Another IAGenWeb Project


By W. S. Pitts

Submitted by Beverly Witmer & Lynn McCleary, March 14, 2013

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Godfrey Vail was born in the state of New York in the month of December 1803. We are not able to give his father's name or that of his mother. He was married to Minerva E. Potter, daughter of Alanson and Selphina Potter, August 30,1835, at Enfield, N. Y . There they lived until 1845 when they removed to Lake county, Illinois, remaining there until1853, the date of their coming to Iowa. They came through with teams. On their arrival here they built a shanty on section 13-94-12. It was a beautiful season. The country in its primitive condition was charming. Game was abundant and the only real privation was the distance from points where flour, feed and groceries could be obtained. People soon learned to adapt themselves to surrounding circumstances and these pioneers learned to do without many things, and yet get along fairly well.

They used the wagons for sleeping apartments nearly all summer. The first winter was severe but they came through all right; wood was plenty and at their door. June 16, '54, they entered at Dubuque, the northwest quarter of 14-94-12. The number of the certificate was 16563 and was signed by Franklyn Pierce, president of the United States. Mr. Vail died June 19,1856, aged fifty-two years, seven mo. and ten days; cause of death, consumption. Seven children were born to them as follows: Margaret, who died in infancy; Jessie, who died December 27, '66; Hadley, William Henry, Elizabeth, Ira P, and Sarah. Hadley married a Miss VanTassel and lives here in town; William Henry married Fannie Rowley, lives here; Elizabeth is Mrs. Buchhecker of Logan, Iowa; Ira married Ina Kerr, lives at Lewis, Ia.; Sarah is Mrs. Monroe of Hubbard, Minn. .

February 24, 1882, Mrs. Vail married her second husband, John Wise of Floyd, Iowa, who died December 23, 1893. Mrs. Wise joined the Baptists in '51, and after coming here joined the Freewill Baptists in '53. She died March 26, 1902, at the advanced age of eighty-five years, one month and fourteen days.


Isaac H. Vail was born in Ithaca, Tompkins county, New York, May 12, 1842. Third son of Godfrey and Minerva (Potter) VaiI. Came with his parents to Lake county, Illinois, in 1841. Came to Iowa, July 8, 1853. Married September 3, 1866 to Mary Ann VanTassell. Five children were born to this union: William H., born 1897; Flora, 1869; Myrtle, 1873; Luella, 1878; Margaret S., 1884.

Mr. Vail worked as a farmer for some years, then moved to Fredericksburg taking up the occupation of an axhelve maker which he still follows.

He was drafted into the army in October 1864, 13th Iowa Infantry, Company "I." Mustered out July 1865. Draws a pension.


Albert VanTassel was born in SchuyIer county, New York, April 1846. Son of Oliver and Phoebe VanTassel. Came west with his parents who located in North Washington, Chickasaw county. From there they moved to Leroy township, Bremer county, where Albert was married to Mary A. Swale, daughter of John and Ann (Stabler) Swale, the 25th day of December, 1871. Children born to these parents: Bertha A., June 30, 1874; Roy and Ray [twins] June 3, 1876; Mary Alberta, January 15, 1886, she died January 22, same year; Bertha born in Palo Alto county; Roy and Ray in Bremer county; Mary A. in New Hampton township. Mr. VanTassel sold his farm and moved into town in 1890. Mrs. Van Tassel died January 17, 1900. Mr. Van Tassel was in the war, 38 Iowa Infantry Company C.


Thomas P. Vokes came here from the state of Illinois in the month of May 1855. He purchased from A. A. Brown the northwest quarter of section 6-94-11. He was English by birth; he was an active man in all town matters---especially in school matters. Mr. Vokes was married three times. By his first wife he had three children---two sons and one daughter; one of his sons died in Mexico, one lived in Dakota; his daughter Alice married Frank Ellsworth; she died November 1886, aged 30 years; she is buried in Rose Hill cemetery. For his second wife Mr. Vokes married Sarah L. Carey, daughter of Wesley W. and Julia Carey, this wife died leaving a son William, he married Mary Elliott and they reside in California. His third wife was formerly the wife of Gilbert J. Tisdale (divorced). Mr. Vokes' father and mother lived on his farm in a house by themselves, their daughter, Mrs. Havelock caring for them; they lived to be very old, his father died first at 91or 92 years of age and the mother soon followed. Mr. Vokes is dead. The first election in the southeast portion of Yankee precinct was held at the home of T. P. Vokes in 1855. He was one of the charter members of the Chickasaw County Agricultural Society and was a school director or many years. His daughter Alice, was the third child born in the township.

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Page created by Lynn McCleary, March 3, 2013