Early Calhoun County History

Chapter IX

The Smith Bros, Henry, Christian and Peter, were born in Clark county, Ohio, where their early days were spent. They moved to Cass county, Michigan along with their father's family, for permanent residence in 1840 and located south of Cassopolis. Here the two latter followed the vocation of farming until the fall of 1854 when they moved to Iowa.

Henry Smith, before coming west, was engaged in the mercantile business for several years and came to Iowa in 1855. After living here for 18 or 19 years, the greater part of which time he owned and resided on the large farm now belonging to Col. Carscaddon, he sold and moved back to Michigan in the fall of 1894.

Christian Smith has lived in the county most of the time since his arrival, and has been well and favorably known to nearly everyone in the southern half of the county. His son R.D. Smith, was the first child born in the county, his birth taking place in the winter of 1855. Christian Smith bears the distinction of having been the first county treasurer and being otherwise connected with the early political history of the county. He met with a great loss in the death of the wife of his choice in the spring of 1890. Still residing at Lake City, he is actively engaged in the practice of veterinary surgery.

Peter Smith had a family of four children when he arrived in Calhoun county--all boys who are now prominent in the business circles of Lake City--with the addition of two born since. His wife by first marriage died in May 1876. He married again in 1877 to Mrs. Mary A. Orr. Mr. Smith was prominently connected with the early history of the county, being the choice of the people for county Judge. Three or four years prior to 1881 he moved to Glidden, where he in company with two of his sons, was engaged in the lumber and grain business. Since that time he established the Citizens Bank at Lake City, which institution he and his sons have in successful operation. He was engaged in the mercantile business at Lake City from 1863 to 1873. Mr. Smith has stood firm and brought honor to his name during the formative period of the county's history and today his strongest friends are those who know him best.

Levi D. Tharp was born in Logan county, Ohio, about the year 1820 and was the son of Abner Tharp, one of the early settlers of this county. Until the age of majority he assisted his father in the cultivation of his farm, and which vocation he continued to follow during life. He emigrated along with his father's family from Ohio to the then new state of Michigan, about the year 1843 ...From here after an experience of nine years citizenship, including his marriage, he moved to Iowa in the fall of 1852 and two years later became one of the pioneers of Calhoun county. With varied experience and the hardships and privations incident of that time, farming on a small scale, for his means were but moderate, hunting, trapping and fishing at leisure time like other pioneers for amusement as well as profit, he lived a man among men until late in the fall of 1856, when he sold out to Greenlee Scott and moved to Marion county.

From here in the fall of 1857 in company with several others, among whom was a young man named Wm. Stevenson, he came up past Calhoun county and on to the Boyer river on an elk hunting expedition. Here after a short time he was taken sick and there being no means of caring for him nearer than Lake City or of securing medical attention from nearer than Jefferson, the only thing that seemed possible to be done was to load him, sick as he was, into a wagon and bring him to Lake City, Wm. Stevenson as driver of the team, after a hard days journey of 30 or 40 miles over trackless prairie with the sick man lying in the bottom of the wagon, arrived at Greenlee Scott's near Lake City late in the evening. Here of course he received every attention and care that friendship could give, Dr. McBride was sent for from Jefferson, but all was too late for death took place soon after.

Levi D. Tharp was a man of powerful physical frame and constitution and was morally a man without reproach. Mr. Tharp stands recorded in history as the man who cast the first ballot and the first man that died in Calhoun county.

Jesse Mormon one of the pioneers of 1854, was born in Cass county, Michigan, in June, 1835. Trained to the profession of farming under the instruction and example of his father until he arrived at years of manhood, he adopted and continued the occupation and is at present one of the successful farmers of Calhoun county. As previously noted he was one of the pioneers of 1854 and has resided in the county ever since. Jesse Mormon and his family is a fair illustration of what honesty, intelligent and persevering industry and thrift will accomplish in a new country.

Mr. Mormon, previous to coming here, in company with others took a claim in Story county and having made some preparation in building was just moving onto his claim with his family when he and the rest of his company found themselves forestalled and their claims and all they had done in the way of building in possession of a large company of immigrants who had arrived a few hours before them. This was what was called claim jumping and the smaller number had to give way to the larger number, thereby finally adding to the population of Calhoun county.

Wm. And John Oxenford were born in England in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, immigrating to America in their boyhood days, locating for awhile in Cass county, Michigan, and 1854 on the 10th day of October, bid farewell to friends and started for Iowa, the "Land of Destiny." By honest motive and indefatigable energy which stemmed the tide of adversities and bereavements of the first epoch in their experience in the west. In 1858 they went into the milling business, purchasing the mill now owned by them on Coon river. The Oxenford Bros. Are known far and near as honest, upright men. In their industrious hands the mill , one of the land marks of the fifties, has undergone a perfect transformation and now stands a monument to their enterprise.