IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.


Judge Oliver W. Crary is an old and honored citizen of Farmersburg Township. He was born December 21, 1819, in Preston, Conn., and is the youngest son of Elisha and Abigail (Avery) Crary. His father was a native of New London County, Conn., and was born in August, 1773; he was a son of Oliver Crary, also of Connecticut. His mother was of Welsh descent and was born in 1777. Her parents, Isaac and Mercy (Williams) Avery, were born in New London County, and her father was a Colonel in the Connecticut Militia. The Crary family were formerly from England, and came from Northumberland as early as 1660. Peter Crary, the greatgrandfather of our subject, entered land in 1680 in New London county, where the Crarys have made their home for generations. His parents made their permanent home in that ocunty and reared a family of seven children, three of whom are living: Abbie, widow of Warren Cook, living in Connecticut; Lucy, the wife of C.S. Prentice, who makes her home in Preston, Conn., and Oliver W., our subject, the youngest of the family.

Judge Crary was born and reared on a farm, receiving his early education in the district schools of his childhood's home, but later attended the Plainfield Academy, where he finished his education. While there he prepared himself for a teacher. He remained at home until twenty-nine years of age, teaching during the winter months and assisting his father on the farm in summer. He taught his first school at the early age of sixteen years.

In 1848 our subject started out to seek a home in the far west. He with another young man made the journey in a buggy, going first to New Haven; from there they went to Poughkeepsie, then to Albany and through western New York, continuing their journey westward through Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio. At this point his partner became homesick and sold his interest in the horse and buggy to the Judge and returned to Connecticut. The Judge, however, being more plucky, would not turn back but determined to push forward and find a suitable place to make his home. He sold the buggy and went on horseback to Iowa. Being convinced that this was the garden spot of America, he selected the land and laid out the farm on which he now resides. He went to prairie du chien, and buying a load of lumber, built a home during the winter, but in the spring he he moved his little board shanty to the site of his present fine residence. there was not a house in sight at that time, and the night were made hideous by the continual howling of wolves and other wild animals.

In 1849 our subject returned to Connecticut, and in July of the same year was united in marriage with Miss Charlotte E. Borrows, a daughter of Seth and Anna (Stark) Borrows, all natives of Connecticut. He brought his bride to share his new home in the far west, and for five happy years she was the partner of his joys and sorrows. Then death came and claimed her for his own. She passed away in 1864, leaving a husband but no children to mourn her loss. Judge Crary was married the second time in April, 1864, to Miss Agnethe Thovson, a native of Norway, and to them have been born eleven children; nine of whom are living: Lucy E., William H., Fredrick, George H., Amy S., Alice, John Elisha, Isaac A. and Arthur E.

In a few years after settling in Iowa our subject had accumulated then hundred and forty acres of wild land, and now has seven hundred and sixty acres under a high state of cultivation. In his early manhood the Judge did all the work of improving his farm. In 1889 he erected the beautiful residence he now occupies. It is the finest building in the township. Formerly the principal product of the farm was wheat, but for a number of years the Judge has given his attention to stock-raising, and at the present time is extensively engaged in that line of industry. He has a number of fine horses, imported cattle, sheep and hogs. Our subject is the oldest settler in Farmersburg Township, and is an excellent farmer, highly respected by all who have the honor of his acquaintance.

Politically Judge Crary is a Republican, but before the organization of that party he was a stalwart Whig. He was elected County Judge in 1857 and served as such until 1860. In the fall of 1871 he was elected to the State Senate, serving four years. He was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means during the whole of his term. Fraternally he is a member of the Masonic order at Farmersburg. He has always been Secretary of the district in which he lives.

source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties; Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1894, 433-434
-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall

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