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)
CHARLES H. LEACH
Closely adhering to systematic rules in carrying on his farming and stock raising interests, Charles H. Leach is numbered among the more prosperous men in this line in Taylor county. He owns one of the fine farms of Platte township, his place embracing two hundred and fifty-six acres on section 6. He was born on a farm near Burlington, in Racine county, Wisconsin, January 18, 1873, a son of John and Agnes (McDonald) Leach, the former a native of England, whence he came as a child to America with his parents. They settled in Racine (page 681) county and there the son was reared and after reaching mature years he was married to Miss Agnes McDonald, who was born in Ireland. The father now owns a valuable farm of three hundred and forty-seven acres near Burlington and is still actively engaged in farming pursuits at the age of sixty-six years. Their family numbers five sons and a daughter, all of whom are married and in homes of their own except two of the sons, who are still with their parents.
Charles H. Leach, the eldest in his father's family was reared in the place of his nativity and was given good school advantages, completing the high-school course. He remained with his father until he reached years of maturity and in 1895, when about twenty-two years of age, he came to Taylor county, where lived some friends. For four years he worked for the neighboring farmers by the month and on the 3rd of January, 1900, established a home of his own by his marriage to Miss Mame Stamets, a daughter of John Stamets, one of the early settlers and prosperous farmers of Grove township, where the daughter was reared.
In the meantime Mr. Leach had prepared a home for his bride by the purchase of eighty acres of land in Grove township. On this place they began their domestic life and Mr. Leach further improved the farm and also added an adjoining tract of forty acres. He made that his place of residence until the spring of 1909, when he removed to his present farm, which he had purchased the previous year. This farm is located on section 6, Platte township, within a half mile of Lenox. He has erected a two-story cement block house, which is the only one of its kind in the township. He has also built two barns, corn cribs and two windmills, whereby an ample supply of water is furnished for the stock as well as for household purposes. Altogether his is one of the most pleasantly located and best improved farm properties in this section of the state, and since coming into his possession, Mr. Leach has greatly enhanced its value owing to the substantial improvements he has made. He is engaged in general farming and stock raising, feeding a carload of cattle and two carloads of hogs annually. He is systematic and methodical in carrying on his work and while adding to his individual success he is also doing much for the interests of the community at large.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Leach has been blessed with a little daughter, Myrtle Irene. Politically Mr. Leach is independent. Both he and his wife are Presbyterians in their religious belief, being members of the Prairie Chapel. Mr. Leach carries on his business most vigorously and persistently and a glance at his farm is in itself a lesson of thrift, industry and perseverance.
FILLMORE O. LEE
Fillmore O. Lee gives his time and attention to the operation of a well-improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres, located on section 2, Grove township. He is a native of the state of Iowa, born in Jackson county, June 24, 1851, a son of Thomas Lee. The latter was born in Illinois, in which state he was reared. Later he went to Wisconsin and during his residence in that state was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Preston. Following his marriage he removed to Missouri, where he spent two years, and subsequently in 1856, took up his abode in Jackson county, Iowa, remaining there one year. He then made a permanent location in Dubuque county when the city of Dubuque was only a cross roads village, containing three shanties. There Mr. Lee engaged in farming for many years and reared his family. He later disposed of his farm in Dubuque county and removed to Morris, Kansas, where he opened up a new farm and spent his remaining years, his death occurring in 1885. His wife survived him for many years, passing away in May, 1908, when she had reached an advanced age.
Fillmore O. Lee is one of a family of nine sons and four daughters, of whom the daughters and five of the sons survive. Mr. Lee was quite young when taken from his native county to Dubuque county, Iowa. He grew to manhood in the latter section and helped his father to carry on the work of the home place until he was twenty-two years of age. He then accompanied his parents on their removal to Kansas but he spent only one year in the Sunflower state and then (page 567) returned to Iowa. This time, however, he took up his abode in Taylor county, where for a time he was employed as a farm hand. Later he purchased a team and engaged in breaking prairie, breaking in all about four hundred acres. He carefully saved the money he acquired in this manner and eventually purchased eighty acres of raw land, which he improved and there made his home for seven years. He then sold the place to good advantage and invested his money in one hundred and twenty acres, on which he made improvements. The buildings were all swept away in a tornado but in due time they were all replaced and Mr. Lee made his home on that farm until 1900. He then disposed of that tract and purchased his present farm on section 2, Grove township, comprising one hundred and sixty acres. This place was partially improved but Mr. Lee erected a good country residence and barn, set out a grove and orchard, fenced the fields with hog tight woven wire fencing, dividing the farm into forty-acre tracts. He now has good improvements on his farm, which has greatly enhanced its value so that it is worth much more today than when Mr. Lee took possession nine years ago. In addition to raising the various cereals best adapted to soil and climate, he also feeds a large amount of hogs each year. He has made good use of his opportunities and has advanced from year to year but the methods which he follows are always most honorable and straightforward.
Mr. Lee was married in Taylor county, April 4, 1877, to Miss Cynthia E. Wilcox, a native of Jones county, Iowa, and a daughter of R. B. Wilcox, a prominent farmer of that section of the state. Their union has been blessed with one son and three daughters. Herbert assists his father in the work of the home farm. Roxie is the wife of Chris J. Trost, a farmer of Grove township. They have three daughters. Ettie is the wife of Homer Ramsey, operator and station agent for the Rock Island Railroad Company at Hartley, Iowa. Their family numbers three sons and one daughter. Mary is a young lady, still with her parents.
Mr. Lee has been a life long republican but the honors of office have no attraction for him, as he prefers to give his undivided time to his business affairs and leave the office holding to others. With the exception of the brief period passed in Kansas, Mr. Lee has always lived in Iowa and he has been an active factor in developing three good farms and in other ways has been an influential man in promoting the agricultural interests of the state. He possesses the resolution, perseverance and reliability so characteristic of his nation, and his name is now enrolled among the best citizens of Taylor county.
Riley Lee, a worthy and successful representative of the agricultural interests of Washington township, is engaged in general farming and also raises and feeds stock. He is the owner of one hundred and twenty acres of rich and arable land and his possessions are the visible evidence of his life of industry and thrift.
Mr. Lee was born in Vermilion county, Illinois, on the 20th of July, 1867, a son of W. H. and Elizabeth (Dick) Lee, who were natives of Indiana. Their family numbered nine children, namely: Riley, Ira, Eunice, Jane, Levi, Carrie, Oda, Iva and Essie.
Riley Lee, whose name introduces this review, was a little lad of seven years when he came with his parents to this state in the year 1874. Throughout his active business career he has been identified with general agricultural pursuits and, as stated above, is now the owner of an excellent farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Washington township, Taylor county. In addition to cultivating the cereals best adapted to soil and climate he is also engaged in the raising and feeding of stock and, owing to his well directed labor and capable management, both branches of his business return to him a gratifying annual income.
On the 14th of November, 1894, Mr. Lee was united in marriage to Miss Nellie Nickell, whose birth occurred in Henry county, Iowa, in 1871, her parents being B. F. and Mary E. (Johnson) Nickell. Mrs. Lee is one of a family of five children, the others being Lizzie, Harlan, Wade and Lester.
Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Lee has given his political allegiance to the men and measures of the republican party and his fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, have called him to positions of public trust. He is now serving for the second term as trustee of Washington township, while for two terms he capably discharged the duties devolving upon him in the office of township clerk. He attends the Christian church, of which his wife is a member. They are well known and highly esteemed throughout the community in which they reside, having gained the warm regard and friendship of all with whom they have come in contact.
Arthur Leonard, a successful farmer and sheep raiser of Holt township, is the son of Daniel and Jane (Heath) Leonard, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. He was born upon his father's homestead in this county, September 14, 1868, and while he attended the district school he worked for his father, who was just emerging from the hardships which surrounded him when he settled in this part of the state. Reared to agricultural pursuits he has continued to follow that vocation from choice and now owns one hundred and sixty acres of land, which is finely improved and cultivated by the most advanced methods. He pursues general farming but is also interested, with his father and his brothers, in the importing and breeding of Shropshire sheep. This industry has won him not only success financially, but also a reputation throughout the state that is really enviable.
On the 25th of February, 1892, Mr. Leonard was united in marriage to Miss Esther Coulter, who was born in La Salle county, Illinois. Her father, John Coulter, now deceased, was one of the agricultural community of Holt township and was widely known. Mrs. Leonard is a member of the Christian church, but her husband does not affiliate with any denomination. Politically he finds himself in sympathy with the platform of the republican party and has always been active in local affairs. For the past sixteen years he has rendered valuable assistance to the cause of education as one of the school directors and for eight years has served the community as constable. He is also much interested in fraternal matters and active in the various lodges to which he belongs. He has attained to the third degree in Masonry, in the lodge at Corning; belongs to the camp of the Modern Woodmen of America at Iveyville and to that of the Woodmen of the World at Corning. With his wife he is also a member of the Royal Neighbors at Iveyville. Still in the prime of life, he may well look forward to many years of prosperous activity. So far he has been well repaid for his efforts and there is every reason to be hopeful of the future.
Few men of Taylor county have endured greater hardships in the early settlement of this part of the state or have borne their experiences with greater courage and derived from them a larger share of the prosperity of the world and the gifts of the spirit than has Daniel Leonard, who for more than a half a century has farmed in what is now Holt township. The memories of the day on which he arrived here and of the struggles and discouragements of the first few years are still vivid, and sometimes, as he looks back over the past he wonders not so much how he surmounted them, but how his loyal wife, gently born and reared amid luxury, had the courage to brave conditions to which he all unwillingly had to submit her. He was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, in June, 1830.
His father, William Leonard, was a farmer throughout his life and five years before his death moved to Ohio, where he passed away at the advanced age of eighty. His mother, who had been Miss Mary Van Nort before her marriage, was also a native of Pennsylvania and lived to be sixty years of age. The family of Leonard was of English descent and Daniel can remember that his grandparents frequently spoke of the "log book," from which he infers that his ancestors were sea-faring people, though he was too young to find out at that time. However that may be they were able to transmit to their descendant strong qualities of character which have been the making of him.
About three miles from the birthplace of James G. Blaine, Daniel Leonard opened his eyes upon the world and there grew to maturity. His parents were very poor people and he was able to acquire but a limited education, though he was early initiated into the realm of toil. At the age of twenty-two he left his home and started in life for himself. He went first to Delaware county, Ohio, where he remained two years and was married, and then moved to Fulton county, Illinois, where he lived for about nine months. In 1856, with a team of horses and all their household possessions loaded upon a wagon he and his wife started on their journey across the country to Iowa. On the 25th of September, they stopped at the place where his home has been ever since and where he preempted one hundred and sixty acres of government land. No shelter of any kind was to be seen, so they took off the bows and the cover from the wagon, fastening them to the ground so that they would not blow away, for a storm seemed to be rising, and then inverted the wagon box on the ground. Under this the wife crawled, and after handing her a few clothes Mr. Leonard crawled under himself. During the night the threatened storm arrived and although the rain poured down harder than he had ever known it to do before or has seen it since they were as dry and cozy under their improvised shelter as if they were provided with more comforts. Mr. Leonard had in his pockets only thirty-seven dollars and thirty-seven cents, but with that rare foresight which has distinguished him in his acquisition of land since, he traded his team for ninety acres. For four years he managed to do without any horses, although he bought a couple of calves which he broke into work. They were well broken, too, as one incident will show. In the early morning Mr. Leonard would take them to the timber, fell a tree, trim it, put the butt and larger limbs together, fasten a chain about them, and then hitch the young oxen to the whole. Forthwith they would "mozey" to the cabin, where Mrs. Leonard would "untoggle" the chain, turn them around and start them on the road to the woods which they would reach by themselves. On the next trip Mr. Leonard would accompany them, as he went to his dinner, and in the afternoon would bring up the third load. They were also of value in the plowing when they were fastened with a yoke eight feet long, and with them he was able to plant his corn. The animals grew to be oxen of mammoth size and when he disposed of them they brought a price of two hundred and seventy-five dollars.
From the trees he felled Mr. Leonard built a cabin sixteen feet square, and as the logs were short in this part of the state he had to splice them to make the cabin large enough. In that rude home he and his wife lived for a number of years, until he erected his present residence, the lumber for which he hauled from St. Joseph, Missouri. But even when their cabin was built their hardships were not lightened very much, and many a time Mr. Leonard said he wept at the thought of the severity of the life to which he brought his wife so tenderly reared in her girlhood and now bearing the struggle of a pioneerman's wife cheerfully, without complaint. On one occasion he came to the shanty from the fields and found her clad in her nightdress, washing the only outside garments she had. She was using a brass kettle given her by her mother the only utensil among their few possessions large enough for the purpose. Mr. Leonard returned to the fields, sat down in the furrow and cried, heart sick enough to commit suicide. But he thought to himself, "Leonard, you won't be such a coward. Get up, pull yourself together and get out of this condition." It was a long time, however, before ready money found a place in his pocket. On one occasion he wrote a letter to his people in Ohio, but could not send it for lack of the price of postage, which in those days would have been fifteen cents. Nor could that amount be found in Taylor county. At different seasons of the year hogs were gathered together at some place and driven to Ottumwa to be sold. One time Mr. Leonard had twelve to dispose of, but they weighed three hundred pounds and were too heavy to drive. Accordingly he butchered them himself and sold the hams in Bedford for two and a half cents a pound but could not sell the shoulders at any price. So he left two with a blacksmith and said he would take their value out in work, later receiving for them a pair of hinges, which anywhere today could be procured for a quarter.
That these conditions have passed and that Mr. Leonard is in the enjoyment of a handsome income are due not only to his capacity for work and his determination to get ahead, but equally to the native sagacity which enabled him to discern the increase in the value of land, for besides the location he chose for his own home whenever he saw opportunity he bought land until at one time he held over a thousand acres, of which he gave generously to each of six sons, whom he assisted in improving their farms and in stocking them. His own farm is situated on an elevation, from which, before the trees were so thick he could look southwest into Missouri, west into Page county, northwest into Montgomery county, north into Adams county, northeast into Union county, east into Ringgold county, and southeast and south over Taylor county, obtaining a beautiful view in whatever direction he gazed. In addition to his purely agricultural interests, for more than fifty years Mr. Leonard has given especial attention to the breeding of sheep, and with his sons under the firm name of Daniel Leonard & Sons, became the pioneer importers of Shropshire sheep, and they are now noted all over the southwest for the quality of their animals. Farm work and the air from his fields are his life, as he learned when at one time he retired to Corning. It was not for long, however, as he was not made for a life of comfort, and he came back to the farm, determined not to relinquish its cares until the last moment.
In 1853, Mr. Leonard married Miss Jane Heath, who was born in Washington county, Ohio, in 1833, and for fifty-six years she was his companion. With the courage that some loving women possess she never faltered before the difficult life to which her husband brought her, but without complaint assumed her duties. Her example of hard work and her cheerfulness were the encouragement for many, while her virtues and the Christian spirit which prompted her many acts of kindness made her well beloved by all, but especially by her own family. Nine children were born to them: Mary, who died at the age of eighteen months; William, who is living in Grove township; Guy, a resident of Holt township; Charles, who is at home; Arthur, Smith and J. W., who are living in Holt township; Luzanne, who died at the age of fourteen years; and Harry, who was killed when but fourteen years old. Mrs. Leonard was taken from this world June 23, 1909, but her memory is still a strong factor for good, though she was never a member of any church.
In the early days Mr. Leonard had helped organize a Methodist church in the neighborhood, of which he became a member and a class leader. There were but five professing Christians in north Taylor county then, and his descriptions of the first meeting house contrasts strangely with the edifices prepared for worship today. He says: "It was a log building, one end out for the chimney, the other end for the door, the sides out for the windows. Split linn tree logs on pegs formed the seats." For fourteen years he regularly attended the services at that church, but his ideas gradually broadened and today he would be considered liberal, subscribing to no creed. His rule of life has always been, "Do as I would be done by," and he says repeatedly, "That if people would follow the Golden Rule, they would need no other religion." It has profited him well in a worldly way and three years ago he was able to take a trip to California and the Pacific Slope, on which his wife accompanied him.
Politically Mr. Leonard is a republican, attending and participating in the first convention held in Taylor county. Indeed, he has always wielded a wide influence in shaping the public opinion of this section of the state and has been active in the local affairs for time and again he has held township offices and has served on the board of supervisors for two terms. Having seen the county grow from its earliest days, it is but natural that he should be actuated by a large public spirit for its welfare. Times have advanced since the pioneer days, and he has been largely instrumental in bringing about the progress.