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Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. online

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Online LibraryHobart Publishing Company (Chicago)Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. → online text (page 39 of 85)
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and the mother country he announced his
allegiance to the former and for seven
years served with the Pennsylvania troops
in the war for independence. He joined
the army as a private, but meritorious ser-
vice on the field of battle won him promo-
tion to a sergeant. He had four brothers
wdio also served for seven years in the
Revolutionary war. and their descend-
ants have won honor and fame in public
and business life until the name of Porter
is a familiar one in American history.
After the establishment of the new repub-
lic Robert Porter removed from Pennsyl-

vania to Millersburg, Bourbon county,
Kentucky, and his death occurred in Pen-
dleton county, that state, in 1825, when
he was laid to rest with military honors.

Watson Porter, Colonel Porter's fa-
ther, was reared in Millersburg and was
there married to Miss Elizabeth Barnett,
a daughter of Elder Barnett, of that place.
He survived his father for only four
years, passing away in Pendleton county
in 1829. In the year 1830 his widow
emigrated with her family, numbering a
daughter and seven sons, of whom
Asbury Porter was the eldest, from Ken-
tucky to Georgetown, Vermillion county,
Illinois, where they remained for five
years and it was during that period that
Colonel Porter formed the acquaintance
of Miss Martha Brazelton, whom he mar-
ried on the 19th day of January, 1835.
She was born in Guilford county. North
Carolina, January 25, 1818, and in her
early girlhood was taken by her parents
to Illinois, the Brazeltons becoming a
prominent pioneer family of that state.
Her father, Samuel Brazelton. was com-
missioned general during the Black Hawk
war. In 1835 he removed to Iowa and
spent his remaining days in Henry county,
wdiere he passed away in November,
i860, being laid to rest with military Ikmi-
ors by a company of militia called the
Mount Pleasant Greys, which company
afterward served as Company F in the
First Regiment of Iowa Volunteers in the
war of the rebellion.

In the year of his marriage Asbury
Bateman Porter, in company with Gen-
eral Samuel Brazelton and Robert Caulk,
came to this state and purchased large
tracts of land in what is now Henry



county. They recognized the possibihties
for development in this pioneer district,
built cabins, planted crops and in 1836
moved their families to Henry county,
which was then a part of the Wisconsin
territory. Locating near the present site of
Trenton, Colonel Porter was one of three
men who established that town in 1837.
He did much for the municipality, largely
promoting its -growth and development,
and he was instrumental in securing a
grant for a territorial road from Fort
Madison to that place. In 1852 Colonel
Porter laid out the town of W infield and
named it and the township in honor of
General Winfield Scott. Deeply inter-
ested in the general welfare, he was
closely associated with the important
events which framed the history of Iowa
in the early days, and for three terms he
represented his district in the territorial
legislature, being a member of the first
session that met in the old Zion church in
Burlington. His incumbency covered the
years of 1838, 1841 and 1842, and while
in the general assembly he labored zeal-
ously for the interests of Mount Pleasant
and associated with others, nearly
approached success in securing the terri-
torial capital for Mount Pleasant, the city
losing the temporary honor by a very
close vote. He was a member of the
legislature when it convened in the first
capitol building at Iowa City and was
connected with much important construc-
tive legislation in those early days in the
formative period of the state. In 1847
he was chosen clerk of Henry county and
in 1849 was re-elected.

Colonel Porter was the friend and
associate of many political leaders of

national prominence whose statesmanship
have made their names honored through-
out the land and have caused them to be
indelibly inscribed on the pages of his-
tory. Intensely patriotic, he had great
admiration for that quality in others and
recognized in Henry Clay one of the
greatest American patriots, and gave him
his most earnest support in the two
national conventions which nominated
Clay for the presidency. In his visits to
Kentucky he w^as an honored guest of the
Clay home in Ashland. In the early '30s
he formed the acquaintance of Abraham
Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, and first
mutually attracted by the fact that they
were both Kentuckians, a warm friend-
ship sprang up between them and Colenel
Porter, by special invitation of President
Lincoln, was a guest at the first inaugural
ceremonies of Lincoln's administration.
Many of the men of Iowa who have made
national reputations owe much to the
efforts of Colonel Porter in their behalf
for he was untiring in his zeal to further
the interests of his friends, among whom
were Senator James W. Grimes, Senator
James Harlan, Governor Samuel Kirk-
wood and many others.

Equally distinguished was Colonel
Porter's services in the military depart-
ment of this country. At the time of
the inauguration of the Civil Avar he was
captain of Mount Pleasant Greys, a local
military organization and although
exempt from military service because of
his age his attachment to the Union was
so strong as to lead him to offer his ser-
vices to his country and no greater loy-
alty or valor was displayed upon southern
battlefields than Colonel Porter mani-



fested in his defense of the stars and
stripes. W^ith his company he went to
Keokuk, Iowa, where he was mustered
into service in Company F, of the First
Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. This was
the only regiment of Iowa troops that
responded to the first call from the gov-
ernment for seventy-five thousand men.
Colonel Porter was elected major and
with the regiment was assigned to duty
under General Nathaniel Lyon in Alis-
souri doing scouting and skirmishing
duty and the character of the service is
indicated by the fact that the regiment
was termed by General Lyon the Iowa
Greyhounds. \\'hen the regular term of
enlistment had expired there was a pros-
pect of battle with the enemy and General
Lyon requested the First Iowa to remain.
A vote was taken upon the subject and the
men unanimously decided to stay, which
they did until after the engagement at
Wilson Creek in August of that year.
That was one of the most hotly contested
engagements of the war and the one
which cost General Lyon his life. The
history of this battle records the follow-
ing reference to Major Porter: "Major
Porter who was on horseback and in the
thickest of the fight displayed a coolness
and courage that more than sustained his
previous reputation, and his son, a private
in Company F, and color bearer — "Wat"
— as we called him, acted more like a
veteran of a hundred battles than a raw
prairie boy of twenty-two."

A week before this engagement Gen-
eral Lyon wrote to the secretary of war
recommending that Major Porter be
made a major in the regular army and
asking that he be assigned to duty under

him but Major Porter preferred to remain
in the volunteer service. Upon his return
home he received authority from the sec-
retary of war to raise and equip the
Fourth Regiment of Iowa Cavalry. He
was commissioned colonel of the regiment
in October, 1861, and was authorized by
the war department to select and buy all
of the horses for his regiment without
restriction — the only incident known
where the commander of any regiment
during the war was given this privilege.
The Fourth Iowa Cavalry left camp at
Mount Pleasant for active service twelve
hundred strong, each company mounted
on horses of the same general size and
each company's mounts were of uniform
color. They joined General Curtis's com-
mand in Missouri and Arkansas but after
a time, owing to ill health and failing eye-
sight Colonel Porter was obliged to resign
his commission. His resignation being
accepted he was honorably discharged
Alarch 9, 1S63. In civic life, however, he
continued to render signal service to his
country and following his return home
was made goverment inspector for the
first congressional district of Iowa.

Prior to the war Colonel Porter was
for twenty years engaged in merchandis-
ins: in southeastern Iowa with a business
which in volume and importance indi-
cated his splendid executive force, keen
discrimination and enterprise. He had
the faculty of carrying forward to suc-
cessful completion whatever he undertook
and of so marshaling his command as to
bring about the desired result.

As the years passed eight children
were added to the home of Colonel and
Mrs. Porter: Watson Brazelton, who



was born in Georgetown, Illinois in 1836;
Emily, who was born in Henry county in
1839 and is the widow of Dr. A. W. Mc-
Clure; Luzena, who was born in Trenton
in 1842, and married Captain Warren
Beckwith, passing away in 1880; Sarah,
who was born in Trenton in 1845, ^-^^^ is
the widow of Captain Beckwith; Samuel,
who was born in Mount Pleasant in 1 847 ;
Frank P., born in Mount Pleasant in
1850; Jane Craig, who was born in
Mount Pleasant in 1854, and is the wife
of James P. Bean ; and Asbury B., who
was born in Mount Pleasant in 1859.
Colonel Porter was one of the few pio-
neers who spent a half century in Henry
county. In the year of their marriage he
and his wife came to this section of the
state and lived to celebrate their golden
wedding here in 1885. Not long after,
in the month of July, Colonel Porter was
called to his final rest, while his wife sur-
vived him until July, 1895. She was a
lady of splendid qualities, her good traits
of heart and mind endearing her to all
with whom she came in contact. She pos-
sessed a most kindly, genial nature, never
provoking enmity and she won the respect
and affection of all, sharing with her hus-
band in many of the warm friendships
which he formed. His life of activity
brought him into close connection with
Iowa's history through fifty years. He
possessed unbounded energy and the
quick discernment of the conditions of
public prosperity and the readiness to
organize forces to bring about that end.
His labors were resultant factors 'in the
development of his time and of work for
the permanent good of the state, and his
name should be inscribed upon the key-

stone of Iowa's arch of fame for he lived
and labored to goodly ends for a long
period in this state and was then laid to
rest with its honored dead.


Asbury B. Porter, the youngest son
of Colonel Asbury B. Porter and one of
the grandsons of General Samuel Brazel-
ton. was born in Henry county in January,
1858, and has lived in Mount Pleasant all
his life. He was educated in the public
schools, but left school at sixteen years of
age to join an engineering corps of the
Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company
under the management of his brother-in-
law, Captain ^^^arren Beckwith. He spent
his early life in the profession, having
charge of a corps who surveyed the route
from Ogden to Helena, Montana. Later
becoming tired of such work he was
appointed mail agent and served the gov-
ernment for eight years. ]\Iore recently
he has been employed by the New York
Life Insurance Company.

In 1890 he was married to Miss Har-
riet Bennet and they have six living chil-
dren : Ruth Emily, Paul Asbury, Martha
Ann, Robert Frank and Richard, having
lost by death two — Asbury and Theo-


Robert Alfred Graves is one of the
extensive land owners of Henry county,
having three hundred and seventeen acres



on sections i8, 19 and 20, Salem town-
ship. His home is on section 19 and he
carries on general farming and stock-
raising, making a specialty of horses, cat-
tle and hogs. He was born in Wells
county, Indiana, November 21, 1853, a
son of Aaron and Sarah Ann (Harvey)
Graves, the former a native of Connecti-
cut and the latter of Virginia. The pater-
nal grandfather was Ezra Graves and the
maternal grandfather was a Mr. Harvey,
who served as a major during the war of
1 81 2. Aaron Graves and Mary Harvey
were married in Ohio and were identified
with farming interests in that state until
the fall of 1854. They then went to Indi-
ana and after a year drove from that state
to Iowa, crossing the IMississippi river at
Burlington, whence they went on to Hills-
boro, where they established their home.
In 1858, Mr. Graves, accompanied by John
Huffstetter, David Cox and Robert Elar-
ton, drove a yoke of steers through to
Pike's Peak, where they prospected, but
after about three weeks Mr. Graves
became homesick and returned again to
Iowa accompanied by his companions,
who had enjoyed the trip no more than he
had done. The journey was made in a
similar manner to the outgoing trip. Mr.
Graves afterward gave his attention to
general agricultural pursuits until June,
1861, when in response to his country's
call for aid he enlisted as a member of
Company C, Twenty-fifth Iowa Volunteer
Infantry, with which he served until June,
1865. He then returned to Hillsboro,
where he began farming on a tract of land
two miles north of the village. He pur-
chased this, comprising eighty acres and
he resided thereon until March, 1870,

when his death occurred, the community
mourning the loss of one of its respected
and valued citizens. His wife resided upon
the old home farm until 1882, when she
sold the property to her son, Robert A.,
and bought for herself a home in Hills-
boro. This was the same place upon
^^"hich stood the old family home to which
she went on coming to this state from
Indiana. She is still living, having
reached the advanced age of eighty-fi\'e

Robert A. Graves remained under the
parental roof until twenty-thre^ years of
age, when he started out in life on his
own account, being employed on a farm
in \^an Buren county. There he worked
until February i, 1876, which was his
wedding day. He married Miss Sarah
Ann Craig, who was born in iNIount
Pleasant, Iowa, August 14, 1855, a
daughter of Alexander and Ann ( Clarke)
Craig, the former a native of Pennsyl-
vania and the latter of Yorkshire, Eng-
land. In 1866, Mr. and Mrs. Craig
became residents of Iowa, settling in
Mount Pleasant. JNIrs. Graves was edu-
cated in the Central school of Mount
Pleasant and the common schools of
Hillsboro. By this marriage there have
been born four children : Rex Vail, born
September 24, 1878, is married and
resides in Buchanan county, Iowa. J\lae
Belle, born May 13, 1880, is the wife of
G. E. Newbold, of Van Buren county,
a nephew of the late Governor Newbold ;
Craig Earnest, born November 24, 1881,
is married and resides in Hillsboro, where
he is engaged in clerking in a hardware
store. Josie Emma, born October 31.
1894, is at home.



After his marriage Mr. Graves re-
moved to his present place of residence
in Salem township, the property belong-
ing to his wife's mother and coming into
possession of himself and wife on the
death of Mrs. Sutton who was formerly
Mrs. Craig, March 3, 1895. Mr. Craig
had died in October, 1863, while serving
as a member of the Union army. The
farm comprises eighty-five acres of land
which is naturally productive and arable
and which has been brought to a still bet-
ter condition through the development
and efforts of Mr. Graves. That he has
prospered in his undertakings is shown
by the fact that from time to time he has
added to the property until he now owns
three hundred and seventeen acres on sec-
tions 18, 19 and 20, Salem township.
Here he raises various cereals and also
horses, cattle and hogs, his stock interests
being an important part of his business.
In 1890 he improved his farm by the erec-
tion of a fine residence of eight rooms and
in 1903 he installed a furnace, so that the
house is heated throughout. It has other
modern equipments and conveniences and
is a pleasant and attractive home. Mr.
Graves has also built a barn, thirty-six
by forty-eight feet, which he erected in
1888. He has about one hundred acres
of timber pasture and the remainder of
his land is under cultivation, returning
annually golden harvests as a reward for
the care and labor he bestows upon the
place. In his political views Mr. Graves
is a republican, active in local ranks of
his party and his fellow townsmen, recog-
nizing his worth and ability, have fre-
quently called him to office. He served
as constable for four years, was justice

of the peace for six years and township
trustee two terms, discharging the duties
of these various positions with prompt-
ness and fidelity. He is a Mason, belong-
ing to Belmont Lodge, No. 541, x\ncient
Free and Accepted Masons, of Hillsboro,
also a member of the Zerapath, Xo. 3,
Consistory thirty-second degree, at Da-
venport, Iowa. He also has membership
relations with Hillsboro Lodge, No. 373,
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Since
1894 he has been deacon of the Free Bap-
tist church, of which, with Mrs. Graves,
he has long been a devoted and faithful


Andrew Johnson, a contracting mason
who is conducting a good business with
offices and works located near the railroad
station in the Codner building, in New
London, is a native of Sweden, born on
the 1 2th of January, 1850. His father
was John Peterson, who in early man-
hood wedded Mary Swanson. They re-
mained residents of Sweden and in that
country Andrew Johnson of this review
was reared and educated, attending the
public schools. He came to America in
1870, when a young man of twenty years,
believing that he might enjoy better busi-
ness opportunities in the new world. He
landed in Burlington on the 12th of Jan-
uary, of that year, and having no capital,
it was necessary that he immediately se-
cure employment. He worked as a com-
mon laborer for a year or more, after



which he learned the mason's trade, with
the firm of Pestorius & Yager, of Bur-
Hngton. He contiued his residence in
that city until 1878, when he removed to
Pleasant Grove township, Des Moines
county, and bought forty acres of land
from Jacob Anderson, making his home
thereon for two years. He then put
buildings upon this place and partially im-
proved it, after which he sold the prop-
erty to a Mr. Nelson, and in the fall of
1880 came to New London, where he
began business on his own account as a
mason contractor. He has since followed
the business and has secured a liberal
patronage, many important contracts be-
ino- awarded him for the erection of sub-
stantial structures in this city. In 1905
he also began contracting in cement work,
doing block work, building sidewalks,
in fact, executing all kinds of work in ce-
ment. He had laid the foundations for
most of the best buildings of New Lon-
don and is a thorough and competent me-
chanic in his line, having a knowledge of
the actual work of his chosen vocation,
and at the same time thoroughly under-
standing the scientific principles which
underlie the builder's art.

In the fall of 1870 Mr. Johnson was
united in marriage to Miss Johanna An-
derson, and they became the parents of
five children. Hulda, the eldest, married
Magnus Wigert, and after his death be-
came the wife of Ed Shafer, her home
being now in Burlington. Charles is liv-
ing in New London and works wMth his
father. Frank is employed as a cook on
a train and lives in Chicago. Gilbert
makes his home in New London. John
is residing in Chicago. On the 25th of

December, 1885, Mr. Johnson was again
married, his second union being with Car-
olina Carlson, a daughter of Carl and
Anna (Peterson) Carlson. There are
four children of this marriage, \\'alter,
Albert, Mabel and Clifford, all at home.
In 1903 Mr. Johnson purchased his
present property of Mrs. Stetter, after
selling his former residence across the
road to D. W. Hodson. He had purchased
this in 1900 from Isaac Featerman. In
his religious faith Mr. Johnson is con-
nected with the Swedish Lutheran church
while politically he is independent. Fra-
ternally he is associated with New Lon-
don Lodge of Masons, and with the In-
dependent Order of Odd Fellows at New
London, having passed all of the chairs
in lodge No. 56. He has led an active
life in which untiring labor has been
crowned with success. He has worked
energetically and persistently year after
year, and though he started out in life
empty-handed, he is now numbered
among the substantial citizens of New
London, having ever displayed the ster-
ling characteristics of the Swedish race —
unfaltering industry, adaptability and un-
swerving integrity.


Among the successful and enterprising
young business men of New London are
many who were born and reared on the
farm and spent their boyhood days gain-
ing a foundation for a life of activity and



energy. Such a man is Frank Coiner
Spearman, son of Cornelius and Julia
Ann (Coiner) Spearman. He was born
in Jackson township, Henry county,
Iowa, June 5, 1873, received his early
education there and later attended school
in New London Center; in Mount Pleas-
ant at the academy, and at Burlington, at
Elliott's Business College.

Having been reared as a farmer, he
continued in this business until 1892,
when he purchased the livery stock of
Ed Snook and entered alone into this new
venture. He continued by himself until
1905, when he formed a partnership with
Grant W3^man, who had previously pur-
chased the livery of Wasson & Benson.
They were the leading liverymen of New
London and owned eighteen horses and
many neat and handsome vehicles. Their
place of business was situated on Main
street, adjoining the City Hotel. Mr.
Spearman recently sold the livery busi-
ness to D. H. Scott, and is now engaged
as manager of the City Hotel. Mr. Spear-
man is a member of the Mount Pleasant
Mystic Lodge, Chapter No. 35, Independ-
ent Order of Odd Fellows, where he is
an interested and valued member.

Politically he is independent in mu-
nicipal matters, while in national affairs
he votes with the Republican party.

On March 20, 1895, Mr. Spearman was
united in marriage to Gertrude Wyman,
a daughter of Henry and Augusta Wy-
man. They have two sons, DeVere, born
February 22, 1896, now a student in the
public schools of his home city ; and Har-
old Russell, born November 14, 1905.

The father of our subject, Cornelius
Spearman, still lives upon the home farm

with his daughter, Mrs. George Smith.
The mother died in 1878, being survived
by five children, Atella (Mrs. George
Smith) ; Mary, who died at the age of
twenty-two years; Leota, who died in
1889, at the age of eighteen years; and
Paul, who died in February, 1904, aged
twenty-nine years. He left a wife and two
children, who are now living in Mount

Frank Coiner Spearman is a young
man who in early life, when only nineteen
years of age started out for himself and
by perserverance and industry has forged
ahead until he is now a prosperous and
influential business man. He has many
friends and is counted as one of New
London's representative men.


Although many years have past since
Henry Miller Snyder was called to his
rest, yet he is remembered by a large
number of the early settlers of Mount
Pleasant and Henry county, who enter-
tain for him high regard and recognize
his noble qualities of manhood as well as
his business abilities.

He was born in Stanton, Virginia, Au-
gust, 1812. His parents, Henry Snyder
and Jane Dunnavan Snyder, were also na-
tives of the Old Dominion.

Henry Snyder, Sr., came to Illinois
prior to 1835, and after a short residence
there came to Mount Pleasant, Iowa,
where he spent the rest of his life, dying



AtfTttK LBTltfl AMD





in 1842, at the age of tifty-two years.
His wife passed away in 1844. He was
ever loyal to the interests of his country.
Both he and his wife were members of
the Methodist Episcopal church. Their
family consisted of eight children, of
whom Henry Miller, better known as Mil-
ler Snyder, was the eldest. He was in-
debted to the schools of his native state
for the educational privileges which he
enjoyed. His youth was spent in Vir-
ginia. In 1836 he came to Mount Pleas-
ant, Iowa, after a brief residence in Illi-

Online LibraryHobart Publishing Company (Chicago)Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. → online text (page 39 of 85)