Lee County Biography

Person Cheney




The popular and well-known proprietor of the Union & Cheney House, of Missouri Valley, Iowa, has farming interests in this county vested in a beautiful farm on section 18, South Dixon Town­ship, which he leaves to the skillful management of his wife and son, while he attends to his hotel business. Mr. Cheney is a native of Grafton County, N. H., born May 19, 1833, and a son of Person Cheney, Sr., and Ann (Moore) Cheney, who were both natives of the Granite State, the mother born and reared in Peterboro, Hillsboro County, and dying in Grafton County when past seventy-five years of age. The father was a life-long resident of the latter county, dying at the age of seventy-eight. He was a dealer in wood and coal for many years, and was greatly respected among a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Both he and his good wife were prominent members of the Baptist Church, and when a young man he filled the pulpit of that church for some years at different times.

Our subject is one of nine children, all of whom are living but two, one of them having been killed in the Rebellion, bravely yielding up his life for his country. The family comes of fine old New England stock, and ex Governor Person Cheney, of New Hampshire, was a cousin of our subject.

Mr. Cheney grew up in his native county, receiving a practical education in its schools. For some time in his early manhood, he was engaged as a papermaker, but he soon hit upon the vocation for which he is so admirably adapted by nature, as an hotel-keeper, and has conducted that business with unqualified success for many years. He is an ideal host, his fine physique and ample proportions speaking well for his fare, and his inevitable cheerfulness, jollity, and courteous consideration of all with whom he comes in contact make him a great favorite with the traveling public, by whom he is always well patronized, and he has many friends throughout the commercial world all over the West, particularly in Iowa and Illinois. His first attempt at hotel-keeping was as proprietor of the Waverly House, of which he took charge soon after coming to Dixon in 1850, the hotel being the property of the Northwestern Railway Company, as is also the Union House, of Missouri Valley with which he has been connected some years, running this and other hotels in Iowa during the last decade, and he was at the Waverly House eighteen years.

Mrs, Cheney was married in Grafton County, N. H., to Miss Harriet Burnham, in whom he has found a valuable helpmate who has contributed right royally to his prosperity. Mrs. Cheney is also a native of that county among the granite hills of New Hampshire, where her marriage took place; born in the town of Rumney, March 29, 1835, a daughter of Samuel and Mary A. (Godfrey) Burnham. Her parents were likewise born in Grafton County, and were the son and daughter of New Hampshire people, both the Godfreys and Burnhams being among the early settlers of New Hampshire. Mr. Burnham was in early life a hatter, and during that time was Postmaster and Town Clerk of Rumnel for some years. He subsequently went onto a small farm near Rumney, where he and his wife lived until after all their children were grown up and married, and they themselves were full of years, and then they came to Illinois in 1868, and from that time until their death were tenderly cared for by their daughter, Mrs. Cheney, in whose home they died, the mother passing away first in February, 1884, at the age of seventy-eight years, and the father dying in the same month in the year 1890, when some three months over eighty-nine 3-ears old. He was a member of the Universalist Church, while his wife was a member of the Baptist Church, and both were sincere Christians. In politics, he was a sound Republican.

Mrs. Cheney is one of four children, of whom one is deceased. She is well educated, having been well schooled in her native State. She is well endowed both mentally and physically, has a decided talent for business affairs, and is an able manager, as is proved by the way she has carried on the farm with the assistance of her son. This farm, which has belonged to the family twenty-five years, comprises one hundred and twenty acres of. fine farming land, which is adorned with a handsome set of buildings, including a commodious residence that is of a modern style of architecture, is tastefully and conveniently fitted throughout, and is one of the most attractive homes of this locality.

Mr. and Mrs. Cheney are the parents of three children, of whom two are deceased, Charles and Harry, who died young. Samuel T., their only surviving son, is a bright young man, who is ambitious and enterprising, and has alright gained a good reputation as a farmer. Mr. Cheney and his son are Republicans, and are at all times loyal to their party.

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