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1. Edwin CATE, Anita's oldest general merchant, was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., November 6, 1830. Taking Horace GREELEY's advice, "Go west young man," he bundled up his lares and penates and came to Anita in 1868, engaging in the general merchandise business, and from that date to the present has been continuously in business. He was Anita's first mayor, and the writer of this work is living proof that he was first in everything that pertained to the good of his town. He was appointed postmaster under the first Cleveland administration, and discharged the duties of that place with signal ability. He has ever been at the front in all matters pertaining to the material and moral advancement of Anita and has lived to see that town grow from a cross-roads village to one of the best places of its size in this country.
2. Levi DOWNS, Atlantic, Iowa, was born October 24, 1840, near Monticello, Sullivan county, New York, on a farm. He received an academic education and taught school three terms before removing to Altoona, Illinois, in 1857. He taught one term of school in Altoona and then clerked in a store there until 1860, when he bought out a grocery store. In 1866 he removed to Galesburg, Illinois, and purchased a grocery business, continuing there for one year. He then spent one year in the cattle business in southwestern Kansas; then returned to Galesburg and sold goods for O. T. JOHNSON & Co. for three years. Afterward he formed a partnership with a brother of Mr. JOHNSON at Altoona and remained for three years. He sold out in 1873 and removed to Franklin township in this county and lived on a farm for eight years, coming to Atlantic in 1881 and engaging in the general merchandise business, afterwards buying the building in which he is now located. Despite his health, which has not been the best for several years, he has built up a magnificent business and enjoys a large and increasing trade. He is public-spirited and always in the first ranks of those who are striving for a bigger and better Atlantic. He is a member of the Masonic bodies and active in good works within and without that order.
3. Charles M. BLAKESLEY, general merchandise, Anita, Iowa, was born in Livingston county, N. Y., March 24, 1857, and lived there until 1867, when he came to Iowa and located at Iowa City. Three years thereafter he came to Cass county and located at Anita, where he has since resided. He has been in the general merchandise business all the time except during the two Cleveland administrations. During the first he was deputy postmaster and during the second was postmaster. He holds membership in the K. of P., Masons and Woodmen of the World. He is one of the substantial citizens of Anita and thinks that place is the best on earth. He is progressive and liberal and has won his business spurs by fair and honorable dealing with his large trade.
4. Jacob CHRISTENSEN, the active head of the widely known general merchandise establishment of Christensen Bros., Atlantic, Iowa, was born in Denmark on the 27th day of November, 1858, and came to America in 1872, locating at Walnut, Iowa. He afterwards went to Turner county, S. D., where his parents now live, and from there went to Council Bluffs where he was employed by the express companies until 1888, when he came to Atlantic and became part of the incorporation known as the Christensen Bros., Mercantile Company. He has lived here and continued actively in business ever since, has the largest store in the city and enjoys the confidence and cordial patronage of the buying public. He is public-spirited and interested in Atlantic and all that pertains to its prosperity.
5. Joseph BURNEA, proprietor of the general merchandise establishment on West Sixth street, Atlantic, was born in Detroit, Michigan, January 3, 1869, and came with his parents to Atlantic in 1870. He attended the Atlantic public schools and then moved into Washington township, where he and his father engaged in farming. Sixteen years ago they came to Atlantic and engaged in business where he is now located, and there a splendid business has been built up. In addition to the retail business he wholesales tobacco and cigars and has a large trade in these lines. He has belonged to the Atlantic fire department for fifteen years, and last spring was elected a member of the Atlantic city council. He is an enterprising and contributing citizen, a good councilman, a solid and reliable business man, and deserves his success.
6. A. G. BEECH, dealer in general merchandise, Atlantic, Iowa, was born in Cambridge Springs, Crawford county, Pennsylvania, October 6, 1852, and lived there until he was eighteen years of age, when he came west and located in Creston, Iowa. In 1890 he came to Atlantic and opened a Racket store, where Bergner's tailoring establishment is now. Two years afterward he moved to this present location, buying out the Stafford stock. Afterward he occupied the entire lower floor of the Odd Fellow's building, and afterward moved back to his present location. Mr. BEECH's business growth has been phenomenal. Coming here with $190 worth of stock, and that representing about all his worldly possessions, by persistent attention to business and keeping in touch with the details, he has added to his stock and his trade in a manner that is most satisfactory to him. He is a busy man and finds little time to devote to outside matters, but his money talks his interest in Atlantic and it is never withheld when needed.
7. L. F. NIEMAN, manager of the Anita branch of the HANSEN-LAGE-NEIMAN Mercantile Company of Harlan and Anita, was born in Madison, Wisconsin, July 5, 1873. He came to Avoca, Iowa, when quite young and went to Harlan in 1893 and engaged in business there, remaining there until 1903, when he went to Anita and opened the general store of which he is manager in the room formerly occupied by C. M. BLAKESLEY. He is a member of the Elks and the Masonic lodges, is public-spirited and enterprising, and has already won a satisfactory share of the public patronage by square business methods.
From: Exposition Souvenir Album, published by Democrat Publishing Company, Atlantic, Iowa, 1904.
Transcribed by Brenda Magee, July, 2012.