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The death of George W. Smith, which occurred on the 4th of March, 1910. came as a distinct loss to Linn county. It is a difficult task to offer a fitting memorial to the life and accomplishments of a man of his character — remarkable in the breadth of his wisdom and in his indomitable perseverance, his strong individuality, and yet one whose entire life was an open scroll, inviting the closest scrutiny.

He was born in Boone county, Indiana, on the 19th of September, 1853, and a year later was brought by his parents, John and Martha (Pickerill) Smith to Linn county, the family home being established on a farm of eighty acres in College township. The father, who was of English ancestry, was a native of Ohio but at an early day removed to Boone county, Indiana, where his life was spent until his removal to Linn county, Iowa, in 1854. His wife, who was born November 16, 1835, died in this county on the 5th of February, 1861, when but twenty-six years of age. The father afterward married Ruth Pickerill, a sister of his first wife, who still survives, now residing in Cedar Rapids. One of his sons, J. C. Smith, is a resident of College township, while a daughter, Mrs. Julia E. Booth, is also a resident of that township. The father, as above stated, began life in Linn county on eighty acres of land but through hard work and the able assistance of his sons lie accumulated wealth, owning at the time of his death about seven hundred and sixty acres of very valuable land in this section of the state. He was a highly respected citizen, who lived to be seventy-four years of age, dying in 1902.

George W. Smith spent the period of his early boyhood and youth on the home farm in College township and at the usual age began his studies in the public schools. The knowledge there acquired was supplemented by a course in Western College, at that time located at Western, Iowa, and in a commercial college at Burlington. He graduated from the latter institution in the year he attained his majority, after which he engaged in teaching in College township for several years. At the age of twenty-seven years he was married and established his home on a farm, for he preferred as a life work the occupation to which he had been reared. He inherited one hundred and sixty acres from his father and added eighty acres through purchase, so that his land holdings comprised two hundred and forty acres, situated in section 21, College township. He carried on general farming and stock-raising and was unusually successful in his work. About 1905 he erected a fine modern home, supplied with many conveniences, and in the rear of which are seen substantial outbuildings. He displayed splendid business ability in the management of his affairs and in addition to his farming interests found time for cooperation in other movements of a public nature, at one time owning stock in the Peoples Bank. He was also a director of the West Side Mutual Insurance Company of Cedar Rapids, of which he was acting as president at the time of his demise, and was also part owner of a plantation in Louisiana. He was ever alert to the opportunities that were presented and while he became prosperous lie attained to this position only through the most honorable methods.

It was on the 15th of May, 1880, that the marriage of Mr. Smith and Miss Amelia E. Borghart was celebrated. She was born April 15, 1862, a daughter of Henry and Jane (Fuhrmeister) Borghart, farming people of College township. Mrs. Smith acquired her education in the public schools and proved to her husband a most faithful companion and helpmate on the journey of life. Their union was blessed with three sons and one daughter but the first born, George F., whose birth occurred October 9, 1881, died on the 15th of March, 1882. The other children are: Charles R., who was born February 21, 1883, and since his father’s death has, with his brother, managed the home farm; Earl John, who was born June 27, 1886; and Martha Hortense, who was born March 14, 1895. She completed the public school course in the fall of 1910 entered Coe College at Cedar Rapids.

In the spring of 1878 Mr. Smith was converted to the Christian faith and united with the Evangelical church, of which he was a most devoted member to the date of his death. For many years he served as a trustee of the church and also for a long period filled the office of Sunday-school superintendent. In politics he was a democrat and his fidelity and public spirit is perhaps best attested by the fact that for twenty-five years he served his township as clerk, while for three years he was township trustee. His fraternal relations were with Ely Lodge, No. 581, I. 0. 0. F., and his widow belongs to the Rebekahs. He was a most unselfish man, his sole aim in life being to do good and to serve the public to the best of his ability. His advice and counsel were often sought by his fellowmen and to those whose good fortune and pleasure it was to know him intimately, his companionship and friendship were appreciated and helpful. With him there was no turning aside from right and duty but his everyday life reflected the true Christian character. In his relations with his fellowmen and in his treatment of his neighbor he never lost sight of the principle of the golden rule. All who knew him feel his loss but he is missed most of all in his own household, where he was known as a kind and loving husband and father.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 532-535.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


The character of the individual is determined by his utilization of his opportunities, his employment of his talents and his fulfillment of his obligations to mankind. In all these particulars Dr. Jesse H. Smith measures up to the highest standard and his life is recognized as one of large usefulness in the county and state in which he has long made his home. His enterprise and adaptability in business, his loyalty and progressiveness in political circles and his broad humanitarianism and philanthropy have all indelibly engraven his name upon the pages of Iowa’s annals. He is probably today the oldest president of a fire insurance company in the United States, having since 1869 occupied the position of chief executive officer of the Farmers Insurance Company.

He was born in Elkhart county, Indiana, August 27, 1837, and is a son of Isaac and Sarah (Thomas) Smith, who were natives of Ohio and Virginia respectively. The father was a farmer by occupation and made stock-raising on an extensive scale one of the chief features of his business. In 1853 he came to Iowa, settling in College township, Linn county. He purchased sixteen hundred acres of land in this county and continued to engage actively in agricultural pursuits until October, 1880, when he was called to his final rest, at the venerable age of eighty years. His wife died in 1870, at the age of sixty-nine years.

Dr. Jesse H. Smith, the sixth in order of birth in his father’s family of six children, spent his youthful days to the age of fifteen years in his native county and then accompanied his parents to Linn county, Iowa. His youth was passed on a farm and his preliminary education was acquired in the usual log school houses of the pioneer days. He became one of the first students in Western College in the town of Western, Linn county, spending two years in study there, and his more specifically literary course constituted a broad foundation upon which to build his professional knowledge. In January, 1858, he began reading medicine under the direction of Drs. Milligan and Taylor and subsequently attended lectures at Rush Medical College at Chicago, being graduated from that institution with the class of 1860. He first began practice in Cedar Rapids, where he continued for over sixteen years, being much of that time in partnership with Dr. Mansfield, one of the first physicians of this city.

Since his retirement from the field of professional service he has devoted his time largely to the interests of the Farmers Insurance Company, of which he is the president. He became identified with this company when it was a mutual company. It is now the oldest corporation in Linn county. In 1868 it was organized as a joint stock company and in January, 1869, Dr. Smith was elected to the presidency and has since guided its destinies. Its affairs were in a deplorable condition when he assumed its management. He closely studied the situation and bent his energies to administrative direction and executive control. A change was soon noticeable in the business of the company and its growth has been continuous under his management to the present time, until it is today recognized as one of the soundest companies of the kind in the United States. He has made it what it claims to be, a protective insurance company and not an organization for the benefit of a few at the sacrifice of the many as various insurance companies have been. Its business policy has always been such as would bear the closest scrutiny, no fictitious methods of business being employed, its course at all times conforming to the old and time tried maxim that honesty is the best policy. Into other fields Dr. Smith has extended his efforts and is now one of the directors and the vice president of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway & Light Company. Moreover, he has extensive farming interests, owning over eight hundred acres of valuable land. He now gives his attention largely to his farm, which is the old homestead of his father and which is one of the valuable agricultural properties of this part of the state.

Dr. Smith has been recognized as one of the republican leaders of Linn county and belongs to that class of men who have sought to make the party stand for principle and not for the furtherance of the interests of certain individuals. While high political honors have been conferred upon him, he has never placed personal ambition or aggrandizement before the party welfare or the interests of the commonwealth. In 1875 he was elected mayor of Cedar Rapids for a two years’ term and again filled the office in 1878 and 1879. In 1888 he was elected state senator from Linn county for a term of four years, which covered an important epoch in the history of the state, during which legislation of far reaching moment was enacted. In 1900 he was a delegate at large from Iowa to the republican national convention which nominated McKinley and Roosevelt at Philadelphia.

Dr. Smith has been married twice. In 1862 he wedded Lucy Henderson, a daughter of John W. Henderson. She died October 20, 1863, leaving one child, Edward H., who was born March 20, 1863. In 1866 he wedded Mary E. Ward, of Illinois, who died in April, 1904, leaving a son, Isaac B., who was born January 20, 1868.

Dr. Smith is an Episcopalian in religions faith and a Mason in his fraternal relations. Both organizations find him a worthy exponent of their principles and in the latter he has attained high rank, having reached the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite in the consistory, while of the Mystic Shrine he is also a member. He has been president of the Masonic Temple Association since its organization and was one of the organizers of St. Luke’s Hospital Association in 1887, since which time he has been its president. His deep interest in this is manifest in his active and helpful cooperation and his untiring efforts to promote its growth and extend the field of its usefulness. He belongs to the Cedar Rapids Country Club and to the Commercial Club and his sincere cordiality has made him a favorite in the prominent social circles in which he has always moved.

For the past twenty years he has spent his winters in the south or in California and he has traveled extensively throughout the entire country. There is no more splendid example of the self-made man in Linn county than Dr. Smith, his career being a striking example of what may be accomplished by one who must look to sell-reliance, industry and perseverance for success. The possibilities of high position afforded in the United States to industry and fidelity were never better illustrated than in the case of Dr. Smith. In his youth he worked for whatever the world was to bring him of enjoyment or honors. He has reached the evening of life not only possessed of wealth and past political honors but also of exalted social position and of a mind enriched by travel and by constant mingling with men and women of the highest breeding, education and accomplishments. He is today possessed of almost everything that men covet as of value and in the midst of his Success he has found time for the finer things that our self-made men are so prone to overlook — aid in money and personal attention to schools and churches, beneficence to charitable institutions and the artistic adornment of his home and of his city.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, pages 735-737.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Among the pleasantest rural homes of Franklin township is that of Robert Smith on section 4, the culture and artistic taste of its occupants being reflected in its appointments, while a gracious hospitality adds a charm to its material comforts. Our subject, who is one of the most successful farmers and stock raisers of this community, was born in Marion county, Ohio, May 31, 1831, a son of David and Elizabeth (Hurd) Smith, natives of West Virginia and Maryland, respectively. Our subject's paternal grandfather was born in West Virginia and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war under General Washington, while the father of our subject took part in the war of 1812 as a member of the infantry commanded by General William Henry Harrison. The latter was married in Marion county, Ohio, where he continued to live until Robert was two years old, and then removed to La Grange county, Indiana, where he followed farming throughout the remainder of his life. He died in the fall of 1850, and the death of his wife occurred in the same house in the summer of 1865, and they were laid to rest side by side in a cemetery at Lima, Indiana.

Robert Smith was reared in much the usual manner of farmer boys of his days, though he was probably given better educational advantages, attending first the district schools of Indiana, and later the high school at Sturgis, Michigan. He was nineteen years of age when his father died and he then took charge of the farm, remaining on the old homestead until the fall of 1854, when he came to Iowa in a covered wagon, commonly called a prairie schooner, and traveled over forty counties in this state. In company with his brother he purchased one hundred and sixty-four acres of land in Will county, Iowa, which property is now owned by his brother's widow, and he spent one summer at that place. He then returned to Indiana, and later went to Floyd county, Iowa, where in partnership with his brother he bought four hundred and eighty acres of land, but has since disposed of the same. Mr. Smith remained a resident of Indiana, however, until the fall of 1858, when he came to Linn county, Iowa, and purchased two hundred acres of land on sections 25, 35 and 36, Linn township, which he still owns. He also has forty acres of timber land in that township, and one hundred and nineteen acres on section 9, Franklin township, which is just outside the corporate limits of Mt. Vernon and only a half mile from the center of the town. He removed to Franklin township in 1863, and in 1899 he built upon his place an elegant residence, which is supplied with all modern improvements, and furnished in a most approved manner. Mr. Smith has engaged in buying, feeding and selling stock, but is now practically living retired, wile his son, James R. manages the farm.

At Lima, Indiana, August 7, 1855, Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Maria L. Hamilton, who was born in that place September 16, 1832, her parents being Robert and Alice (Caldwell) Hamilton, who were born, reared and married in county Donegal, Ireland. The Caldwell's were of Scotch-Irish descent, and her maternal grandfather was a clergyman of the Church of England. On their emigration to America in 1825 Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton located in Pennsylvania, but later removed to Lima, La Grange county, Indiana, where the former died in the spring of 1855. His wife made her home with our subject in Iowa for twelve years, but in July, 1873, went to New York state to visit her son, and while there was taken ill and died. She was buried at Lima, Indiana.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith were born five children: Alice C. is the wife of S. H. Harmon, a retired farmer of San Diego, California; Mary E. is a teacher of languages at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon; Helen M. is the wife of L. E. Imlay, chief engineer in the electric light plant of the Westinghouse Manufacturing Company at Niagara Falls, New York. William H. died in 1894; and James R. Mrs. Smith died in 1884.

Mr. Smith has always taken a deep and commendable interest in educational affairs, and has most efficiently served as school director in Franklin township for twenty-one years, and in Linn township for three years. He was also county supervisor for three years, and filled the office of road supervisor for a number of years. Being a strong temperance man, he is an ardent advocate and supporter of the Prohibition party, and he is a member of the Methodist church, of which he has been a trustee and steward for a number of years. His life has been an upright, honorable and useful one, in which he has gained the confidence and respect of his fellow citizens in a marked degree, and he is held in high regard by al who know him.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 50-51.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


William M. Smith, deceased, was for a number of years one of the most prominent and influential business men of Mount Vernon, Iowa, and his death came as a deep loss to the entire community. He was born in Penn township, Morgan county, Ohio, on the 29th day of May 1848, and was a son of James Smith, whose birth occurred in Belmont county, Ohio, March 16, 1826. His paternal grandparents were Thomas and Nancy (James) Smith, both natives of Virginia and members of the Society of Friends, and the great-grandparents were Samuel and Sarah (Bishop) Smith, also natives of the Old Dominion and pioneers of Ohio. The grandmother, Nancy Smith, was a daughter of Samuel and Hannah (Smith) James, who spent their entire lives in Virginia. James Smith, the father of William M., was married April 21, 1847, to Ruth King, also a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Joseph and Mary (Morris) King. Three children blessed the union, all born in Morgan county, William M. being the oldest.

William M. Smith was reared and educated in Pennsville, Ohio. In the early years of his life, even in his boyhood days, he formed the habits of industry and economy that made his life and his business in later years a success. He was only thirteen years of age when the Civil war broke out but, boy as he was, he took an active interest in the struggle and kept himself posted on what was going on at the front. He determined to join the army, and if needs be give his life for his country; but he was too young to enter the service, and his friends did all in their power to discourage him, but to no purpose. Before he reached his sixteenth birthday he finally succeeded in being accepted as a member of Company E, Seventy-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and joined his regiment at Vicksburg in March, 1864. The following summer they joined Sherman's command at Big Shanty, Georgia, and Mr. Smith took part in all the engagements of the Atlanta campaign, including the battle of Atlanta, where he received two gun-shot wounds on the afternoon of July 22, 1864, and lay upon the battlefield long hours before being removed or cared for; not through any fault of his soldier friends, but from the exigencies of war, which every true soldier is prepared to expect and meet. Even after he was found he was compelled to lie two days in the rear before his wounds could be dressed. In this painful condition he was taken on a wagon to Marietta, and ten days later to Rome, Georgia, where he remained in the field hospital until September. He was then unable to walk and was allowed to return home on a furlough, but he was almost destitute of clothing and there was none to be procured at any price. In this condition he proceeded on his journey home, and reached Marshal, Tennessee, having no other garb than his underclothing. At this place he was able to find suitable clothing and reached his home after enduring much suffering. His wounds and subsequent suffering unfitted him for further service in the field, and he received an honorable discharge June 16, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky.

After his return home Mr. Smith came to Iowa with his parents in the fall of 1865, and accompanied them on their various removals in this state until September, 1872, when he returned to Ohio and became manager of a drug store belonging to Drs. Jennings & Kessler, at West Milton, Miami county, remaining with them until they sold in the following spring. Subsequently Mr. Smith was employed as a traveling salesman for E. F. Rinehart, wholesale manufacturing druggists of Troy, Ohio, and traveled for this house five years, selling goods in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. In 1878 he became connected with Dr Cary, who was engaged in the manufacturing drug business at Zanesville, Ohio, traveling in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan until the fall of 1879, when he purchased stock in the Rinehart Medicine Company, and worked in the interests of that company until 1883, when he sold and came to Mount Vernon, Iowa. At no time in the history of the town no one business was so much needed as a bank. On the 21st of January, 1884, he formed a partnership with Dr. James Carson in the banking business, and to that enterprise he devoted the remainder of his life. On February, 1893, Col. H. H. Rod, of Mount Vernon, Iowa, entered the firm and the business was carried on under this partnership until February 1, 1897, when Dr. Carson sold his interest to Willard C. Stuckslage, of Lisbon, Iowa. The Mount Vernon Bank as organized at this date continued until the death of Mr. Smith in August, 1899. During these years of business activity the management of the bank devolved almost wholly on Mr. Smith, and its success was due in a large measure to his effort. He was a man of good business ability, sound judgment and keen discrimination, and withal a capable financier. Under his careful management the Mount Vernon Bank stands today a fitting monument to his great industry and worth.

As a recreation and rest from business cares Mr. Smith carried the breeding of fine stock on the farm owned by himself known as the Cloverland Farm. He attained a reputation as a breeder of fine Aberdeen Angus cattle and in his herd were some of the best blood. Registered Shropshire sheep were also a specialty. His love for nature and the things belonging to nature was boundless and he was never more contented than on the farm among the animals he had watched and cared for.

Although Mr. Smith was in poor health for some time prior to his death he still continued to discharge his business and social duties with the same promptness and fidelity which characterized his whole life. It was finally decided that he, with his family, should spend the fall and winter where the climate would be less severe. Saratoga Springs, New York, was chosen for a stay during the fall on account of the benefit he hoped to receive from the use of the spring water. But Mr. Smith died on the day of his arrival there August 23, 1899, and his remains were brought back to Mount Vernon for interment. In his death the community realized that it had lost one of its best citizens - a man active, energetic, earnest and diligent in business. A true friend, a genial neighbor, a progressive citizen and a tried and loving husband and father.

Mr. Smith was an honored member of W. C. Dimmitt Post, No. 400 G. A. R.; of Mount Vernon Lodge No. 112, A. F. & A. M.; and Ashlar Chapter, No. 122, R. A. M., of Mount Vernon. His brethren of the Masonic fraternity paid the following tribute to his memory: "Brother Smith has been a member of Mount Vernon Lodge for many years and of Ashlar Chapter since its formation. Throughout all these years he has been faithful in attendance, prompt in duty, and constant in friendship. In his business affairs he exhibited that stern and rugged honesty inherited from his ancestry in the Society of Friends, strengthened by the teachings of Masonry, and beautified by an unobtrusive adherence to the faith of the Gospel of the Son of Man. His Brethren and companions cherish his memory with sincere affection and part from his earthly presence with deep sorrow and regret. We commend his surviving relatives to the Inner light that will guide them safely through the rough pathway of their earthly pilgrimage, and to the Infinite Comforter that will abide with them in all life's sorrows."

Mr. Smith was married on the 9th day of September, 1884, to Miss Clara A. Brackett, who was born in Putnam township, Linn county, Iowa. A sketch of the Brackett family appears elsewhere in this work. To them were born two children, William Edgar, born January 19, 1891, and died April 14, 1893. In the loss of this loved son, the cherished plans of the father were broken and a sorrow entered his life to remain to the end. Ruth Elizabeth was born December 27, 1893, and with the wife, is left to cherish the memory of one whose life was all tenderness in his home, upright in his business, faithful in his friendship and perfect in his trust in God.

i cannot say, and I will no' say
That he is dead. He is just away!

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,

And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you - O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return, -

Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here:

Think of his still as the same, I say:
He is not dead - he is just away!

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 23-25.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Joseph C. Smyth, a prosperous agriculturist and leading citizen of Franklin township, residing on section 7, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 28, 1857, and is a son of John and Sarah J. (Wilson) Smyth, natives of County Tyrone and County Donegal, Ireland, respectively. The father came to this country with his brother, Colonel Robert Smyth, whose sketch appears on another page of this volume [see bio for Hon. Robert Smyth below], and he was married in Philadelphia. In 1861 he came west and located in Franklin township, this county, where he had previously purchased a farm of over four hundred acres, and continued to make that place his home until his death, which occurred February 26, 1882. His widow then lived with our subject until she, too, was called to her final rest on the 9th of June, 1899, and she was laid to rest by the side of her husband in Mt. Vernon cemetery. They had a family of eight children, namely: Robert, who died at the age of nineteen years; John W., who married Ida Goudy and resides in Bertram township, this county; William who married Emma Gurtzer and lives in Rockford, Floyd county, Iowa; Joseph C., of this review; Sarah J., wife of George W. Grove, a retired farmer of Mt. Vernon; Margaret a., wife of Fred Turner, a carpenter of Mt. Vernon; Elizabeth, who died at the age of three years; and George, who married Margaret Gormly and makes his home in Bertram township.

The early education of our subject, acquired in the country schools, was supplemented by a course at Cornell College, and on laying aside his books he returned to the home farm, aiding in its cultivation until after his marriage. On the 28th of May, 1884, at Marion, he wedded Miss Serena White, who was born near Cedar Rapids, this county, March 120, 1858, and is a daughter of John R. and Rebecca J. (Campbell) White, the former a native of Michigan, the latter of Indiana. Her parents were married in Cedar Rapids, near which city the father was engaged in faring for five years. He then bought eighty acres of land in Bertram township, where he made his home for ten years. On disposing of that place he purchased another eighty-acre farm in the same township, and to it he has since added until now he has four hundred acres of rich and arable land, on which he and his wife continue to reside. Of their four children Mrs. Smyth is the oldest; Rosetta, the second in order of birth, is the wife of William Parker, a farmer living four miles northwest of Bertram; Thomas J. married Ellen Snyder and is also engaged in farming in Bertram township; and Alice J. is the wife of Daniel Kleinknecht of the same township. Unto our subject and his wife were born three children, namely: Robert J., born March 5, 1885, died April 30, 1888; Harry W., born July 19, 1888, died April 10, 1891; and Raymond C. born October 24, 1897, is the only one now living.

For one year after his marriage Mr. Smyth had the management of his father's old homestead, and then bought the Josh Kudick farm of one hundred and fifteen acres in the same township, making his home there for fifteen years. on the expiration of that time he disposed of that place and bought a portion of the old James Smyth farm on sections 7 and 8, Franklin township, taking up his residence there on March 4, 1901. Here he has a good two story brick residence, large barns and cattle sheds. He has never sold but one load of corn in his life, but feeds all of his grain to his stock, believing that to be the most profitable method of disposing of it. He raises horses, cattle and hogs for market, and in the business affairs he has steadily prospered, until he is now numbered among the well-to-do, as well as the highly respected men of his community. In his fraternal relations he is connected with Mt. Vernon Lodge, No. 551, I. O. O. F., and the Ancient Order of the Red Cross, of Mt. Vernon, and in politics is a stanch supporter of the Republican party and its principles.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 14-15.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Among the Covenanters of Scotland who fled to the north of Ireland at the time of the persecution was the Smyth family from which the subject of this sketch was descended. He was born near Londonderry, in County Tyrone, Ireland, February 26, 1814, his parents being Jeremiah and Nancy (McElhenny) Smyth, farming people. The family on the mother's side were also Covenanters and were driven out of Scotland.

Robert Smyth was reared on a farm, receiving an ordinary common-school education. At the age of twenty he came to this country, and was employed for six years as a clerk in Bedford county, Pennsylvania. On resigning that position March 4, 1840, he started for the territory of Iowa. The journey was made by stage from Hollidaysburg to Pittsburg, thence by steamer to St. Louis, and up the Mississippi to Bloomington, now Muscatine, Iowa, whence he came to Linn county on foot. For about four months he made his home with Mr. Craig, who was also from Ireland, and during that time he bought a farm near that gentleman's place, on what is now section 8, Franklin township. A log house had previously been built upon the place and eight acres of the land had been broken. The first year Mr. Smyth planted a crop of wheat, potatoes and corn. In July, 1840, he was joined by his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alexander, who owned a half interest in the farm, and with them he resided for two years. His parents crossed the Atlantic in June, 1842, accompanied by six daughters and their son James, and the family also located in Linn county. William, another son, had previously settled here, and John [see bio for Joseph C. Smyth above] the oldest son, after residing in Philadelphia for some time, removed to this county with his family in 1861. After establishing his parents in a comfortable home our subject went to live with them. The land in this region was not surveyed for some time after he located here, and when it came into market in 1843, he was detailed as a bidder for all the land in Franklin township. His father had entered the northwest quarter of section 8, which he divided among his children, Robert securing forty acres of this. Their nearest markets at that time were Muscatine and Dubuque, and for several years Mr. Smyth floated his farm produce down the Mississippi river on flatboats, as he could obtain a much better price for his grain in St. Louis. For two years he did all his farm with oxen, except plowing corn, and he also hauled his grain to Muscatine with them.

Mr. Smyth made his home with his parents until he was married, July 2, 1846, to Miss Margaret Moffitt, of Cedar county, Iowa, who was also born in County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1826, and was fourteen years of age when she came to the United States with her parents, William and Bessie (Armstrong) Moffitt. Coming direct to Iowa, the family located at Mason's Grove, now Cass township, Cedar county, where Mr. and Mrs. Moffitt spent the remainder of their lives.

Of the eight children born to our subject and his wife, four died in infancy, while the others are as follows: (1) John J., born in Marion, Iowa, in 1857, was principally educated in the public schools of this county, but attended Cornell College a short time. He is now engaged in general farming and stock raising on the old homestead farm on section 8, Franklin township. In religious faith he is a Presbyterian. He was married in 1879 at Mt. Vernon, to Miss Ella W. Warren, who was born in Franklin township, her parents, William and Rosina (Neal) Warren, being early settlers of this county. Her father was a carpenter by trade. During the Civil war he enlisted in the Thirteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and died in the service at Vicksburg when about forty-five years of age. Unto John J. Smyth and wife were born four children: Helen, Anna and Robert, all living; and Warren, deceased. (2) William A. is a retired farmer now residing in Mt. Vernon. (3) Elizabeth was educated in public schools of Marion and at Cornell College, and resides with her mother at their pleasant home in Mt. Vernon. (4) Ana is the widow of Samuel E. Holden, who died in Napa City, California, December 31, 1900, leaving three children, Robert S. Harold E. and Philip S. Mrs. Holden taught for several terms in the public schools of Cedar Rapids and stood very high in her profession, and was also preceptress of Napa College.

Mr. and Mrs. Smyth began their domestic life in a log house which he erected prior to his marriage on the site of his son John's present home. His wife was to him a true helpmate, and to her encouragement and support he owed not a little of his success. From 1852 to 1866 he was a resident of Marion most of the time, the greater portion of it being spent in a land, banking and law office. On going into the real estate and banking business, he commenced reading law with his younger brother, the late Colonel William Smyth, who came to this country in 1843. In 1854 he was admitted to the bar, and later became a member of the firm of Smyth, Young & Smyth, but he engaged only in office practice. In 1866 he returned to his farm, on which he erected a fine brick residence that year and which he made on of the most attractive places in Franklin township. He was a man of excellent business and executive ability, was industrious, enterprising and progressive, and to these characteristics may be attributed his success in life.

Mr. Smyth was one of the most popular and influential men of his community, and as his fellow citizens recognized his ability he was called upon to fill a number of public positions of honor and trust. He was the first postmaster of Franklin township, which was the only office in this section for some time, and was made township clerk soon after it became necessary to have such an official. In the fall of 1843 he was elected to represent Cedar, Jones, Benton and Linn counties in the lower house of the territorial legislature, and in 1846 became a member of the first general assembly of the state, being elected from Benton and Linn counties. In 1867 he was elected to the state senate by the people of Linn county for a term of four years, and was again elected to the lower house of the twentieth general assembly in the fall of 1883, just forty ears from the time he was first elected. He was a member of several important committees, including the one on constitutional amendments, which was considered the first of importance at that time. He was also chairman of the committee for the suppression of intemperance and engineered the bill through the house. It was said that to his sterling principles, wide and watchful diligence was due much of the early temperance legislation for the state. He always stood for temperance principles and temperance laws, and the prohibition law found in him a stanch advocate and supporter.

Mr. Smyth cast his first presidential vote for Martin Van Buren. He was an abolitionist from the start, and in 1852 voted for J. P. Hale. On the organization of the Republican party in 1856, he joined its ranks and always remained a stanch supporter of its principles. In the fall of 1861 he was appointed by President Lincoln as paymaster in the United States army, and held that position until May, 1866, with headquarters at St. Louis and Davenport, his payments being made in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. During this period he disbursed from the government treasury the vast sum of over ten million dollars, and furnished satisfactory vouchers for every dollar paid out. His public and private life were alike above reproach, and he had the confidence and respect of all with whom he came in contact either in business or social affairs. It was said of him that he "was twenty years an Irishman, sixty years and American, and eighty years a Christian gentleman." He died on Sunday, April 3, 1898, honored and respected by al who knew him. He was a Presbyterian in religious belief and an elder in the Mt. Vernon church. His advice was sought in church councils, as it was always wise and practical, while he was simple in his faith and childlike in his trust. For thirty years he was a trustee of Cornell College; with the exception of two years he was closely identified with the administrative work as a member of the executive committee. Not only was he liberal of his time in behalf of the college, but also gave freely of his means to its support in early years when contributions were especially needed. He was also a member of the board of Coe College for many years. It is but just and merited praise to say of Mr. Smyth, that as a business man he ranked with the ablest; as a citizen he was honorable, prompt and true to every engagement; as a man he held the honor and esteem of all classes of people, of all creeds and political proclivities; as a husband and father he was a model worthy of all imitation; unassuming in manner, sincere in his friendships, steadfast and unswerving in his loyalty to the right. Throughout his career of continued and far-reaching usefulness, his duties were performed with the greatest care, and during a long life his personal honor and integrity were without blemish.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 459-462.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


John Franklin Stauffer, cashier of the Linn county Savings Bank at Center Point, was born August 26,1880, in the city which is yet his home. Although he has but reached the thirtieth milestone on life's journey he has already made a creditable position in financial circles, and qualities of self-reliance, enterprise and laudable ambition which he displays point to larger success in the future. His parents were Frederick and Edith Fanny Stauffer, the former a well known stock dealer of this county.

At the usual age the son entered the public schools and, mastering the lessons assigned him, was advanced from grade to grade until he was graduated from the Center Point high school with the class of 1899. His early business training was received under the direction of his father, with whom he was associated for some time, becoming well known as a live-stock dealer in this part of the state. In the spring of 1906, however, he withdrew from that field of activity and became connected with financial interests, entering the Linn County Savings Bank of Center Point as assistant cashier. On the 1st of November, 1907, he was elected cashier and has since continued in that position, covering about three years. He is a popular bank official, courteous and obliging to the patrons of the bank, yet never neglecting the interests which he represents. A general banking business is conducted and the success of the institution in the last few years is attributable in large measure to the efforts of Mr. Stauffer.

On the 27th of May, 1909, Mr. Stauffer was united in marriage to Miss Lillis Pearle Clarke, of Center Point, although their marriage was celebrated in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Stauffer is well known in several fraternal organizations, having been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since 1902, of the Knights of Pythias lodge since 1904, while in 1910 he joined the Masonic fraternity. He has always lived in this part of the state, so that his record is one well known to his fellow townsmen, who recognize in him those sterling traits of character which in every land and clime awaken confidence and regard.

Source: 1911 Linn Co., IA History pg. 396

Submitted by Becky Teubner


George L. Stearns, who has efficiently served as city weighmaster of Marion, Iowa, for many years, was born in Vienna, Ontario county, New York, September 10, 1825, a son of Joel W. and Nancy (Edminston) Stearns, the former a native of Conway, Massachusetts, the latter of Maryland. Throughout his active business life the father was engaged in hotel keeping, and lived for some time in Palmyra and Vienna, New York. Both he and his wife died in the latter place. Their children were: Alonzo, who died in Chicago, Illinois; John, who is now living a retired life in that city; William, who died in Wisconsin; George L., our subject; Owen, a physician, who died in Freeport, Illinois; Henry, who lives with our subject in Marion, Iowa; and one who died in infancy.

Mr. Stearns of this review acquired his education in the common schools of his native state, and when his school days were over he engaged in teaching for two winters. He was then employed as clerk in the postoffice at Geneva, New York, until 1849, when he entered the service of the Wells & Company Express, as agent, and later was messenger between Albany and Buffalo, New York, until 1858, when he received the appointment as agent for that company at Saratoga Springs, New York, where he remained one year. He was next in the employ of the New York Central Railroad at their freight depot in Rochester until coming to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1861.

Prompted by a spirit of patriotism, Mr. Stearns enlisted in July, 1861, as sergeant in Company B, Thirty-first Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Spear and Colonel Smythe. The regiment went first to Dubuque, and later to Davenport, and from there proceeded to Helena, Montana, where they took part in an engagement in the winter of 1863. They next went to Arkansas, and for a time they were stationed opposite Vicksburg, and were also in the rear of that stronghold, taking part in a number of engagements around there until the surrender of the fort. They next went to Jackson and Canton, Mississippi, and then returned to Vicksburg. Mr. Stearns was confined to the hospital at St. Louis for a time, and was then transferred to Quincy, Illinois, being off duty for twenty days. After rejoining his regiment at Woodville, Alabama, he participated in the battle of Chattanooga, and all of the engagements of the Atlanta campaign. Subsequently he was transferred to the commissary department of his division, with which he was connected until mustered out of service at Louisville, Kentucky, June 27, 1865, being paid off at Davenport, Iowa.

After leaving the army Mr. Stearns returned to his home in Cedar Falls, and the following year entered the employ of the American Express Company as messenger of the stage line between Boone and Sioux City. In the same capacity he made the first trip on the railroad after it was built through to Council Bluffs, in February, 1867, and in April was transferred to Dubuque, running as messenger between there and Centralia and Cedar Rapids. In November, 1867, he was appointed agent at the last named place, and held that position until 1872, when he served as street commissioner of the city for one year. Subsequently he was agent for the United States Express Company at this place until 1878, and later served as clerk of the courts of Linn county for eight years. For two years he was deputy oil inspector for the state, and at the end of that time was appointed city weighmaster at Marion, which position he has since most creditably filled.

On the 7th of November, 1849, Mr. Stearns was married in Vienna, New York, to Miss Helen A. Streeter, of that place, a daughter of Dexter Streeter, who was a woolen weaver and carder. Five children blessed this union, namely: Charles G., who has been Agent for the American Express Company at Waterloo, Iowa, since 1870; Helen A., wife of E. S. Young, clerk of courts of Greene county, Iowa; George, deceased; Henry, who is engaged in the abstract business in Marion, Iowa; and Theorada A., wife of J. E. Brownwell, an attorney of Marion.

In his religious views Mr. Stearns is an Episcopalian, and in politics is a stanch Republican. He is a prominent member of Robert Mitchell Post, No. 206, G. A. R., and is now serving as adjutant. As a citizen he has always been true and faithful to every trust reposed in him, so that his loyalty is above question, being manifest in days of peace as well as when he followed the old flag to victory on southern battle-fields. As one of the representative men of his community he is also worth of the high regard in which he is uniformly held.

Source: Biographical Record of Linn County, Iowa. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, p. 136-7.

Contributed by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


Since 1879 John H. Stein has been a resident of Cedar Rapids, and for fourteen years has successfully engaged in the transfer business here. He was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, on the 6th of May, 1858, a son of John and Sarah J. (Johnston) Stein, the former a native of Germany, the latter of Ireland. When young they came with their respective parents to America and located in Pennsylvania. Our subject's paternal grandparents lived to be over eighty years of age, and the maternal grandparents were also well advanced in years at the time of their deaths. During his business career in Pennsylvania the father of our subject engaged in teaming and draying, and although meeting with many accidents he continued in active business for many years, but now, at the age of seventy-four years, is living a retired life in Cedar Rapids, where he located in 1884. His wife is about seventy-five years of age. Unto them were born seven children, of whom one died in early childhood, and William passed away at the age of twenty-two years. Those living are Dora, wife of Thomas Crea, of Allegheny City, Pennsylvania; John H., the subject of this sketch; Jacob, a resident of St. Louis; Sadie, at home with her parents; and Jennie, wife of Charles Ward, of Missouri. The children obtained their literary educations in the common schools of Pennsylvania.

John H. Stein remained under the parental roof until he attained his majority, being engaged in the teaming for his father, and then worked on a farm for a time. In 1879 he came to Cedar Rapids as previously stated, and was in the employ of his uncle James Johnston for two years, that gentleman being engaged in farming near the city, where he had taken up government land and improved a place. In 1881 our subject embarked in his present business, starting his dray line with one team, but as the city grew and his business increased he enlarged his facilities, and now uses nine wagons in his business, doing general teaming, draying and transfer work. Although he started out with no capital he has met with marked success through his own exertions and good management, and now has the leading dray line in the city, giving employment to eleven men.

Mr. Stein was married, September 28, 1885, in Cedar Rapids, to Miss Paulina J. Burnett, who was born in Ohio, in 1859, and is a daughter of George and Lovina Burnett, early settlers of Cedar county, Iowa, who are now living near Vinton, Benton county, this state. Mrs. Stein has on sister, Ida, wife of Mark Speake, of Cedar Rapids. Four children were born to our subject and his wife, but one died in infancy. Those living are Ollie, born in 1889; Harvey, born in 1892; and Hazel, born in 1894. All are now in school.

Mr. Stein purchased property on the west side of the river and there makes his home. The Republican party has always found in him a stanch supporter of its principles, and in his social relations he is a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, No. 141. He gives liberally to church and charitable work, and never withholds his aid from any enterprise which he believes will prove of public benefit.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa. Illustrated. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901. p.11-12.

Submitted by Terry Carlson


Identified with the hardware trade throughout the period of his connection with commercial interests and making steady progress in this line, W. H. Stepanek is now one of the leading hardware merchants of Cedar Rapids, being the senior member of the firm of Stepanek & Vondracek Hardware Company. He was born in Linn county, on the 8th of May, 1868, a son of Joseph and Anna Stepanek. His father, who was a native of Bohemia and in the early ‘60s came to Linn county, was a blacksmith by trade and followed that pursuit for some time. After coming to Linn county he turned his attention to farming, in which he continued with excellent success for a long period. He died in July, 1903.

In the public schools of this city W. H. Stepanek continued his education which he had begun in the district schools of the county and later he pursued a business course in the Cedar Rapids Business College. Thus qualified for the practical and responsible duties of commercial life he entered the employ of Swab & Company, hardware merchants, in 1890, and remained with them for four years, during which time he gained intimate and comprehensive knowledge of the business. In 1894 he formed a partnership with A. W. Vondracek and they opened a hardware store on a small scale. From the beginning they were accorded a liberal patronage and in 1896 removed to their present location, where they have a store room well suited to the needs of their extensive and growing business, at the corner of Second street and Second avenue. They have built up their trade along substantial lines and have sought success in conformity with a high standard of commercial ethics and at all times have enjoyed the confidence and trust of the general public.

In June, 1891, Mr. Stepanek was united in marriage to Miss Josephine Castek, a daughter of Joseph and Anna Castek, of Cedar Rapids. They have one son, Leo. Mr. Stepanek belongs to a number of fraternal and social organizations, including the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, together with some Bohemian societies, including the C. S. P. S. and the Z. C. B. J. He is active in politics as a supporter of the republican party and has served as alderman at large. In March, 1910, he was elected to the city council and holds the position of commissioner of accounts and finances. He does all in his power to secure the success of the principles in which he believes and is a man of considerable influence in local political circles. He has also proven a friend to the public schools in his service on the school board and gives active endorsement to every object and measure which he deems will benefit the city or promote the general welfare in the lines of intellectual, material, political, social and moral advancement. He takes great delight in automobiling and travel.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 732-3.

Submitted by Terry Carlson


TJoseph Stevenson, whose entire business career has been characterized by agricultural pursuits, in which line of activity his well directed labor and intelligently applied efforts have brought him creditable success, claims Indiana as the state of his nativity, his birth occurring in Wayne county, that state, on the 5th of May, 1839. His parents, Lawrence M. and Lydia T. (Evans) Stevenson, were natives of New Jersey, who settled in Indiana at an early day, where they continued to reside until 1861. In that year they removed to Iowa, purchasing land in Linn county, and here made their home until called to their final rest, the father passing away in December, 1879, while the mother survived until November, 1900. In their family were seven children, but only two of this number are now living: R. H., the eldest son, who makes his home in Sigourney, Iowa; and Joseph, of this review.

Spending the period of his boyhood and youth in his native state, Joseph Stevenson is indebted to the public school system of Indiana for the educational privileges which he enjoyed. As a young man of twenty-two years he came with his parents to Linn county, and within its borders he has continuously made his home to the present time. Upon attaining his majority he did not at once embark upon an independent business venture, but remained at home with his parents, taking charge of the old homestead farm until the time of his father’s demise, when he purchased the home property, consisting of one hundred acres, and continued to further cultivate and improve it for nineteen years. He then sold the place and purchased another tract of one hundred and five acres, which he operated for twenty-two years, at the expiration of which time he again sold out and bought the farm upon which he now makes his home. The land, which is naturally rich and arable, has responded readily to the care and attention which he has bestowed upon it, and during the years of his residence upon the farm his unceasing efforts, his indefatigable energy and his wise management have made it one of the finest and most valuable properties in Linn county. Not only to the cultivation of the fields, however, has he directed his attention, but he has engaged to some extent in stock-raising, making a specialty of horses and hogs, and this branch of his business has also proved most successful, the excellent grade of his stock demanding ready sale and good prices on the market. Systematic and careful in his methods, he has made a close study of agriculture and is wise in the management of his affairs, so that he is now numbered among the substantial and successful farmers and stock-raisers of the county.

It was on the 17th of March, 1875, that Mr. Stevenson was united in marriage to Miss Emeline Cooper, who was born in Linn county on the 7th of November, 1854, a daughter of Joseph and Folly P. (Smith) Cooper. Her parents were both natives of Ohio and came to Iowa in 1845, being numbered among the early settlers of Linn county. Here Mr. Cooper entered land from the government and erected a log cabin, with clapboard roof and puncheon floor, in which the family resided for some time. The father passed away in 1894 but the mother is still living at the ripe old age of eighty-six years. Mrs. Stevenson is one of five children, three of whom yet survive, and she traces relationship back to Daniel Webster and also to Benjamin Franklin. With the passing of the years the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson has been blessed with seven children, as follows: Elizabeth F., residing at home; Mary E., the wife of F. W. Stirm, of Marion township ; William H., who passed away in 1882; and Charles 0., J. Franklin, Albert C. and Alleta F., who are all yet under the parental roof.

Mr. Stevenson and his wife are attendants of the Methodist Episcopal church and are active and helpful in the various branches of its work. He is a republican in his political allegiance, proudly casting his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, since which time he has been steadfast in his loyalty to the principles of that party. A stalwart champion of the cause of education, he has served as school director, and all matters tending toward the material, educational and moral development of the community are of deep interest to him. With him perseverance, diligence and integrity have constituted the guiding posts of life, bringing him to the honorable position which he now occupies in the opinion of his fellowmen who entertain for him only high regard and esteem.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 223-4.

Contributed by: Terry Carlson

The Stewarts:
Isaac Cahill Stewart
Albert Leslie Stewart
John Elmer Stewart

Isaac Cahill Stewart was born June 1, 1836, in Jackson Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Lydia McNees Stewart. He grew up on the family farm and, in the process learned the trades of carpentry and blacksmithing. On May 16, 1861, he enlisted as Corporal-Blacksmith in the 102nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His younger brother Woods Stewart followed by enlisting two days later. Woody was wounded at the Battle of Chickohomini and became a victim of typhoid fever in the hospital. Woody died a few days later and is buried near that battleground. Isaac went on to serve with distinction and was frequently decorated for meritorious service under fire. The 102nd Regiment was a showpiece of "The Army of the Potomac" and saw almost continuous service in some of the bloodiest, most vicious fighting of the Civil War. Isaac Cahill Stewart was promoted to the rank of Captain in June, 1864, at the Battle of Cold Harbor. He was discharged June 25, 1865, at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Following the death of his first wife and their son he migrated to Manchester, Iowa, where he met and on February 23, 1871, married Mary Elizabeth Grover.

Mary Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of John and Deborah Denio Grover (see bio on John Grover). The couple moved to Linn County, Iowa, and settled near Coggins and Prairieburg, where Isaac claimed a farm and started a blacksmith shop. They raised a family of ten children before moving to Ocheyedan in 1893.

Their children were: Albert Leslie; B 3, 1871, Mar. Alta Catherine Kirby Dec. 8, 1897, D. Mar. 29, 1953, Bur. Ocheyedan Cemetery. Alice Eola; B. Aug. 11, 1873, Mar. John Mercer Feb. 15, 1898, D. July 19, 1963, Bur. Balmoral, Manitoba, Canada. John Isaac; B. Jan 11, 1875, Mar. 1. Sarah Jane Mercer, 2. Winona Ward, D. Feb. 14, 1961, Bur. Ocheyedan Cemetery. Robert Ira; B. Nov. 1876, Mar. Louena Belle Sherman Feb. 17, 1904, D. June 11, 1946. Charles Guy; B. Jan 10, 1879, Mar. Edna Maude Henderson May 10, 1907, D. Oct. 28, 1956, Bur. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

William Archibald; B. Feb. 22, 1881, Mar. Josephine Yanecek Dec. 20, 1905, D. Jan. 8, 1967, Bur. White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. Serl Grover; B. May 22, 1883, Mar. Minnie Pearl Timmons Jan. 3, 1917, D. Aug. 6, 1968. George Washington; B. Sept. 13, 1885, Sylvia Grace; B. Nov. 7, 1887, Mar. Charles Clark Morton Sept. 12, 1917, D. Feb. 24, 1971, Bur. Ocheyedan Cemetery. Glen LeRoy (Leroy); B. Sept. 18, 1892, Mar. Mabel Francis Hartson June 3, 1919, D. Aug. 3, 1947, Bur. Arlington National Cemetery.

Albert Leslie or Al as he was known to most of his many friends in Osceola County, left the family farm in Prairieburg about 1890, and moved to near Allendorf, where he had a farm plus several business interests. Albert L. was not a farmer although he always owned at least one farm operated by a te3nant farmer. Because of his effort to be fair and equitable with his tenants it was often said that "it's almost as good to farm for Al Stewart as it is to have your own place".

He had met Alta Catherine Kirby shortly after his arrival in the Ocheyedan area and on December 8, 1897, they were married.

Early in 1894, Isaac Cahill Stewart followed his oldest son Albert Leslie and moved the rest of his family to the Ocheyedan area, and settled on a farm five miles south of town. Isaac and Mary Elizabeth lived on this farm until his death on January 13, 1898. Their sons Serl and George or Wash as he was known to his friends, operated the farm for their mother for several years but about 1917, the place was turned over to a tenant farmer. Mary Elizabeth lived alone in a small house in Ocheyedan, for about three years, when she was asked by her daughter Sylvia Grace to accept a small apartment in their home. She died in this home October 16, 1928. Isaac C. and Mary Elizabeth are buried in their family plot in the Ocheyedan Cemetery. Jane Grover, the youngest sister of Mary Elizabeth, is also buried in the same plot.

Albert Leslie and Alta Catherine purchased a home in Ocheyedan, where they lived their entire life. Their home is located the first house north of the Doctor Padgham residence. Their son Merle Leslie was born in that home September 15, 1898, and their daughter Leta Catherine was born there February 24, 1901.

Albert Leslie was always a very civic minded person and actively participated in all aspects of city government. He was a very active charter member of the Masonic Lodge of Ocheyedan, and followed the Scottish Rite path to the 32nd, degree. He was also a member of the Shrine and participated actively in all of the affairs. He was very proud to serve in all official positions of both organizations. Al was a devout member of the Methodist Church, although he was not an active participant, he was a very generous member.

In 1898, Albert purchased a farm three miles east of Ocheyedan, and at that time he entered into a tenant agreement with Mr. Stahl. Mr. Stahl and his son John ran that farm until Johnny's retirement in the early 1970's. Mr. Louis Dekkenga is the present operator of the farm now owned by two of Albert and Alta's grandchildren.

In 1903, Albert purchased a livery just north of the main intersection of town on the west side of the street. He applied directly to Henry Ford in person to get the franchise for Ford Motor Company products. Following the contract his sales territory was determined to be the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and as far west as he wanted to go. Early in the 1920's, the original farm livery building was demolished and replaced with a large modern garage. (Could you please verify this date for me, my mother's records are vague on this). Albert continued in business until the late 1930s, and then sold the franchise to the son of a long time friend.

Albert then concentrated on his farm interest and in the pleasures of retirement. He had always been an ardent fisherman, so he frequently visited his daughter's home in northern Minnesota, where he and his grandson concentrated on the fishing. Alta Catherine and Albert both enjoyed travel; however she had experienced a severe physical problem in her earlier years and could not tolerate long trips. Alta Catherine died June 2, 1947, and was buried in their family plot in the Ocheyedan Cemetery. Albert Leslie died March 29, 1953, and is buried at her side.

Merle Leslie Stewart grew up helping his father in the garage. He enlisted in the army for service in France in World War 1, he served about three years. Following his discharge Merle attended normal school and then returned to the garage with his father. On September 15, 1920, he married Mildred E. Miller of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The couple settled down in a comfortable home on the far east side of Ocheyedan. When his father sold the garage, Merle purchased the DX service station across the street from the post office.

He was there until about 1943, when he moved his family to Long Beach, California, where he worked in the war industry. In about 1946, or 1947, he moved the family to Forest Grove, Oregon, where he lived in retirement until his untimely death May 14, 1951. He was buried in the Stewart family plot in the Ocheyedan Cemetery. Mildred died December 10, 1984, and was buried by his side. Merle's daughter Margaret was born October 27, 1921. She married James Robert Knox and with him had two sons. The family lives in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. Margaret is now deceased.

Leta Catherine Stewart grew up in Ocheyedan, and enjoyed all the pleasures that young ladies of the day were permitted. Following high school she attended Grinnel College, Grinnel, Iowa, and became a teacher. She taught several years at Lake Park, Iowa, and was a substitute teacher at the Ocheyedan school for a few years. She met her husband to be Sidney S. Lanham while teaching with his sister Goldie at Lake Park. The couple married November 23, 1921. Leta continued teaching and Sid attended Barber College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

When that training was complete the couple settled down in Ocheyedan, in a little home next to the Methodist church. Leta worked as substitute teacher and Sid practiced his trade as a barber. Their daughter Alice Jean was born June 23, 1923, and their son Phillip Stewart was born January 10, 1927. In June of 1927, the family moved to Park Rapids, Minnesota, where they lived for eight years prior to moving to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. At Grand Rapids, Leta started a unique gift shop concentrating on the local Indian handcraft. Soon the shop grew to include the hand work of all tribes in North America, plus that from the peoples of other lands. Sid and Leta retired from active business in the early 1970s, and traveled extensively enjoying the summers of northern Minnesota, and the winters of Arizona.

Leta passed away June 13, 1983, after a long illness and was buried in the Stewart family plot in Ocheyedan. Sid followed her October 24, 1988, and is buried at her side.

Alice Jean married John W. Haigh and lives in Seattle, Washington, where she now enjoys her three daughters and six grandchildren.

Stewart married Doris Elaine Carlson and is now living in Pueblo, Colorado. They have a son and daughter and six grandchildren.

John Elmer Stewart, a cousin of A. L. Stewart's, was born in Butler County, Pennsylvania, February 13, 1849. He moved to Manchester, Iowa, with his uncle Issac Cahill Stewart, where he stayed briefly. He then moved to Prairieburg, Iowa, where he stayed until the late 1870s, or early 1880s, when he went to the Allendorf/Ocheyedan area and filed a claim nearby that of Joseph Harper Kirby.

Very little is known of this man other than to say he was a hardworking farmer, well respected by the community. He died October 6, 1908. He is buried in the Ocheyedan Cemetery.

Source: Ocheyedan Centennial

Submitted by Roseanna Zehner

JAMES ORBISON STEWART – The First Settler in Cedar Rapids

James Orbison Stewart, familiarly known as Captain Stewart, is of Scotch-Irish descent and a native of Mercer county, Pennsylvania, having been born near North Liberty in that state, on the 3d of October, 1837. His father, John Stewart, removed with his family to Washington, Iowa, in 1844. His mother’s maiden name was Waddell. Her father, who was of Scotch descent, was a soldier in the war of 1812.

James 0. Stewart was a lad of only seven years when his parents came to Iowa and the journey was regarded by him at that age as the event of a life time. The trip was made long before the day of railroads and they sailed down the Ohio river from Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, and up the Mississippi to Keokuk, Iowa, from which point they made the remaining distance to Washington with horses and wagons, which they had brought for the purpose. In 1850, in the same primitive fashion the family removed to Cedar Rapids, which was then a tiny village. The country round about was sparsely settled and the family endured all the hardships and privations which are incident to early pioneer life in the west.

James Stewart acquired his education in the common schools but largely supplemented his knowledge by the experience gained in a country printing office. At the age of sixteen years he entered the office of the Progressive Era, the first paper published in Cedar Rapids, winning his first dollar by rolling and inking the type for the Iowa supreme court reports, which were printed on a hand press. After about six months’ service in that capacity he was regularly apprenticed as the printer’s devil for the fours years’ term service, receiving the sum of thirty dollars the first year, fifty dollars the second year, seventy-five dollars the third year and one hundred dollars the fourth year. At this princely salary he was supposed to pay his board and clothe himself.

Mr. Stewart worked at the printer’s trade until the spring of 1861, when he enlisted as a private soldier in Company K, First Iowa Infantry, on the first call for volunteers. He took part in the engagements of Mud Springs and Forsythe and the noted battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, where he received his first “glory mark” and in which the noble General Lyon fell while he was leading the First Iowa. In May, 1862, Mr. Stewart reenlisted, entering the service as first sergeant of Company B, Twentieth Iowa Infantry. He took part in all the marches and battles of the regiment, the more important being Prairie Grove, the siege of Vicksburg, the battles of Fort Morgan and Fort Blakely and the capture of Mobile, Alabama. Soon after entering the service he was promoted to second lieutenant and later commissioned first lieutenant, He was also promoted to the rank of captain but was not mustered into the two latter offices owing to the reduced number of the company. During about eighteen months of his service he acted as adjutant of the regiment, an honor seldom conferred upon a second lieutenant. He also acted for a time as judge advocate of the Second Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps and later as mustering officer on the staff of General C. C. Andrews. In October, 1865, when mustered out of the service, he still held that position on the staff of General Joseph C. Mower for the Department of Texas.

On his return to civil life Mr. Stewart again took up the printer’s trade and in 1866 bought a half interest in the Waverly Republican. On selling that paper he purchased the Clarksville Star, which he published for twelve years, building up a state reputation for himself and for the paper as an unswerving advocate of the principles of the republican party, to which he still adheres.

Captain Stewart has always been an enthusiastic Grand Army man and has held all the positions in the post from the lowest to the highest and, also appointments on the staffs of the national and department commanders but his best work has been in the quiet aid to indigent comrades and other dependents. In 1884 he again took up his abode in Cedar Rapids and was connected as a writer and otherwise with various newspapers. In 1895 he was appointed deputy clerk of the United States circuit and district courts and United States commissioner for the northern district of Iowa. He takes an active interest in politics but is not a politician except in the better sense of the term. In all his long and active career he would never allow his name to be presented for an elective office although often urged to do so, preferring to aid others rather than hold office himself. He has therefore never served in an official capacity except that of deputy clerk of the United States circuit and district courts, and four years as assistant postmaster in his home city. He resigned his position and relinquished his office August 15, 1910, after serving continuously for fifteen years and is now engaged in business for himself in Cedar Rapids.

Mr. Stewart was married in 1868 to Miss Leah E. Alexander, of New York state, and they have one child, Raymond Grant Stewart, who is now a resident of Cedar Rapids and is following in the footsteps of his father as a printer. Mr. Stewart was reared in the faith of the United Presbyterian church and is a member of that society.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 719-20.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Among the tradesmen of early times, there were none, whether we consider them morally or physically, that stood higher than Mr. William Stewart. Very tall and slender in his build, he was nevertheless of a strong an wiry constitution, and in his earlier years he could endure a great deal of hard labor. His trade was that of a blacksmith, and he was a very good workman, though not quite so skilled possibly in the manufacture of heavy mill irons as his brother-in-law, Mr. S. L. Pollock, who I believe came to the place perhaps a year or two earlier than he. These two men were pioneers in this branch of business, though not the first, that honor being accorded to Mr. Harrison Campbell who erected the first blacksmith shop in the place in 1843.

Mr. Stewart was a native of Pennsylvania and came to Cedar Rapids in 1847. He first entered the shop of Mr. Stephen L. Pollock, I believe, and worked by the month, but later he erected shops for himself and carried on an extensive business in which he employed a large force of workmen. The latter part of his life he spent in carrying on a large farm which he purchased, a little below the city on the river bottom.

Mr. Stewart’s first investment in real estate was the purchase of a lot on the west side of First Avenue a little above Second Street, and for which he traded a horse that cost him forty-five dollars. On this lot he erected a comfortable house which he occupied for some years and then sold the property for ten thousand dollars. His estate at the time of his death was estimated to be worth eighty thousand dollars.

Mr. Stewart early became a member of the First Presbyterian church, and ever afterwards was active in church work up to the close of his life. He was a man of strong convictions and of fearless courage in the advocacy of those principles which he espoused. He was a ready and forcible speaker and he often addressed public assemblies. For many years he was a member of the city council, and he took an active interest in all the great moral questions of the day.

In his later years his health was quite feeble and he sought relief in the mild climate of Southern California. It was during one of these temporary absences that his earthly career ended. He died at Los Angeles, Cal., Dec. 23, 1891.

He was married in 1850 to Miss Eliza M. Lucore, who proved herself to be a worthy helpmeet of a worthy man. Of their seven children only four are now living; Miss Belle living with her mother at the old homestead; George carrying on the farm near the city; Edward engaged in the fruit culture in California; and Robert practicing law in Pierre, South Dakota. For some years past Mr. and Mrs. Stewart have had their church connection with the Second Presbyterian church of this city, in which, as also in the first church, Mr. Stewart held the office of ruling elder.

Source: Carroll, Rev. George R., Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1839 to 1849, pages 166-168, Times Printing and Binding House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1895.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


Milford W. Stickney, an enterprising and prosperous agriculturist of Maine township, was born in New York on the 14th of May, 1856, his patents being Franklin and Lydia (Pratt) Stickney, who were likewise natives of the Empire state. They came to Linn county, Iowa, in 1864, locating at Waubeek, where the father purchased a mill and operated the same for about two years. On the expiration of that period he bought the farm which is now in possession of our subject and devoted his attention to its cultivation and improvement until the time of his death, which occurred on the 1st of January, 1907. The period of his residence in this county covered more than four decades and he became well known and highly esteemed as a substantial and respected citizen. His widow, who still survives, now makes her home at Waubeek and has many friends throughout the community. The children were six in number and three are yet living.

Milford W. Stickney supplemented his early education by a college course and remained under the parental roof until twenty-seven years of age, when he was married and established a home of his own. Following that important event in his life he was engaged in the operation of a rented farm for a year and then purchased eighty acres of land in Maine township, residing thereon for three years. At the expiration of that period he disposed of the property and went to California, where he made his home for seven years. On returning to Linn county he cultivated rented land for several years or until the time of his father’s demise, when he took charge of the old homestead farm, which has since remained his place of abode. In addition to the cultivation of cereals he devotes considerable attention to the raising and feeding of stock, finding these branches of business both congenial and profitable.

On the 1st of January, 1881, Mr. Stickney was united in marriage to Miss Florence Bowen, whose birth occurred in this county in 1861, her parents being William C. and Sophia (Merriam) Bowen, natives of Vermont and New York respectively. Their marriage was celebrated in the state of Ohio, where Mrs. Bowen taught school for several years. In the early ‘5Os they took up their abode in Linn county, Iowa, and here continued to reside throughout the remainder of their lives, William C. Bowen passing away in 1896 and his wife in 1875. They reared a family of four children. He was a soldier of the Civil war. Mr. and Mrs. Stickney are the parents of three children, as follows: Herschel A., now living at Savanna, Illinois, who is employed as an engineer by the Milwaukee Railroad; Arland B., likewise an engineer, living in Savanna; and Vera M., a high school student. Both sons are married.

Mr. Stickney is a republican in politics and has done effective service for the cause of education as a member of the school board. In religious faith he is a Baptist and his wife is also affiliated with the church of that denomination. At all times he has been true to the obligations and responsibilities that have devolved upon him in every relation of life, so that he well merits the esteem and good will which are uniformly accorded him.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 29-30.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


The subject of this sketch is proprietor of a livery, feed and sale stable on the corner of Eleventh street and Eighth avenue, Marion, and for almost twenty years has been one of the leading business men of that place. He was born near Greenfield, Ross county, Ohio on the 27th of December, 1846, his parents being John Lewis and Elizabeth Straley, natives of Virginia and Ohio, respectively. The father was engaged in farming in that county until 1850, when he came to Linn county, Iowa and took up his residence in Marion township, where he died in the spring of 1853, when about forty-five years of age. He was a very devout and earnest Christian, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which his wife also belonged. She survived him several years, dying in 1876 at the age of fifty-six. They were the parents of four children of whom Henry is third in order of birth. The others were as follows: Joseph enlisted at the age of eighteen years in the Ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war. Being wounded and ill he was sent to a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, and from there was brought home, where he died three or four weeks later at the age of twenty-one. Charles is now postmaster at Jesup, Iowa. Anna L. married S. B. Gillin, and resides at Hudson, Iowa.

Henry Straley is indebted to the common schools of this county for his educational privileges. He assisted in the labors of the home farm until 1882, when he removed to Marion and opened a feed stable. He has since successfully engaged in the livery business at this place, and now keeps nine horses and a good assortment of vehicles to meet the wants of his customers.

On the 4th of January, 1870, Mr. Straley led to the marriage altar Miss H. M. White, also a native of Ohio and a daughter of A. E. and Mary White, who came to this state about 1856. Four children blessed this union: Frank, who is assisting his father in business; William L., a clerk in Owen’s drug store in Marion; A. W., a stenographer of St. Paul; and Daisy, at home. All are graduates of Marion high school. The parents are both members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in politics Mr. Straley is independent, voting for the men whom he believes best qualified to fill the offices regardless of party lines. He is a worthy representative of this county, and as a public spirited citizen he takes a deep interest in the welfare of the community.

Source: The Biographical Record of Linn County Iowa, Illustrated, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1901, pages 189-190.

Submitted by: Carrie J. Robertson of Marion


Death often removes from our midst those whom we can ill afford to lose — men whose lives have constituted a vital force in business progress and in progressive citizenship. Such a one was George Stuart, honored by all men wherever known but most of all where he was best known. He was for a long period connected with milling interests here, being superintendent of the Quaker Oats Mills at the time of his demise.

Mr. Stuart was born in Ontario, Canada, on the 10th of April, 1856, and was a son of Peter and Anna (Brown) Stuart, natives of Scotland. His brother, Robert Stuart, is still a resident of Peterboro, Canada, while a sister, Mrs. Alexander Grant, is living in Ingersoll, Canada. The youthful days of George Stuart were passed in the land of his nativity. He was indebted to the public schools for the educational privileges which he enjoyed and he came to the United States in November, 1879. He was a cousin of Robert Stuart, the treasurer of the Quaker Oats Company, and for twenty-nine years he was continuously associated with the American Cereal Company or its preceding institution and the present Quaker Oats Company. For eleven years he made his home in Cedar Rapids, the family residence being erected at 827 Third avenue. While here he was superintendent of the Quaker Oats Mills at this point and was widely recognized as a man of excellent ability and executive force. He made it a point to thoroughly familiarize himself with every department in the business, regarded no detail as too unimportant to claim his attention and as the years went by managed affairs so wisely and systematically that splendid results were achieved. Moreover he was always just, fair and impartial in his relations to the employees of the mill, and his death has been no more deeply regretted outside of the immediate home circle than by the hundreds of men and women who have worked under him at the mills.

On the 14th of November, 1877, at London, Canada, Mr. Stuart was united in marriage to Miss Ellen Shayne, who was also born in Canada. Mr. and Mrs. Stuart became the parents of six children, Peter, William G., Mileta, Hazel, Blanche and Mary. Of this number Peter is in Charleston, Washington, while William G. is now located in Huntington, West Virginia, the other members of the family being at home. Mrs. Stuart resides at No. 827 Third avenue, where she owns a beautiful residence that is justly famed for its warm-hearted and cordial hospitality.

Mr. Stuart was very prominent in Masonic circles and among the Elks of this city. He belonged to Dearborn Lodge. F. & A. M., of Chicago; Apollo Commandery, No. 26, K. T., of Cedar Rapids; Iowa Consistory, No. 2, A. A. S. R.; and El Kahir Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He was also past exalted ruler of Cedar Rapids Lodge No. 251. B. P. 0. E. He was one of the most faithful and likable men in both organizations — rather quiet in manner but with an essentially manly and kindly nature, finding much quiet content in the companionship of his fellowmen. In January, 1907, he went to Cuba for the benefit of his health and passed away in one of the hotels of Havana, March 15, 1907, when fifty-one years of age. A feeling of genuine sorrow and regret spread throughout the city when the news of his demise was received, for he had endeared himself to many friends and enjoyed the highest respect of all whom he met in social or business relations. In matters of citizenship he was progressive and stood as the supporter of all measures and movements which he deemed of benefit to the community or essential to its welfare. His was a strong individuality and he was recognized as one stable in purpose, quick in perception, swift in decision and energetic and persistent in action. Mastering the lessons of life day by day, his post-graduate work in the school of experience at length placed him with the men of eminent ability and throughout the period of his residence in Cedar Rapids he ranked with her foremost business representatives.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 38-41.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson


For twenty-one years the Rev. Timothy J. Sullivan has been pastor of St. Patrick’s Catholic church of Cedar Rapids and during this period has largely promoted the interests of Catholicism among his parishioners and the people of the city. He has been most zealous in his efforts to advance the work of the church along its various lines of activity and his preaching at the same time has been an effective force for good in the lives of those who have come under his teaching.

His birth occurred in Glengariff, County Cork, Ireland, on the 15th of May, 1856, his parents being Timothy and Bridget (Crowley) Sullivan, who arrived in America in 1863 and became residents of Sandwich, Massachusetts. They remained there for only a brief period, however, and in 1865 arrived in Iowa, becoming residents of Earlville. For some years Timothy Sullivan, Sr., superintended railroad construction in this state but at length retired from active business life, taking up his abode in Cedar Falls. His wife died in 1876.

They were the parents of eleven children, as follows: Mary, the wife of Cain Holland, of Floyd county, Iowa; John, roadmaster of the Illinois Central Railroad at Clinton, Illinois; Hannah, the wife of D. Holland; Patrick, who has supervision of the Illinois Central Railroad at Cherokee, Iowa; Timothy J., of this review; Josie, a resident of Denver, Colorado; Michael C., a priest, who is now a professor in St. Joseph’s College, of Dubuque, Iowa; Agnes, the wife of P. C. Murray, of Sheldon, Iowa; Kate, the wife of J. Flynn, of New Hartford, Iowa; F. D., agent for the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad at Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and C. J., chief clerk in the office of his brother F. D.

In his boyhood days the Rev. Timothy J. Sullivan was a pupil in the schools of Massachusetts and of Earlville and Waverly, Iowa, pursuing a high-school course in the latter place. Determining to devote his life to the priesthood, he entered St. Joseph’s College at Dubuque in 1875, and on the completion of his course there was ordained to holy orders on the 28th of May, 1882. For two years thereafter he remained in the college as an instructor and in September, 1884, was assigned to the parish at Sheldon, Iowa, continuing at that point until November, 1889. He has since been pastor of St. Patrick’s Catholic church of Cedar Rapids. At first his parish was quite large, covering three and a half counties, necessitating his taking long rides to minister to the spiritual needs of his people. But as the country has become settled up this parish has been divided. On reaching Cedar Rapids Father Sullivan found the church property in very poor condition but at once purchased a lot and on the 18th of October, 1891, laid the corner-stone for the splendid church which now stands on the corner of First avenue and Fifth street West. It was dedicated August 28, 1892, and in connection therewith there is a good free parochial school which has been successfully conducted since September, 1892, and is now on a self-supporting basis, there being a large attendance from among the children of the parish. St. Patrick’s church belongs to the archdiocese of Dubuque.

Father Sullivan makes friends wherever he goes, for he possesses a genial and congenial disposition, as well as a progressive and enterprising spirit, and his courtesy is unfailing. He is identified with the best literary interests of the city but never neglects his church work in the slightest degree, and in fact is a zealous advocate to the cause, putting forth every effort possible for the upbuilding of his church and the expansion of its influence.

Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 725-6.

Submitted by: Terry Carlson

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