IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.


Phineas P. Olmsted
P.P. Olmsted

Hon. Phineas P. Olmsted is one of the prominent old settlers of Clayton County, his home having been for more than forty years at the place where he still resides. His valuable farm, which comprises three hundred and thirty-eight acres, is situated on sections 1,2,11 and 12 and has been brought under cultivation from an uncultivated state by the present owner.

A native of Franklin County, Vt., our subject was born near St. Albans and Burlinton, March 27, 1819. The family is of English descent, and the great-grandfather of Phineas P., Daniel Olmsted, was born in Connecticut, to which state his ancestors emigrated in 1640 from England. The next in line of descent, Nathan, whose birth also occurred in the Nutmeg State, took part in the War for Independence, along with several of his brothers.

Timothy Olmsted, the father of our subject, was born in 1767 in Connecticut and grew to manhood on the same farm which had been occupied for years by his forefathers. About 1800 he removed to Franklin County, Vt., where for the remainder of his life he engaged in cultivating a farm. In politics he was a Whig, and he was an Anti-Mason at the time of the killing of Morgan. Religiously he was connected with the Congregational Church, and was a man of sterling uprightness and integrity. His wife, Eunice, was born in New Hampshire in 1780 and was a daughter of Phineas Page, who was born in Massachusetts; he was of English origin, while his wife was of French descent. Mrs. Olmsted died in her eighty-sixth year. The father had been previously married, by his first union having nine sons and two daughters who grew to maturity, and by his second having two sons, Phineas P. and David.

Until twenty years of age Phineas P. Olmsted continued to make his home with his parents, attending the common schools, and received practical instruction on his father's farm in the duties pertaining to agriculture. Starting for the west he worked at different points in order to obtain money to continue his journey, and for a time was employed at Madison, Wis. From there he proceeded to Grant County, thence to Prairie du Chien, in which place he resided until April 1, 1840. Near Patch Grove, Wis., he taught school for three months, when he learned that the Government had commenced building Ft. Atkinson on the Turkey River, and in company with his brother he went there to look the country over. This brother and he soon selected a claim in what is now Monona Township, and the two were the first to settle within its limits. They built a cabin in July, 1840, and kept house in primitive fashion, often entertaining travelers, and also Indians. At that time there were about two hundred redmen in the township, who were known as the Whirling Thunder Band. At one time when the cabin was only partially constructed, the brother of our subject was obliged to go on business to Wisconsin, and during his absence about eight Indians came to beg for food; young Phineas gave them what he could, for his supplies were at a low ebb, but it was evident the redmen were not satisfied, as they kept looking around in all corners for more. Seeing a knife in the hand of a murderous looking brave concealed under his blanket, he knew at once that trouble was brewing; as he had no other weapon handy, he picked up an axe and spoke in a loud voice commanding the Indians to begone. After looking at hiim for a moment rather to his surprise they departed, and this was th eonly time in his eight years' of experience with the Indians that he believed they meant him personal harm.

In the spring of 1841 the brothers sold their claim and removed to the present site of Monona, where they each took up land. Phineas P. Olmsted built a log house, the first one in Monona, and in 1849 with a nephew started the first general store in the town. The same year a postoffice was established here, our subject becoming the first Postmaster, being appointed under Taylor's administration. At the end of three years he resigned, locating on the place where he now resides and erected the frame house where he has resided ever since. At various times he has owned several farms and has given to his children about three hundred and thirty acres, still retaining a property of about the same area.

December 26, 1843, Mr. Olmsted married Hannah Rowe, who was born near Albany, N.Y., and they have had six daughters and two sons to bless their union. Eunice is deceased, and the others in order of birth are as follows: Irving D.; Clara, the wife of Harvey S. Curtis; Hannah, deceased; Esther, wife of Melvin Davis; Parma, Mrs. Henry Wilson; Phineas P.; and Sarah, wife of Frank Gilbert.

Mr. Olmsted has served in various official capacities. In 1841 he was first elected Justice of the Peace, sserving as such for twelve years, and in 1842 he built the first frame house in Monona village, and in 1860 was made County Supervisor, holding that place for sixteen years. In 1865 he was elected on the Republican ticket as County Representative in the Legislature and he has filled various minor positions. As an Odd Fellow he belongs to Monona Lodge. He is very proud of the fact that he has twenty grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and is a man whose chief joy in life has been in his domestic relations.

source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties; Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1894; pg 401-402
-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall

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