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Welicome to the 1891 Biographical History of Pottawattamie County






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Underwood, S. G.


S. G. UNDERWOOD, of section 19, Keg Creek Township, has been a resident of this county since March 7, 1854. He was born in Dumfrieshire, Scotland, January 13, 1829, the son of William and Mary (GRIERSON) UNDERWOOD; the former was a son of James UNDERWOOD, a native of Scotland, and the latter was a daughter of William and Margaret (RICHARDSON) GRIERSON. They had seven children, three sons and four daughters. The father died in 1831, when our subject was only two years old, and the mother lived in her native place until her death, which took place when she was 85 years of age.

S. G., the sixth child, attended school until fourteen years of age, being a schoolmaster of the late Senator BECK of Kentucky. He then went to sea on a sailing vessel, as cabin boy, going first to Gibralter, then to the Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena and other points on the African Coast. Starting from Glasgow he visited almost all parts of the globe, including France, Spain, America, Quebec, Montreal and St. John’s, being on the water for three years. In 1846, he came from Montreal, where he had been residing, to Chicago, Illinois, when it was a small city of 35,000 inhabitants. From there he removed to LaPorte, Indiana, where he resided for five years, engaged in farming and then moved to Kane County, Illinois, near Aurora. In the spring of 1852, he rode from Illinois on horseback to St. Joseph, Missouri, where the company fitted out with ox teams, started for Sacramento on May 11, and arrived September 16, having been four months on the road. Mr. UNDERWOOD resided in the vicinity of Sacramento, California, for two years, engaged principally in farming. In 1854, he returned by the Isthmus of Panama to Indiana, then to Pottawattamie County, where he bought land in Lewis Township, section 24. He resided there three years, but in 1856 he removed to Council Bluffs, where he lived from 1856 to 1873, engaged in selling machinery for C. H. McCORMICK, of Chicago.

He was the pioneer machine man in Council Bluffs and held all trade as far west as Salt Lake; north as far as any settlements on the Missouri River, and as far south as anyone could haul it, and also built the first house ever erected in Curtiss Ramsay’s addition to Council Bluffs in 1857, west of the courthouse on Fifth Avenue. In 1873 he moved on the land which he had purchased in 1865, but had never improved consisting of about 1,200 acres in Keg Creek Township, and he also owns 350 acres in Hardin and Washington townships. He has two or three windmills to force water to his stock buildings. He fed 190 head of cattle in 1889, and has a fine herd of thoroughbred Hereford cattle, one of the finest herds in Iowa.

Mr. UNDERWOOD was married March 13, 1856 to Miss Helen McPHERSON, a native of Scotland, and a daughter of Captain John McPHERSON, a prominent citizen of Council Bluffs and Belle (NICHOL) McPHERSON, a native of Scotland. Mr. And Mrs. UNDERWOOD have eight children, namely: William, in the stock business in South Omaha, Nebraska; Nelly, wife of Ed H. BENTON of Council Bluffs; Anna, at home; John M., Samuel G., Ninie, Herbert, and Fay L. Politically Mr. UNDERWOOD is a Democrat, has served as Assessor of Council Bluffs, and has also been County Supervisor six years. For 36 years, he has been an important factor in helping the county, both in a business way and financially.



Uttetback, W. C.


W. C. UTTERBACK, the proprietor of the Broadway Livery Barn, at 228, 230 and 232 Central Broad street, assumed control there August 24, 1889 and keeps stock of about $2,000,doing all the kinds of business usually transacted at such establishments and also has a wholesale and retail feed store, delivering sold good to all parts of the city. He was born September 28, 1851 in Illinois, a son of Charles and Rachel (WHITE) UTTERBACK, of German decent. He moved to Mills County, Iowa and next to Holt County, Missouri, then back to Mills County, where Mrs. UTTERBACK died. W.C. was then given in charge of his grandmother, who died three years afterward bequeathing the boy a small amount of livestock, but it was never delivered to him by his grandfather.

Charles UTTERBACK (W.C.'s father) married again; the boy returned to live with him. They moved to Nebraska a few months afterward and the boy was employed on a shingle-machine one winter in the Missouri River Bottom at $6 a month. When nine years old he chopped cordwood for making charcoal, at 75 cents a cord. Next he was employed on a Nebraska farm at $8 a month, for one summer. The next year he worked on the Missouri River seven miles above Nebraska City. When he was ten years of age he was bound out till of age to a Mr. Wood, who in the course of two years became so abusive that the lad was obligated to leave him to save his life. The fellow would sometimes come home drunk and threaten to kill the boy. One time he actually got him down, sat himself upon him endeavored to choke him to death! After spending another summer with his father, his stepmother died and he was once more thrown out upon the cold world. His father now told him that he could keep all he made. Returning to Mills County, he was employed upon farms until he was nineteen years of age. He then married, rented a farm, worked it during the summer and labored for his father in his brick-yard during the winter.. After four or five years thus employed he made brick on his own account two years in Malvern, Mills County. Then he moved to Council Bluffs, in 1881, taking charge of brickyards for James WICKHAM one season and then for Henry DELANY, Richard FOXLEY one season. Next for a short time he engaged in sinking wells and cisterns, taking contracts for the same for six years longer, when he settled down to his present situation.

He is a representative businessman of Council Bluffs, a Republican and a member of the V.A.S. Society and also with his wife, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. March 3, 1871, he married Miss Harriet C. HUBBARD, who was born in 1852, and they are the parents of nine children" Eva, Ora, Eddie, Mellie (deceased) Amos, Millie, Bertha, Thomas and Agnes.



Vallier, Alexander


ALEXANDER VALLIER of Hazel Dell Township, is a native of Loborough Township, London District, Upper Canada and was born June 26, 1807, the son of Alexander and Mary (MARION) VALLIER, natives of France. When young they came to Upper Canada, where they were married, lived, and died. The father was a manufacturer of potash. They had a family of 7 children, of whom our subject was the eldest. He and his brother Lewis are the only ones surviving.

Mr. VALLIER was reared in his native country until he was 17 years of age, when he came to New York, where he spent some five years, and where he received his naturalization papers. He then visited Canada, where he spent 3 years, and then came to Ohio, where he spent 5 years, engaged in farming. He afterward removed to Pike County, Illinois, where he was engaged five years in farming. He then moved to Decatur County, Iowa, where he also spent five years. He moved a man from that county to Florence, Nebraska. In 1849 he was on the Nishnabotna and while there attended an Indian war dance, when, not being acquainted with their customs, he feared every moment that his scalp would be taken. They had just killed 7 Omaha Indians.

In the spring of 1851 he came to Pottawattamie County, Iowa, which he has since made his home. When he first came to this county, he farmed one year on the Little Mosquito in Garner Township where he also engaged in farming one year. Mr. VALLIER then moved to his present farm on section 28, Hazel Dell Twp., where he entered 40 acres and erected a log house, 14 X 16 feet, where he lived for several years. He then built a good frame house, 30 X 34 feet, which was afterward destroyed by fire, and he built his present home 18 X 24 feet. He has added to his first purchase of land until he now possesses 300 acres, the most of which is in sections 27 and 28 and nearly all under good cultivation. He has always devoted himself to farming and stock raising and in constructing his buildings he has assisted in the carpenter work. His home and surroundings denote thrift and prosperity. He struggled through the early days of Pottawattamie County with the other pioneers and withstood the storms and hardships and is now reaping his reward. He has always labored hard for the best interests of this county and in its social and moral welfare, and has by his honesty and integrity won a large circle of friends. He was instrumental in organizing the first district school in Hazel Dell Township, and has always been a lover of law and order. He is a stanch Republican, having wheeled into line from the old Whig party. He at one time, with R. BORTAN, cast the only Republican vote in the township. He has represented his township as School Director.

Mr. VALLIER was married October 1830 to Mary DRAPER who was born in 1810 in Earnestans, Canada, and died in Pottawattamie Co, May 20, 1886. They had a family of 8 children, namely: Jane, wife of Virgil MEFFORD, residing in Harrison County, Iowa, and has a family of five children; Thomas, a resident of Hazel Dell Township, who has a family of five children; Hannah, wife of Alex ELLISON, residing in Harrison County and has a family of seven children; Ruth, wife of Gus FILLMORE also in Harrison with a family of eight children; Emily wife of James ROBINSON residing in Monona County, they have a family of eight children; Rozilla wife of Amasa BYBEE residing in Rock Township, they have a family of nine children; Daniel a resident of Harrison County has a family of four children; and Lewis, residing in Pottawattamie County and they have a family of two children. Mr. VALLIER again married, for his present wife, March 15, 1887, Mrs. Maggie WOOTTON, who was born in St Louis, Missouri, May 29, 1848, daughter of George W. and Mary (HAYES) MARTIN, natives of England; they are both deceased. The mother died in 1848, and the father in 1860. They had a family of four children: Hannah M., Maggie, Isabelle and Joseph. Maggie was reared in St Louis, Missouri and was first married to Henry ROBERTS; they had one child, Thomas ROBERTS, a resident of Hazel Dell Township. She was again married to John WOOTTON, and they have three children, namely: Anna, Emma and Harry.




Van, S. F.

S. F. VAN is one of the early settlers and successful farmers of Waveland Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. He has made his home here since the spring of 1873. Mr. Van is a native of the Hawkeye State, born in Jones County, October 11, 1850. His father, R. T. Van, was born in Ohio, and reared in that State and in Indiana. He was a son of James Van, a descendant of Holland ancestry. Our subject's mother was Esther Ann Van, a native of Indiana. The Vans were among the early pioneers of Jones County, being the first to settle in Wyoming Township. For a time they lived in their covered wagons and tents. The country abounded in wild game, and it was not an infrequent sight to see deer come within view of their camping ground and snort and stamp their feet as if to say, "From whence do you come, and why are you here on our domains?" Mr. and Mrs. Van reared five children: W. H., Azilda Tompkins, S. F., Lamon and Mary A. The father has been a farmer all his life, and is still living in Jones County, aged seventy-two years. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; was formerly a Whig, but is now a Republican. His wife died in 1884, at the age of sixty years.

S. F. Van grew to manhood on his father's frontier farm, and received his education in the typical pioneer school-house, a log cabin with slab seats and a fire-place. In 1873, as already stated, Mr. Van came to Pottawattamie County, and bought eighty acres of wild land in section 4, Waveland Township. With three horses he broke the sod, and here he has since lived, worked and prospered. He has added to his first purchase, and is now the owner of 240 acres of well improved land. He has a good frame house, stables, granary, cribs, sheds, yards and feed lots, a modern wind pump, and a grove and orchard. His land is fenced into several different fields, and is devoted to general farming and stock-raising.

Mr. Van was married September 9, 1878, in Fremont County, Iowa, to Eva J. Lewis, a lady of education and refinement and a popular and successful teacher. She taught the first school in the district where they now live. Mrs. Van was born in Warren County, Iowa, and reared and educated principally in this State. She is a daughter of Rev. J. B. Lewis, a Methodist minister, who was born in Illinois, and Martha A. Lewis, a native of Indiana. Her parents are now residents of Republican County, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Van have two sons, Walter Scott and Lemuel Ray. They lost one son, Robert Don, who died in infancy.

Politically Mr. Van is a Republican. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Walnut Valley. Mrs. Van is the efficient superintendent of Walnut Valley Sabbath-school, where she is doing a good work. Mr. Van is a man in the prime of life, and for his many estimable qualities is highly regarded by all who know him. He and his worthy companion are both friends to education, good morals and religion, and any enterprise that has for its object the advancement of the best interests of the community finds in them earnest supporters.




Van, W. H.


W. H. VAN was born in Jones County, Iowa, October 23, 1843. His father, R. T. VAN, was one of the first settlers of Jones County and the first to settle in Wyoming Township, he having located there in 1840 when Iowa was a Territory. R. T. VAN was a son of James VAN VOLTENBURG, a son of Holland Dutch parents. The last part of the name was dropped by the consent of Judge Huber in 1847. The mother of our subject was Esther Ann Van, a native of Ohio. She and Mr. VAN were married in Indiana, and their bridal tour was made by ox team to their new home in Jones County, Iowa. When they first settled in that county, Dubuque was their nearest post office and it took a week to make the trip there and back with an ox team. Mr. And Mrs. VAN had nine children, of whom five are living, namely: W. H., S. F., L.A., Azilda, and Mary A. Those dead are Mary Ellen, Melissa, Luman E. and John W. The mother died in October 1884. The father is still living in Jones County and at this writing is seventy two years old. He has been a farmer all his life, casts his vote with the Republican party, and worships with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

W. H. VAN was reared on his father’s farm and received his education in the log schoolhouse hard by. When the great war of the Rebellion broke out, he entered the service of his country, enlisting in Company K, 24th Iowa, Febraury 22, 1864. He was in the battles of Sabine Cross Roads, and Fort Derusha, and the Red River Campaign. He was at Winchester, September 19; Fisher’s Hill, September 22; and at Cedar Creek, October 19. Mr. VAN received two slight wounds, but was not sent to hospital and no record was ever made of them. He was honorably discharged at Savannah, Georgia, and was paid off at Davenport, Iowa.

After the War, he returned to his home in Jones County, where he remained until 1873. In that year, he came to Waveland Township, Pottawattamie County, where has since resided. He first bought 80 acres of wild prairie land in section 4, which he has increased by more recent purchase, now owning 225 acres of well improved land. He has a good house, which was erected at a cost of $1,300. It is built in modern style, with bay window and porch, and all the lumber used is of the very best, there being only two knots in the entire building! The main part of the house is 16 X 24 feet, two stories, with an L, 16 X 16 feet. It is beautifully located and makes a comfortable and attractive home. Mr. Van’s other farm buildings are in good condition, and much of his time is devoted to stock raising.

In Jones County, Iowa, in 1866, Mr. VAN married Miss Esther A. LOWE, a lady of intelligence and refinement who was born in England, and was reared and educated in Jones County, Iowa. Her parents, Richard and Esther LOWE, lived in Jones County until their death. Mr. And Mrs. VAN have four children, namely: Ella L., who is now attending the Iowa Western Normal at Shenandoah, Iowa; Willard R., Henry Harlan and Eva Azilda. Mr. VAN is a member of the G.A.R. Worthington Post, No. 9, at Griswold, Iowa. Politically, he is a Republican. He and his wife and daughter, Ella, are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Walnut Valley.



Van Brunt, Henry, H.


HENRY H. VAN BRUNT, one of the successful jobbers in carriages, buggies, etc., on Council Bluffs, first established his busines here in 1878, at Nos. 12,14 and 16 Fourth street. He makes a specialty of vehicles of all kinds at wholesale and retail. He also has the largest retail trade in agriculture implements in the city. He does an extensive business in the storage and transferring of agricultural implements for manufacturers of the East; this branch of his business is second to none in this city or Omaha, having first-class facilities. His warehouses are located on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad tracks, on First Avenue, and are large and especially adapted for the business, having a capacity of 25,000 square feet. He occupies the Bennett block on Fourth stret for his office and retail store. He was born in Jefferson County, New York, and was seven years of age when his parents moved to Wisconsin, and was twenty years old when, in 1868, he came to Council Bluffs. His parents, W.H. and Julia A. (Palmer) Van Brunt, were native of New York State and of Holland ancestry on the paternal side. He was brought up to farm life. Since his arrival here he has been a leading and successful businessman He has dealt in considerable real estate in the county and now has one of the finest farms in the county, consisting of 520 acres in one body, on sections 2 and 3, Keg Creek and Hardin townships. The farms are well stocked, the implements are of the best and have been made under his direct supervision. He owns also a number of lots and has just completed for himself one of the finest residents in the city. He is mainly self-educated and self-made in his business attainments. In his political views he is a Republican; is a member of the Board of Trade and chairman of one of the important committees and also a member of the ex-executive board of the Council Bluffs and Omaha Chautauqua Assembly. He was married in Council Bluffs, to Miss Lillie M. West, who was born in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, the daughter of E. West, and are the parents of two children: Harry and George.




Vandruff, C. H.

C.H. VANDRUFF, section 28, Center Township, is one of the enterprising and successful citizens of that part of Pottawattamie County. He came here in 1880 and has since made this place his home.

Mr. Vandruff was born in Rock Island county, Illinois, August 14, 1850, the son of Jacob and Louisa (Everhart) Vandruff. The father was a native of Green County, Pennsylvania, of Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestry, and the mother was born in New Jersey. His grandfather, Joshua Vandruff, was one of the pioneers of Rick Island county, having settled there in 1828. Two of the Vandruffs were in the Black Hawk war.

The parents of our subject were married in Rock Island County. The mother still resides there, and the father made that place his home until 1880 when his death occurred. He was a farmer the most of his life, but for two or three seasons was a pilot on the Mississippi River. He was financially a successful man and accumulated a good property. His political views were in accordance with Democratic principles. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as also is his wife, and in that belief their children were brought up. They reared a family of five sons and five daughters, all of whom are now living, the subject of this sketch being the oldest. Four of them are residents of Nebraska, one is in California, two are in Rock Island and C.H. and E.E. are located in Center Township.

C.H. was reared on his father's farm and his education was received in the public schools of his native county, his studies being completed at the Milan High School. In 1880 he bought his present farm of 160 acres and has since improved it until it ranks among the best farms in the township. It is all now under cultivation. His residence was erected in 1890 at a cost of $1,500 besides his own labor. It is situated on a natural building site, is built in modern style with bay windows and porches and is surrounded with evergreens and ornamental trees. His barn was built in 1884 at a cost of $1,000. It is 28 X 40 with 16-feet posts and has a basement of brick for sheltering stock. There are feedlots, a modern windmill, stock scales, and other farm buildings and improvements. Everything about the premises shows the thrift of the proprietor.

Mr. Vandruff was married September 20, 1881, to Miss Laura B. Barr of Mills county, Iowa, a lady of culture and refinement. She is a daughter of John and Martha Barr, and was born and educated in Mahaska County, Iowa. Her father is now a resident of Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. and Mrs. Vandruff have four children: Archie C., Walter F., Anna Louisa, and Leonard L. Like his father, our subject is independent.



Voorhis, Cornelius


CORNELIUS VOORHIS, first Mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was born in Lebanon, Ohio, in 1813. Early in life he moved to Springfield, Ohio and engaged in mercantile business. While there he married Miss Minerva J. McCoy. Thence he removed to St. Louis, Missouri, and became connected with the enterprising and well known dry-goods firm of Eddy, Jameson & Co., of that city. In 1848 the spirit of advanture induced Mr. Voorhis and family to go farther west. Ascending the Missouri, they landed in what was then known as Kanesville, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, a settlement more particularly of Mormons and Indians. Mr. Voorhis was the second white man to reach this settlement to make it his home. Again he successfully engaged in trading and mercantile pursuits. He was elected the first Mayor of Council Bluffs, and served one year 1853-54. He continued in the mercantile business until 1857. In 1859-60 he was City Recorder, and in 1860-61 was Sheriff of Pottawattamie County. In this city he engaged more or less in active business pursuits until 1873 when he and family moved to Harlan, Shelby County, Iowa, remaining there until his decease on July 12, 1873, at the age of 59 years, nine months, and sixteen days. His remains were brought to this city and buried in Fairview Cemetery, this community testifying to his worth, and giving profound expressions of grief at his departure. His wife, Minerva J. Voorhis, died September 25, 1881, aged sixty-one years, nine months, and five days. His daughter, Alla Bell, died January 18, 1862, aged six years, four months and twenty-nine days. Another daughter, Fanny May, died November 19, 1863, aged five months and one day. His son, Cornelius D. Voorhis, died February 2, 1889, aged thirty-eight years, four months, and five days. He has two children living: James W. Voorhis and Mrs. Mary E. Keller, wife of V.L. Keller, Esq., of Council Bluffs. Cornelius Voorhis, the subject of this sketch, was a man of sterling integrity, fine business capacity, quiet in his demeanor, possessed of wonderful energy, sagacity and determination, and as a pioneer, merchant, counselor, friend and citizen, was always abreast of the needs of the hour.


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