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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 64 of 85)
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carried forward. There arenow splendidly people of the highest respectability and

improved farms with here and there a during a long residence in the county had

church and schoolhouse to indicate the become endeared to many friends,
intellectual and moral development of the Manly Mendenhall, the youngest of his

community. Towns and villages have father's familv, was onlv about three



years of age when brought by his parents
to Iowa and here he was reared, attending
the district schools of Salem township and
in the summer months assisting in the
labors of the fields. He has always lived
upon the old home place which his father
purchased on coming to the county and is
now the owner of the property, which
under his guidance has been transformed
into a valuable farm, lacking in none of
the modern improvements of the twen-
tieth century.

On the I St of October, 1895, Mr. Men-
denhall was married to Miss Elnora
Upton, \\ho was born in Tippecanoe
township, Henry county, and was a stu-
dent in the common schools. Her parents
were James and Catherine (Berry)
Upton, both of whom were natives of
Ohio. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Mendenhall
have been born two sons and a daughter :
Jolm Francis, born September 13, 1896;
Milton Leslie, March 29, 1898; and
Birdie Mildred, June 12, 1900.

Followdng his marriage Mr. Menden-
hall erected some of the buildings upon
the old home farm and repaired others.
He now has an attractive home, contain-
ing nine rooms besides halls and closets.
He inherited eighty acres of land from his
father and he also owned a twenty acre
tract adjoining and in connection with
this property he has forty-one acres of
timber on section 4, Salem township.
Each day finds him busy with the duties
of the farm as he plows and plants his
crops, tills the soil and eventually gathers
the harvests. He also has good grades of
stock upon his place, for in connection
with general farming he raises horses,
cattle, hogs and sheep. He makes a spe-

cialty of Poland China hogs, having a
good herd each year and also about forty
head of sheep and all of his stock is of
good grades. Wherever necessary Mr.
Mendenhall has tiled his land, transform-
ing it from a wet tract into a region of
rich fertility. He has carried on the work
of improvement so extensively and ca-
pably that he today now owns one of the
finest places in the township. In his busi-
ness life he is w'atchful of opportunities
pointing to success and in his utilization
of these has gained a desirable measure
of prosperity which is the coveted reward
of all business endeavor. He exercises
his right of franchise in support of the
men and measures of the Republican
party and for about five years he has
■served as school treasurer, but otherwise
has held no office, preferring to concen-
trate his energies upon his business inter-
ests, in which he has met with signal


Anions: the leading citizens that Sweden
has furnished to Henry county Charles
August Swanson is numbered. He was
born August 22d. 1849, a son of S. P. and
Christina Sophia Swanson. The parents
emigrated to the new world and made
their way to Buffalo, New York, where
the father worked at farm labor for two
vears. after which he spent two years in
the cultivation of a rented farm near
Rurlins^ton, Io\va. He next removed to
Jefferson county, this state, where he pur-



chased forty acres of land covered with
brush. Soon, however, he had the tract
cleared and was cultivating and improv-
ing it, residing thereon until February,
1864, when he came to Henry county.
Here he engaged in the operation of a
rented farm for four years, after which
he purchased eighty acres a mile and a
half south of Swedesburg, there living up
to the time of his death on the 29th of
September, 1893. His widow afterward
went to make her home with her children
and was with a son in Nebraska at the
time of her demise, which occurred in
June, 1905. Her remains, however, were
interred in Swedesburg cemetery.

Charles August Swanson accompanied
his parents on their emigration to the new
world and on their various removals up
to 1863, when he left home and joined an
uncle in Henderson county, Illinois, with
whom he remained until the fall of 1865.
He then returned home'and was employed
as a farm hand in the neighborhood until
twenty-two years of age, when he pur-
chased a team and with two brothers
bought a farm of one hundred and sixty
acres on section 21, Wayne township,
becoming owner of the tract about 1871.
They lived together for two years, at the
end of which time seventy acres became
the individual property of Mr. Swanson
of this review. He improved the place,
building a house and barn, drained the
land by the use of tiling and resided
thereon until the spring of 1894, when
he removed to a farm of one hundred and
eighty-five acres on sections 16 and 17,
Wayne township. There was an old
house and corn crib on the place and he
at once took up the work of further devel-

oping and improving the property, which
is now a well equipped farm, giving every
evidence of the careful supervision of the
owner, who is painstaking and progres-
sive. He erected his present residence,
containing eight rooms, building a horse
barn thirty-eight by twenty-eight feet
with eighteen foot posts and in 1902 built
a cattle and hay shed forty by forty-eight
feet. A year later, however, this was
destroyed by fire but in 1903 he built a
new shed of similar size. He has put in
about twenty thousand tile so that the
farm is well drained and the fields are
thereby rendered very productive. He
has also planted seventy-two apple, pear
and plum trees, has raspberries and straw-
berries and also a good vineyard upon his
place and his horticultural pursuits are
not the least important department of his
business. He has also set out about one
hundred pine trees for a windbreak, .and
altogether his farm is one of the best
improved properties in his section of the
county and the owner is meeting with
creditable and gratifying success.

On the 25th of December, 1873, Mr.
Swanson was united in marriage to Miss
Anna Sophia Anderson, who was born in
Jefferson county, low^a. May 17, 1850,
a daughter of Gust and Sophia Anderson,
both natives of Sweden. They became
residents of Jefferson county in 1850 and
it was there that the marriage of Mr. and
Mrs. Swanson was celebrated. Nine
children have been born unto them :
Everett G., born November 28, 1S74;
Nellie J., October 5, 1876; Ella S. M.,
July 28, 1881 : Minnie AI., January 10,
1883; Luther S., September 13. 1886;
Edith C., September 8, 1889; and Carl



Frederick S., May 24, 1893. Carl M.
and Minnie both died in infancy. Mr.
Swanson is a member of the Lutheran
church of Swedesburg, which he joined
on its organization in 1864. He has held
olitices in the church and also political
positions. He acted as supervisor of
roads for one term and he gives his politi-
cal allegiance to the Republican party.
The greater part of his life has been
passed in Iowa and he is a western man in
spirit and interests, displaying in his life
the qualities of enterprise and energy
which have been the dominant factors in
the rapid and substantial upbuilding of
this section of the country.


William Eisele, who follows farming
and stock-raising in Scott township, is a
native of Wurtemburg, Germany, born on
the 9th of January, 1868. His parents,
John J. and Magdalena (Beurer) Eisele,
were also natives of that country, and in
their family were four children, of whom
William was the only son. At the usual
age W^illiam Eisele entered the public
schools, acquiring a fair education. He
followed the occupation of farming in his
native country being connected with that
pursuit in Germany until his emigration
to America. On the 2d of October, 1894,
he arrived in Winfield and during the first
year of his residence in Henry county he
worked as a farm laborer but desirous
that his efiforts should more directly bene-

fit himself he rented a farm in Scott
township upon which he lived for a year
and then rented an adjoining farm. which
he cultivated for a year. Subsequently he
rented land in Louisa county, where he
lived for four years and on the expiration
of that period he invested the capital
which he had saved from his earnings in a
tract of eighty acres of land on the south-
east quarter of section 7, Scott township.
The purchase was made in 1901 and he
has since resided upon this farm, which
has greatly appreciated in value owing to
the care and cultivation which he has
bestowed upon it. He paid seventy dollars
per acre for the property and in the sum-
mer of 1905 was offered one hundred and
ten dollars. He carries on general farm-
ing and also raises cattle, hogs and horses,
having good grades of stock upon his
place, so that his business is proving
profitable for the products of the fields
and pastures find a ready sale upon the

On the 24th of November, 1894. Mr.
Eisele was united in marriage to ]\Iiss
Mary Eisele, who was born, reared and
educated in Wurtemburg, Germany,
being a daughter of William D. and Fred-
erica (Zimmer) Eisele. who are still liv-
ing in the fatherland. Unto Mr. and
Mrs. Eisele of this review have been
born five children: Ernest. July 11,
1895; Monfred. September 4, 1897;
Laura. November 11, 1899; William,
November 14, 1901 ; and Guy, February
22. 1904. The parents are members of
the Presbyterian church and Mr. Eisele
votes with the Republican party. He feels
that he made no mistake in choosing
America as a place of residence for he has



benefited by its business opportunities and
through the exercise of his own quahties
— self-reHance and indefatigable energy,
he has gained a most prominent place
among the substantial residents of Scott
township, where he resides.


So varied has been the activity and so
valuable the service of John F. Leech in
connection with the public life, interests
and progressive development of Mount
Pleasant and Henry county that no his-
tory of this portion of the state would
be complete without the record of his ca-
reer. Mr. Leach first became known to
the people of Mount Pleasant in 1870 as
a student in Iowa Wesleyan University,
coming here wdien a young man of twen-
ty-six years. In his early life, as a stu-
dent, Mr. Leech impressed his accjuaint-
ances and friends with his fine physique
and manly bearing. He was born in
Bloomfield, Davis county, Iowa, July 9,
1848, and is a son of Andrew and Agnes
(Bell) Leech. His paternal grandparents,
Mr. and Mrs. Mathew Leech, emigrated
from Ireland to Pennsylvania and subse-
quently became residents of Guernsey
county, Ohio, where the former devoted
his attention to agricultural pursuits.

Gen. Andrew Leech, the father, was
born in Washington county, Pennsyl-
vania, in May, 1807, and was reared and
educated in that state and in Ohio. His
own educational course being completed.

he took up the profession of teaching
and was also actively interested in poli-
tical work as a follower of Andrew Jack-
son and an advocate of democratic prin-
ciples. He served as clerk of the court at
Cambridge, Ohio, and while residing
there was married to Miss Agnes Bell,
of that city, in 1833. She was a daugh-
ter of Robert and Margaret (Ferguson)
Bell, who settled in Cambridge in 181 1.
The Bell family were of English lineage,
while the Fergusons were of Scotch de-
scent. The grandfather, Francis Bell,
was the first of the family to come to the
L'^nited States and settled in Ohio, where
he died at the extremely old age of one
hundred and ten years. Robert Bell was
prominent in political circles in his home
locality, served as sheriff of his county
and in his business life devoted his ener-
gies to farming.

The year 1840 witnessed the removal
of Andrew Leech from Ohio to Iowa. He
located in Van Buren county, where he
purchased a farm, remaining thereon un-
til 1844, when he became a resident of
Davis county, Iowa. He also bought land
there and cultivated and improved a farm
until 1855, when he retired from agricul-
tural life. In 1846 he was elected a mem-
ber of the first legislature of Iowa, fol-
lowing the admission into the L^nion, rep'
resenting the entire southern tier of coun-
ties, from Davis county to the Missouri
river. In one county, Appanoose, he re-
ceived every vote cast.

In 1852 he was appointed deputy state
surveyor general of Iowa and for some
years followed government surveying in
western Iowa, and at a time when their
party was drix'en from their territory by




hostile Indians in the northern part of
the state, just before the Spirit Lake mas-
sacre, where many white families were
slaughtered and captured. In 1855 ^^^
was appointed receiver for the Iowa Land
Office, under President Franklin Pierce,
and re-appointed by President James Bu-
chanan in 1856. with headquarters at
Sioux City, Iowa, in wdiich capacity he
served until 1861. That was during the
period when much of the Iowa land was
claimed by the settlers and the office was
therefore an important one. During his
occupancy of the office the entries of one
day were four hundred, the largest num-
ber ever made in the history of any office.
Following his retirement from that po-
sition he gave his attention largely to sur-
veying until 1864, when he went to Vir-
ginia City, Montana. There he was
elected county treasurer and held the of-
fice for two terms at a salary, with com-
missions, equivalent to ten thousand dol-
lars. When he again came to this state
in 1868 he located in Bloomfield and there
purchased a farm but retired from active
business cares. He lived in the town of
Bloomfield and was interested in its ad-
vancement. He served as president of the
school board for many years and was,
during the construction of the court-
house, chairman of the building commit-
tee. His death occurred in 1886, while
his wife passed away in 1901. During the
hour of his funeral service every business
house in his home town was closed as a
mark of respect and of the esteem in
which he was held. He had been an act-
ive and valued factor in public life in
various sections of this state, holding po-
sitions of honor and trust. His citizen-

ship was irreproachable. Both he and
his wife were devoted Christians, in the
Bloomfield Presbyterian church.

Hon. John F. Leech acquired his early
education in the public schools of Bloom-
field, Iowa, and afterwards continued his
studies in Montana, while at Virginia
City, Montana. While his father held a
government position he secured the ap-
pointment as cadet to the Military School,
at West Point, New York, at the age of
sixteen years. His mother objected to
his accepting, having lost a brother in the
service — David Bell, the first cadet from
Iowa. He would not go without his moth-
er's consent, to whom he was most devot-
ed, and it was given up by him. The fam-
ily soon thereafter returned to the former
home at Bloomfield, Iowa, when Mr.
Leech came to Mount Pleasant and en-
tered Iowa Wesleyan University in 1870
to complete his college course. During
his period in college he showed marked
literary ability and was connected with the
Mount Pleasant Journal printing office,
and subsequently from June, 1874, to
June, 1876, after his graduation, was con-
nected in its editorial management at the
same time pursuing the study of law. He
graduated from Iowa Wesleyan Univer-
sity with the Bachelor of Arts degree, in
the class of 1874. Since graduation he had
served many times as president of the
Alumni Association, in which he was
deeply interested and never missed an an-
nual meeting. He continued his reading
law until his admission to the bar by ex-
amination before the supreme court in
1877. The degree of Master of Arts was
also conferred on him. Having been li-
censed to practice, Mr. Leech located in



Mount Pleasant, and through previous fa-
vorable acquaintance was soon recognized
as a competent trial lawyer before the
court. His work from his choice was
largely that of counsellor in office prac-
tice, and as he told the writer, he would
prefer to be known as a peacemaker rath-
er than a trial lawyer, his ideas of law and
the ideal lawyer was of a high order.

He continued one of the prominent at-
torneys of the city until the failure of his
health in December, 1902, when he was
obliged to retire from the active work of
the profession. He was an earnest
worker in the ranks of the Democracy,
had frequently served on the county com-
mittee, always recognized as an effective
campaign worker and speaker and had
contributed many articles to the press in
support of democratic doctrines and mu-
nicipal ownership.

Early and during his long residence
here Mr. Leech had been appointed to
various positions of trust and honor on
the school board, the official board of the
First Methodist Episcopal church, trus-
tee of the Iowa Wesleyan University and
trustee of the public library. But as mayor
of our city had an unparalleled record,
serving in that capacity covering a pe-
riod of twenty years, and during a period
when the most vital interests of the city
were at stake. His fellow citizens recog-
nizing his worth, called him to the office
of mayor in 1884, and five times was he
re-elected to that position. What higher
testimonial of his capability could be
given? During his service as the chief
executive of Mount Pleasant an attempt
was made to force upon the people a sys-
tem of water works, altogether unsuitable.

and he took a firm stand against it, thus
saving the city an expenditure of fifty
thousands dollars, until more suitable
measures were brought about. He held
advanced ideas in all that pertained to the
equality and welfare of the individual.

We quote from a newspaper :

"The water question had been an un-
solved, but ever present issue for many
years. A pretended expert, representing
the Innman Water Company, from New
York cit}^, visited our city unhesitatingly
decided against our obtaining water in
any adequate supply from the region
around the 'Tracy Pond.' After inves-
tigation he decided in favor of 'Big Creek'
southwest of town, as the only place that
could be relied upon. This decision held
as reliable, the contract at an extrava-
gant price to construct the water works,
was awarded to the Innman Company.
The works when completed were ne^'er
satisfactory, never filled the conditions
of the contract, and Mr. Leech, as mayor,
firmly refused to receive them from the
contractors, or to sign the contract with
the Innman Company. For this he was
severely criticised at the time, but after-
wards his course was highly commended
as it resulted in saving fifty thousand dol-
lars to the taxpayers that would other-
wise have been sacrificed without benefit
to the city.

"His views as to city ownership as well
known, were pronounced and decided. He
entered into the fight to win and spared
himself no labor or expense until the ob-
ject was accomplished and the city was
the absolute owner of its own water and
electric light plant.

"In his years of struggle for these re-



forms, as stated in his own words in
March, 1899: 'In my relations with the
city councils for the past fifteen years, it
has been my unpleasant duty to disagree
with a majority of every council with
which I was connected except that of
1886. Each of those questions at issue
involved what I deemed a reckless ex-
penditure of money in the interests of pri-
vate corporations.'

"Many in his then position, would have
chosen the easier course with the ma-
jority and thus have sacrificed the finan-
cial interests of the city. But Mr. Leech's
distinguishing characteristic was his faith-
fulness to every trust. He never hesitated
to sacrifice if need be, self, selfish interests,
even popularity, for what he firmly held
to be the public good.

"Mr. Leech, above all things else, de-
spised shams, pretense and hypocrisy, and
was at times severe in his denunciation of
all such. For this he has been adjudged
uncharitable, unjust, but never insincere.
He earnestly left the indignation he ex-
pressed. So clearly did' he see the error,
so much did he desire the good, that in
seeming he lost patience, and in expres-
sion was severe.

"Yet, in reality, was he ever more se-
vere than in the example of the Divine
Master in his time, in his rebuke and de-
nunciation of all such, or than that grand
old apostle Paul, when he said in his in-
dignation, over the opposition of one
whose selfish greed sought to turn away
the truth seekers from the faith : 'Oh, full
of all subtility and all mischief, thou child
of the devil, thou enemy of righteousness
wilt thou not cease to prevert the right
ways of the Lord?'"

In 1895, after an interval of four years,
he was re-elected to the ofiice of mayor at
which time the issue before his fellow
townsmen was the municipal ownership
of the electric light plant, which was
brought about and the ]\Iount Pleasant
electric light plant is called Leech's monu-
ment." He had only kind feeling towards
his fellowmen whom he opposed and
these battles that wore him out were not
personal, but for a principle and for the
people he served. Mr. Leech never lost
interest in city affairs after retiring from
his position as mayor. He was ever quick
to notice the real meaning and intent of
every proposed action in the conduct of
the business of the city. He was more
than anxious that municipal ownership
should prove the success here that it had
in other places and grieved over every
mistaken appointment or failure. After his
years of experience in city affairs, and
realizing how cities suffered in the way of
granting franchises, he framed and was
author of a bill and secured its passage
through the legislature by the instrumen-
tality of his friend. Senator W. H. Taylor,
of Bloomfield, that prevents any city in
Iowa from granting a franchise by the
city council for electric light or water
works, without the question being snl)-
mitted to the people. The law is now on
the statute books of the state and is a
valuable safeguard to its citizens. His
endeavors in this direction won for Mr.
Leech a reputation that made him known
throughout the state, and he was called
to Des Moines to meet with five of the
prominent mayors of Iowa, who felt the
need of a movement to protect the citizens
of the state and as the result of this move-


ment there was organized the ^Municipal nently connected with the Ladies' Li-
League of Iowa, he being one of the mem- brary Asociation. of which she was vice-
bers of this committee, became one of the president at the time its Hbrary was
five charter members of the league, which converted into a pubHc project, securing a
is now such an important factor in the gift from Carnegie for the erection of the
municipal interests and pubHshes a maga- hbrary building. She is also a leading
zine called Tlic Midland Municipalities, member of the W^omen's Library Club.
Mr. Leech w^as prominently mentioned by Among her ancestors were many soldiers
the papers throughout the state for gov- of the Revolutionary war and she now be-
ernor, was honored with various of- longs to the Daughters of the American
fices in the league, was a contributor Revolution. Both Mr. and Mrs. Leech
to its magazine, and delivered an excep- held membership in the Methodist Episco-
tionally fine address at Oskaloosa, Iowa, pal church and he served as one of its
at the annual session of the league, held in trustees and contributed in substantial
1 90 1, which was afterwards requested measure to its upbuilding and growth. He
published in pamphlet form. The sub- was also a trustee of the public library,
ject of this address was "Electric Light- and his life was that of an exemplary
ing along Municipal Lines." Christian man. whose aim was to live

Mr. Leech served the people of his city right and follow God and forget creeds,
most faithfully, giving a public spirited Fraternally he was connected with Mount
administration characterized by measures Pleasant Lodge, No. 8, Ancient Free and
of reform and progress, which have re- Accepted Masons, and also with the In-
sulted beneficially and have been and are dependent Order of Odd Fellows. He

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 64 of 85)