, but it was laid out when the village of Walker was started.

On the 18th of October, 1867, Mr. Sinkey married Miss Catherine Wilson, a daughter of Benjamin and Margaret (Ferguson) Wilson, who were natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively, and came to Jones county, Iowa, in 1851, where the father purchased and improved a farm of seventy acres. He died in 1898 at the advanced age of ninety-one years, and his wife departed this life in 1883 at the age of sixty-six, the remains of both being interred in Buchanan county, Iowa. They were members of the United Brethren church, and most estimable people. Of the ten children born to them, five are still living, and Mrs. Sinkey is the seventh in order of birth. Our subject and his wife have become the parents of twelve children: Orin, deceased; William; Sarah, deceased; one who died in infancy; John; Anna; Margaret, deceased; Alice; Bessie; Edith; Charles, deceased; and Maude. Those living are all at home. Mr. and Mrs. Sinkey are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Walker, and are held in high regard by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. In politics he is a Republican, and has filled the office of road supervisor in his township.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 585-6.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson

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