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Davis County Biographies

K. B. Adkins

K. B. Adkins, was prominent among the early pioneers; born at Milton, Sussex county, Del., October 18, 1820, son of Bagwell and Julia Ann Adkins of Delaware. Mr. A. was raised there and received his education at the subscription schools. When he was eighteen, he became apprentice to Hiram Brown of Philadelphia, to learn the carpenter's trade. His wages were twenty four dollars a year, buying his own clothes; he remained two years, then worked five years at the business near home, and in 1845, came to Milton, Van Buren county, he himself entering the land upon which that town stands. Two years latter he moved to Prairie township, in this county, and three years latter, to Galesburg, Ills., and in one year returned to Prairie township, and three years later came to his present home, entering 360 acres of land in section 24. He was married December 22, 1840, to Miss Naomi Lank, daughter of Jas. and Nancy Lank, of Sussex county, Del. They have had twelve children, ten living; Jas. B., Peter L., Josiah H., Wm. II, Alfred A , Jno. W., Mary Jane, David C., Chas. F., Geo. W., (Julia Ann and Benj. P., deceased). Mr. A. has a well improved farm and has given 400 acres to his children. He is engaged in stock-raising, feeding and dairying. Mr. A. is a member of the M. E. Church and of Masonic Lodge No. 50. In politics he is a democrat. Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Wm. W. Anderson

Wm. W. Anderson, lives on section 5, in Roscoe township, post-office Pulaski; was one of the pioneers of Roscoe. He is a native of Cumberland county, Va., born June 6, 1828. When quite young his father emigrated to Pike county, O., where Mr. A. lived until 1856. He was reared a farmer and educated in the subscription schools of early days; moved to Iowa, and settled in Roscoe township, Davis county, where he has since resided. He was married November 25, 1852, to Miss Susan M. Bristol, of Pike county, O. They have five children: Reuben W., now ex-county superintendent; Mary E., now Mrs. A. J. Pinnell; Catherine M., now Mrs. H. C. Powers; Wm. M. and Florence S. Mr. A. has a farm of 358 acres, a nice residence surrounded with ornamental trees, also a fine orchard of 150 trees. He is now engaged in stock-raising. Mr. and Mrs. A. are members of the M. E. Church, and are foremost in any effort to raise the morals of the community.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


George W. Bell

George W. Bell, a prominent business man of this township, was born in Van Buren county in June 1840. His father, Jos. Bell, came from Kentucky, and settled there in 1837. Mr. Brown was raised there, a farmer, and educated in the common schools. In December 1863, he started for the land of gold, by way of Panama. After remaining one year in California and Nevada, he returned by steamer, by way of Graytown, in June 1865.One year later he came to this county settling on his present farm. He was married, January 5, 1861, to Miss Malvina Frazee, of Van Buren county, daughter of William and Mary Frazee, a lady of culture and refinement. They are the parents of eight intelligent children, James Emery, Mary, Ida, Barbara Alice, Angie, Sadie, Jenny and Willie. Mr. Bell owns a farm of 560 acres, and one of the best orchards in the comity of 1,000 trees of choice fruits; a fine residence, and commotions barn. He is engaged in stock-raising, and is a member of Aurora Lodge, No. 50. Mr. and Mrs. Bell and two daughters are members of the M. E. Church. In politics, Mr. Bell is a democrat. He lives on section 13; postoffice Milton.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Richard Brewer

Richard Brewer, is the owner of a good form of 160 acres, in section 14; he was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, February 5, 1834, where he remained until he was 17, when he went to Hamilton, Ohio. One year later he came to Van Buren county, Iowa, and in 1854, went to California overland, engaged in farming and mining, in California, Oregon and Idaho, until 1868, then returned to Van Buren county. In the spring of 187l he came to this county. He was married February 15, 1869, to Emiline F. Arnold, of Van Buren county, and has two children, Mary Ella and Mattie Mary. He has a good house and barn, and orchard of 200 trees. In polities he is a republican.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


S. R. Brown

S. R. Brown, one of the pioneers of Roscoe, is the subject of this sketch he was boy, in Blunt county, East Tennessee. When young his father, Samuel, who was a son of Thomas Brown, moved to Washington county, Indiana, where Mr. Brown resided about twenty-five years. In 1852 he moved to Henry county, Iowa, and after remaining there two years, in the spring of 1855, he farmed and settled on his present firm in this county. Mr. Brown was raised a farmer and received his education in the subscription schools of the early days. He was married June 6, 1847, to Miss Lydia Ann Pengh of Washington county, Indiana, formerly of Bartholomew county, Kentucky. There were born to them four sons, Augustus Waite, Charles. Franklin, Thomas Weldon, and Samuel Burr. Mr. Brown owns 240 acres of land in a high state of cultivation, with an orchard of 250 trees. The grove known as Round Grove, is on his farm. He is engaged in stock-raising. Is a member of the M. E. church and the Masonic order. He is in politics an independent republican. His postoffice is Pulaski. Mr. Brown is well respected wherever he is known.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


K. C. Corrick

K. C. Corrick, lives on section eight, postoffice Pulaski. Born in Randolph county, Virginia, March 17th, 1828. His parents moved to Hawkins county, Ohio, where he lived until 19 years of age, when he came to Wyacondah township, this county. He was raised a farmer, and educated in common schools. In 1852, he went to California, mined for two years, then returned to this county, settling in his present farm; was married in October, 1855, to Miss Francis Ann Dunkin, of this County, and became the father of three children, Theodore, Jasper and Mandy, deceased. His wife died in 1862, and in 1863 he married Miss Sarah Duckworth of this county who also died in 1864. He was again married in 1865 , to Amanda, A. Yost, who is the mother of nine children: Mattie, Herman, Emma, Clara, Willie, Mary, Albert, Charley and a babe not yet named. Mr. Corrick owns a fine farm of 220 acres, and plenty of stock. Mr. and Mrs. Corrick are members of the M. E. Church, and arc highly respected.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Mrs. Ella Hamilton Durley

Educator and journalist, was born in Butler county, Pa. She is the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton. In the spring of 1866 the family removed to Davis county, Iowa, where, in the most unpromising backwoods region, they made their home for a few years. It was in the rude log schoolhouse of that locality that the young girl acquired sufficient knowledge of the rudimentary branches to permit her to begin to teach at the age of sixteen. The loss of her father, whose ambition for his children was limitless, led her to make the attempt to carry out his oft-expressed wish that she should take a college course. To do so meant hard work and strenuous application, for every penny of the necessary expense had to be earned by herself. In the spring of 1878 she took the degree of B. A. in the State University of Iowa, and four years later she received the degree of M.A. After graduation Miss Hamilton accepted the principalship of the high school in Waterloo, Iowa, which she held for two years. She then went abroad to continue her studies, more especially in the German language and literature. She spent a year in European travel and study, features of which were the attendance upon a course of lectures in the Victoria Lyceum of Berlin, and an inspection of the school system of Germany and Italy. Upon her return the result of her observation was given to the public in the form of a lecture, which was widely delivered and well received. After a year spent in the Iowa State Library, Miss Hamilton decided to turn her attention to newspaper work. She became associate editor of the Des Moines "Mail and Times," which position she held over a year, when a tempting offer caused her to become editor-in-chief of the "Northwestern Journal of Education," where her success was very gratifying. Her later journalistic work has been in connection with the Des Moines "Daily News," upon which she served as reporter and editorial and special writer for several years. In 1884 Miss Hamilton was appointed a member of the State Education Board of Examiners for Iowa, which position she held until 1888, serving during the most of her time as secretary. In October, 1886, she became the wife of Preston B. Durley, business manager of the Des Moines "Daily News." Mrs. Durley's newspaper work was kept up uninterruptedly until the summer of 1890, when their home was gladdened by the birth of a son. At the present time she is president of the Des Moines Woman's Club, a large and prosperous literary society.

(American Women, Frances Elizabeth Willard, Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, Volume 1 Copyright 1897.
Transcribed by Marla Snow)


S. W. Fagg

S. W. Fagg, farmer, and stock-raiser, postoffice Pulaski; was born January 4, 1860, in Fountain county. Ind., he there grew to manhood, helping his father in his flouring mill and in acquiring an education which he finished at the Wabash College. He came to Iowa in 1879, and located where he now resides. He owns a nice farm of 110 acres, finely improved, with good substantial buildings, orchard, etc., well fenced and calculated for a good stock farm. He is a young man of splendid business capacity, with fine prospects.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Mrs. A. H. Fortune

Effie Caroline Law was born March 31, 1863, in Bloomfield and has lived there all her life. Her father, William James Law, was born in Frederic county, Va., in 1826. Her mother, Caroline Catharine Brunner, was born in Somerset, Ohio, in 1827. They were married in Ohio in 1845, and ten years later came to Iowa, moving to Bloomfield, where they resided the remainder of their lives. Their daughter was educated in the public schools and in the Southern Iowa Normal School. On May 10, 1888, she was married to A. H. Fortune, a cashier in the Davis Co. Trust Co. Bank. Mrs. Fortune has unusual business ability and experience. She was in the money order department of the post office for four years and has had experience in bank book keeping. She has aided many clubs by starting the books in a business like way. She has been a member of the P. E. O. sisterhood since her girlhood days and has received many honors from them. She has filled most of the local chapter offices, was corresponding secretary and president of the Iowa grand chapter and for four years was on the Supreme Board as treasurer and custodian of supplies. She is a member of the Conversational Club and of the Chautauqua Club, having received two diplomas and having to her credit several years of reading. In religious faith she is a Presbyterian. She has contributed to local papers and to the P. E. O. Record and appeared on many convention programs. She is a woman having a wide acquaintance in the State, as well as among the women of other states with whom she has been associated in club and society work.

[The Blue book of Iowa Women, by Winona Evans Reeves, Publ. 1914, Transcribed by Renee Capitanio]


Carl Gehrke

Carl Gehrke, a native of Oberhite, Prussia, Germany, was born May 07, 1866. His parents were August and Augusta (Dominikie) Gehrke. He came to America with his parents when a boy, landing in Kirksville when thirteen years old. He came directly here, living first on a farm ten miles southeast of Kirksville. Here they lived till 1892, when he came to his present place. Holding a diploma from the common school of education in Germany, he entered the Missouri State Normal School at Kirksville. After two years' study in that institution he took a course at the American School of Osteopathy, graduating in 1898. He practiced about two years in Boonville Missouri, and Bloomfield, Iowa. Ill health forced him to give up practice, so he returned to the farm. While practicing he still retained his farm and returned to its active management. The farm consisted of 208 acres, four and one-half miles southeast of Kirksville. It is well improved. He handles a dairy, keeping thoroughbred Jerseys. On June 06, 1899, Mr. Gehrke was married to Miss June Crittenden, a daughter of A.I. and Emma Crittenden. They have one child--Hazel, born July 04, 1900.

[A History of Adair County Missouri" by E.M. Violette (1911), sub. by Desiree Burrell Rodcay]


Mrs. Henry Goss

Eva Drake Goss was born in Drakeville, Iowa, the daughter of General Francis Marion Drake, who was the fourteenth Governor of Iowa, and Mary Lord Drake. Her father was one of the great men of Iowa, a soldier and patriot, a statesman, a great financier and a most generous philanthropist. He was born on Dec. 30, 1830, in Schuyler county, Illinois, and died in Centerville, after having lived a life full of honor and usefulness. In 1855 he was married to Mary Jane Lord a woman of the noblest impulses and highest Christian character. She died in 1885. To them were born six children: Frank Ellsworth, John Adams, Amelia (Mrs. Theodore P. Shontz), Eva, the subject of this sketch, Jennie (Mrs. John L. Sawyers) and Mary Lord (Mrs. George W. Sturdivant). Mrs. Goss spent her early life in Centerville, where the Drake home was the center of social life, and open always to guests and whose hospitable roof at one time and another sheltered men and women of state and national fame. She was married Oct. 30, 1881, to Henry Goss, a prominent business man of Centerville, who died June 12, 1908. They have one son, Joseph Marvin Goss. She is a member of the Church of Christ. For many years she has been a member of the P. E. O. sisterhood. After the death of her husband she lived abroad for several years, and now has a residence at Pasadena, California.

[The Blue book of Iowa Women, by Winona Evans Reeves, Publ. 1914, Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


D. Griffeath

D. Griffeath, was born in Perry county, Penn., Ju1y 10, 1828, and at ten years of age he went with his mother to Van Buren county, Iowa, near Birmingham, and in 1866, he came to his present home in Davis county, which was then wild land. Mr. G. received a common school education. He was married June 20,1850, to Miss Nancy Wilfrong, by whom he had one child, Wm. W. His wife having died February 20, 1852, he was married again October 4, 1856, to Miss Delilah Bivins of Jefferson county, by whom he has seven children: Nancy Alvira, David Fremont, Marion M., Madison M., Susan D., Washington Jefferson and Clinton Clay. He has 172 acres of good land, comfortable buildings and an orchard of 200 trees. He is engaged in stock-raising. Mr. and Mrs. G. and their eldest daughter are members of the M. E. Church. In politics Mr. G. is a democrat; his postoffice is Milton.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Thomas W. Griffin

Thomas W. Griffin was born January 22, 1843, in Hocking County, Ohio, and died July 20, 1896, at his home in this county. He was a son of Henry and Betsy Griffin. He was married to Amanda James, January 17, 1878. She was born in Davis County, Iowa, October 30, 1859, being a daughter of Isaac and Nancy James. They had two children: Nellie F, born August 11, 1879; Thomas Ray, September 15, 1890. Nellie is now Mrs. W.F. Florea. Mr. Griffin came here with his parents in 1857 and lived here on the farm till grown. He farmed till 1881 when he moved to Kirksville, Mo. and engaged in the grocery business for two years. He was also in some business at Bullion for three years, then moved to Montgomery County, Mo., where he remained till his death July 26, 1896. After his death his widow lived in Kirksville with her family till 1910, when she bought her present place. It consists of forty acres, one mile north of the city of Kirksville. She has a beautiful home. Her son lives with her and helps manage the farm.

[The History of Adair County Missouri, by E.M. Violette, 1911, submitted by Desiree Burrell Rodcay]


J. Haney

J. Haney, the subject of this sketch was born in Alleghaney county, Pennsylvania, July 8, 1832. When six years of age, his father being dead, his mother came to Ripley county, Indiana, where he resided until 1854, receiving his education in the common schools. While in Ripley county he engaged in selling goods. In the fall of 1854, he came to Van Buren county, and the next spring to this county, settling on his present farm, of 148 acres, in section 13, on which he has a good residence, plenty of shade trees, and orchard of 324 trees. His postoffice is Milton. He was married in August 1853 to Eliza Wildman, of Ripley county, Indiana, and had eight children, Jas. P., John F., Luella, Jos. A., Rhoda, Mary E , Sarah M., and Clara M. He was married the second time to Elizabeth B. Knight, of Davis county in November, 1869, and had four children. Alvy F., Orr D., Orrin W., and Ira L. In politics he is a greenbacker.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Enos Hartzler

Enos Hartzler, the son of Joseph and Fanny Hartzler, was born January 27, 1824, in Wayne county, Ohio, where he lived until he became of age. He was raised a farmer, and obtained a common school education. In the autumn of 1872, he came west and settled on his present farm of 200 acres in section 12. He was married, September 7, 1851, to Miss Nancy Burkholder, of Wayne county, Ohio, daughter of John and Barbara Burkholder. They have five children: Catherine, now Mrs. E. D. King, Alfred J., John II., Josiah P. and Leander E. He has good buildings and a fine orchard of 500 trees, one of the best fruit farms in the township, and an apiary of fifty stands of bees. In politics he is a republican and a member of the Mennonite Church. He is a genial gentleman and a good citizen.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Isaac Hoffman

Isaac Hoffman, is the son of Thomas Hoffman. He was born in Salem county, New Jersey, December 30, 1825. When ten years of age, his parents emigrated to Quincy, Illinois, where, in 1846, he enlisted for the Mexican War, in the First Illinois Volunteers, under Capt. James D. Morgan. Mr. H. was in the famous battle of Buena Vista, and for five days after the battle was held near it, which brought on a sickness, from which he has never fully recovered. In June, 1847, he returned home, and in 1853 started for California on horseback, traveling 900 miles alone. After mining two years and a half, he returned to the scenes of his boyhood; after remaining there one year, he removed from Quincy to Carroll county, Mo., and five years after, in the fall of 1861, he came to his present home in Davis county. He was married to Miss Mary Jane Collins, of Adams county, III., October 18th, 1856. They have been blessed with twelve children: Olivia K., Olive Mary, Leola Belle, Maryetta (deceased), Anna, Charley, Elmira, Rosa T., Ida, Alice, Delberry and Walter. He has a fine farm of 245 acres, a good residence, and 560 fruit trees. He also has a residence and ten acres in Bloomfield. He belongs to the M. E. Church and to Masonic lodge No. 50. He has some fine stock, and having traveled extensively, is well versed in the ways of the world. He lives on section 32, and his postoffice is Pulaski.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


C. Sylvestus L. Hubbard

C. Sylvestus L. Hubbard, deceased, was one of the early pioneers, born in Middlesex county, Connecticut, August 29th 1818, and there grew to manhood; was in the employ of a Hartford publishing house for three years, and lived in Rushville, Indiana, one year; then in 1839, came to Van Buren county, Iowa, and two years later moved to the west part of this township; then came to the home farm, where he passed away October 15, 1870. Mrs. Hubbard, widow of S. L. Hubbard, whose maiden name was Helena Gleason, was born in Roxbury, Delaware county, New York. She was married to S. L. Hubbard, in Van Buren county, in December 1840. She is the mother of seven children: Margery, Clarissa, Margret, Matilda, Leverett, Mary E., Edward Wallace, and Nancy, deceased. Mrs. Hubbard is located on a good farm of 120 acres, with a brick residence, a barn and good orchard. The farm is conducted by Wallace, the youngest son, a jolly bachelor, and a young man of good business capacity.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Jas. F. King

Jas. F. King, was one of the early settlers in the county. Born November 5. 1837, in Sussex county, Delaware. When five years of age, his father, Wm. R. King, came to Van Buren county, and one year later to Davis, where Mr. King was raised and received his education. When the war broke out, he enlisted in the Nineteenth Infantry, Company H, commanded by Col. Crabbe, taking an active part in the battles of Prairie Grove, seige Vicksburg and Sterling farm. Near Morganza Bend he was taken prisoner, and was held ten months at Tyler, Texas; was exchanged at the mouth of Red River, July 21, 1864; went to New Orleans, from there to Pensacola; in November went to Fort Morgan, then to Pascogoola; was at the fight at Spanish Port. Mr. King went through the service without a scratch, was mustered out at Mobile, Alabama, in July 1865, and paid off at Davenport, Iowa. He married Miss Sarah E. Daughters, of Scotland county. Missouri, December 21, 1865. They have had two children, Letty F. and Vernitia, deceased. Mr. King owns a farm of 140 acres. In politics he is a democrat, and like most democrats, a gentleman.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


George Likes

George Likes, deceased; was born in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1814, where he lived for ten years, then resided twelve years in Cincinnati, O., then in Ripley county, Ind., until 1855, when he came to this county March 5, where he lived until his decease, August 30, 1868. Mrs. B. E. BAKER; was born in Pike county, O., in 1832. In 1853, her father John Bromley came to this county, where, in January 28, 1858, she was married to Geo. Likes, and by this marriage had three children: Sarah Catharine, Geo. Washington and Columbus B. She was again married September 22, 1872, to B. E. BAKER of this county, who was born in Decatur county, Ind., in July, 1843, where he lived twenty-one years; then went to Richland county, and one year later, back to Decatur county, remained there one year; then in St. Joe one year then to Washington county, Kan., until 1869, when he came to this county. They are the parents of two boys John Wm. and Jasper Franklin. They are located on a good farm of 130 acres, with comfortable buildings, an orchard of 130 trees, and a peach orchard. Mr. and Mrs. B. are members of the M. E. Church, and highly respected.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller, lives on section 32, postoffice Pulaski. He is one of the oldest pioneers now living in the township, having settled on his present farm in 1847. He was born in Hardin county, Ky., September 6, 1825. When he came to this county, there were only two houses between his and Bloomfield. He was married in December, 1854, to Miss Sarah McMillan of this county. Nine children were born to them: Amanda, Robert, David, T., Ellen Nora, Almeda, Albert, Minnie, Clyde, and Thomas, deceased. Mr. M. owns a farm of 350 acres, with good house, barn and orchard, with plenty of fine stock. When Mr. M. came to this county he was poor, but now, by his industry, he has acquired quite a property.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Francis C. P. Pinnell

Francis C. P. Pinnell, farmer and stock-raiser, section 12, postoffice Milton; was born June 6, 1817, in Kanawha county. Va., and while quite young came with his parents to Ohio, and seven years later went to Logan county, West Va., on the Wyandotte river, where he assisted his father to build a flat boat eighty feet long, cutting and sawing the lumber with a whip saw. Loaded it with corn and chestnuts, and with five families of emigrants on board, started down the river to Cincinnati, where he sold the boat and cargo and bought teams and started for the wilds of Michigan. At Indianapolis, his father died after a brief illness, and one month later his mother also died, leaving a family of nine children, seven being girls. The next year they continued their journey, arriving in 1835, and lived there two years, when the death of his only brother broke up the family, and he, with others, started in a sleight in midwinter, for the territory of Iowa, and made the first location in that part of this county where he how lives. He built a cabin, made improvements, and went to Burlington for fruit trees, and planted the first orchard in the county. He now owns 604 acres in a high state of cultivation, with a fine house, barn and orchard. He was married December 24, 1840, to Miss Elizabeth Hawley, a native of Canada, who died in 1847, leaving two children, Mary A., wife of Henry Harrel of Milton, and Isaac H. He married again November 9, 1849, Miss Rebecca L. Powell, a native of Virginia. They have seven children: Benj. F., Jas. S., Amanda C., Thos. S. and Eldrag. S. Mr. P. was a lieutenant during the "border war” in Capt. Hawley's company of Selsby's regiment. Was called out and camped near Farmington, and dispersed without bloodshed. Was one of the club officers of the “Hairy Nation" division of regulators, before the State was organized. He has been a member of the board of supervisors, and school treasurer for many years. He is an old line democrat, and takes great interest in politics.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


Mrs. J. L. Sawyers

Mrs. Jennie Drake Sawyers, daughter of the late General Francis Marion Drake, Ex-Governor of Iowa, and Mary Lord Drake, was born in Drakeville, Iowa. Her father should be remembered in Iowa history, not only because he was governor of the commonwealth, and a man of large financial interests, a general in the Civil War with a record of which Iowa would be proud, but because he was a great man, a Christian man, who stood on the side of righteousness, a generous philanthropist, and a patron of education. Mrs. Sawyer was the first graduate of Centerville high school, she later attended Oskaloosa College, the Chicago Female College, studied art in New York City, which was followed by three years of travel and study in the art centers of Europe. On June 12, 1883, she was married at her home in Centerville, to Dr. John Lazelle Sawyers, a successful physician and surgeon of Centerville, one of the best known men in his profession in southern Iowa. They have two daughters: Mary Drake Sawyers Baker of Baltimore, Md., and Hygiene Drake Sawyers, who is at school in the east, and one son, Francis Lazelle Sawyers. Mrs. Sawyers is a member of the Church of Christ, in Centerville, a member of the Christian Women’s Board of Missions, and of the Philathea Class in the Sunday School. She is a member of the P. E. O. sisterhood, and has an active part in the society life in Centerville when she is at home. The Drake family has been prominent in Centerville since 1865, having always been interested in church school and other local interests.

[The Blue book of Iowa Women, by Winona Evans Reeves, Publ. 1914, Transcribed by Brenda Shaffer]


Mrs. Theodore Perry Shonts

Amelia Drake Shonts, daughter of the late Ex. Gov. Drake, of Iowa, and wife of T. P. Shonts, the Railroad Magnate of New York, was born in Drakeville, Iowa. Her mother, Mary Lord Drake, was a woman of rare spirit and beauty of character. Mrs. Shonts was graduated from Oskaloosa College, later attended Wellesley and finished with the study of music and the languages abroad. On Dec. 28, 1881, at the beautiful old home in Centerville, she was married to Theodore Perry Shonts, the son of Dr. Henry Daniels and Margaret Nevin Shonts. He was at that time employed by the national banks of Iowa to standardize and simplify their system of bookkeeping. When a very young man he had been graduated from Knox College. He took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar becoming associated with General Drake, who had very large financial and railroad interests, a large part of the management of which he placed in Mr. Shonts’ hands. He built and became the controlling interest in the Iowa Central R. R., built the M., Ia., & Nebr. R. R., and later the Ind., Ill. & Ia. R. R. He sold those interests and bought the control of the Toledo, St. Louis & Western R. R., which he made a success. In 1905 he was appointed by President Roosevelt as chairman of the Isthmus of Panama Canal Commission. He formulated the plans for that work and continued as its head until 1907, when he became president of the Interboro Rapid Transit Co., and had charge of the subway and elevated systems of New York. He is now president of the Interboro. Met. Co., Toledo, St. Louis & Western R. R. Co., and the Iowa Central R. R. Co. They have two daughters: Duchesse de Chaulnes, and Marguerite Amelia Shonts. They live in the Plaza Hotel, New York, although Mrs. Shonts returns each year to the old home in Centerville, and spends much time abroad. She is a member of the Church of Christ, of the P. E. O. sisterhood, the Chicago Women’s Club and the Women’s Athletic Club.

[The Blue book of Iowa Women, by Winona Evans Reeves, Publ. 1914, Transcribed by Brenda Shaffer]


John J. Watson

JOHN J. WATSON resides about two miles south from Curlew where he does general farming and stock raising. He was born in Bloomfield, Iowa, on August 25, 1851, being the son of G. W. and Hannah G. (Waddell) Watson, natives of Vermont and Indiana, respectively. The parents settled in Iowa in 1847 and in Wayne county in that state in 1858. At the beginning of the Civil War, the father enlisted in Company M, Seventh Missouri Cavalry and fought for three years for the union. He was wounded in the right hip at Fort Smith and never recovered the use of his limb, fully. He died in Mount Ayr, in 1891 where the mother now lives. They were the parents of seven children, Lewis, John J., Olivia Walker, Travetta Depew, Arizona Arvado, Emma S. Ellis, and Hallie J., who died in 1881.

From the public school, Mr. Watson received his education and until he was twenty-one, remained with his father. At that age he commenced railroading and followed the same for eleven years. After this, he continued his education on the farm and in 1879, came to Kansas, which was his home for three years. Thence he moved to Nebraska, where he resided six years. After that came the journey across the plains to the Pacific coast with mule teams, five months being consumed on the road. He landed in Seattle on September 14, and there did teaming and draying for a year or so. Later we find him in the coal business in Tacoma and in 1892, he took a logging contract for Allan C. Mason. Following that he came to North Yakima, taking up the coal and wood business, which occupied him until 1897. In that year he came to Eureka, now Republic, being one of the first settlers in that town. He operated an express there until 1901, then took one hundred and sixty acres near Curlew, which he improved and sold April 11, 1903. Mr. Watson then settled on his farm where he now resides, about fifty acres of which he has under cultivation. In addition to general farming, he does stock raising and has quite a band.

On August 29, 1877, Mr. Watson married Miss Sarah Knott, whose parents, James A. and Ellen T. (Shellhouse) Knott, were natives of Pennsylvania and early pioneers to Hancock county, Illinois. The father died in 1875, then the mother came to Iowa and later moved to Missouri, where she died in 1900. Eight children were born in this family, Clara E. Newingham, Mary Hanks, deceased, Bell Fowler, Jane Arnold, Cyrus, Marius, Horace, and James A. To Mr. and Mrs. Walker, four children have been born: Cora B., married to F. R. Burdette, a farmer residing near Curlew; Ethel, married to F. H. Stevenson, in Curlew; Elbie E., and Emory R.

Mr. Watson is a Republican and always takes an active interest in political matters. He is a member of the school board and has been deputy sheriff and United States marshal and was deputy city marshal at Yakima. He has also held various other offices.

Fraternally, Mr. Watson is affiliated with the I. O. O. F., the W. W., the S. of V., and the F. P. P. Mrs. Watson is a member of the Adventist church. Mr. Watson was recently appointed crop reporter for this section of the country, by the Spokane agency. He is a man of good standing and has shown valuable knowledge and interest in his labors in Ferry county.

[Source: “An Illustrated History of Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan, and Chelan Counties in the state of Washington”; Western Historical Publishing Company, 1904. Tr. by Rhonda Hill]


T. J. Wray

T. J. Wray, lives on section 6, postoffice Stiles; was born in Giles county, Tenn., October 18, 1827. When he was four years old, his father moved to Adams county, Ills., where he lived five years, then came to Van Buren county, Iowa, where they lived about nine years. In the spring of 1845, he came to Wyacondah township, and in the spring of 1852, he went to California, being five months on the way. After mining three years, he returned and purchased his present farm, and moved on it in 1857. He was married to Miss Rebecca Radee of this county. Eight children have been born to them, six now living: Effie Jane, Emma A., Ida May, Clara Francis, Mary Elizabeth, J. Wm., and two deceased, Geo. B. and Minnie. Mr. Wray has a good farm of 183 acres, a good house, barn and orchard. He was raised a farmer and educated in the common schools. He is a member of Masonic Lodge No. 217 and of the M. E. Church.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


G. W. Wray

G. W. Wray, lives on section 7, postoffice Pulaski; was born in Giles comity, Tenn., March 7, 1830. When he was quite young, his father moved to Adams county, Ills., where they lived five years: then moved to Van Buren county, Iowa. In l845, they came to this county, settling in Wyacondah township. He was raised a farmer and received a common school education. In 1852, in company with his brother, he went to California, returned to this county in 1855, and moved on his present farm in 1857. He was married February 14, 1857, to Miss Louisiana Miller. They have six children: Henry Frank, Mary E., Martha J., Reuben, Albert and John. He has a fine farm of 140 acres, all in cultivation. Mr. W. is a Mason, belonging to Quitman Lodge, No. 217 and also one of the standbys in the M. E. Church.

Submitted by Cathy Danielson


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