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: firstname.lastname@example.org)
ELI ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT WILT
Eli Wilt is classed among the most prosperous farmers and stock raisers of Taylor county, owning a well improved farm on section 11, Platte township, comprising eighty acres where he resides. He is a native of this township, born March 11, 1865, and a son of James M. and Catherine Ann (Hamilton) Wilt, the former born in Darke county, Ohio, and the latter in Preble county, that state. It was in the year 1855 that the father removed to Iowa, establishing his home in Clarke county, where for six years he engaged in breaking prairie with ox teams. On the 1st of September, 1861, he made his way to Taylor county and here purchased two hundred acres of wild and unimproved land in Platte township. This he cultivated and improved and in due time added to it a tract of two hundred acres, making in all four hundred acres. He erected a large residence, three barns, built fences, set out a grove and orchard and made many other improvements on the place. In addition to carrying on farming he also engaged quite extensively in raising sheep, at one time having a flock of seven hundred head of Cotswold sheep. He spent a very active and useful life and was known as one of the prominent pioneer settlers of Taylor county. His death occurred August 15, 1899, when he had reached the age of sixty-seven years. His wife still survives and is very active at the age of seventy years, making her home in Lenox.
Eli Wilt, the third in order of birth in a family of six sons, was reared on the homestead farm in Platte township and during the period of his boyhood and youth was busily engaged in the various tasks assigned him by his father. He remained under the parental roof until he had reached mature years, when he started out upon an independent business venture, operating a threshing machine and corn sheller. His time was thus occupied for twenty years and during this time he operated in three counties, while for six years he was in Minnesota. He shelled over nine hundred thousand bushels of corn and a large amount of wheat and oats (page 670) and in this way became very widely known. Through this means he accumulated the money that enabled him to purchase his home farm of eighty acres on section 11, Platte township. He added to and remodeled the house, built a barn, sheds and other outbuildings, and set out a grove. He has a fine apple orchard, which yields a crop of almost one thousand bushels annually. He is engaged in general farming and, like his father, also gives much of his time to raising sheep, keeping pure blooded Cotswold sheep, and he raises cattle and horses as well, his stock being of the finest grades. He also buys and ships wool on quite an extensive scale. In the fall of 1909 he shipped a carload of Cotswold bucks to the Roberts ranch in Marion, Ohio, which were the finest sheep of that breed ever shipped from Lenox. In addition to this home farm he owns eighty acres of land in Ringgold county, Iowa, which was formerly a part of the farm belonging to his father, and has a tract of walnut and oak timberland. He took an active part in the promotion of the Lenox and Kent telephone system and in many other ways has been interested in the progress and upbuilding of his home locality. Besides his property in this state he owns an interest in a gold mine at Kingman, Arizona, and has several shares in the German-American Coffee Company in Mexico.
Mr. Wilt has been married twice and by is first marriage has three daughters, Alma Ellen, Edna Marie and Lulu May. On the 8th of September, 1908, he married his present wife, who bore the maiden name of Etta Cox. She was born and reared in Pana, Illinois.
Politically Mr. Wilt has been a life-long republican. He served eight years in the office of township trustee but declined to fill the position longer. He has served as a delegate to county and state conventions and for many years has been identified with the school system. He is a member of the Calvary Methodist Episcopal church and is active in both church and Sunday-school work. He is public spirited in a marked degree, his aid and cooperation ever being found on the side of progress and improvement. Having spent his entire life in Taylor county, he is thoroughly familiar with its history and takes a just pride in what has been accomplished here in the last quarter of a century in the way of modern and substantial improvements. He has a wide circle of friends who esteem him for his integrity and worth.
Harry Wilt, busily employed with the duties of field and meadow as he operates his home farm of eighty acres on section 13, Platte township, was born in Taylor county, on the 28th of May, 1867. He is a son of J. M. Wilt and a brother of Eli Wilt, who is mentioned elsewhere in this volume. He was reared upon the old homestead farm in this township and there remained until he had attained his majority, his youthful days being spent in the usual manner of farm lads, assisting in the work of the fields through the summer months while in the winter seasons he attended the common schools. He was thus well qualified for the practical and responsible duties of life when he started out in business on his own account.
(Page 432) In the spring of 1889, in Creston, Iowa, Mr. Wilt was united in marriage to Miss Nora Jones, who was born in Illinois but was reared in Taylor county, and is a daughter of D. D. Jones, one of the pioneer residents of this part of the state. Her father became a prominent farmer of Platte township, winning success as the years went by, and is now living in Creston, Iowa. Following his marriage Mr. Wilt rented and cultivated the farm belonging to his brother, Eli Wilt, and after two years returned to his father's farm, which he carried on for seventeen years. Following the father's death he purchased the interests of the other heirs in the eighty-acre tract, whereon he now resides, taking up his abode on that place in 1903. He has erected here a good farm residence, a large barn, a double crib, buggy house, washhouse and altogether has a neat and valuable place. The washhouse is supplied with a gasoline engine, with complete machinery to operate the washing machine, wringer, churn or cream separator. Mr. Wilt is a progressive farmer, believing in keeping abreast with the times in the adoption of all modern methods, and this spirit is evidenced in the neat and thrifty appearance of the place and the work which is carried on thee. He cultivates the cereals best adapted to soil and climate and also raises stock of good grades. He is recognized as a successful business man and farmer and his industry constitutes the basis upon which he has built his prosperity.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Wilt has been born one daughter, Leo Odessa Wilt, a graduate of the Lenox high school and now one of the successful teachers of the county, being employed at the present time as teacher in the home district. She also has considerable musical talent and is organist for the Calvary Methodist Episcopal church. The parents and daughter are all members of that church and take an active and helpful interest in its work. Mr. Wilt gives his political allegiance to the republican party, but has never been an aspirant for office. His time and energies are given to his business affairs and to matters of public moment for at all times he is interested in the welfare of the community and cooperates in many measures and projects for the general good.
JAMES E. WISE
A fine farm of forty acres, located in Mason township, Taylor county, pays tribute to the care and attention bestowed upon it by James E. Wise, a native of Cedar county, Iowa, born on the 1st of February, 1867. He is a son of Owen and Catherine (Barnard) Wise, the former a farmer of Mason township. The father was a son of Henry Wise, who came from England at an early date, the family home being established in Ohio, from which state representatives of the name removed to Cedar county, Iowa. Owen Wise was a brother of the following: Mrs. Lizzie Dawson, a resident of Portland, Oregon; Mrs. Sarah Hardman, who passed away in Iowa; George, residing in California; Samuel, of Wilton, Iowa; and James, making his home in Iowa.
In the public schools of his native county James E. Wise acquired his education, remaining a student thereof until twenty years of age, and during this time, when not busy with his text-books, he assisted in the work of the farm, early becoming familiar with the duties that fall to the lot of the country lad. After completing his education he remained upon the old homestead and in fact continued to give his father the benefit of his assistance throughout almost his entire life. He did not leave the parental roof until his marriage, which occurred in his thirty-ninth years, when he received from his father the farm upon which he now resides and upon which there was a small mortgage to pay. The farm consists of forty acres of land situated in Mason township, to the further improvement of which he has directed his entire energies, with the result that it is now a valuable and attractive farming property, highly cultivated and yielding rich harvests annually. He practices rotation of crops, is progressive and up-to-date in his business methods and is meeting with most creditable prosperity.
On the 26th of March, 1906, Mr. Wise was united in marriage to Miss Cora Hulse, a daughter of John and Mary Hulse, the former a farmer and carpenter of Clarinda. This union has been blessed with a little daughter, Wilma, who is the light and life of the household. Mr. Wise is a republican in politics and is well known throughout the community, where he has many warm friends, his salient characteristics winning for him the respect, confidence and good will of his fellowmen.
DANIEL MITCHELL WOODFILL
Among those who have sought their fortunes in agricultural lines and through their energy, industry and well-directed efforts are meeting with a most substantial and gratifying success, is numbered Daniel Mitchell Woodfill, one of the most prominent and representative farmers and stock raisers of Marshall township. Born in Jefferson county, Indiana, on the 22d of May, 1843, he belongs to a family of Welsh origin, which has long been identified with American interests, having been founded in this country in early colonial days by Joseph Woodfill, a native of Wales, who came to the new world about 1755 and located in Pennsylvania on land upon which a portion of the city of Philadelphia now stands. To him all representatives of the name in American trace their ancestry. He was the father of four sons and two daughters, the sons being Joseph, Gabriel, Daniel and John. Of this number Daniel became the father of John Woodfill, the grandfather of the subject of this review. John Woodfill was fired upon and killed by Indians in ambush, while one daughter and two children also met death at the hands of the red men.
Andrew Woodfill, a son of John Woodfill and the father of our subject, was born near New Castle, Henry county, Kentucky, on the 27th of May, 1806. Early in life he accompanied his parents on their removal to Indiana, where he was reared in Jefferson county. He married Mary Sebourn Ryker, a native of Shelby county, Kentucky, and a daughter of Gerardus Ryker. Her mother, who bore the maiden name of Smock, traced her ancestry back to Hendrick Smock, a titled Hollander, who renounced his title and left his native land on account of religious persecution. After his marriage Andrew Woodfill opened up a farm in Jefferson county, Indiana, and there reared his family. He continued to make that his home until his demise, residing upon that farm for fifty-two years. His death occurred in 1888 when eighty-two years of age, while his wife, surviving him about four years, passed away at the age of eighty-one. Their family consisted of six sons and four daughters, all of whom reached years of maturity, while three of that number still survive: Daniel Mitchell, our subject; Horace C., a younger brother, who owns and operates the old home farm; and Leah, the wife of J. M. Epperson, of Martinsville, Indiana.
Amid the scenes and environment of farm life in Indiana Daniel M. Woodfill spent the period of his boyhood and youth, and in the schools of his native county received excellent educational advantages, passing through the consecutive grades of the common schools until his graduation from high school, while later he supplemented this training by an academic course. When not busy with his text-books he assisted his father in the work of the home farm and in the broader school of experience learned many lessons concerning the value of industry, integrity and perseverance, which well equipped him for the responsible and practical duties of life. He remained under the parental roof until the outbreak of the Civil war, when, imbued with a spirit of patriotism, on the 26th of August, 1861, he joined Company A, Sixth Regiment of Indiana Infantry, with the rank of sergeant and color bearer. He participated in many of the important battles of the war, including Shiloh, Stone River, Resaca, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge and took part in all of the engagements of the Atlanta campaign. He also fought in any skirmishes and was sick in the hospital at one time, although he lost no time from active service and participated in every battle in which his regiment was engaged. Throughout the term of his enlistment he served loyally and valiantly and his colors were always seen in the thickest of the fight, where they served to inspire and cheer the brave defenders of the Union. He was mustered out and honorably discharged in September, 1864, and returned home with a most creditable military record.
When the country no longer needed his services Mr. Woodfill returned to Indiana, where he was engaged in teaching school during several winter terms, proving himself a very efficient and capable instructor, readily imparting to others the knowledge which he himself had acquired. Deciding, however, that agricultural pursuits would be more congenial and profitable, he took up farming as a renter and was thus engaged until the spring of 1870, when he came to Iowa, locating in Taylor county, where he purchased eighty acres of land, which tract formed the nucleus of his present extensive possessions. The farm at that time contained a small house and was but partially improved, but with characteristic energy he set about its further development and soon brought the fields under a high state of cultivation. He was systematic, methodical and progressive in his methods, and his farming interests were so wisely and carefully conducted that he won substantial success with the passing of the years, enabling him to add to his original holdings from time to time until eventually he had four hundred and forty acres in his home farm. The original dwelling has given place to a fine new residence equipped with all of the modern conveniences and accessories, while in the rear stand two large barns, an ice house, a carriage shed and other commodious and substantial outbuildings. He has set out a large orchard of about twenty acres, including fourteen acres of Ben Davis apples, while about four acres are devoted to selected fruits for home use. The farm is kept in excellent condition and is equipped with everything that goes to make up a model farm of the twentieth century. In connection with his general farming he gives considerable attention to raising and feeding stock for the market, in 1908 fattening three carloads of cattle and two carloads of hogs. Both branches of his business, the raising of grain and the raising and feeding of stock, are substantial sources of income and he also owns another farm of two hundred and forty acres located about a mile south of the homestead, the rental of which is an additional source of revenue.
It was on the 17th of October, 1867, that Mr. Woodfill was united in marriage in Decatur county, Indiana, to Miss Susan Caroline Hamilton, whose birth occurred in that county. To the industry and judicious economy of this excellent lady he is indebted for his marked success in securing a home and ample competence. No children came to bless their union, but they took into their home and reared a nephew, Jesse M. Green, and a niece, Mary Ellen Green. Both (page 272) married and the former now makes his home in Oklahoma, while the latter is now deceased.
Mr. and Mrs. Woodfill are faithful and prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal church of Gravity, in which he is serving as trustee, and he keeps up pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in Bedford Post, G. A. R. Politically he gave his allegiance to the republican party until 1896, since which time he has been independent in his views, reserving the right to vote for the men and measures which in his estimation are best adapted to conserve the public welfare. He served as assessor for several years and also as township trustee, and was sent by his party as a delegate to various state and county conventions. Preeminently a man of business, he has, entirely through his own well-directed efforts and honorable methods, gained a foremost place among the agriculturists and business men of Taylor county, within whose borders he has made his home for almost four decades. He is numbered among the early settlers of this county, arriving at a time when the city of Bedford was little more than a cross-roads village, and during the period of his residence here has been closely and helpfully identified with the development and improvement of the district, taking an active part in the work of transformation that has been going on. His influence is at all times on the side of progress, advancement and reform, and in all matters of citizenship he is ever as loyal to the interests of the country as when carrying the old flag on southern battlefields. He is a man of many friends, for the cordial hospitality of his home is freely extended to everyone and the honorable and upright principles which have ever governed his actions have won for him the esteem, respect, confidence and good will of everyone with whom he has come in contact.
W. L. WRIGHT
The farm property of W. L. Wright on section 25, Ross township, includes a tract of one hundred and fifty acres and a glance at the place is sufficient to indicate that the owner is thoroughly conversant with and employs the most modern methods in tilling the soil, in caring for the crops and in raising stock. He is meeting with success in all of his undertakings and his unfaltering industry has now made him one of the prosperous farmers of the county.
Mr. Wright's life record began in Bullitt county, Kentucky, on the 28th of December, 1854. His father, Benjamin Wright, was also a native of that state, born in Lexington. In early life he learned and followed the carpenter's trade. He was married in Kentucky to Miss Lucy A. Devall, a native of that state, and about 1860, they removed to Illinois, settling in Henderson county, where Mr. Wright followed carpentering for several years. In that county the death of the husband and father occurred. He left three children, W. L., Joseph and America E., who is now Mrs. Omstead, a widow. In 1879, the mother with her family went to Iowa and she kept house for her son for some years and spent (page 368) her last days in the home of W. L. Wright, there passing away in 1904. His sister was married in Illinois and removed to York, Nebraska, and is now a widow. Joseph Wright also married in Illinois, late removed to Iowa and subsequently became a resident of Kansas, where his death occurred.
W. L. Wright was but a lad when he accompanied his parents on their removal from his native county to Henderson county, Illinois. There he was reared to manhood on the home farm and the task of tilling the fields and caring for the crops early became familiar to him. In 1869, he came to Iowa with his brother, Joseph Wright, who remained her for several years, but afterward removed to Kansas. W. L. Wright first rented land, as his financial resources were not sufficient to enable him to purchase property. He thus engaged in farming for several years, during which time he wisely saved his earnings until his industry and careful expenditures enabled him to purchase property. He first invested in forty acres in Ross township and cultivated that farm for several years, carefully improving the place so that it bore little resemblance to his original purchase when it passed out of his possession by sale. Having disposed of that property he bought eighty acres where he now resides and late he added to his landed holdings until he now has one hundred and fifty acres, constituting a valuable farm which borders the Iowa and Missouri state line. In connection with farming he raises and feeds stock and fattens from two to four carloads of cattle and hogs each year. This is an important feature of his business and annually brings to him a good financial return. His work is at all times carefully conducted and his success is the merited reward of earnest and persistent labor. Politically he has been a life long democrat but without desire for office, preferring always to give his undivided time and attention to his business affairs.
C. B. WYSONG
C. B. Wysong, living on section 22, Clayton township, is one of the thrifty and prosperous farmers and stock raisers of Clayton township. His home is situated about four and a half miles east of Bedford and his energies are concentrated upon the cultivation and development of a tract of land of one hundred and sixty acres. Few residents of the county can claim a longer connection with its interests, for Mr. Wysong arrived her in 1855. He had previously lived in Monroe county, Iowa, for two years, having been brought by his parents to this state in 1853, when but two years old. His birth occurred in Coles county, Illinois, January 4, 1851, his parents being William and Eliza (Webb) Wysong, natives of Floyd county, Virginia, and of Kentucky, respectively. The father was reared in the place of his nativity and then removed westward to Putnam county, Indiana, where he married Miss Webb. He afterward took up his abode in Coles county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming for four years, and on his arrival in Iowa in 1853 he established his home in Monroe county, where he lived until 1855, when he came to Taylor county. Here he preempted land, - a tract of virgin prairie - on which he turned the first furrow. After the breaking plow came the planting and in due course of time harvests were gathered. Year by year he carefully tilled the fields until his property was transformed into a valuable and productive farm. Upon this place he reared his family and spent his last years, making the farm his home for forty years and two days, or until the time of his death, which occurred in September, 1895. He survived his wife for two years, her death occurring in December, 1893.
C. B. Wysong was brought to Taylor county by his parents when in his fifth year and was here reared, remaining with his father until he attained the age of twenty-two. He then completed his arrangements for having a home of his own by his marriage on the 1st of January, 1873, to Miss Amy J. Marshall, who was born in Fulton county, Illinois, and there spent her girlhood days. After their marriage they took up their abode on a farm in Benton township, Mr. Wysong renting land for two years, during which time he carefully saved his earnings so that he was then enabled to purchase eighty acres of the farm upon which he now makes his home. He broke the land, planted his crops, built a house and has carried on the work of general improvement to the present time, the excellent results of his labors being manifested in the attractive appearance of the place. He has also made other investments in property and now has one hundred and sixty acres in the home farm. In the midst of well tilled fields stands an attractive residence and large barn, while an orchard yields its fruits in season and shade and ornamental trees add to the attractive appearance of the (page 378) place. In addition to this property Mr. Wysong also has an adjoining tract of land of forty acres. He annually gathers good crops which he rotates that the soil may be kept in rich condition, and in addition he raises the cereals adapted to soil and climate and likewise raises high grade short horned cattle and good horses and hogs, annually fattening a large number of hogs for the market.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Wysong have been born two children: Frank E., who is married and resides in Bedford; and Harry Elmer, who met death by accident July 24, 1905, when twenty-six years of age. He left a son, Charles Glen Wysong, who is now living with his grandparents.
In his political views Mr. Wysong is a republican but though he always supports the party at the polls he has never sought nor desired office for himself. He was reared in the faith of the Christian church and his wife is a member of that denomination. He belongs to the Odd Fellows lodge at Bedford, in which he has filled all of the chairs and is a past grand. He has also attended the grand lodge of the state and both he and his wife are connected with the Rebekah Lodge. Mr. Wysong is also a member of the encampment and a patriarch and is in thorough sympathy with the beneficent spirit of the order. He is well known in Bedford and Taylor county as a prosperous farmer and good business man and merits and enjoys the confidence and esteem of his fellowmen. He has lived to see remarkable changes in the county where he has now made his home for more than a half century. With the family he shared in the hardships and privations of pioneer life, assisted in the arduous task of developing new farms and as the years have gone by has done splendid work in business lines, attaining success which placed him with the substantial agriculturists of the county.