Paley, Walter and Mary (Blackburn)

(Lila Schneider)

Walter James ‘Jim" Paley was born 23 Apr 1856 in Clifton, England the son of Rev. John Alexander and Emily (Rooke) Paley. Walter was a great grandson of Archdeacon William Paley, famed cleric and one of the greatest theologians of his time. John Aubgney III Earl of Lennox was a mutual ancestor with the royalty of England making W. James the 11th cousin of King Edward III (the ruler after Queen Victoria). W. James had 6 siblings (all older than he): Alice, Edmund, John, Anne, Margaret and Frederick.

Bio Photo

4 generations taken early 1933.Grandpa Jim Paley,
Grandma Mary Paley, Mom Elsie Sheetz, Lila Sheetz
Dolley, Dad Vernon Sheetz, Son Cloyd Dolley,
Sister Naida Sheetz and Lila's husband Frank Dolley.

W. James came to the U.S. at the age of 19 and settled on a farm north of Ridgeway. He married Mary Sophia Blackburn 2 Nov 1879. In 1887 they gave up farming and moved to Ridgeway. W. James went into the pump and windmill business. Later he had a hardware, heating and plumbing shop which he owned until he died 9 Mar 1938. W. James was Ridgeway’s first mayor. He was postmaster from 1894-1898 and assistant postmaster for another 4 years.

W. James’ wife Mary Sophia Blackburn was born 10 Oct 1857 at Verona, Dane Co., Wl to Thomas Spence and Jessie (Stuart) Blackburn. Mary Sophia came to Winneshiek Co. in 1864 with her parents who settled on a farm west of Ridgeway near the Winneshiek-Howard county line. Mary’s siblings were: Martha, John, Alice, James Robert and Jessie. The first 3 were born in Verona; the last 3 in Winneshiek Co. Mary died 17 Jan 1937 at Ridgeway. She was buried with W. James in the Ridgeway Cemetery.

Thomas Blackburn was born 5 May 1830 in Upper Bentham, Lancaster, England to Thomas and Mary (Spence) Blackburn. At the age of 14 Thomas came to America with his parents. The family settled in Dane Co. 1 Jul 1845. Thomas married Jessie Stuart 17 Jul 1855. She was born 1 Aug 1833 at Little Dunkeld, Perth, Scotland to James and Janet (Anderson) Stuart. Jessie was 8 years old when the family came to America and Dane

Co. Being raised in the upper class in England, Thomas "couldn’t get his hands dirty." When the family came to Winneshiek Co., he paid the passage to America for several men so they would need to work for him on the farm in order to reimburse him. This way he had help and they got to America. Thomas died 26 Oct 1913 and Jessie 23 Oct 1925 on the farm. Both are buried in New Oregon Cemetery south of Cresco in Howard Co.

W. James and Mary Sophia Paley became the parents of 7 children: Elsie Stuart, Florence, Frederick B., Alexander, Walter, Ethel Dorthea and Mary Estella. All the children were born on the farm south of Ridgeway or in Ridgeway.

Elsie was born 2 Aug 1880 on the farm north of Ridgeway. Being the oldest of 7 children, she helped care for her younger brothers and sisters, was a seamstress and worked in the Post Office when her father was Postmaster. Elsie married Vernon Chancey Sheetz (see Sheetz story). She died 29 Apr 1980.

Florence ("Flossie”) was born 7 Feb 1882. She married Dr. Guy Rollins who was a dentist in Fredricksburg, IA. They had 3 children: Kenneth, Clayton and Richard. Florence worked for many years in medical doctors’ offices. She died 25 Nov 1950 and is buried at Fredricksburg with Guy. Frederick was born 15 Aug 1883. He was a World War I veteran. Frederick was a painter. He painted both buildings and pictures of scenery. He died 11 Aug 1943 in the Old Soldiers’ Home in Marshalltown, IA and is buried there.

Alexander was born 28 Dec 1884. He was stationed in Canada in World War I and never returned to Iowa. He married Lizzie Tibbies. They had 7 children: Wallace, Robert, Harold, Wayne, Mary, Kenneth and Alexander. Alex and Lizzie owned a ranch several miles from Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. Alex died there 18 Dec 1963.

Walter Edmund was born 17 Jul 1887. Initially he worked for the telephone company in Ridgeway. Walter married Edna Hertz. They had one son, James. Walter and Edna lived in Ames, IA where Walter worked for the Iowa State University Engineering Department taking care of their tools. Walter died 20 Aug 1968.

Ethel was born 15 Jul 1890. She married Professor Chester Carrothers who taught in Northwood, IA and later in Des Moines, IA. They had one son, Keith. Ethel and Prof. Carrothers later divorced. Ethel worked in a department store in Des Moines, IA for many years. She died 19 Dec 1974 in Des Moines. Ethel’s funeral and burial were in Ridgeway.

Mary was born 24 Aug 1892. She worked in the Baker-Johnson store until she married William Oscar Nesset 30 Apr 1914. He was a farmer and mail carrier out of Ridgeway. William and Mary moved to a farm near Verndale, MN. They retired to Robbinsdale, MN and Mary again worked as a clerk in stores. William and Mary had 3 children: Wallace, Miriam and Clair. Mary died 7 Nov 1985 and is buried at Verndale with Will who died a year and a half before.


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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021