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Robert Furnas, 1813-1900


Posted By: John Shuck (email)
Date: 1/31/2022 at 20:05:41

Story of a Pioneer's Life

The following story of the life of Robert Furnas, "Uncle Bobble, as he was familiarly known, who died at the home of his son, Wm. Furnas, on Friday, March 15, will be of interest to many of our readers. It is taken from the History of Iowa County.

Robert Furnas of Koszta was born in Miami county, Ohio, May 22, 1813, where he lived on the homestead until 1845, his father dying the year before he reached his majority. He rented the homestead and farmed it for eleven years, his mother living with him. In 1837 he married Mary Jane Fowler of Darke county, Ohio. In 1845 he came west, stopping in Keokuk county, Iowa, and in the following spring came to Johnson county and rented a farm two miles south of Iowa City. In 1846 he and his brother-in-law, William Greenlee, came to Iowa county prospecting and while there bought a claim in Cono township. After laying the foundation of his cabin he went for his family and immediately returned and occupied for a short time a cabin that was on a claim bought by William Greenlee moving into his own unfinished house on Christmas day. He had to saw the lumber for flooring and doors with a whipsaw. It was late in January before he had his cabin finished so as to protect his family from the cold, the snow, rain and winter winds blowing through the cracks before they were "chinked and daubed.. When, he bought his farm there was not a furrow broken on it. He lived on this farm for thirty six years, improved it and made a pleasant home.

He and his wife experienced many hardships and deprivations. For fourteen years the only market towns were Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, where he sold his wheat and pork usually taking from five to eight days to make the trip with oxens. The price of produce was very low. At one time he delivered at Iowa City twenty-four bushels of wheat for what would now to considered a very ordinary bedstead. When he first settled in Cono township the Indians were very numerous and during the cold days of winter they would frequently fill his cabin crowding his wife and children from the warmth of the fireplace. He had six children: Rebecca, wife of Isaac Hixson, who died in 1870; Rachel, widow of Aaron Lewis, now living in Marengo, her husband died in the army at Vicksburg Virginia; William M., with whom he resided during the latter part of his life and Pheba Klmbal, Elizabeth Montgomery and John F. Furnas, who are now living in Sioux City, Iowa.

He was a man of robust constitution and lived to old age in good health but the last few months of his life a lingering illness gradually weakened the vital forces and on the 10th of March he passed away. All his surviving children were with him at the last. Funeral services were held at the Dayton school house and he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery. Those who knew him best spoke with fervor of his generous disposition, kindness and sympathy. Pioneers enjoyed the hospitality of his home and the first religious services in Cono township were Held in bis cabin. May we revere his memory and emulate his beneficent character.

Belle Plaine Every Other Daily Union
March 27, 1900


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