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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 65 of 85)
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far-reaching in their effects. was justly accounted one of the distin-

On the 28th of September. 1886, John guished and representative men of Mount
F. Leech was married to Miss Belle Eve- Pleasant. No other citizen had so long oc-
lyn ReQua, a daughter of Joseph and Sa- cupied the chair of mayor and he is with-
rah E. (Brown) ReQua. Her father was out a superior in his administration of the
a resident of Mount Pleasant for some ofiice in his devotion to the public good
years and was proprietor of a book store and in his championship of measures that
as a partner in the firm of Hatch & Re- have been of the utmost value to the
Qua. The family is of French lineage and community. His life was that of an ex-
was founded in the United States at an emplary Christian man, whose aim was
early period in the colonization of this to live right.

country. Mrs. Leech was educated in After retiring from the office of mayor

low^a Wesleyan University and Mount Mr. Leech re-opened his law office on the

Pleasant Seminary, being graduated from south side of the square in the practice of

the latter in the class of 1874. She is a his profession and was favored with his

lady of superior culture, refinement, and share of the patronage of the county. He

business ability as well as of excellent edu- was a great friend of the old soldiers and

cation and for many years has been promi- made a special study of pension law and



was glad to be of service to the wearers
of the blue. It was three years ago,
while in his office that he was suddenly
stricken with paralysis, the result of the
nervous strain he had for years under-
gone, and for some time was thought to
be in a critical condition. Eventually he
rallied so that his friends felt almost con-
fident of his complete recovery. Every-
thing that thoughtful interest, medical
skill, and affection could do to promote his
recovery was done, during the past three
years. While Mr. Leech was able to direct
his business, but unable to look after it
in person, ^Irs. Leech, devoted compan-
ion, carried the responsibilities of the
home and office and in every way brought
encouragement to him. So deep was his
interest in every political movement, that
he could not hold himself aloof from
places where the intensity and excitement
was such that in his condition it was peril-
ous. Thus the fond hopes of his friends
for his complete recovery were shattered
and his steady decline manifest. One year
ago the family spent the winter in Long
Beach, California ; this year they went to
the Gulf Coast, Biloxi, Mississippi. He
seemed cheerful and hopeful, and enjoyed
the change and the climate while at the
Maycock cottage in Biloxi, Mississippi. He
passed away on the afternoon of February
9, 1906. His passing away was sudden
and painless. Thus closed a well spent,
well rounded Christian life, filled with
kind acts and work for public interests.
Funeral services were held in Biloxi, and
the remains brought to the old home for
interment. Beautiful and impressive ser-
vices were held at the First M. E. church

on February 18, 1906, and the body of
John F. Leech, one of Mount Pleasant's
most prominent men, was laid to rest in
Forest Home cemetery. ]Mr. Leech was
a member of the Masonic Lodge,Ancient
Free and Accepted Alasons, and a member
of Henry Lodge, Independent Order of
Odd Fellows. The service was in charge
of Dr. Spaulding. Dr. Swickard gave the
address his theme, being, 'Tf a Man Die
Shall He Live Again?" The address was
beautiful in diction, and clear in thought.
The large audience room of the church
was scarcely sufficient to accommodate the
people who attended. Kindness and love
were shown by him to his own family and
to the people of his city, many of whom
had received some kindness at his hands,
and he had won a place in the affections
of all classes of people. The following
just and beautiful tribute was paid him by
a brother member of the Henry county

When it was announced that our
friend had passed away in the distant
southland, there came to my mind those
beautiful lines, which have been sung so
often in the hour of bereavement :

"Lead kindly light, amid the encircling

Lead thou me on !
The night is dark, and I am far from
home ;

Lead thou me on!"

Again we stand in the presence of that
srreat mvsterv called death. \\'e cannot
fathom its secrets. We cannot under-
stand its purposes. It is so hard and



cruel. It breaks a'sunder the warmest
ties of affection. It takes away the
child, innocent and beautiful as a flower.
It spares not the husband, upon whom the
helpless are dependent. It blights the
home. It crushes the heart.

Why this sorrow^? Why this grief?
Why this anguish? To these questions
we cannot make answer. We do not
know. But let us try to have faith that
all is well. With the prophet and the
psalmist and the saint let us believe that
those who have passed through the val-
ley of the shadow of death would not re-

And may we not believe, also, that
death redeems the living? Does it not
soften our asperities? Does it not oblit-
erate our differences? Does it not make
us kinder and sweeter and gentler in
spirit? Does it not increase our charity?
Does it not make love more abundant?
Does it not enable us to look into each
other's souls, and catch a glimpse of the

John F. Leech died, as it were, in a
strange land. Before he went away he
came to see me, and tarried for a few
brief moments. His hand trembled. His
step faltered. His body was weak and
worn. His last words to me were spoken
in behalf of a friend. While death hov-
ered o'er him he performed a service for
another. As he arose to go I assisted
him as best I could, and said good-bye.
Alas! It was good-bye forever— no, not

Then began the journey to the south.
Hope — wonderful, w^onderful quality of
the human heart — still lingered. He was
cheered and sustained by those he loved.

The balmy air and the warm sunshine
seemed to give him new life. But all
was in vain — in vain the long journey —
in vain the hope — in vain the prayer.

And today he is with us again, but his
eyes are closed, and his lips are silent. Yet
as he lies here, sticken and helpless, he re-
calls to us an earnest and a most useful

John F. Leech loved his country. He
was deeply interested in its past and pro-
foundly concerned as to its future. He
was not afraid to take advanced positions
upon public questions. He never stopped
to inquire whether he was on the side of
minority or the majority. He was al-
ways fearless. He was always steadfast.
He was always loyal to what he believed
to be the right. As one who dift'ered from
him, I am glad to bear testimony to the
honesty of his conviction, and to the pu-
rity of his purpose.

He loved his city. Many times he was
elected to the highest position in the gift
of the people. Necessarily there were
political contests, but friend and foe agree
that he was an incorruptible public serv-
ant. No man ever questioned his honesty.
No man ever doubted his integrity.

He loved our university, which was
proud to claim him as one of its sons. He
loved to walk in the shadows of its stately
trees. He loved to think of other days,
when within its classic walls he dreamed
the dreams of youth. He loved to mingle
with those who came, from time to time,
to view again the old familiar scenes. But
the places which knew him shall know him
no more.

He loved his fellow men. I know of
no higher tribute than to sav that he was



the friend of the poor. They came to
him at all times and in all places — came
with their troubles and sorrows. Let it
be said that no one was ever turned away.
And today many unknown hearts are
heavy and sad because their friend is no
longer with us.

John F. Leech was true in all the re-
lations of life. Doubtless temptations came
to him, as they come to other men. but
he never yielded. His character may be
summed up in the declaration that he
never betrayed a trust.

But he is gone, and we shall miss him.
In his great affliction he became very dear
to us. Suffering draws us closer and
closer together. We learn to know each
other better, and begin to understand the
strange ministry of pain. And in the days
to come our hearts will often exclaim :

"But oh, for the touch of a vanished

And the sound of a voice that is still."

But what a comfort to know that he is
now at peace. His trials are o'er. The
weary body is at rest. The spirit is no
longer troubled. Yea, though the clouds
may gather and the storms may rise, he
is at peace.

Then, farewell, friend. Then, fare-
well, brother. Farewell — farewell — fare-
well — till "in some brighter clime, we
shall bid you good morning."

The sentiment of this poem was espe-
cially cherished by Mr. Leech and was the
last clipping made by him. It is a true
index to the character of the subject of
this sketch, John F. Leech.

If I can let into some soul a little light.

If I some pathway dark and drear can
render bright.

If I to one in gloom can show the sunny

Though no reward I win, I will be satis-

If I to some one can reveal a nobler view
Of life and work; if I can reach some

spirit true
With but one word, if that word means

his betterment.
Though without recognition, I shall die


If I can serve the cause of truth and lib-

If I by deed or song can help to make
men free,

If I can lift some burden from the toiling

Although unknown and friendless, I will
ask no more.

If I can add one little spark to the world's

If I can show the inward path that leads

to God above,
If I can give some comfort to a soul in

Though nameless, I shall feel that life is

not in vain.

If T can show the beauty of my inmost

dream —
The temples of the coming age with light

agleam —
And thus can help the world progress to

I'll feel that life is sweet to me and God

is good.



If I can win some soul to see the higher

If I can help somewhat to bring the bet-
ter clay,

If I can feel my work and words have
others blessed,

In silent satisfaction I will seek my rest.


W^illiam Moxley owns and operates a
farm of one hundred and three acres on
section i8, Salem township, giving his
attention to the general cultivation of the
fields and to stock-raising, his specialty
being short-horn cattle and Poland China
hogs. He was born in Van Buren count)^
Iowa, October 14, 1864, and is a typical
representative of the progressive spirit of
the age, Avhich has been the dominant fac-
tor in bringing about the present advanced
conditions and prosperity of Iowa. His
paternal grandfather, Thomas Moxley,
was a native of Pennsylvania and mar-
ried Miss Murphy, who was also born in
that state. Their son, John Moxley, first
opened his eyes to the light of day in
Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and, hav-
ing arrived at years of maturity, wedded
Grace Piersel, whose parents were Jere-
miah and Mary Elizabeth (Biel) Piersel,
who were natives of Scotland, although
their daughter was born in Fayette
county, Pennsylvania. Coming to the
west Mr. and Mrs. John Moxley made
their way to Henry county, Iowa, but
soon afterward took up their abode in

Van Buren county. They arrived in this
state in 1857, in which year many families
came from Pennsylvania and established
homes in this part of Iowa. In the year
1867 John Moxley removed with his fam-
ily to a farm in Salem township, purchas-
ing about one hundred and twenty acres
on sections 17 and 18. A log house had
been built and the family took up their
abode there, the parents continuing to
occupy it until 1893, when Mr. Moxley
erected a frame dwelling. The log cabin
was destroyed by fire in 1901. As the
years passed and he prospered in his
undertakings Mr. Moxley purchased more
land until he owned at one time several
hundred acres. He eventually, however,
sold all but one hundred and fifty acres,
which he retained to the time of his death
on the 26th of April, 1903. He was then
seventy-six years of age, having been
born on the 22d of April, 1827. His wife
spent the year following his death on the
old homestead and then removed to Hills-
boro, Iowa, where she rented a dwelling
until 1905. when she purchased a resi-
dence and lot. There she is still living,
making her home with her eldest

William Moxley of this review was the
fifth in order of birth in a family of seven
sons and six daughters and spent his boy-
hood days upon the home farm. His
early education w^as acquired in the com-
mon schools and he afterward attended
Whittier College, at Salem, Iowa, and
Howe's Academy, at Mount Pleasant,
being thus well qualified through educa-
tional advantages for the practical and
responsible duties of life. He worked at
farm lal)or w^hen not busv with his text-



books and continued upon the old home-
stead until the time of his marriage,
which was celebrated on the nth of
October, 1894, the lady of his choice
being Miss Lillie M. Davidson, a native
of Hocking county, Ohio, and a daughter
of Samuel and Mary Ann (Oaks) David-
son, also natives of the Buckeye state.
The children of this marriage were:
Gladys, who died in infancy; Pearl, who
is residing with her grandmother, Mrs.
Moxley ; and Earl, who died in infancy.
The wife and mother passed away Janu-
ary I. 1900, and her remains were
interred in the Hillsboro cemetery. ' On
the 1 6th of October, 1902, Mr. Moxley
was again married, his second union
being with Mrs. Emma (Taylor) Shell-
man, who was born in Salina, Iowa, and
was the widow of Louis Green Shellman.
There were two children by that mar-
riage, Courtney C. and Rollie T. Shell-
man. Her parents were William and
Elizabeth (Archibald) Taylor, the for-
mer a native of Virginia and the latter of
Ohio. By the second marriage of Mr.
and Mrs. Moxley there were two chil-
dren: John William, born October 15,
1903; and Orval Paul, born February
26, 1905.

Following his first marriage Mr. Mox-
ley lived for two years upon the old home-
stead and then removed to Van Buren
county, where he engaged in the opera-
tion of rented land until after the death
of his first wife. He then took a trip to
the Pacific coast, visiting Oregon, Cali-
fornia and other points in the west, being
seven months away from home. The fol-
lowing summer he rented the old farm
homestead, which he cultivated for a vear.

after which he spent a year in Jefferson
county, Iowa. He then returned to the
old home farm on which he lived until the
fall of 1905, when he purchased one hun-
dred and three acres of land on section 18.
Salem township, of which fifteen acres
was timber. He took up his abode upon
this farm and has since given his time and
energies to its further development and
cultivation. He carries on general agri-
cultural pursuits, annually harvesting
good crops and in addition he also raises
stock, making a specialty of short-horn
cattle, Poland China hogs and draft
horses. His business in these different
departments is carefully conducted and
his close application and energy constitute
the basis of his success. He is well
known in this part of the state where
almost his entire life has been passed and
where good qualities insure him the con-
tinued regard of his fellow men. He
belongs to the Freewill Baptist church at
Hillsboro and also to the Modern Wood-
men camp there.


Among the energetic, enterprising busi-
ness men of Henry county is numbered
Nels Peterson, who is connected with
agricultural and banking interests. His
has been a notable record in that he has
won advancement entirely through his
own unaided efforts and he belongs to
that class of citizens, who, while promot-
ing individual success also advance the
oeneral welfare. He was born in Gales-



burg, Illinois, October 9, 1857, his par-
ents being Benjamin and Hannah
(Youngren) Peterson, both of whom
were natives of Sweden. They were
farming people and in 1853 crossed the
Atlantic to America, being for six weeks
passengers on a sailing vessel. Landing
in New York they made their way west-
ward to Knoxville, Illinois, traveling by
train from New York to Peoria and
thence across the state to their destina-
tion. They conducted a boarding tent for
railroad employes for a time, but Mr.
Peterson soon afterward went to Gales-
burg and for a number of years was in
the employ of the Chicago, Burlington &
Quincy Railroad Company. In the spring
of 1868 he removed with his family to
Swedesburg, Iowa, and purchased twenty
acres of unimproved land upon which he
built a house. During the process of its
construction he lived with Charles Hult,
of Swedesburg, and in the late fall of 1868
he removed to -his little farm, whereon he
spent his remaining days. That he pros-
pered in his undertakings is indicated by
the fact that he added forty acres to the
original tract and carried on farming up
to the time of his demise, which occurred
in 1883. His widow afterward went to
live with a daughter, Mrs. Emma Swan-
son, with whom she remained for a year.
She then spent one year with her son
Nels in Olds and afterward resided with
her sister, Mrs. John B. Olson, for one
winter in Galesburg, Illinois. She then
again lived with her daughter, Mrs.
Swanson, and afterward made her home
between the residences of Mrs. Swanson
and her son, Mr. Peterson, but died at the
home of her daughter on the 19th of
November, 1894.

Mr. Peterson began his education in
the public schools of Illinois and continued
his studies after the removal to this state.
In 1879 he attended Howe's Academy in
Mount Pleasant. In 1883 he became sta-
tion agent for the Iowa Central Railroad
at Olds, continuing to serve in that capac-
ity for fourteen years; and in addition in
1884 he embarked in the lumber business,
also having in the year previous become
connected with C. R. Miller as a dealer
in tile. At a later date Mr. Miller sold
oul to A. F. Lauger and the new firm
extended their operations to trading in
grain. Mr. Lauger was associated with
the firm for about five years, when he sold
out to H. K. Smith. At that time the
operations of the firm embraced lumber,
coal, grain and farm implements and the
business was successfully carried on,
large sales bringing a liberal financial
return. Mr. Peterson at length disposed
of his interest in the business in 1897 to
Henry Lamme, who was eventually suc-
ceeded by the firm of Stephenson

In 1897, Mr. Peterson took up his
abode upon his farm which he had pur-
chased; and built there a new residence,
which he occupied until the spring of
1903, when he removed to the Jacob
Arthaud farm of one hundred and sixty
acres on section 15, Wayne township.
He purchased his farm on the 21st of Sep-
tember, 1 90 1, and has developed a splen-
did property here, bringing the fields
under a high state of cultivation. He has
repaired and improved the house and has
one of the best farms in the county if not
in the state. Although he rents a large
portion of his land, a part of it is still
operated under his personal supervision



and in addition to the tilling of the soil he
raises a carload of hogs each year. Mr.
Peterson, however, does not confine his
attention entirely to agricultural pursuits
but is closely associated with banking
interests. The bank of Olds was estab-
lished in August, 1 90 1, and he served as
its president during a portion of the first
year, when he was succeeded by C. O.
Nelson, who remained in the office until
the fall of 1903, when Mr. Peterson was
again elected president and has since acted
in this capacity. In association with
Michael and Samuel Miller he has built a
large two-story brick business block,
forty-two by sixty-four feet, in Olds.
The bank will occupy the first floor,
eighteen by forty-four feet, and a base-
ment of the same size. The remainder of
the first floor will be used for business
rooms and the second floor will be fitted
our as a hall for fraternal orders and four
offices will also be opened there. The
building will be completed in the fall of
1905. Mr. Peterson is also president of
a local insurance company known as the
Svea Mutual Protective Fire Insurance
Company, which limits its patrons to
Swedish citizens having property in
Henry county.

On the 24th of July, 1895, Mr. Peter-
son was united in marriage to Miss Min-
nie Alma Alter, who was born in Wayne
township, March 25, 1867, her parents
being James C. and Amanda C. (Rider)
Alter, the former a native of Cincinnati,
Ohio, and the latter of Muskingum
county, Ohio. They were married in
Henry county. May 23, 1866. Mrs.
Peterson pursued her education in the
common schools and in Howe's Academy,

which she attended through two winter
terms and for nineteen terms she engaged
in teaching in the district schools of this
county. Between the ages of fifteen and
twenty-five years she lived with her aunt,
Miss Melissa Ellen Rider, who owned and
occupied a small farm in Jefferson town-
ship and on the expiration of that decade
Mrs. Peterson returned to her parents'
home, where she remained until her mar-
riage. Her aunt, Miss Rider, has now
been making her home with ^Ir. and
Mrs. Peterson since 1900. Unto our sub-
ject and his wife have been born three
children : Wayne Lester, born Novem-
ber 1 1 , 1 896 ; Mamie Aletha, born Decem-
ber 5, 1898; and Agnes Ruth, October 7,

Mr. Peterson has served as school di-
rector since 1897 ^^"^^ with the exception
of one year has acted continually as presi-
dent of the board. He votes with the
Republican party and is a member of the
Congregational church at Olds. He is
watchful of every opportunity pointing to
success, forms his plans readily and is
determined in their execution. His labors
have been crowned with the prosperity
which always results from close applica-
tion and persistent industry when guided
by sound judgment and he is today
accounted one of the most prominent,
influential and progressive citizens of
Henry county.


Jacob Teter, whose landed possessions
aceregate one hundred and ninetv-three
acres of land in Salem township, all of



which is under cultivation, also eight
acres of timber in Van Buren county, was
born in Carroll county, Ohio, J.uly 20,
1830. His maternal grandparents were
John and Elizabeth (Wise) Fowler,
natives of Ireland and Germany respec-
tively. They settled in Harrison county,
Ohio, for a number of years and there the
grandfather followed the tailor's trade.
He also owned a farm in that locality.
George Teter, father of our subject, was
only seven years of age when he lost his
father and he was reared by strangers.
He was born in Washington county,
Pennsylvania, and was married in that
state to Miss Sarah Fowler, who was also
born in Washington county. Soon after
they loaded their possessions on a horse
and started for Steubenville, Ohio,- where
Mr. Teter purchased one hundred and
sixty acres of land. There he made his
home until his death, which occurred in
1866. His wife resided there for twelve
years following his demise and then came
to Salem township, where she made her
home with her son Jacob until her death,
which occurred in January, 1880, when
she was eighty-one years of age.

Jacob Teter pursued his education in
the old-time subscription schools but his
privileges in that direction were very
limited. He probably attended for only
about a month and it was necessary that
he walk three miles through the woods in
order to reach the schoolhouse. It has
been in the school of experience that he
has learned valuable lessons, which have
made him a practical and successful busi-
ness man. He lived with his parents until
twenty-two years of age and then began
farming on his own account. His entire

life has been devoted to general agricul-
tural pursuits. On the 20th of May,
1852, he chose as a companion and help-
mate on life's journey Miss Rachel
Crooks, who was born in Carroll county,
Ohio, a daughter of Daniel and Margaret
(Neikirk) Crooks, the former a native of
Ireland and the latter of Pennsylvania.
They were charter members of the Meth-
odist Episcopal church in Carroll county,
Ohio, and the first meetings of the congre-

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 65 of 85)