Taylor County, Iowa History 1881 by Lyman Evans
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
(Page 579)
This was among the last townships organized in Taylor county. Prior to September, 1869, it formed a part of Jefferson township. At the session of the board of supervisors in the month and year above stated, Captain John Flick, representing Jefferson township as a supervisor, had it set off and given the name of "Gay".  Gay Street school-house was named as the place for holding elections, and there the voters have annually assembled ever since.
The first settlers of Gay township were William King, J. C. Smalley and Hawker H. Wintermute.
The first school-house built in the township was on Platte Branch.  Hon. L. W. Hillyer is an old settler.  He came to the township long before its organization.  In 1863 he was elected a member of the State senate.  This district embraced the counties of Taylor, Page, Montgomery, Adams, Ringgold, Clark and Union.  His record at Des Moines was satisfactory to his constituents, and he could have been returned had he so desired.  His daughter is Mrs. P. C. King, whose husband is the efficient county treasurer.
Gay township has another distinguished citizen in the person of W. D. Blakemore, who has been supervisor from his township, and who is now the Republican candidate for that place.  The Bedford Argus unhesitatingly says that he is the best the county has ever had. Mr. Blakemore is a gentleman of much more than ordinary intelligence and is very successful as a farmer and stock-raiser.
Another Gay township gentleman deserving of mention in these pages is Mr. John Hunter, than whom Taylor county can produce no better specimen of true manhood.  Mr. Hunter is intelligent, delights in farming and makes it pay.
John Hartley, a Pennsylvania school-teacher, and as true a disciple of Jimmy Buchanan as ever lived, is one of the men of Gay township.  He is enterprising, he is informed, and he succeeds.
Daniel Propst, another splendid man came to the township in 1856.  He resides on section 30.
S. B. Hickenlooper located in Gay township in 1858, and lives on section 33.
The soil of Gay township is a dark sand loam of great fertility, rich in deposit, producing in abundance, and adapted to all the crops raised by the western farmer.  It is loose, is not liable to bake, and rests upon a substratum of joint clay several feet in thickness, which during the dry season is filled with innumerable cracks and crevices.  In wet weather the water percolates through the soil above and enters this body of clay, which acts as a reservoir, and stores up vast quantities of water in season for the next drought.
This peculiarity of the soil enables the farmers of Gay township, and nearly all of Taylor county as well, to raise good crops when other parts of the West fail entirely.  In pleasing landscape Gay township cannot be surpassed.
The Methodists have an organization at Gay Street school-house.  It has seen many years - some of them not as promising as they might have been.  The organization is now in a healthful condition and numbers fifty members.  Rev. T. P. Newland is the pastor.  Connected with the church is a flourishing Sunday-school.
The citizens of Gay township get their mail matter at Platteville or Mormontown, in Jefferson township.
Platte Branch rises in Gay township, and it is bordered with some timber.  As it approaches Mormontown it swells into most excellent water-power. 
In the way of reminiscence Gay township isn't as rich as some of the (page 581) others.  It isn't as old, for one reason.  But it has a little romance all its own.  Senator Hillyer had a very pretty and amiable daughter, and there was a young man very much in love with her.  Congressman Kasson secured his admission to West Point.  Our hero went there full of dreams of military glory.  He was going to be a hero like Grant, or Sherman, or the grand president who died Monday night, September 19, 1881, at 10:30 o'clock.  He entered upon his career, and the days were not many when the dear eyes out on the big Taylor county prairies were more to him than a soldier's glory.  So he returned home and married her, and gave himself up to love and happiness.  He has had no reason to regret it, if one may judge from a happy looking household of boys and girls, and a father and mother whose looks are indicative of complete joy and contentment.  This man who preferred a woman's love to the plaudits that ring around the warrior's name, was Peter C. King, treasurer of Taylor county, whose life is marked by daily successes, and whose friends are as numerous as Taylor county is populous.
BEAMER, ISAAC M., farmer, section one, post-office Conway, was born in 1834, in Clinton County, Ohio.  When twenty years of age he came to Iowa and settled in Appanoose county, where he remained until the commencement of the war.  He then enlisted in company G, Thirty-sixth Iowa, and participated in the battles of Helena, Little Rock, etc. At Mark's Mills he fell into the hands of the enemy; was held a prisoner at Tyler, Texas, for ten months; was then exchanged and returned to his regiment, at St. Charles, Arkansas, and remained with it until the close of the war.  He was discharged at Duvall's Bluffs, Arkansas, and returned to Appanoose county, Iowa, remaining there until 1869, when he went to Putnam county, Missouri.  In 1876 he returned to Iowa, locating in Taylor (page 683) county, where he now resides.  In 1856 he chose as his companion Miss Ellen Wells, of Indiana.  Mrs. Beamer died in 1866, and the following year he married Mrs. Phoebe Wolfinger, a native of Pennsylvania. The fruits of this union are Elmer A. and John B.  Mr. and Mrs. B. are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
BESCO, J. E., section thirty-two, post-office Platteville, was born in Scioto county, Ohio, in 1843; there attained man's estate and received a common school education.  In 1860 he came to Wapello county, Iowa, with his parents, and in March, 1862, enlisted in company C, Seventeenth Iowa.  He was engaged in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Ft. Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Hiller's Creek, Big Creek, seige of Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, and Mission Ridge.  October 13, 1864, he was taken prisoner at Tilton, Georgia; was imprisoned at Millen, and remained three months.  He was then paroled and exchanged before reaching the Union lines.  He rejoined his command at Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he received a veteran furlough and returned home.  He was mustered out at Davenport, and, returning to Wapello county, was united in marriage to Miss Isabelle Steele, in 1865.  They are the parents of eight children:  James E., Charles, John F., Charlotte, George and Henry (twins), Edna and Clara.  In 1871 he came to Taylor county, and has since engaged in farming.
BRIGGS, GEO. W., blacksmith, section twenty-three, post-office Bedford, was born in Henry county, Ohio, in 1846, where he spent his boyhood days, attending the common schools.  In 1864 he enlisted in company G, One Hundred and Fortieth Illinois, and remained in the service six months.  He was discharged at Chicago, and returned home.  After learning his trade he opened a shop in Mercer county, where he managed a farm, stone-quarry and shop for six years.  He afterward disposed of his property and engaged exclusively in farming.  In 1879 he came west and located on his present farm, where he has erected a large building, and carries on a wagon, blacksmith and repair shop, in connection with his farm.  He is also engaged in raising stock.  In 1870 he married Miss Laura O. Bears, a native of Ohio.  From this union there was one child, Lucy A.  In 1875 Mrs. Briggs died, and on July 4, 1876, he married Miss S. S. Willett, by whom he has four children: Bertha May, James Ernest, Edward A. and Etta Alma (twins).
DAVIS, Rev. AARON, section thirteen, post-office Conway.  Mr. Davis is a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, where he was born July 11, 1822.  There he grew to manhood, and received a common school education.  In 1840 he, with his parents, removed to Morgan county, Ohio, where young Davis remained until 1847, when he followed the advice of the immortal Greeley and came west to grow up with the country.  He (page 684) located in Henry county, Illinois.  Improved two farms, but not having sufficient land, sold his possessions and came to Iowa, that he might locate his children near him.  Finding a tract that suited him, he purchased a section, giving to each of his children a farm, and is himself finely situated.  Mr. D. has been twice married, in 1843 to Miss Mercy Palmer, of Ohio, by whom he had seven children:  John (who lost his life in defense of the Union), Sarah E. (wife of Asa Stowell), J. D. (deceased), J. E. (wife of J. S. Heasly), Margaret A., D. W. and J. C. S.  November 16, 1870, Mrs. Davis departed this life, and the following year subject was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Jackson, of Washington County, Pennsylvania, who now presides with dignity over his fine home.  Mr. D. was once a minister in the Christian Church.  In 1871, he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; was licensed to preach, and is at present doing ministerial work.  He is connected with the I. O. O. F. and A. F. & A. M. orders.
FRANKLIN, W. S., farmer, section twenty-eight, post-office Platteville, was born in Columbiana county, Ohio, in 1840.  When ten years of age our subject moved with his parents to Seneca county, Ohio, where he attended the common schools, and finished his education in Fostoria Academy.  After this he engaged in teaching.  In August, 1861, he enlisted in company H, Forty-ninth Ohio, and served until November 30, 1865.  During his service in the army he participated in the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesborough, and was with Buell in his marches and countermarches through Kentucky and Tennessee.  He was then detached and sent home as a recruiting officer.  He returned to his regiment at Columbus, and participated in the campaign through Georgia; was wounded at Jonesboro, and sent back to the hospital at Lookout Mountain.  After recovering, he again joined his regiment and served until mustered out.  He then returned to Ohio, where he remained but a short time.  Starting west, he settled in Iowa county, Iowa, and engaged in farming and school-teaching.  Was twice elected county commissioner, resigned and came to Taylor county, where he now resides.  Since coming to this county he has held many offices of public trust.  In 1879 was the Greenback candidate for county treasurer.  On the 4th of March, 1860, he was married to Miss S. C. Kumple, also a native of Ohio.  They are parents of five children:  Omar, Arthur, Harmon, Elmer and Mary Alverda.  Mr. F. is a member of the I. O. O. F.
GARROW, GEO., section twenty-eight, post-office Platteville. The subject of this sketch was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1834.  There he grew to manhood, and was educated in the parish schools.  When twenty-two (page 685) he came to America and settled in Richland county, Ohio, while there he engaged in tilling the soil.  In 1864 he came to Iowa and settled in Taylor county, where he has improved two farms.  He now owns an excellent farm of one hundred and sixty acres, and is prospering finely.  He brought with him to Iowa one thousand sheep, but the country was then new, and after trying the business four years he disposed of the flocks and devoted his time exclusively to agriculture.  In 1863 he married Miss Isabelle Glennie, a native of Scotland, and a very estimable lady.  They are the parents of four children:  Mary A. (wife of Willis Daily), Margaret E., Phoebe J. and John A.  Mr. and Mrs. Garrow are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
GINN, W. E., section eighteen, post-office Conway, began life in Greene county, Ohio, in 1828.  He there grew to manhood; received a liberal education; learned the carpenter trade, serving an apprenticeship of four years.  He then returned to the farm and engaged in stock-raising.  In 1846 he was married to Miss Mary Real, of Montgomery county, Ohio.  From their union there were seven children:  John H. (who served in the Seventy-fourth Ohio during the war), Adaline E. (wife of Nathan Riley), William L. (deceased) and Aaron T. (twins), B. F., Charles, A. L. and O. P.  Mrs. Ginn died in 1861, and the year following he married Miss Katie Moody, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  She was educated at Dickenson College, and is a lady of superior literary attainments. They are the parents of three children:  Katie Belle, Maggie B. and Samuel A.  In 1868 Mr. G came to Iowa, and in 1876 to Taylor county, and took charge of a farm of four hundred and eighty acres, the property of B. F. Daily, of Mt. Pleasant.  He has growing on the farm five hundred fruit trees, also twenty thousand forest trees, consisting of maple, box elder, coffee nut, walnut and chestnut.  He is certainly one of our most successful farmers.
HARVEY, R. W., farmer and stock-raiser, section twenty-two, post-office Bedford, was ushered into this world in Clermont county, Ohio, in 1830.  He there received an excellent common school education, and in 1856 left the Buckeye State and settled in Knox county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming, and remained three years.  He then returned to Ohio, and in 1864 enlisted in company H, One Hundred and Fifty-third Ohio, served three months, participating in the battles of Paw Paw Station, Virginia, and Oldtown, Maryland; was discharged, returned home and remained until 1866, when he again moved to Illinois, and settled in Knox county.  In 1870 he came to this State and located in Taylor county, on his present farm.  He now owns five hundred and thirty acres, which he has improved since coming to this county.  In 1854 Miss R. C. Cazel, of Ohio, (page 686) became his happy bride.  They are the parents of nine children; eight are now living:  Mary E. (wife of C. C. Welford), Joseph T., Sarah (deceased), George, William A., Ambrose M., Frank A., Clara B. and Hattie C.  Subject and lady are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
HICKENLOOPER, S. B., section thirty-three, post-office Platteville, is a native of Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1835.  When nine years of age his parents became residents of Hancock county, Illinois, and four years later came to Monroe county, Iowa, where he attended the common schools and received a liberal education.  In 1858 he became a resident of this county, and engaged in the saw-mill business until recent years.  He is nicely located on a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, well improved, and has an orchard of four hundred trees.  He was married in 1860 to Miss Ann E. King, of this county.  From this union there are seven children: Josephine (wife of C. S. King), Flora, Sherman, Nathan, Ernest, George and Maud.  He and Mrs. H. are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he is a prominent Sunday-school worker.  He is also a member of the I. O. O. F.
HILLYER, Hon. L. W., section twenty-one, post-office Platteville, was born in Licking county, Ohio, in 1818.  There he arrived at man's estate and finished his education in Granville College.  At an early age he learned the dry goods business with his brother-in-law, and did business with his brother in Utica, Ohio, until 1849, when he accepted a position as salesman in the wholesale house of Avery, Butler & Cecil, which position he held for seven years.  In 1858 he came to Iowa and located in Taylor county.  Since then he has been engaged in agriculture, and has ever been found identified with measures for public improvements.  Mr. H. has held many offices of responsibility, having been sent to the State senate in 1860, and serving in that body during the dark and trying hours of the rebellion.  He has also filled the office of county commissioner for several terms.  During the whole of his public life he proved himself eminently deserving of the trust bestowed by his constituents; and now, while the shades of life are falling toward the east, he enjoys the confidence and respect of all who know him.  He is still actively engaged in agricultural pursuits.  Has a farm of two hundred and six acres, well improved.  Subject was married in 1837 to Miss Mary Fuller, of Ohio.  Four children sprang from their union:  Justin, George K., J. O. (wife of P.C. King) and Frank E.  In July, 1880, Mrs. Hillyer passed away, after a married life of forty-two years.  Mr. H. is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, also of the I. O. O. F. and A. F. & A. M.
(Page 687)
PINER, R. W., farmer and stock-grower, section one, post-office Conway.  Born in Onslow county, North Carolina, in 1822, and there attained his majority.  In 1854 he left the State of his nativity and located in Indiana.  Remained there two years and then went to Illinois.  Stopped one year at Monmouth, after which he moved to Minnesota, locating in Wabashaw county, and was soon after appointed deputy sheriff.  Subject served in that capacity for a short time, when the sheriff resigned and he was appointed to serve his unexpired time.  At the next general election he was chosen to that position and served until the beginning of the late war.  He then enlisted in company G, Fifth Minnesota; served fifteen months; participated in the battles of Iuka, Corinth, Jackson (Tennessee), and was discharged at Memphis on account of physical disabilities, and returned to Minnesota.  Recovering somewhat from his injuries he reenlisted in the First Minnesota heavy artillery, and remained in the field until the South laid down their arms and acknowledged the supremacy of the general government.  He again returned to his northern home and soon after came down the Mississippi on a raft.  Stopping at Burlington he engaged with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company to work on bridges, and remained with them six years.  He came to Taylor county in 1875, and settled on his present farm of eighty acres.  In 1873 he married Miss Caroline Bye, of Knox county, Illinois.  They have two children: Roberta and Charlie.  Mr. P. is a member of the Masonic fraternity.  Both belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
PROPST, DANIEL M., section thirty, post-office Platteville.  The subject of this sketch was born in Virginia in 1837, and spent his early youth in acquiring an education in the subscription schools of Virginia.  In the fall of 1856 his parents became residents of Iowa, settling in Scott county.  There they remained two years when they came to Taylor county.  Mr. P. has an excellent farm of one hundred and twenty acres, well improved, fine barn and other buildings, and is a very successful farmer.  In 1869 he was married to Miss Mary Burnside, a native of Ohio.  >From this union there are four children: Nannie, Allie, Elsie and Stella.  Mr. Propst has held many offices in his township, and enjoys the confidence of all his neighbors.  He and his estimable lady are members of the Baptist Church.
SHEARER, DANIEL S., section eight, post-office Conway. Born in Hamilton county, Ohio, in 1820; seven years later his parents moved to Indiana and settled near Indianapolis, where our subject attained his majority and received an education in the common schools.  In 1848 he came west and settled in Washington county, Iowa, where he improved a farm and remained five years.  He then moved to Wapello county, remaining (page 688) eleven years; thence to Monroe county, and in 1868 came to Taylor county.  He now owns eighty acres of land, nicely improved, and has a pleasant home.  In 1850 he took unto himself Miss Sarah F. Trailor, a native of Illinois.  Mrs. S. died five years later, leaving three children.  Two are now living:  Nancy E. (wife of Frank Drew, of Creston), and William H.  In 1856 he was married to Miss Mary Williams, of Kentucky.  They are the parents of five children, living:  John S., Laura I., Leonora E., Martha J. and Eddie K.  Mr. and Mrs. S. are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
SMALLEY, J. C., farmer, section twenty-eight, post-office Platteville, commenced this life in Ross county, Ohio, and received his education in an old log school-house.  In 1857 he started west, having with him about two hundred and fifty dollars.  He came down the Ohio River to its mouth, thence up the Mississippi and Missouri to where Hamburg now stands, and located in Fremont county, having spent over half his money on the voyage.  He remained in Fremont county three years, then came to Taylor county and settled on his present home.  His farm consists of one hundred and sixty acres.  He built the fourth house in Gay township, assisted in its organization, and at the first election was chosen justice of the peace, which office he held eleven years in succession.  His long continuance in office, and the fact that not one of his decisions was ever reversed by the Circuit Court, are evidences of his excellent judgment and the justness of his decisions.  He has always taken great interest in public improvements.  In 1852 he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret M. Murray.  The ceremony took place at the Old Woodbridge House, Chillicothe, Ohio, and was performed by Rev. P. O. Ingalls, now of Des Moines, Iowa.  >From this union came six children.  Four are now living: Oliver C., Joseph W., William F. and Isa.  Mr. S is a member of the Masonic fraternity.
VAN REENAN, M. J., section thirty, post-office Platteville.  Our subject is a native of Holland, was born in Utrecht in 1830; learned the trade of brass founder with his father.  When a youth his parents emigrated to the United States and settled in Pocahontas county, Virginia.  There young Van Reenan grew to manhood.  In 1861 he came to Iowa and settled in Scott county and engaged in farming until 1870.  He then came to Taylor county, having but fifty dollars.  He now owns two hundred and twenty-five acres of good land, one hundred and sixty of which are improved and well stocked.  He has lately turned his attention to the raising of onions and sorghum, with great success.  In 1852 he married Miss Lizzie Hannah, a native of Virginia.  They have four children:  Margaret J., wife of Jos. Watterman, John D., Robt. C. and Mary T., wife of John Hartley.  Mr. and Mrs. Van Reenan are members of the M. E. Church.
WILCOX, JOHN W., farmer and stock-grower, section thirty, post-office Platteville, born in Erie county, Ohio, in 1843.  When two years of age his parents moved to Adams county, Indiana.  Here young Wilcox tilled the soil and attended school, enlisting when nineteen in company F, Eighty-eighth Indiana, and served faithfully during the entire years of the rebellion.  Took part in the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, Stone River, Chickamagua, Lookout Mountain, Mission Ridge, Buzzard's Roost, Dalton, Resaca, Kenesaw, Snake Gap Creek, Siege of Atlanta and Jonesboro.  His regiment was engaged in seventeen battles, only one of which he missed; participated in the grand review at Washington; was discharged June 7, 1865 and returned to his home and engaged in tilling the soil.  In 1867 he came westward and located in Adams county, remained there twelve years, then came to Taylor county and has since made it his home. He was married in 1867 to Miss Sarah A. Peckham, of Indiana.  They have four children:  Wm. B., Esther M. J., Emma J. and Bertha B.  Mr. and Mrs. W. are members of the M. E. Church.  He is connected with the Masonic fraternity.