Lee County Biography

Wick Williams
Willow Creek Township

Lee County numbers among its most useful and respectable citizens many of foreign birth, and among them is the subject of this life record, who is a representative Scandinavian, and is one of the most practical and thrifty farmers and stock-raisers of Willow Creek Township, his farmranking among the best in this locality. He was born July 9, 1831, in Bergensteft, Norway, a son of Wicking Jassendal, who was born on that same farm as himself, and spent his whole life thereon. He was the father of nine children, of whom three came to America - our sujbect and his sisters Julia and Berthat. The former married Lewis Bervin, of Clay County, Dak., and the latter is the wife of John Law, of Webster County, Iowa.

He of whom these lines are written early became acquainted with farm work, at which he had to employ himself as soon as he was large enough to be of any use, and the habits of industry thus acquired when he was young helped to shape his after career as an independent farmer. He left the shelter of the parental roof when he was fourteen years old, as he was strong, active and self-reliant and was fully capable of caring for himself. The first year after leaving home he was employed on a farm, and was given three dollars and his board for his year's work, wages being low in his native country. The next year he was engaged by a pilot to assist on board his vessel, and also to help on the farm. At the age of twenty-one be commenced to learn the trade of a carpenter, and worked at it a few years in Norway until he decided to emigrate to America. On the 1st of May, 1857, he set sail from Bergen in the brig "George Brunkost," and five weeks later landed at Quebec. He did not linger on Canadian soil, but made his way directly to Chicago, and arrived there with twenty dollars as his capital. A pickpocket soon relieved him of the most of that, however, considerately leaving him about a dollar of his money with which to begin life in the New World.

Nothing daunted by being thus deprived of his cash, our subject proceeded to Wisconsin, and secured a situation on a farm, at sixteen dollars a month. He worked steadily at that rate for three months, and at the end of that time received his pay in bills issued by a State Bank, which on his arrival at Clinton he found to be worthless, as the bank had failed. He bore this second misfortune philosophically, and by a few months' hard work at his trade in Chicago, earned as much, or more, than that sum. He spent the succeeding winter on a farm in Kendall County, and in the spring worked at carpentering there a few months. He then came to Lee County, and was similarly engaged in Sublette Township for awhile. In 1859 he went to Memphis, Tenn., and carried on carpentering there until the spring of 1860. Returning to Sub­lette from that city, he was employed at his trade there again for a short time only, as on the 17th of May he started for Pike's Peak, going by rail to St. Joseph, where he bought oxen and mules, with which he completed his journey across the plains. He encountered many buffaloes, deer and antelopes on the way, and saw the "Great American Desert" in all its original wildness. After arriving at his destination, he at once actively engaged in mining, and also carried on a brisk business at his calling. He was soon taken sick, however, and nearly died. In the fall, as soon as he was sufficiently recovered to be able to travel, he set out on his return home over the same desolate way that he had journeyed in the spring, with such high hope of winning fortune's favors. The very day of his arrival in Lee County, the 24th of December 1860, he invested some of his hard-earned money in sixty acres of land, forming part of section 16, Willow Creek Township. In 1881 he broke the land, and in 1862 settled on it, making it his home the ensuing two years and a half. He then sold it, and purchased 80 acres of the southeast part of section 3, of the same township, for which, though it was wild land, he paid twelve dollars and fifty cents an acre, as he knew that it was very valuable for farming purposes.

Mr. Williams spent some years in the improvement of that place, erecting suitable buildings, breaking and fencing his land, and farmed it until 1868, when he took advantage of a good opportunity to sell it for a much larger sum of money than he had paid for it, receiving twenty-nine hundred dollars for the place, His next move was to Alto Township, where he bought a quarter section of land that was but slightly improved. He rebuilt the house that was standing on it, planted fruit and shade trees; and otherwise increased the value of the farm, which he sold nine years later, and bought the one upon which he now resides, which is desirably located in Willow Creek Town­ship. It comprises two hundred acres of land of exceeding fertility, which is under a high state of cultivation, and Mr. Williams has erected neat and well-built frame buildings for every needed purpose, the whole place showing every evidence of thrifty and careful management on the part of the owner. He also owns a farm of two hundred acres in Alto Township.

Mr. Williams has had the assistauce of a frugal, capable wife in his work, and is much indebted to her cheerful help in what he has accomplished. They were wedded March 25, 1862, and of the children that have blessed their marriage, these four are living: William L., Sarah M., Julia C. and Rasmus W. Mrs. Williams, whose maiden name was Julia Larson, is also a native of Norway, and of the same town as her husband. She came to this country with her parents. Our subject and his wife are sincere christians and are among the leading members of the Lutheran church to which their children also belong and no people are more generally respected than they. In politics Mr. Williams is unswerving in his support for the Republican Party.

Sarah and Julia are now attending the Cornell College at Clinton Iowa. The former will this year graduate while the latter is preparing herself for a teacher.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 780


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