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Posted By: Ruth Groesbeck McDowell (email)
Date: 3/5/2018 at 14:01:57

From "History of Union County, Iowa - From the Earliest Historic Times to 1908" by George A. Ide

Comparatively few of the men and women who came to Iowa during the pioneer epoch in its history yet remain. Mr. Lorimor, however, is numbered among those who have lived here from the period of its early development and has long been classed among its prosperous farmers and public-spirited citizens. In October, 1854, he arrived to find a district upon which only a few pioneer claims had been staked. Deer and other wild game were frequently seen and showed that the white man had not ventured far into the district. The homes were small and their comforts comparatively few but the spirit of true hospitality reigned in those days and the neighbors were always willing to help each other in the efforts to improve farms and secure a living upon the frontier. Mr. Lorimor was about twenty-eight years of age when he arrived in Iowa, his birth having occurred in Washington county, Pennsylvania, October 28, 1826. His father, Alexander Lorimor, was a native of Ireland, born June 10, 1792. He came to the United States as a child and was reared in Pennsylvania, where after arriving at years of maturity he married Sarah Chambers. Removing westward to Ohio, he settled in Guernsey county about 1835, securing a tract of land which he cultivated and improved while rearing his family there. Later he removed to Richland county, Ohio, where his last days were spent, his death there occurring November 15, 1874.

J. S. Lorimor was reared in Guernsey county upon the farm which his father developed, sharing with the family in the hardships and trials of pioneer life. Liberal educational advantages were afforded him and he supplemented his public-school course by two years’ study in Muskingum College. Later he engaged in teaching for a year in Guernsey county and not long afterward made preparation for having a home of his own by his marriage on the 11th of October, 1852. The lady of his choice was Miss Barbara A. Holverstott, who was of German ancestry and was reared in Ohio. The marriage was celebrated in Marion county, where they began their domestic life, Mr. Lorimor renting two hundred and fifty acres of land. For three years he followed farming there, but thinking to find better opportunities in the new state of Iowa, he came to the west in the fall of 1854, joining a brother in Madison county. He knew that it meant much arduous labor to develop new farms in a pioneer district, but looking over the country he made purchase of twelve hundred acres, where he now resides, building thereon a log cabin, and established his home in Union county. With characteristic energy he began to break the sod and develop a new farm. Later he sold a part of his land and his attention was given to the further improvement of the remainder. For several years after his arrival he engaged in teaching through the winter months and was one of the pioneer public educators of Union county, doing much to promote the early intellectual advancement of the community. Afterward, however, he concentrated his time and attention upon his farm work, erected a good residence, barns and outbuildings, and in fact equipped his farm with all of the latest improved machinery and modern conveniences.

In 1887 he laid out the town of Lorimor, giving to the railroad the right of way and some twenty-four acres of land. He subdivided the town plot into sixteen blocks and established the village, which today stands as a monument to his enterprise and progressive spirit. He has since made four additions to the town, which is located upon his original purchase of land and now covers about ninety acres. The modern ideas of town building were utilized by him in the construction of what is one of the neatest and best laid out towns between Des Moines and St. Joe and which has rapidly sprung into business prominence and activity. Mr. Lorimor erected three residences and a brick business block and has done much for the upbuilding of the place, which owes its success and its attractive appearance in a large measure to his labors. His own home is just outside the town limits.

Mr. Lorimor lost his first wife in 1884, she and a son having been killed by lightning on the 31st of May of that year. There are two living children by that marriage: Henry H., a prominent farmer of the county and a raiser of fine stock; and Mrs. Sarah Jane Reid, who is a widow and resides with her father. She has two children: Charlton L., who is married and carries on the north part of his grandfather’s farm; and Bernice, at home. By his first marriage Mr. Lorimior lost two children: Wallace R., who died June 29, 1888, at the age of thirty years; and Oscar C., who was killed by lightning with his mother at the age of seventeen. After losing his first wife Mr. Lorimor returned to Ohio and was married in Marion county, September 23, 1886, to Mrs. Frances E. Holverstott, a native of Ohio, who was reared and educated there and was formerly a teacher. She was a member of the Baptist church, and Mr. Lorimor went with her to that church in Lorimor. She died August 12, 1898. His daughter, Mrs. Reid, is a worker in the Methodist church.

Mr. Lorimor has been a republican since the organization of the party, casting his ballot for John C. Fremont in 1856 and for each candidate on the ticket in the intervening years. He served as county surveyor for one term and was also justice of the peace in the early days. He has been a delegate to state and county conventions of his party and does all in his power to insure its success and secure the adoption of its principles. He has served on both the grand and petit juries and at all times and in all relations he has been found loyal to the best interests of the community. He has given many tangible proofs of his public spirit and his devotion to the general good. He made donations of lots for the schools and churches and also for a park in the town and whatever tended to prove of benefit to the community at large has never sought his cooperation in vain. His activity has been followed by successful accomplishment; his energy by desired results, and viewed by what he has done in the business world and for the county of his residence, his life may well be termed a most successful one.

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