History of Taylor County, Iowa: from the earliest historic times to 1910 by Frank E. Crosson. Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910
(biographicals transcribed by Linda Kestner: email@example.com)
JOHN JAMES O'CONNELL
John James O'Connell, one of the substantial members of the agricultural community of Holt township, was born in Ireland in 1843 and is a son of Patrick and Margaret O'Connell. The parents were also natives of Ireland, where they were married and where the father pursued the life of a farmer until 1847, when the conditions in the land of his birth suggested the feasibility of his coming to America. After landing upon the shores of this republic he came straight to Iowa, locating near Dubuque, where he and his wife died when their son was but nine years old.
So early in life deprived of parental care, John James O'Connell had to make his own way as best he could. He received his education in the district schools and at the age of eighteen years enlisted in the Union army. It was in August, 1862, that he joined Company F, Twenty-first Iowa Volunteers as a private, and with his regiment participated in the engagements at Hartsville, Missouri; Port Gibson, Champions Hill and Black River Bridge. He also took part in the siege of Vicksburg, in the siege and capture of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. He was taken ill with the measles and was confined to the regimental hospital, but he was never wounded nor taken prisoner, although he was a good soldier and was ever at his post of duty. At the close of the war he was mustered out of the army and returned to Dubuque county, Iowa, where he engaged in farming.
In 1873 Mr. O'Connell came to Taylor county, settling on section 15, Holt township, where he bought eighty acres of railroad land on ten years time. It was then but partly improved. He was in very moderate circumstances, many times subsisting upon the barest necessities, but he worked hard and was soon able to sell that place and purchase the one hundred and sixty acre farm on section 22 which has since been his home. This is a fine tract of land, well improved and adorned with a good house and other buildings suitable and commodious. On it he has toiled faithfully and with such success that from time to time he has been able to add to his holdings until he now owns six hundred and twenty acres in Holt township.
At the age of twenty-five, Mr. O'Connell wedded Miss Margaret O'Connell, who, though she bore the same name, was not related to him. She was born in Iowa, March 1, 1850, and through her marriage, has become the mother of thirteen children. The family circle has not been broken by the hand of death (page 566) and consists of Daniel, who married Miss Winnie Feeney and lives in Corning, Iowa; William, who wedded Miss Frances Lard and lives in Montana; Frank, who, unmarried, remains at home; Henry, who married Miss Ellen Wolf and lives in Montana; Mary, who is the wife of James McDonald, of Grove township, Taylor county; Hannah, who married John McGraff, of Adams county, Iowa; Joseph, who married Miss Mary Cain and lives in Holt township; Ellen, the wife of William Robinson, whose home is in Nebraska; Robert, Annie and Gus, all three at home; Alice, who is clerking in Corning, Iowa; and Gertie, who is at home.
The family are members of the Catholic church at Corning and are devout in the performance of their religious duties. Politically Mr. O'Connell has ever been a stanch republican and cast his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln when he was the second time the candidate of his party. He has not been especially active in political affairs, but with a commendable public spirit he has served as township trustee for a period of eight years and for the past thirty years has been school director. The substantial position which he now enjoys in Holt township is entirely the result of his own efforts, for he did not even have the advantage of parental guidance which is the heritage of almost every boy, and many of the early years of his life were a constant struggle for the way to obtain the means of living. These obstacles and others he has surmounted and but few regrets can shadow the years as he looks back upon them.
REV. ELY BALDIN OSBORN
Among those citizens of Taylor county who are devoting their lives to the uplifting of humanity through their efforts as preachers of the gospel is the Rev. Ely Baldin Osborn, who has been the popular and efficient pastor of the Baptist church at New Market since 1903. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, in March 1855, he is a son of Ely Baldin and Katherine (Baily) Osborn, the former one of a family of five children born to Abraham Osborn and his wife. The others were Jacob, Comfort, William and Traffina. Representatives of the name were absolutely the first settlers of Page county and the family has figured prominently in its development and improvement since early pioneer days. The mother, who after the death of her first husband, was again married, her second union being with Patrick Moore, still survives at the venerable age of eighty-five years and makes her home with her son Ely B. Our subject had three brothers, namely: George Washington, who was killed in the Civil war; Thomas Jefferson, who also served in the war of the Rebellion; and David Willard.
Rev. Osborn is indebted to the public-school system for his educational advantages, passing through consecutive grades until his graduation from high school in 1873. He then accompanied his parents on their removal to Monroe county, Iowa, where they settled upon a farm which his father owned near Blakesburg, and there the intervening years were passed until 1877, during which time he had been ordained to the ministry at Blakesburg. He was first assigned to College Springs, Page county, and he ministered to that charge until 1882, in which year he removed to Hopkins, Missouri, where he remained for one year. He then received a call to Wayne county, Iowa, which he accepted and where he continued as pastor for four years. In 1887 he went to Clearfield, where he resided for nine years, and during this period he filled the pulpit of the Baptist church for six years. Throughout his connection with the ministry the duties of his chosen life work, and something of his personal popularity is indicated by the fact that after presiding over the charge at Clearfield, New Market and also Hopkins, Missouri, he was recalled by each church and is now serving for the second time as pastor at New Market. He was naturally well qualified for his chosen calling and has at all times remained a student of religious problems and has been a fearless and independent thinker. With the passing of the years his sphere of usefulness and activity has broadened and he has endeared himself more and more to the people with whom he has come in contact, while his brethren in the clergy have indicated their regard and esteem for him in his appointment as moderator of the Baptist Association, which office he has filled for four years.
(Page 684) It was on the 12th of April, 1874, that Rev. Osborn was united in marriage in Monroe county, Iowa, to Miss Margaret Stocker, a daughter of Aaron and Mary Elizabeth Stocker, prominent farming people of that county, who were the parents of twenty-one children. The home of Rev. and Mrs. Osborn has been blessed with eight children, seven of whom survive: Leo; Arthur; Walter; Glenn, who passed away and is buried at Davison Cemetery; Lena; Milly; Effie; and Flossie. Of this number Walter and Flossie are graduates of the high school.
Rev. Osborn gives his support at the polls to the republican party, for, after a close and thorough study of its platform, he was convinced that its principles are best adapted to conserve the general good. He is a public-spirited citizen, at all times doing all in his power to promote the welfare of the community, while his effort toward the checking of vice have been far-reaching in their effects. Modest and unassuming in manner, he nevertheless exerts a strong influence over those who come in contact with him, and his teachings have proved the guiding influence in the lives of many who have listened to his wise counsel and advice.
JOSEPH H. OSBORN
It is a well known fact that agriculture is the basis of all prosperity; that the failure or success of crops affects in great measure all business conditions, and that no country is prosperous in marked degree that does not have rich agricultural resources at her command. Iowa, although a comparatively recent settlement, is recognized today as one of the foremost farming states of the Union, having attained leadership in the production of corn per acre, while the yield of her fields is almost equally large in other crops. Actively and successfully associated with the task of tilling the soil in Taylor county is Joseph H. Osborn, who lives on section 14, Polk township, where he is busily engaged in the cultivation of one hundred acres of the old Osborn homestead. He was born in Polk township on the 10th of November, 1870. His father, Jason H. Osborn, was a native of Erie county, Ohio, where his youthful days were passed. In early manhood he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting as a member of Company G, Fifty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he served for nearly four years. He had veteranized on the expiration of his (page 400) first term and at the close of the war was honorably discharged with a most creditable military record. He came to Iowa in 1868, settling in Taylor county and was married here to Miss Emily Baker, who was also a native of Ohio, born in Sandusky county. She came to Iowa to join a sister who was living here. Jason H. Osborn took up the occupation of farming in southwestern Iowa, becoming owner of eighty acres of land, which he carefully tilled and improved. As the years went by he became recognized as a diligent and persevering farmer and a citizen whose value to the community was widely acknowledged. He spent has last years here, passing away in March, 1905. He had served as a member of the county board of supervisors in Polk township, also filled the office of justice of the peace and occupied other local positions of honor and trust. He was ever loyal to the interests of the community and discharged his duties with a faithfulness and fidelity that none questioned. Long an exemplary representative of the Masonic lodge, he was buried with Masonic honors and his death was the occasion of deep regret to his brethren of the order as well as to his associates in other walks of life. His widow survives him and some time after his death she added to the home place twenty acres of land. Upon this farm she now resides with her son, Joseph H. Osborn, who is one of three children. The brother, Jason W. Osborn, is a carpenter by trade and now resides in Sheridan, Wyoming. His sister, Mary Osborn, is the present county recorder of Taylor county.
Joseph H. Osborn has known no other home than the farm upon which he now lives. At the usual age he was sent to the public schools of the neighborhood and he has also largely supplemented the knowledge which he thus gained by further reading, study and experience He remained upon the old homestead until twenty-three years of age, when in 1894, he went to Ohio and there operated a farm belonging to his grandfather, Sanford G. Baker, who was a cousin of Ethan Allen, of Revolutionary fame. After five years spent in the Buckeye state, Mr. Osborn went to Reading, Pennsylvania, where he was employed in the iron and steel works for six years and later he spent one year in driving a fire team of Reading, having charge of the best equipped hose line then in the state. Returning to Iowa in September, 1905, he took charge of the old home farm and the business connected therewith and has since carried on the work of the place, which in its appearance indicates the life of unremitting diligence and energy which he is leading. Following the early spring planting and the cultivation of the crops in midsummer he gathers abundant harvests in the late autumn and for his products find a ready sale on the market. He also raises high grade stock and is very busy with his daily duties, yet finds time to cooperate to some extent in public affairs. He served his township as constable before going to Ohio and he has been officially identified with the schools, acting at the present time as president of the school board. In 1908, he was elected assessor of the township. He is quite independent politically, supporting the candidate whom he regards as best qualified for office without considering the party affiliation. His mother is a member of the United Brethren church, to which the father also belonged. Joseph H. Osborn is a member of Plumb Lodge, No. 285, A. F. & A. M., in which he is now serving as an officer. He likewise has membership in Clay Lodge No. 584, I. O. O. F., and also in the encampment, and is in thorough sympathy with the beneficent purposes of these organizations which recognize the brotherhood of mankind and attempt to be of service to their fellowmen.
S. B. OVERMIRE
S. B. Overmire, who is well known in the business circles of Lenox through his connection with real-estate and insurance interests, has also figured prominently in public affairs since his residence in this city and is recognized as one of the representative and influential citizens of the community. He dates his residence in Iowa from 1851, his parents being numbered among the very first settlers of Tama county.
A native of Ohio, Mr. Overmire was born in Sandusky county on the 25th of November, 1844, and came to Iowa with his parents when about seven years of age. He was reared to manhood in Tama county, remaining under the parental roof until twenty years of age when, actuated by a spirit of patriotism, he enlisted on the 15th of February, 1864, as a member of Company F, Twenty-eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and with this regiment went south to join General Banks in the Red River expedition. During this expedition he took part in a fight while on a transport, and almost miraculously escaped death, being in the thickest of the fight, with bullets and shells whistling all about him. Later his regiment joined General Sheridan in the Shenandoah campaign and during that time he saw much active service. He participated in the battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill and Old Oaks, was in the engagement at Opequon Creek and continued on through to Winchester. Subsequently the regiment stormed the heights of Fishers Hill and then fell back to Cedar Creek, where one of the greatest battles of the war was fought, and where they remained one month, from September 19 until October 19. For one month Sheridan's losses (page 632) were nineteen thousand men, either killed, wounded or lost. Mr. Overmire then went to Baltimore, where he took a ship for Savannah, Georgia, the regiment being sent to relieve Sherman. He marched back to Morehead City, and on to Newberne, North Carolina, and from there to Sherman's base of supplies. He was never wounded but became ill with measles and was in a hospital for a short time. Otherwise he lost no time whatever from his regiment and throughout his entire term of enlistment served with a courage and bravery that won for him a most creditable military record. He was mustered out at Savannah, Georgia, and honorably discharged on the 12th of August, 1865.
When the country no longer needed his assistance Mr. Overmire returned home and at once became connected with agricultural pursuits. For six years he was thus identified as a renter, at the same time operating a threshing machine, and then he purchased a farm of eighty acres located in Tama county. This he later sold and then came to Taylor county, locating in Platte township. He invested in one hundred and sixty acres of land and immediately directed his efforts toward its cultivation and improvement. He broke the sod, converted the land into productive fields and built a dwelling and substantial barns and outbuildings, so that the farm, under his careful management, became a well-improved property. He continued to make this his home for several years and then withdrew from agricultural pursuits and removed to Lenox. Here he took up the carpenter's trade, which he had learned in early life, and for a number of years was engaged in erecting barns and houses throughout the community. Since about 1901, however, he has been identified with the real-estate and insurance business and has already gained an extensive patronage, which is constantly growing. He deals largely in farm and town property, handling considerable real estate, an he also writes a large amount of insurance annually. He has since sold his old homestead and purchased another well improved farm of eighty acres. He owns his home in Lenox and has also wisely invested his money in other real estate, being the possessor of valuable business property in this city. He is a man of good judgment, keen discrimination and excellent business ability, and through the exercise of these qualities has won for himself a most creditable place among the leading business men of Lenox.
It was on the 12th of March, 1868, in Tama county, Iowa, that Mr. Overmire was united in marriage to Miss Martha C. Crawford, a native of Pennsylvania. She was reared, however, in Tama county, where she acquired a very good education. Mr. and Mrs. Overmire have become the parents of four children, one son and three daughters, namely: M. M. Overmire, a farmer of Platte township, who is married and has four children, three daughters and one son; Mary E. the wife of C. M. Frame, a farmer of Platte township, who also is a stockbreeder and dealer, making specialty of pure blooded shorthorn cattle and Duroc hogs; Edna D., who married Lewis Hewitt, also carrying on agricultural pursuits in Platte township; and Nellie M., the wife of Louis Crittenden, of Rivera, California.
Mr. Overmire is widely recognized as an enterprising and successful business man, but he is better known, perhaps, for the active and helpful interest he has taken in community affairs. In politics he gives his allegiance to the democracy when national questions are involved, but in local matters he is independent, (page 633) reserving the right to vote for the men and measures which in his estimation will best conserve the general good. He served as assessor for a number of years and has also filled the office of road supervisor, while for many years he has been a member of he school board. Higher official honors came to him in his selection, by the people, as mayor of Lenox. He filled the office of chief executive for two years, and during that time gave to the city a businesslike, progressive and beneficial administration, in which he inaugurated various needed reforms and improvements, nor did he fail to check those movements which he deemed inimical to the best interests of the city. He has served as a delegate to various county and state conventions and is recognized as one of the leading and influential factors in the local ranks of the democratic party.
Fraternally Mr. Overmire is connected with the Odd Fellows, holding membership in Lenox lodge, while he maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. He held the office of commander in the latter body for a time and is now serving as adjutant. He and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church and are people of excellent standing in the community. In his business affairs Mr. Overmire has ever displayed sound judgment and keen discrimination and at the same time has ever been straightforward and honorable, basing his business principles and actions upon the rules which govern strict and unswerving integrity. In every relation of life, whether at home, in business or before the public, he has ever been guided by principles of upright and honorable manhood and has gained the unqualified respect and regard of his fellowmen.
MARTIN C. OWENS
Martin C. Owens, who since 1905 has resided on a farm of three hundred acres on section 14, Polk township, is carefully tilling the fields and also raising and feeding stock, his annual shipments of cattle and hogs being quite extensive. He also handles horses and his business interests are so carefully planned and well managed that substantial success rewards his labors, making him one of the progressive and prosperous farmers of the locality. His birth occurred February 11, 1856, just across the boundary line in Nodaway county, Missouri. He is one of the three sons of John and Nancy (Linville) Owens, who grew to manhood. His father was a native of Kentucky who was reared in Indiana and was first married there. Subsequently he removed to Missouri, settling in 1848 on the Nodaway river in Nodaway county, where he entered a tract of wild land on which not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made. At later dates he purchased land until he became the owner of three hundred and eighty-eight acres, in the midst of which he erected a neat residence together with substantial (page 326) barns and outbuildings. He had one of the finest farms and best improved places in Nodaway county, his unremitting labors and unfaltering energy being the factors which transformed the wild land into rich and productive fields, from which he annually gathered abundant harvests. Upon that farm he reared his family and spent his remaining days. His second wife bore the maiden name of Nancy Linville, was a native of Nodaway county and died there in 1862.
Upon the old homestead farm Martin C. Owens was reared and assisted materially in its development and improvement as the years passed by and his strength increased. His education was acquired in the public schools and through the periods of vacation, even in his early boyhood he aided in the work of the fields and continued to assist his father until the latter's death. He was then made administrator of the estate and later sold the property and made division of the money.
Mr. Owens was a young man of about twenty-three years when in Maryville, Missouri, he was married on the 9th of January, 1879, to Miss Zerilda J. Witt, a daughter of Nelson B. Witt, a native of Missouri, who was born in Buchanan county. The first election held in the county was at his home and the old ballot box, made of mahogany, is still in possession of one of his sons who resides upon the old homestead. Following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Owens began their domestic life on his father's farm in Nodaway county. He purchased a part of the place and there carried on general agricultural pursuits for more than twenty years, at the end of which time he sold the place and located near Maryville. There he also engaged in farming for four years and later cultivated a farm three miles north of Maryville. As previously stated he came to his present home in 1905 and has diligently pursued the work of further development and improvement here to the present time. His time and energies have been given to the cultivation of various cereals and to the raising and feeding of stock. He fattens a large number of cattle and hogs each year, making an annual shipment of three carloads and he is now getting a carload of horses in good condition for the market. He is an excellent judge of stock, quickly recognizing a valuable animal and seldom is his opinion at fault. Moreover Mr. Owens is justly accounted one of the most progressive farmers of the community, for he utilizes the latest improved machinery to carry on his work and secures all the modern conveniences and accessories that are found upon the model farm of the twentieth century. He puts up all his own ice so that through the summer months the home is well supplied with that cooling commodity.
As the years have gone by children to the number of eleven have been added to the Owens household and eight of the number are still living, as follows: Harley; who is married and resides at Papillion, Nebraska; Roy E., who is married and makes his home in Polk township, this county; Jessie, the wife of Benamin F. Albright, now of Washington county, Kansas; Nora, the wife of Kelso Fuller, a resident farmer of Polk township; Edwin, a young man, at home; Verna, who is a student in the Hopkins high school; Lola and Neil, both at home. They also lost three children: Anna, who was married and died in Andrew county, Missouri, in 1900 at the age of twenty-three years; Clifford N., who died when but three months old; and James Elmer, when nine months old.
(Page 327) In his political views Mr. Owens has long been a stalwart democrat, for he believes that the principles of that party are most conducive to good government. He served as road overseer in Nodaway county for five or six years but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking, preferring to concentrate his time and energies upon his business affairs. He has, however, been a member of the township board in Polk township and also of the school board and fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen and the Brotherhood of America. He has a very wide acquaintance in Taylor and Nodaway counties where the extent of his business interests has carried him into important relations, while the straightforward, honorable methods which he has ever followed have gained him the respect and good will of all with whom he has been associated. His record proves conclusively that success and an honored name may be won simultaneously.