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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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he transformed this once wild tract into
a fine farm, upon which he continued to
reside throughout his active business ca-
reer. He afterward sold a part of the
farm, but retained forty acres up to the
time of his death, which occurred April
21. 1878, when he was eighty-one years
of age. He had for some years survived
his wife, who died in 1865, at the age of
sixty-five years, the burial being made in
Farfel cemetery. 'Mrs. Lee was born in
eastern Tennessee east of Nashville, in
1800, and later her people removed to
Illinois, where she was married. In the
family of John and Charity (Smith) Lee
were twelve children. Eliza Ann became
the wife of William Miller and is now de-
ceased. Jane married John Redfearn and
has also passed away. Sarah became the
wife of John D. Hale and is deceased.
Elmira is the deceased wife of Isaac Red-
fearn. Samuel is living in New London
and is one of the venerable and respected
pioneer residents of this part of the state.
John has passed away. Julia Ann is the
wife of James Crawford. Sr., who is men-
tioned on another page of this volume.
\Mlliam is living in New London, but at
the present writing is visiting in Cali-
fornia. Thomas B. is the subject of this
review. Polly Ann is the deceased wife
of Stephen Lewis. Charity Ann mar-
ried John Lewis and has also passed

away. Louisa, who completes the family,
is the deceased wife of Newton Jones.

Thomas Brunce Lee was reared to
manhood amid the wild scenes and envi-
ronments of pioneer life when much of
the land was still in its primitive condi-
tion, when the streams were unbridged
and the forests uncut and when the work
of progress and development lay largely
in the future. He shared with the famil}^
in the hardships and trials incident to
pioneer life and also in the pleasures
which were common in those early days.
His education was gained in one of the
old-time subscription schools, but later
a free school was established, its sessions
being held in an old log building with
slab benches, puncheon floor and other
primitive furnishings. The desk was
made by laying a rough board upon
wooden pins driven into the wall and the
school session was of short duration, be-
ing held principally through the winter
months, for the labors of the children
needed upon the farm throughout the re-
mainder of the year. When not busy
with his text-books Mr. Lee was engaged
in farm labor and he continuously fol-
lowed the occupation as a life work until
1 88 1, when he removed to New London,
where he has since lived retired. He
purchased two hundred and seven acres
of land on section 12, New London
township. He carried on general farm-
ing and stock-raising, bringing his fields
under a high state of cultivation and also
raising a good grade of stock, whereby
his income was materially increased, for
he always found a ready sale on the mar-
ket for the products of his place.

On the 7th of August, 1862, Mr. Lee



enlisted at New London as a member
of Company K. Twenty-fifth Iowa In-
fantry and was mustered into the army at
Mount Pleasant. The regiment was as-
signed to General Sherman's command
and he participated in all of the battles
and skirmishes with the Twenty-fifth
Iowa. They were in almost constant
fighting and he also participated in the
march to the sea. He took part in the
battle of Arkansas Post, Vicksburg and
the siege of that city, the battle of Look-
out Mountain, Chattanooga. Missionary
Ridge, Ringgold. Kenesaw Mountain,
Resaca and Columbia, South Carolina,
the Twenty-fifth Iowa being the first reg-
iment to enter the last named city. Mr.
Lee was also in the engagements at Sa-
vannah, Georgia, at Buford, South Caro-
lina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and at
Goldsboro. being at the last named place
at the time of General Lee's surrender.
He took part in other engagements of
lesser importance and was also in the
grand review in Washington, D. C,
where the victorious army marched
through the streets of the city amid the
cheers of thousands who rejoiced that
the war had been brought to a successful
close. He was mustered out at Daven-
port, Iowa, and then returned to Henry
county, where he resumed his farming

On the 9th of March, 1873, Mr. Lee
was united in marriaee to Miss Eliza-
beth Bridges, a daughter of Napoleon
and Sarah (Hackleman) Bridges and a
native of Des Moines county, born in
Pleasant Grove township. Mr. Lee is
one of the worthy and prominent citizens
of Henry county. He belongs to the

Methodist Episcopal church, in which he
has for many years served as trustee. Po-
litically he is a republican, but without as-
piration for office, preferring to give his
time and energies to his business affairs
in former years. His careful conduct of
his farming interests and his utilization
of the resources at his command made
him one of the prosperous agriculturists
of the community and now with a com-
fortable competence he is living retired
in New London.



Judge Washington Irwin Bablx lawyer,
legislator and promoter of community in-
terests whose activity in connection with
affairs of state as well as with matters of
local progress has made him a distin-
guished and representative citizen of
Mount Pleasant, is particularly well
known as a leader of the Henr}^ county
bar. He was born in what is now Sperry
Station, Des Moines county, Iowa, Octo-
ber 2, 1844, his parents being Miles and
Mary (Mbyer) Babb. His paternal grand-
parents were John and Susan Babb, the
former a native of Wilkesbarre, Pennsyl-
vania, and was descended from one of the
old families of the Keystone state, his fa-
ther being a soldier of the Revolutionary
war. He was reared and educated in the
Keystone state and Avas married there. In
1837 he went to Des Moines county,
Iowa, and was one of its early settlers.
There he entered land from the govern-



ment and purchased additional property
until his holdings embraced twelve hun-
dred acres at Sperry Station. In his busi-
ness affairs he prospered, becoming one of
the most successful and extensive farmers
of his locality. His religious faith was
indicated by his membership in the Metho-
dist church, and the active part which he
took in promoting the moral progress of
his community. His son, Miles Babb, was
born in Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, in
1818, and acquired his education in the
public schools there. His father was
owner of a coal mine and he became con-
nected with mining interests. In 1837 he
accompanied the family on the removal
to Iowa, where he was married in 1843 to
Miss Mary Moyer. In 1850 he went to
California, where he acted as superin-
tendent of the Bay State Mining Company.
There his death occurred in 1852, when he
was killed by the caving in of a tunnel.
He left a widow and two children, Wash-
ington I. and Belle A., who became Mrs.
Mansfield and is dean of the Art and Mu-
sical College, at DePauw University, at
Greencastle, Indiana. Mrs. Babb, the
mother, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsyl-
vania, and made her home in Sperry Sta-
tion until i860, when she came to Mount
Pleasant, W'here her death occurred in
March, 1895.

Judge Babb pursued his early education
in the public schools of his native county
and his more specifically literar}'- education
in the Iowa Wesleyan University, from
which he was graduated in 1866, with the
degree of Bachelor of Arts. In the mean-
time, however, he had espoused the coun-
try's call for troops, enlisting as a mem-
ber of Company E, Eighth Iowa Cavalry,

in the spring of 1863 and served until the
close of the war. He served in the Armv
of the Cumberland under General Thomas
and participated in the Atlanta campaign
and the battles of Franklin and Nash-
^•ille. He was then under command of
General Wilson in the spring of 1865, in
the Alabama campaign taking part in the
engagement at Selma and ^lontgomery,
proceeded to Macon, Georgia, and was at
that place when the war closed. He re-
ceived an honorable discharge in August,
1865, with the rank of sergeant.

Following the close of his military serv-
ice Judge Babb completed his collegiate
course and then entered upon a preparation
for the practice of law as a student in the
office of H. & R. Ambler, then the
leading attorneys of Mount Pleasant.
Admitted to the bar, he began prac-
tice January i, 1868, forming a part-
nership with his former preceptors un-
der the firm style of Ambler & Babb,
a connection which was continued until
January, 1873, when he became a partner
of John S. Woolson, afterward United
States district judge, their business rela-
tions being maintained until Judge Babb
went upon the bench, Januar}^ i, 1891.
In their practice they had been very suc-
cessful in l30th the state and United States
courts, and on the bench Judge Babb made
a record in harmony with his record as a
man and lawyer distinguished by a mas-
terful grasp of every problem which was
presented for solution and by a fairness
and impartiality in his decisions that won
him high encomiums.

Following his retirement from the
bench he entered upon active practice with
ludge Withrow, and the firm of Babb &



Withrow had a continuous existence un-
til 1897, when the latter was appointed
district judge. At that time the present
law firm of Babb & Babb was estal3lished
and in connection with the most important
litigation tried in the courts of the district
receives a liberal clientage.

Judge Babb has an analytical mind, is
strong in argument and logical in his con-
clusions, and moreover he has continued
the reading of law until he 1ms a thorough
mastery of the principles of both criminal
and civil law, while before the courts and
on the bench he has made a notable record
and has at the same time extended his ac-
tivities in other fields wherever the inter-
ests of the public have been conserved. A
champion of democratic principles he was
elected upon that ticket to the office of
state legislator in 1883, serving in the
twentieth general assembly, wherein he be-
came connected with much important con-
structive legislation. He served on the
judicial, road and school committees but
on the minority side. He was instru-
mental in securing the appropriation for
additional wings for the insane hospital
and aside from party measures did effect-
ive service in the general assembly. In
1895 he was nominated as democratic can-
didate for governor and received a strong
party vote, while in 1896 he was the demo-
cratic nominee for United States sena-
tor. Elected to the bench for the second
judicial district he had jurisdiction at that
time over eight counties — Henry, Jeffer-
son, Wapello, Monroe, Lucas, Appanoose,
Davis, and Van Buren. He served for four
years and the equity and soundness of his
decisions were rarely called into question.
During the past eight years he has been

one of the regents of the State University
of Iowa, while in community affairs he
has taken a most active and helpful part,
contributing in substantial measure to
the progress of his city. He has been
president of the library board of Mount
Pleasant from its organization and was
active in securing the Carnegie library.
For thirty-four years he was one of the
trustees of the Iowa Wesleyan University
and chairman of its executive committee.
With a mind trained for close investiga-
tion, he readily comprehends the various
sides of each question which affect the pub-
lic welfare, and in his efforts for general
progress and improvement his labors have
been practical and far-reaching in result.

Judg-e Babb was married on the 9th of
October, 1873, to Miss Alice Bird, a
daughter of Dr. Bird, one of the promi-
nent early physicians of Iowa, who arrived
in Mount Pleasant in 1849. They have
two sons and a daughter now li\'ing, one
daughter, Clara Belle, having died some
years ago: Max W., a practicing attor-
ney, of Chicago, now general counsel for
the Allis-Chalmers Company; Miles T.,
who is with the AAxstern Wheel Scraper
Company, of Aurora, Illinois, and Alice,
at home. Judge Babb attends and sup-
ports the Methodist Episcopal church, of
which his wife and children are members.
He holds membership relations in Mount
Pleasant Lodge, No. 8, Ancient Free and
Accepted Masons, of which he has been
worshipful master and also representative
to the grand lodge. He belongs to Henry
chapter, No. 8, Royal Arch Masons, Jeru-
salem commandery, Knights Templar, of
which he has been eminent commander and
has likewise been representative to the



grand commandery and ser\-ed as grand
commander of the state in 1894. He affili-
ates with Kaaba temple of the Mystic
Shrine at Davenport and with McFarland
post, Grand Anny of the Republic. His
varied public service, the extent of his in-
fluence, his activity in political and legal
circles make him a prominent citizen of
Henry county and one to \\-hom the state
points with pride as an honored son.


John W. Hobbs is a representative agri-
culturist of Tippecanoe township, where
he owns two hundred and twenty-six acres
of valuable land. It is a good farm im-
proved with substantial buildings that
stand in the midst of highly cultivated
fields. He also raises fruit and has placed
upon his farm all modern equipments so
that he now has a valuable and productive
property. His birth occurred in Tippecanoe
township on the 24th of October, i860, his
parents being Nathaniel and Lydia (Ro-
ark) Hobbs, the father a native of Wash-
ington county, Pennsylvania, and the
mother of Indiana.

Nathaniel Hobbs has always been an ex-
tensive farmer, in connection with his
trade of plasterer, which he learned at an
early age. He was always known among
his fellow men as an honest and upright
man, and one whose word could always be
depended upon. Politically he was a demo-
crat, and though at the advanced age of
seventy-six years, he still takes an active
interest in public affairs.

Nathaniel Hobbs was the fa/ther of four
children, two of whom are still living-
Louisa, deceased, wife of Warren Free-
man, of Tippecanoe township, Phoebe, de-
ceased, wife of LaFayette Housel, of Tip-
pecanoe township; John W., subject of this
sketch; and Mrs. Cora Said, of Center

J(jhn W. Hobbs attended the district
schools in his youth and lived with his
parents up to the time of his marriage,
which was celebrated on the nth of April,
1888, Miss Dora Underbill becoming his

Dora Underbill, the daughter of Elisha
P. and Margaret (Johnson) Underbill,
was born in Clark county, Missouri, Sep-
tember 25, 1867, but has lived the greater
part of her life in HeniT county, Iowa,
where she received her education. She
attended Howe's Academy during the win-
ter of 1885-1886, and taught several
terms of school later. She is a ver)^ in-
telligent and refined woman, and endears
herself to all her friends as well as mak-
ing an excellent impression on all casual

Elisha P. Underbill was bom in Mon-
roe county. New York, near Rochester,
on June 2, 1842. He was of a family of
nine children, his father being of English
origin, and his mother of Irish descent. At
the age of nine Elisha removed with his
parents to Illinois, where he was educated
for the medical profession, but not liking
that vocation, he dropped it and pursued
farming. In 1861, when our nation called
for troops, he responded to his country's
call, and enlisted in a Kansas regiment.
Later he was in the Cjuartermaster's de-
partment, at Fort Smith, Kansas, and



crossed the plains twice. On November
29, 1866, he was married to Margaret E.
Johnson, born in Lee county, Iowa, May
19, 1849, of Scotch and German ances-
try, to which union w^ere born four chil-
dren : Dora, the wife of the subject of
our sketch; Charles E., of Tippecanoe
township; Susie, married to Mr. Lieben-
dorfer; and Maggie, who died in infancy.
After having lived an honorable life and
proving" himself to be a loyal citizen,
Elisha Underbill was called home on the
2d of April, 1879. Hs widow was united
in marriage to G. AV. Laird on the 2d of
IMay, 1880, to which union were born two
children : George F. and Shemian H.,
both residents of Mount Pleasant.

For three years after his marriage the
subject of this sketch continued to reside
upon the old homestead farm, to which he
had removed, making his home there
for seven vears, during which time he
brought his fields under a high state of
cultivation. His annual sale of crops
brought him a good income and through
his industiy and economy he was at length
enabled to secure the capital which per-
mitted of his purchase of one hundred
and forty-five acres of rich and arable land
on section 11, Tippecanoe township. This
was the old homestead property, and he
afterward bought eighty-one acres just
across the road on section 15, of the same
township. The years have w'itnessed many
changes in the place, for he has made ex-
cellent improvements. He has set out
apple, peach, pear, and cherry trees, has
built a residence of eight rooms, and in
1905 built a hay barn, fifty-three by forty-
eight feet. Another very valuable im-
provement is a well drilled two hundred

and eighty-seven and one-half feet deep,
which furnishes him with an abundant
supply of pure cold water. Annually he
plants from thirty to forty acres to corn
and has twenty acres drilled in wheat and
ten acres in oats. He also uses consider-
able land for the raising of hay and pas-
turage. He carries on general farming,
and in connection with the tilling of the
soil he devotes his attention to the raising
of shorthorn and Hereford cattle, having
from twenty to thirty head each year. He
also raises draft horses and Duroc Jersey
hogs, having about fifty head annually.
The farm is lacking in none of the appoint-
ments of a model property, and in fact is
a splendidly developed place, indicating in
its attractive appearance the careful su-
pervision of a practical and enterprising

Mr. Hobbs has always lived in Tippe-
canoe township, and therefore has for
more than forty-five years been a witness
of its growth and changes, taking an active
and helpful interest in everything pertain-
ing to its progress and development. He
votes W'ith the democracy, but is without
aspiration for otfice. He, with his wife,
attends and supports the Union church,
and he has led an upright, honorable life,
in consi.stent harmony with his pro-


Lucius J\I. Wells is one of the vener-
able and honorable citizens of Henry
county, having now attained the age of



eighty-two years. He was for a long
period actively interested in farming and
did much for the improvement of this
part of the county. Now he is largely
enjoying a well earned rest, but still gives
personal supervision to his farming inter-
ests. His birth occurred in St. Clair-
ville, Belmont county, Ohio, on the 26th
of September, 1824. His father, Abner
Wells, was born in the eastern part of
Virginia on what was called Apple Pie
ridge, his parents being Abner and Debo-
rah (Haines) Wells, the former a na-
tive of Wales and the latter of England.
Abner Wells, Jr., was reared in Vir-
ginia and in Ohio and was married in the
latter state to Miss Martha Murphy,
whose birth occurred near Uniontown.
Pennsylvania, and who was a daughter
of Benjamin Murphy, also a native of
the Keystone state. Mr. and Mrs. Wells
had been resident of Ohio from 1802
and were thus numbered among the early
settlers who had made their Avay across
the mountains into the Buckeye state and
assisted in reclaiming it from the domain
of savages for the use of the white men.
They spent more than a half century in
Ohio and in 1854 came to Henry county.
Iowa, where Mr. Wells purchased two
hundred acres of wild prairie land in
Canaan township. Of this he gave one
hundred acres to his son Lucius and the
remaining one hundred acres to his son
Richard, while he made his home in
Mount Pleasant, where he continued to
reside up to the time of his demise, which
occurred December 23, 1876. His wife
passed away in August, 1881. Mr. Wells
and his son Lucius conducted a tavern
on the pike for seventeen years, but

neither father nor son ever took a drink
of liquor.

In the old-time subscription schools of
Ohio Lucius M. Wells accjuired his edu-
cation, although his privileges in that 'di-
rection were somewhat limited. He was
reared amid pioneer surroundings, shar-
ing in the hardships and trials as well as
the pleasures and privileges of pioneer
life. He also aided in- the arduous task
of developing new land and he continued
a resident of Ohio until 1854, when he
came with his parents to Iowa and re-
ceived from his father one hundred acres
of land, situated in the southwestern part
of Canaan township, on section 5. Here
he hrst broke forty acres of prairie land,
remaining upon the new farm until the
2 1 St of January, 1855, when a great snow
fell — memorable in the history of the
county. Feeling that they wished the
comforts and shelter of the town, he and
his wife started to Mount Pleasant with
a two-horse wagon and were all day in
making the trip, covering a distance of
ten miles. When the weather made fur-
ther labor possible Mr. Wells returned to
the farm and continued the work of im-
proving his place until 1865, when he
traded that property for one hundred and
sixty acres of land on section 8, Canaan
township. The land which his father
purchased cost but four dollars per acre,
owing to the unimproved condition and
the fact that the country was so thinly
settled. The place which he got in trade
for his original farm had a shanty upon
it and also a prairie stable, while forty
acres of the land had been broken and
had been fenced with a two-rail fence.
Mr. ^Vel1s broke the remainder of the



land, following the breaking plow as the
sod was turned, afterward going over it
with a harrow and later planting his
fields, which in due course of time
brought forth good harvests. He also
enclosed his farm with a board fence and
as opportunity permitted he added all
modern equipments and accessories to his
place. He built a house of seven rooms,
likewise a good barn. A thorough sys-
tem of draining makes his land very
arable. He continued to successfully
carry on general farming" until 1901,
when he retired from active business life
and took up his abode in Mount Pleas-
ant, but after a year he returned to the
home farm, where he is now living.

On the 8th of August, 1850, in Ohio,
Mr. Wells was united in marriage to Miss
Louise Attlesey, who was born in Eng-
land and is a daughter of William Attle-
sey. They became the parents of
eight children: William E., who is liv-
ing in Kansas; Anna E., the wife of
William Spittle, a resident of Canaan
township; Leslie, who is living in Des
Moines county ; Justin, of Washington
county, Kansas ; Harry, who resides in
Canaan township; James and Pearl, both
of whom died in infancy, and Eulalia,
who became the wife of George Tallman
and died in 1889, at the age of thirty-five
years. The first wife of Mr. Wells died
in July, 1 87 1, and was buried upon the
old home farm. He afterward wedded
Mary Newkirk, the widow of Elias Hill-
yard. She had one child by her former
marriage, Estella, who is now the wife
of Edward Norbc^m, of Canaan town-
ship. Mrs. Wells was born in Wiscon-
sin and is a daughter of John and Sarah

(Harris) Newkirk, who were natives of
Oneida countv. New York. L'nto Mr.
and Mrs. Wells have been born five chil-
dren : Laura B., who is now the wife of
\\'illiam S. Bird, who resides upon the
old home farm; Blondeen, the wife of
Frank Short, of Canaan township ; Eva
Aiyrtle, now the wife of John Krieger,
who was born in Flint River township,
Des Moines county, Iowa, on November
13, 1882, and son of Frederick and Rickie
(Scaele) Krieger. The father is a promi-
nent farmer of Flint River township, Des
Moines county, Iowa ; Richard Earl and
Flossie Marion are at home.

Mr. Wells has now advanced far on
the journey of life and can look back over
the past without regret and forward to
the future without fear, for he has ever
lived honorably and peaceably with his
fellow men. He votes with the Republican
party and has served as school director
and township supervisor. Since 1865 he
has been a member of the Methodist Epis-

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 4 of 85)