Taylor County, Iowa History 1881 by Lyman Evans
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
(Page 591)
The first settlers of Holt township came in 1850, 1851 and 1852.  They were Levy Hayden and John Hayden, and their widowed sisters, Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Tabor, who arrived in 1851.  They were from Kentucky, and moved from Taylor county to Kansas.  C. N. Scott, who lives on section 35, came in 1852; John Laird, section 32, in 1854; E. W. Meredith, section 27, in 1858; S. L. Meredith, section 33, in 1856; R. H. Dunkin, in 1859; T. J. Davis, section 28, in 1858; Thomas Laird, section 33 in 1854; Daniel Leonard, section 10, 1854.
The first wedding in Holt township was the union of John Anow and M. Hudson.  The first birth occurred in 1853, in the luscious month of September, and the boy was given the good old Bible name of John.  His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Scott, who still reside in the township.  A Mr. Hudson died first, and was buried on his farm.  Dr. Bent, of Bedford, and Dr. Grover, of Hawleyville, attended to the ailments of these pioneers.  The township now has an excellent physician of its own, Dr. J. T. McColm.
The first religious services in the township were at Hayden's Grove.  Rev. Isaac Kelly, the pioneer Methodist clergyman of southwestern Iowa, preached there in 1856, and organized a society.  Elder J. M. Smith, of Bedford, began a revival there in 1857, which resulted in an organization.  Elder William Cobb, of Bedford, was also among the early ministers who enunciated God's living truths to the people of this township.
The first school-house was built of logs, for a cabin, in 1855, and was donated to the people for school and other public purposes by Mr. G. C. Abbitt and Mr. John Lewis.  The seats were slabs, the floor "puncheon," and the chimney made of sod.  It was located on section 33.  Here the first school was taught by Mrs. Churchill, who now resides in Washington township.
The milling of the early citizens of Holt township was done at a distance of eighty miles, except when they patronized the little "corn cracker" at Hawleyville.
In early times the citizens of what are now Holt, Nodaway and Washington townships, collected and held an election.  The voting place was at the farm of L. Rogers, which is now in Washington township.  The ballot box was "old" Mrs. Bank's teapot.  There were fourteen votes cast, and every man who desired an office got one.  His politics were not a consideration at all.
The name of Holt is said to have been given the township in honor of its first clerk.
Until 1878 Holt township had two post-offices: "Dan," located on section 10, (Page 592) and nomenclatured thus for Uncle Dan. Leonard.  In that year it was discontinued, and the inhabitants thereabouts get their mails at Corning and Holt.  Holt is in the south part of the township, and is located on section 33. It is still one of Uncle Sam's stopping places.  The postmaster is Mr. J. O. Tufts, a merchant.  The mails are tri-weekly, and the route is from Bedford to Corning; T. J. Davis is the messenger.  Heretofore Holt has been quite a trading-point, but the new railroad town of Gravity, in Washington township, will probably accomplish its destruction.
Holt township has some of the finest farming lands in Iowa, and some of the wealthiest farmers.  Daniel Leonard devotes himself more especially to the finer breeds of hogs and cattle.  One of its best citizens, a gentleman highly esteemed throughout the county, and one of the first settlers in Holt, Rev. W. G. Meredith, died in the fall of 1878, after a lingering illness.  Several sons are living in the county.
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GATES, E. L. farmer, section one, post-office Corning, is a native of the Empire State, born in Oswego county, August 22, 1846.  His father was a farmer hence our subject enjoyed the healthful exercise of that occupation during his youth.  He was educated in the common schools and at Eastman's Business College, of Poughkeepsie, graduating from that institution in 1865.  He then came to Iowa, settled in Iowa county, where he remained seven years and in 1872 came to Taylor county.  Mr. G. is located on an excellent farm of forty acres, all in good cultivation.  He is a jolly old bachelor, energetic, whole-souled and worthy the esteem of those who have the pleasure of his acquaintance.
GILL, A., farmer, section five, post-office Brooks, born in Lafayette county, Wisconsin, December 13, 1844.  Was reared and educated in that county.  Came to Taylor county in 1873 and settled on his present farm.  Was united in marriage July 4, 1868, to Miss Sarah Chappell also a native of Wisconsin.  They are the parents of seven children:  Eliza, Jane, Robert, May, Ollie, Sarah and Emma.  He is in possession of a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres, fine orchard and vineyard, grove, etc.  Mr. and Mrs. G. are members of the M. E. Church.
GRAY, I. W., farmer, section twelve, post-office Holt, is a native of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, born March 22, 1835.  While a lad his days were spent on the "tow path," in the employ of the old Pennsylvania Canal Company.  Was also in the employ of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad Company for eight years.  Being of a roving disposition he turned toward the west and traveled through a number of the Western States.  In May, 1875, he came to Taylor county and has since made it his home.  He (page 712) is located on a good farm of 180 acres and has it well improved, only one thing being necessary to make his one of the happiest homes in the county.  He is a jovial, polite and agreeable old bachelor.
HAMILL, J., farmer, section thirty, post-office Holt, born in Preble county, Ohio, April 15, 1825.  His youth was spent in agricultural pursuits.  Received a liberal education in the subscription schools.  When nineteen years of age he commenced bricklaying, which business he followed until 1853.  He then moved to Marshall county, Illinois, remaining there twenty-one years, and in 1874 came to Taylor county.  Married Miss U. R. Watt, May 14th, 1869.  She was also a native of the Buckeye State.  Of their children there are living:  Alice, Clayton and Hermie; one, Walter, is deceased.  Mrs. H. also departed this life in October, 1874.  Mr. Hamill is the owner of a good farm of 160 acres, well improved and made a pleasant home.  He is a member of the Christian Church.
HOGAN, T. W., farmer, section three, post-office Conway, is a native of the Empire State, born February 22d, 1842.  While quite young his parents came to this State and settled in Dubuque county where our subject grew to manhood.  Was reared on a farm.  In the spring of 1865 he went to St. Louis and learned paper hanging, at which business he was engaged for several years.  Returned to Iowa in 1870 and located in Adams county, remained one year then came to this county, purchased and settled on his present farm.  November 5th, 1871, Miss Catharine Collins, a native of New York, but at that time residing in Dubuque county, Iowa, became Mrs. Hogan.  They have four children: Augustus Jerome, Cornelius William, Francis David and Margaret Ellen.  Subject has eighty acres of number one land, with good house and other buildings and is engaged in raising and feeding stock.  Mr. H. came to this country without means but by his industry and good management is fast advancing to the ranks of our leading farmers.
JACKSON, JOHN, farmer, section two, post-office Corning, was born February 6, 1832, in Crawford county, Pennsylvania.  At eighteen years of age he commenced the blacksmith trade, and has followed that business most of the time since.  In 1852 he went to California, where he engaged in mining ten years.  He then returned to his native State, remained four years, and then went to Chicago, where he worked at his trade for a time.  From Chicago he moved to Michigan, where he remained one year, and then came to this county.  In June, 1877, Miss Susan Whalen, of Chicago, became his wife.  They have two children: John and Charles.  Mr. Jackson has a good farm of eighty acres.  Himself and wife are devoted members of the Catholic Church.
(Page 713)
JOHNSON, H. H., farmer, stock-feeder and dealer, section twenty-five, post-office Holt, was born in Highland county, Ohio, October 30th, 1835.  When fourteen years of age his father, A. S. Johnson, moved to Marion county, Iowa.  At sixteen he commenced the carpenter trade with his father, continuing in that business four years, then engaged in farming.  Came to Taylor county in the fall of 1868, purchased some wild land and improved his present farm.  Was married November 15, 1858 to Miss Martha A. Cowman, also a native of the Buckeye State.  They have six children:  Lotta M., now Mrs. Dr. McColm, of Holt corners, E. J., Laura A., Minnie E., William A. and Florence E.  Mr. J. has a large farm of 520 acres and is largely engaged in stock-raising and feeding.  Has a fine residence, good out-buildings and everything arranged in a tasty manner.  He is a man of unquestioned ability and has conducted his own and public affairs with the best results.
KERNS, D. R., section nine, post-office Corning, was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania, April 2, 1844.  When seven years old his parents moved to Warren county, Illinois, where he was raised and educated.  He enlisted August 8, 1862, in the Eighty-third Illinois for three years, and served faithfully during that time.  Was discharged July 3, 1865, at Camp Douglas, Chicago, and returned to Warren county, Illinois.  He came to Taylor county in the last named year.  Was married October 26, 1872, to Miss Cynthia Callen, a native of Illinois.  Mr. Kerns has a farm of eighty acres, well improved, and takes great interest in its management.  He is honest, industrious and enterprising.
LAIRD, JOHN, farmer and stock-raiser, section thirty-three, post-office Holt, a native of the Old Dominion, was born April 22, 1812.  While quite young his parents moved to Dearborn county, Indiana. In early life he became inured to the hardships incident to the life of a pioneer.  He was raised on a farm and educated in a common school.  In the fall of 1847 he emigrated to Iowa and settled in Van Buren county.  Remained there two years, then moved to Benton county, and in 1864, came to this county.  At that time there were only six men in Holt township.  Subject was married in November, 1837, to Miss Rebecca Townsend, of Decatur county, Indiana.  From this union there are five children:  Jesse, Sarah, Thomas, William and Jane; three, Margaret, Robert and James are deceased.  He is located on a good farm of 200 acres, and has a comfortable house and out-buildings.  Mr. L is a neat farmer, obliging neighbor and worthy citizen.
LAIRD, THOMAS, farmer, section thirty-three, post-office Holt, a native of Dearborn county, Indiana, was born February 16, 1842.  While (page 714) quite young, his father, Jno. Laird, whose biography will be found in this work, moved to Van Buren county, Iowa, where he resided for a time, then went to Benton county.  In 1854 our subject came to Taylor county.  He enlisted in the fall of 1861 in the Missouri home-guards, and in April following enlisted in company G, Fourth Missouri, for three years.  He participated in the battle of Springfield, raid on Price, and several hard fought skirmishes with "bushwhackers," and was wounded slightly at the battle of Big Blue.  He was discharged April 22, at St. Louis, and returned to his home in this county.  Was married in April, 1866, to Miss Julia Scott, of this county.  Of their offspring, five are living: Fannie Isabelle, Charles Thomas, Ira Anstin, Norton Elmer and Alma Frances; one, Alonzo James, is deceased.  Mrs. Laird departed this life in July, 1878.  Subject was again married in February, 1879, to Miss Ella Combs, of Missouri.  They have one child, Clyde Milton.  Mr. L. has eighty acres of land in good cultivation, and is a successful farmer.
LEONARD, D., farmer and stock-raiser, section ten, post-office Corning, was born June 24, 1830, in Washington county, Pennsylvania.  He was raised on a farm, and received his education in the subscription schools.  In the spring of 1854 he moved to Delaware county, Ohio, and after a residence there of about eighteen months started west by team, arriving in this county in September, 1856.  The following spring he moved on his present farm.  At that time his nearest neighbor on the west was four miles, and on the north, twelve miles.  He was married in the spring of 1855 to Miss Jane Heath, of Delaware county, Ohio.  Of their children, seven are living:  William, Guy, Charlie, Arthur, Harry, Smith and John.  Two, Sarah Anna and Lee Ann, are deceased.  Mr. Leonard owns a farm of 320 acres, beautifully situated, and in a high state of cultivation.  He has a fine residence, commodious barn, and a large bearing orchard of 624 trees, being one of the finest orchards in Taylor county.  He has also a superabundance of small fruits.  Mr. L. has experienced all the hardships and privations of pioneer life.  Commencing when the country was new, and having little means, he set to work with a determination, and by industry and frugality conquered all obstacles and acquired for himself and family a pleasant home.  He has been honored with numerous offices.  His official record is without a stain - having performed the duties devolved upon him with marked ability, and always with unswerving integrity and unyielding firmness.  He is an unassuming man, honest in his dealings, and commands the respect of his fellow-men.  The interests of Taylor county he has always made a study.
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MARQUIS, W. S., farmer, section six, post-office Brooks, born in Logan county, Ohio, November 13, 1837.  His youth was spent in tilling the soil.  Worked at carpentering two years and taught school several terms.  In 1864 he moved to Richland and the following year became a resident of Iroquois county, same State. Came to Taylor county in 1871.  Concluding that it was not best for man to be alone he wooed and won Miss Lucy C. Mitchell, of this county.  They have one child, Elola Glenn, born October 3, 1879.  Subject is located on a good farm of 168 acres, good buildings and a beautiful natural grove.  He is connected with the Masonic order.
McCOLM, Dr. J. T., Holt, born in Adams county, Ohio, August 3, 1850.  When six years of age his parents moved to Wayne county, Iowa, where he grew to manhood.  Received his literary education at Simpson Centenary College, located at Indianola, Iowa.  In 1877 he graduated from Keokuk Medical College.  Was with Dr. S. Sturdivant, of Chariton, about two years, then came to this county and located at Holt Corners.  He was married December 19, 1878, to Miss Lotta M., daughter of H. H. Johnson, of this county.  The doctor, though a young man, has been eminently successful in practice, and by his energy and strict attention to business has gained an enviable reputation.  He is the senior member of the firm of McColm brothers, druggists.  They carry a good stock of pure drugs, and receive a generous patronage.
MEREDITH, E. W., farmer, section twenty-seven, post-office Holt, was ushered into this life July 18, 1858, in this county.  His youth was spent on a farm, where he learned to hold the plow and use the hoe. Was educated in the common schools.  In 1878 he engaged at teaching school, and taught several terms, then engaged in the book business for a time, and spent considerable time in traveling in different parts of the State.  He was united in marriage February 4, 1880, to Miss Rena Richardson, of Keokuk, a lady of varied accomplishments.  Subject is now located on a fine farm of 150 acres and is engaged in growing fine stock.  He makes a specialty of fine horses (Norman stock).  Has also some excellent cattle, sheep and swine.  Mr. Meredith is a wide-awake farmer and is considered one of Taylor county's most promising young men.
MEREDITH, S. L., farmer, section thirty-three, post-office Holt, a native of the Hoosier State, was born in Rush county, April 27, 1852.  When four years of age his father, W. S. Meredith, emigrated to Iowa, settling in this county.  Here our subject grew to manhood and received his education.  When eighteen he engaged as a clerk with Mr. Oneill, merchant of Villisca, holding that position one year, and then followed teaching (page 716) for two years.  Was married July 30, 1875, to Miss Arena B. Algoe, daughter of Thomas Algoe, one of Taylor county's first settlers.  One child has blessed their union, Creighton Pearl, born July 30, 1877.  He is now located on a fine farm of 185 acres in a high state of cultivation, good house, large barn, orchard of 500 bearing trees, and Mr. M. is now engaged in growing stock and has some as fine blooded animals as there are in southwestern Iowa. He has held several offices of responsibility and always discharged the duties devolved upon him to the satisfaction of all.  Politically he is a Jackson Democrat.
MORSE, O. R., farmer, section seventeen, post-office Holt, born in the Pine Tree State, October 4, 1846.  When seven years of age his father moved to Minnesota and remained in that State four years, then went to Lee county, Illinois, where our subject arrived at man's estate.  He received a limited education.  Although but eighteen years of age, he enlisted October 6, 1864, in company E, Seventy-fifth Illinois infantry, Colonel Bennett commanding, and participated in the battle of Nashville and others of lesser consequence.  Was discharged October 6, 1865, at Indianola, Texas, and returned to the Sucker State.  In 1868 he moved to Kansas, remained one year, and once more returned to the "scenes of his childhood."  In April, 1870, he came to Taylor county and has since resided here.  Was united in marriage, October 29, 1872, to Miss Julia M. Webster, a native of Vermont.  Six children are the fruits of this union:  Frank, Myrtie, Jessie, Carrie, Nettie and Lulu.  They are located on a good farm of 120 acres, comfortable buildings, large orchard - in short, possess a well arranged and pleasant home.
PAGETT, W. H., farmer, section twelve, post office Conway; born in Morgan county, Ohio, March 4, 1841.  Left his native State when nine years of age and went to Missouri, where he lived with a sister for a time.  In 1851 his parents moved to Davis county, Iowa, and there our subject grew to manhood.  Enlisted in September, 1861, in the Third Iowa cavalry; took part in the battles of Pea Ridge, La Grange, Peach Orchard and the siege of Vicksburg, where he was disabled by the falling of a horse, and subsequently was taken sick with a fever, from which he lay in the hospital twelve months.  Was discharged at Davenport September 14, 1864, and returned to his home in Davis county.  Came to Taylor county in 1867 and has since made it his home.  February 5, of the last named year, he was married to Miss Phebe Fraby, of Davis county, formerly of the Hoosier State.  From this union there are four children: Eva J., and Merritt Myrtle, living; Mattie May and Elmer are deceased.  Mr. P. is located on a farm of one hundred acres, in good cultivation, orchard of four hundred (page 717) trees and an abundance of small fruits.  He is an intelligent, industrious man, of good habits, and has the confidence of his fellow-men.
PRATT, W. B., farmer, section eleven, post-office Corning, born in Bradford county, Pennsylvania, August 21, 1842.  While quite young his parents moved to Illinois, settling in Lee county, where our subject arrived at man's estate.  In January, 1864, he enlisted in company B, Seventh Illinois cavalry and served nearly two years, and participated in several hard fought battles.  Was discharged in December, 1865, at Camp Butler, near Springfield, Illinois, and returned to his home in Lee county.  In the spring of 1871 he came to Taylor county and located where he now resides.  He remained here one year, then went to Adams county and made that his home three years.  In 1875 he returned to Illinois, was there six months, then came again to this county and purchased his former farm.  On February 22, 1869, Miss Morella T. Clink, of Lee county, Illinois, became his bride.  She was born June 29, 1848.  They have a good farm of 160 acres, with excellent improvements, and are making farming a remunerative and pleasant business.
SCOTT, C. N., farmer, section thirty-five, post-office Holt, born in Geneseo county, New York, April 13, 1818.  Remained in his native State sixteen years, during which time he engaged in agricultural pursuits and attended the subscription schools of those days.  In 1834 he emigrated with his father to Ohio where they resided about four years then moved to Putnam county, Indiana, thence to Clay county, same State, and in 1851 removed to Maryville, Nodaway county, Missouri, where he resided six months.  He came to Taylor county in 1852 and settled on his present farm.  There were only three families in Holt township at that time and the nearest store was at Maryville, Missouri.  Was married in May, 1842, to Miss Jennie E. Dunkin, of Putnam county, Indiana.  Of their children, Jane, Nelson and Almeda are living; Mary, Hulda, Julia, Sarah, John F. and Laura are deceased.  He has a farm of 200 acres and is considered one of this county's most successful farmers.  Mr. Scott's interests and the business interests of Taylor county have grown up together.
SMITH, E. C., farmer, section six, post-office Brooks, was ushered into this world August 14, 1844, in St. Lawrence county, New York.  Remained in his native county until twenty-one years of age.  Received his education in the common schools and Govaneur Seminary, which is under the auspices of the Black River Conference.  In 1865 he came West, resided in Kendall and Ogle counties, Illinois, five years then came to this county and has since made it his home.  Soon after coming here he purchased a tract of wild land and commenced improving his present farm. (Page 718) He has taught school thirteen terms.  Was married September 21, 1875, to Miss Alta Morris, of Brooks.  Her father, J. W. Morris, was one of the pioneers of Adams county.  They have two children: Herbert R. and Grace E.  Mr. S. has an excellent farm of 200 acres, good house and other buildings.  They are members of the M. E. Church.
STARKS, D. W., farmer, section one, post-office Corning, born in Lee county, Illinois, August 13, 1847.  Was reared on a farm and received his education in the common schools and Lee Center Seminary which he attended three years.  In 1876 he went to Massachusetts on a visit, and while there met Miss Abbie A., daughter of Chas. King, a stock-dealer of that State, and married her December 20th, following.  They have two children:  Edward N. and Almina; the latter is deceased.  Mr. S. has a fine farm of 160 acres.  He is a wide awake farmer and good citizen, and will doubtless make a success of life.
TUFTS, J. O., postmaster and merchant, Holt, is a native of the "Bay State", born May 28, 1850, in Worcester county.  His early life was spent in Southbridge, where he attended school about ten years.  He then entered an academy and business college at Worcester which he attended two years.  After leaving college he went to Boston and engaged in a bookstore for a time and in 1870 came west and engaged as salesman in the dry goods house of Orth & Weaver at Keithsburgh, Illinois.  Continued in that position seven years excepting one collegiate year which he spent in college at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  In 1877 the firm disposed of their interests in Keithsburgh and came to this State, locating in Bedford.  Subject also came to this county and continued in their employ about three months then came to Holt and engaged in his present business with C. H. Enis.  In 1878 Mr. T. purchased the interests of his partner and is now carrying a large stock of goods and is doing a good business.  He is the Nasby of Holt "corners" and has the reputation of being one of the most successful young business men of Taylor county.  He is the postmaster of Holt and is connected with the I. O. O. F. fraternity.
WEBBER, JOHN, farmer, section twenty-one, post-office Holt, born in Treve, Prussia, July 4, 1828.  His early days were spent in school.  When twenty he enlisted in the Prussian army and served two years.  Immigrated to the United States in 1850 and settled in New Jersey.  Remained there a short time then moved to Delaware. Having a desire to see more of the country before making permanent settlement, he spent several years in traveling through the different States engaged in various occupations.  In the fall of 1856 he came to Iowa and settled in Clayton county where he resided until 1862.  He then came to this county, remained one year and (page 719) went back to Clayton county.  Lived there a year then returned to this county and has since made it his home.  Was married in November, 1858, to Miss Mahala Parks, a native of the Hoosier State.  They are the parents of six children:  Emma J., Mattie H., Theresa, Belle and Fred; one, Mary is deceased.  Mr. W. has a good little farm of forty acres, well improved and is making a success of his calling.  He is a genial whole-souled man, a kind neighbor and worthy citizen.