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Benton County, Iowa Names in
United States Biographical Dictionary
Eminent and Self-Made Men
Chicago and New York
American Biographical Publishing Company
1878


                        William S. Boyd, M. D.
Vinton

One of the oldest and best educated physicians and surgeons in Benton county is William Swan Boyd, a resident of Vinton twenty-two years. He is a son of John and Rachel Waters Boyd, who resided in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, when the son was born, on the 20th of June, 1814. His maternal grandfather and also his paternal were from Ireland. His father was a major in the war of 1812-15. William farmed on the homestead until about eighteen; attended the preparatory department of the college at Meadville, Pennsylvania, two years; read medicine with Dr. Thomas Brinker, of Unity, in the same state; attended medical lectures at Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated in February, 1849. After practicing between six and seven years in West Salem, Ohio, Dr. Boyd came to Iowa late in the autumn of 1854, stopped a short time at Iowa City, and at the close of January, 1855, settled permanently at Vinton. Early in the winter of 1868 he went to Philadelphia, and attend a full course of lectures in Jefferson Medical College. The benefits of that course he has reaped in increased efficiency and skill in his profession, and the increased confidence of the people in him as a medical practitioner. Dr. Boyd was examining surgeon for pensions in Benton county about eight years, but has never held a political office of any importance.

He was reared a Presbyterian, but inclines to the sentiments of the Methodists. He has no church connection, but is a man of very pure character.

He belongs to the blue lodge in the Masonic order, but pays very little attention to anything outside of his profession.

Dr. Boyd has a third wife. His first, Miss Jane Sloan, of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, married in 1839, died in about two months. His second, Miss Elizabeth Carothers, of West Newton, in the same county in 1842, died in 1852, leaving four children, two them since following her into the spirit world. His present wife was Miss Catherine Winegardner, of West Salem, Ohio, married in 1853. She is a model step-mother, obliging, kind and affectionate. The eldest child of the second wife, John R. Boyd, has a wife, and is a physician and surgeon at Lost Nation, Clinton county. Rachel Ann is the wife of Henry Miller, Shoemaker, of Vinton.

Dr. Boyd is a member of the Iowa Union Medical Society, and has an excellent standing in the profession. His character is such as to command the high respect of the community inside and outside the medical fraternity.

He has a fine brick residence located in the central part of the city, with umbrageous and delightful surroundings, one of the most pleasant homes in Vinton.


James C. Traer, M. D.
Vinton

The oldest settler and the first physician in Vinton, Benton county, Iowa, is James Clarkson Traer, a native of Knox county, Ohio. His birth dates the 7th of September, 1825, he being a son of James Traer, then a farmer in the town of Berlin, and Parthenia Fletcher. His paternal grandfather, William G. Traer, a native of London, came to this country prior to the revolution, and was a soldier in General Montgomery's army when the brave commander fell. At the close of the war he settled in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and lost his life by the blowing up of a powder mill. The Fletchers were of Irish descent, settling at first in western Pennsylvania, and after the second war with England moving into Ohio.

James C. remained in Knox county until twenty years of age, working on his father's farm, with winter schooling, until sixteen, and no education except what he picked up after that date. He was not idle, however, and by the careful husbanding of leisure time prepared himself, as it will be seen, for a life of diversified pursuits.

His father moved to West Liberty, Muscatine county, Iowa, in 1844, and the son followed the next year, aiding his father in breaking and improving wild land one season. In the spring of 1846 he commenced reading medicine with Dr. Henry Meredith, of Rochester, Cedar county, continuing such studies two years. Practiced at Cedar Rapids from 1848 to 1851, and in August of the latter year made a permanent settlement in Vinton. There was then on the town plat one man, who soon left, and there were not more than five hundred people in Benton county. At the election twelve months later the county had only four organized towns, and cast one hundred and twenty votes. Vinton had been designated the county seat three years prior, and when Dr. Traer settled there only three buildings of any kind had been erected. John S. Tilford laid out the town that year, and moved his family thither the next year.

After practicing three years Dr. Traer opened a drug and grocery store; in February, 1856, started a bank, with George Greene, of Cedar Rapids, and others, and has been in that business steadily for twenty-one years. At first the firm was Greene, Traer and Co., and afterward J. C. Traer and Co., and still later Traer and Williams; for the last few years it has been Traer Brothers, J. W. Traer, a prominent railroad man being his partner.

Mr. Traer read law in 1856 and 1857; was admitted to the bar of Benton county in the spring of 1858, and has done an extensive legal and collecting business. In 1861 and 1862 he was in partnership with Colonel William Smyth, of Marion, Linn county, and Buren R. Sherman. of Vinton, now auditor of the state, the firm name being Smyth, Traer and Sherman. Latterly the firm has been Traer and Burnham, the junior member being G. W. Burnham, late of Ohio. Their legal and collecting business is very extensive, and constantly growing. Mr. Traer make a success of every branch he embarks in.

He has a stock farm near town, under the management of Thomas Wright, a native of England, and an experienced cattle-raiser, who has an interest in the short-horn cattle, the Berkshire, Poland-China and Yorkshire hogs, and other blooded stock, on this farm.

Mr. Traer was in the constitutional convention which was held at Iowa City, January-March, 1857, and was one of the youngest members of that body. He represented the twenty-fifth district, embracing Benton, Buchanan, Black-Hawk and part of Linn counties, Hosea W. gray, of Linn county, being with him in the same body, representing the twenty-fouth district, Linn alone. Mr. Traer was clerk of the district court in 1852 and 1853, and has been mayor of the city two years. He rarely seeks office, is contented with private life and the honor of being a straightforward, first-class business man.

He is a Freemason, and has been master of the Vinton Lodge, No. 62, the last three or four years.

He is a Presbyterian, and one of the deacons of the Vinton church.

In politics, he has been republican since the whig party dissolved. He was a member of the convention which organized the great party of freedom; has attended most of its district and state conventions; is an influential man in political circles, and has helped many men to highly honorable offices, which he did not covet himself.

His wife was Miss Marcia W. Ferguson, of Cedar Rapids, married on the 4th of November, 1849. She has had eight children, five sons and three daughters, and all are living. The eldest child, William M. Traer, the first person born in Vinton, has a family, and is cashier of the bank of Traer Brothers; George, another son, is also in the bank; Glenn Wood, a third son, is a telegrapher.

Vinton, which Mr. Traer saw laid out in 1851, has in twenty-six years grown into a city of between three and four thousand inhabitants, and has three banks, six or eight churches, two graded schools, a flourishing academy and the Iowa College for the Blind; and one of the foremost men in making the city what it is is John C. Traer.


John St.-Clair Tilford
Vinton

John Saint-Clair Tilford, son of John Tilford, farmer, and Ann Workman, is of Protestant Irish descent, his grandsire and grandmother on both sides coming from the old country. The name was originally spelt Telford, and was changed some fifty years ago.

John S. was born in a block-house in Clark county, Indiana, on the 30th of July, 1811, and spent the first twenty years of his life in that county, aiding his father in clearing, breaking and cultivating land, with the poorest opportunities for education in that locality, in the youthful days of the state. He never went to school but six weeks in his life, but learned to read and write in his early years, and secured, by self-teaching, a fair business education.

In his sixteenth year he left the farm and commenced learning the cabinet-maker's trade, working at it twenty-six years, with a brief episode in 1833. He was in the army one year under General Scott, being one of his "rangers," and, although in no engagement, he saw perilous times from other sources than the musket or tomahawk. On one occasion, while he and other soldiers were near the Red river, Arkansas, they lived sixty-four days on fifteen days' rations, and part of them stolen. Their mission in that part of the country was the making of a treaty with the Pawnee and Comanche Indians, which proved a failure at that time.

In 1834 Mr. Tilford moved to Johnson county, Indiana, continuing his trade there until 1851, when he located where the city of Vinton now stands, and laid out the southern part of the town. Forty acres, laid off earlier, in the Cedar river, has been called Fremont, and he had the name changed. There was a postoffice, four miles southeast, called Vinton, and the postmaster, James Becket, moved it to the newly platted town, and that was the reason why Mr. Tilford gave it the name of Vinton.

Since settling in Vinton he has been a successful farmer, much of his land, more than three hundred acres, now being in the corporation. He early added horticulture; and was in the nursery business many years, and has two orchards of his own. He also, at an early day, planted a forest of various kinds of trees, half a mile south of his present home, and has in all thirty or forty acres of orchard and forest.

Mr. Tilford has been a man of great industry, and he has not yet folded his hands. Slothfulness is no part of his nature, nor is stinginess. No man in Vinton has shown more public spirit or liberality. He was the original primer move in securing the location of the Iowa College for the Blind at Vinton, and a generous contributor of money as well as time for the institution. Tilford Academy, a flouring school, is located on grounds donated by him. He is a man alive to every interest of Vinton, material, educational, moral and religious. He has been a member of the Presbyterian church something like thirty years; is one of the pillars of the local society, and a well wisher to every genuine christian organization.

Mr. Tilford was a democrat in early life; voted however, for General Winfield Scott, whig, for President, in 1852, and since 1855 he acted with the republicans. He has kept out office, except some local one of trifling importance.

On the 21st of April, 1835, Miss Margaret J. Young, daughter of Joseph Young, of Franklin, Indiana, was married to Mr. Tilford, and they have had six children, of whom only three lived to maturity. John Young, the oldest living child, has a family, and lives one and a half miles south of Vinton. Ann J. is the widow of W. W. Hanford, many years publisher of the Vinton "Eagle," and Helen A. is the widow of Job R. Tracy, who was also a resident of Vinton.


Joshua Worley, M. D.
Belle Plaine

The first physician to locate in the Belle Plaine was Joshua Worley, a native of Covington, Miami county, Ohio. He is the son of Rev. Caleb Worley, a minister of the Christian denomination, and Elizabeth Adams, and was born on the 6th of March, 1834, the youngest in a family of six children. His maternal grandfather, George Adams, cousin of Daniel Boone, lived in this country in the "times which tried men's souls" and participated in the strife for independence a hundred years ago. Caleb Worley, a Quaker, came from England in 1699, settled in Philadelphia, and had two sons, Francis and Henry, who formed the head of the two branches of the Worley family. Francis obtained a tract of land of the Penns, near York, Pennsylvania, and in order to have a neighbor gave a man one hundred acres of land for a cow. The old homestead, it is said, still stands, one and a half miles from York, and is still in the hands of Francis Worley's heirs. Henry Worley immigrated to James river, Virginia, about 1730, and raised a family of children, some of whom returned to Pennsylvania. Caleb, one of the sons, settled in Kentucky in 1783, and his son, Nathan, located in Montgomery county, Ohio, in 1848. He was a Christian or Disciple minister. His eldest son, Caleb, father of Joshua, died at Covington, Miami county, Ohio, in 1871.

The subject of this short biography was educated in the common and select schools of Covington, doing some work on a farm in the busy season until fifteen years of age; at seventeen went to Versailles, in his native state, and on a cash capital of three hundred dollars became a hardware merchant, following the business four or five years with a gradual increase of success and of capital. Having an inclination toward the medical profession, at twenty-two he sold out his stock of merchandise; commenced reading with Dr. J. C. Williamson, of Versailles; attended two courses of lectures at Starling Medical College, Columbus; practiced one year with his preceptor; attended a third course of lectures in Columbus, and graduated in March, 1861; moved to Kostza, Iowa county, Iowa, the following summer; practiced there one year with Dr. E. P. Miller, and then settled at Belle Plaine, a town just then springing up, now a city of twenty-five hundred inhabitants.

In May, 1864, Dr. Worley went in to the army as assistant surgeon of the 126th Ohio Infantry, and remained until the rebellion was crushed. That regiment was in the sixth army corps, part of the time during the last year of the war in the Shenandoah valley, Virginia, but most the time before Petersburg. Surgeons in that locality had usually plenty of cases on hand, and Dr. Worley had little time for idleness.

At the close of the war in July, 1865, he returned to Belle Plaine, and has here been in active practice since that time, with the exception of two or three seasons spent on his farm near town, on account of ill health. During this period he continued his medical studies, and he makes constant advancement in the theory as well as practice of his profession. The opportunities which he had for improvement during the year that he was in the army were unusually good, and he reaped the highest advantage from them. No man of his age in this section of the state has a better reputation, especially as a surgeon. His rides are quite extensive. He is a member of the State Medical Society, and of the Iowa Union Medical Society. His standing is good in both.

In politics, Dr. Worley is a democrat, but rarely has anything to do with office. His profession absorbs his time.

He is a Knight Templar among the Freemason.

On the 23d of September, 1862, Miss Salome Sullenberger, of Koszta, Iowa, became his wife. They have no children.


Willis F. Williams
Vinton

Willis F. Williams, son of woolen manufacturer, William E. Williams and Mary Lumb, was born in the town of Thornville, Perry county, Ohio, on the 22d of May, 1830. His father was a native of Maryland, and is now living in Vinton in his seventy-fourth year. His mother was born in England, and came to this country when three years old. She is also living, and is in her seventieth year. While Willis was in his infancy the family moved to Lancaster, in the same state, and he was educated in Greenfield Academy, near Lancaster. At seventeen he went into a drug store, remaining in that business until 1849, when he went to California with one of the first companies of gold seekers. He spent seventeen years there. He worked in the mines the first year, the remainder of the time was merchandising.

In 1856, while on a prospecting tour in the central western states, he purchased a farm of five hundred acres, ten miles northwest of Vinton, built a three-story stone house and made other improvements.

Mr. Williams started for California with simply funds enough to reach that opening El Dorado; he went there expressly to make money, carefully husbanded his accumulations, and in 1867, when he permanently located in Vinton, he had enough funds to make a good start in business. He immediately went into the banking firm of Traer and Co., which, in a short time, changed its name to Traer and Williams. He sold out in 1871, and in January, 1872, started a bank of his own, which he is still managing, aided by C. S. Bennett, cashier.

Since settling in Vinton, Mr. Williams has been a heavy dealer in real estate, no person in town, probably, doing more in this line. He has bought and sold more than fifteen thousand acres of farming and unimproved lands in the last ten years. Success here, as in every other branch of business which has occupied his attention, has attended his efforts. Several years ago, in company with J. C. Traer, he laid out ninety acres as an addition to the town, containing seven hundred and twenty residence lots, and they have all been sold. Mr. Williams has been one of the foremost men in Vinton in adding to its accommodations, he having erected no less than twenty buildings. He has built sixteen residences in Vinton, costing from twenty-five hundred to twenty thousand dollars; has remodeled and enlarged half a dozen dwellings; has built and remodeled four business houses, and bought and sold more than forty residences not mentioned above.

Mr. Williams is a member of the Presbyterian church, and very liberal in religious and benevolent enterprises.

On the 26th of January, 1860, Miss Frances Ellen Fielding, of Lancaster, Ohio, became his wife, and has borne him four daughters, all yet living.

He has had from boyhood, what the writer once heard him call "a weakness for horses." He now, and usually we believe, drives the best trotter in Benton county, yet he never patronizes races. He has a competency, and sense enough to know how to enjoy a portion of its annual income.

He has done a great deal for Vinton, and the citizens are not insensible of the worth to the city of such a man.


Transcribed by John Shuck.



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