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The United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume online

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ed the beautiful shaft to the memory of the heroes
who fell in the cause of union and freedom upon
southern battlefields, and which now ornaments the
court-house square of Muscatine ; he was also active
and mainly instrumental in organizing the Musca-
tine Building and Loan Association, of which he con-
tinues to be a director, an organization which is ac-
complishing untold good in providing homes for the
mechanics and laboring men of the city. He is also
president of the Iowa Press Association, an organ-
ization which has existed for several years.

He has also been a member and promoter of the
several temperance organizations of the city and

county, and is among the foremost in every good
work, whether charitable, benevolent or reformatory,
undertaken in his neighborhood.

He has been a Methodist since his eighteenth year,
one of the most active and prominent members of
the church, and superintendent of the Sunday school.
He publishes a review of the lessons at the close of
each quarter for the benefit of the readers of his

Politically, he was raised in the communion of
the old whig party, and since the organization of the
republican party on its ruins, he has been one of its
most devoted adherents.

Mr. Mahin has been twice married : first, on the
17th of May, 1859, at Muscatine, to Miss Anna Herr,
who died on the 12th of March, 1862, childless; sec-
ond, on the 20th of September, 1864, to Miss Anna
Lee, of Johnson county, Iowa, who still lives, and is
the mother of four children, the eldest of whom,
Ella Cassel, died in 1870, and three survive: J. Lee,
Mabel and Florence.

Mrs. Mahin's parents were natives of Maryland,
and on her father's side she is connected with the
family of General Richard Henry Lee, of revolu-
tionary fame. She was born on the 'soth of March,
1845. She received a liberal education, chiefly in
the Iowa State University, and is a lady of superior

From the preceding brief outline of the leading
events of his life, it will be seen that John Mahin,
although possessing but few of the advantages of the
young men of the present day, has, by dint of in-
domitable perseverance, earned the success in life
which has crowned his efforts.

While young, and comparatively inexperienced, he
assumed the editorial care and control of the "Jour-
nal," with which he is still connected. From the
first he displayed a natural fitness for this responsi-
ble position, which demonstrated that he had not
mistaken his calling. It has been said truthfully that
an editor, like a poet, is born, not made. He pos-
sesses in a large measure the gifts and qualifications
essential to success in the editorial profession. He
has not unfrequently been pitted against veteran edi-
tors of long and large experience in the heat and
excitement of political debate, and we know of none
who has reason to boast of his success in the en-
counter. He is not a rhetorician; he employs no
flowery figures, highly wrought flourishes, or long-
drawn sentences. A few well-chosen words express
his meaning with clearness. His editorials are gen-



erally short, crisp, and to the point. In a word, he
never writes unless he has something to write ; nor
are his taste and judgment less manifest in selecting
for his paper ; in other words, he handles the pen
and scissors with equal facility. He has achieved
success in his calling, of which he has just reason to
be proud.

Two younger brothers of Mr. Mahin are also resi-
dents of Muscatine, both printers, who have taste
and talent for literature. James Mahin (the eldest)

has been for a number of years local editor of the
"Journal." He has had a liberal academic educa-
tion ; has traveled extensively both in Europe and
America, and as a writer is graphic, philosophic and
humorous. He is now in his thirty-first year, and
bids fair to become one of the most noted editors of
the country. The younger brother, Frank Mahin,
is attending the Harvard Law School, and possesses
a mind well adapted to the intricate questions of law,
and has already developed fine business qualities.



J politician, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on
the 19th of February, 1835, and is the son of Timo-
thy Murphy and Jerusha nee Shattuck. His father
was a native of the county of Cork, Ireland, and at
the age of fourteen years emigrated with his father
and an only brother, Jeremiah, after whom our sub-
ject was named, and settled in Massachusetts. Jere-
miah afterward graduated at Northampton College,
was ordained to the ministry of the Baptist church,
and for many years preached the gospel in the states
of New York, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas. He was
a man of much strength and brilliance of intellect,
earnest and zealous as a missionary, and died in 1859
at Topeka, Kansas.

The father of our subject, Timothy Murphy, was
a man of great self-reliance and individuality of char-
acter, energetic and determined. He died in 1866.
The mother of our subject is of Puritan stock, de-
scended from Pilgrim ancestors, and in her disposi-
tion exhibits many of the traits of that noble and
self-renouncing race. She is a highly cultured and
refined pattern of every social and domestic virtue.

Thus mingles in the veins of our subject, in equal
proportions, the blood of the Celt and the Saxon.
Hence the genius and brilliancy which adorn his
character, on the one hand, and the grave dignity, an
equally important feature of it, on the other.

The parents of our subject had a family of ten
children, four of whom died in infancy and six of
whom survive. The survivors are Ellen, Jeremiah
H., Bernard, Mary, Timothy and Agnes, all of whom
are now residents of Iowa. The father removed to
Wisconsin in 1847 and purchased a farm in Fond
du Lac county, on which the family resided till 1852,

when they removed to Iowa county, Iowa, and pur-
chased and operated a large farm.

During the summer of 1852 our subject and his
younger brother, with the aid of two yoke of oxen,
" broke " some eighty acres of wild land, and in the
winter following cut and split some eight thousand
rails and stakes and before the end of the following
summer had a farm of one hundred and sixty acres
fenced and under cultivation.

Jeremiah H. was raised in Massachusetts till the
age of fourteen years, and at the public schools of
his native place laid the foundation of an education.
On removing to Wisconsin he attended the Apple-
ton University for a period of eighteen months, and
in 1854 he entered the State University of Iowa, at
Iowa City, from which he graduated in 1857.

After quitting college he walked to Marion, in
Linn county, Iowa, a distance of thirty-one miles,
and entered the law office of the Hon. William Smith
(who was during the rebellion a colonel in the Union
army, and still later member of congress, and died in
1 871) as a law student, and after nine months' study
was admitted to the bar. He commenced his pro-
fessional career in Marengo, county seat of Iowa
county, where he remained some nine years, with
very considerable success. In 1867 he removed to
Davenport, which has since been his home, and
formed a partnership for the practice of law with H.
M. Martin, Esq., which is still in existence. The
first ten years of his professional life was devoted
mainly to criminal practice, at which he attained to
considerable distinction; latterly he has been de-
voting his attention more especially to commercial
law, with very satisfactory results.

He has given considerable attention to politics



and has been a life-long democrat. At the age of
twenty years he " stumped " the counties of Johnson
and Iowa in the interest of James Buchanan. His
first public office was that of alderman of the town
of Marengo in i860. In the same year he was a
deputy United States marshal, and took the census
of Iowa county. In 1861 he was nominated for the
office of state senator for his county, but declined
the candidacy. In 1864 he was a delegate-at-large
to the national convention at Chicago which nomi-
nated General McClellan for the Presidency. He
was also a delegate to the national convention of
1866 at Philadelphia; also a delegate to the conven-
tion at New York which nominated Seymour and
Blair in 1868; a member of the Iowa state central
committee for five or six years ; was mayor of Dav-
enport in 1873, and in 1874 was elected to represent
the city of Davenport in the state senate and is still
a member of that body. In the autumn of 1874 he
lacked but one vote of receiving the congressional
nomination of his party in the second district. In
1876 he was nominated by his party for that posi-
tion, and ran against Hon. Hiram Price, making a
gallant fight, but was defeated. He led the balance
of the democratic ticket, however, by sixteen hun-
dred votes, and received four thousand more votes
than the successful candidate in 1874.

He is now attorney for the Life Assurance Asso-
ciation of America, at Saint Louis, Missouri, which
is one of the largest and most prosperous companies
in the northwest. He is likewise a stockholder and
director in the Davenport water-works, and is in-
terested in various other corporations. In religion
he is liberal.

On the loth of May, 1859, he married Miss Mary
Green, daughter of Samuel Green, a native of Eng-
land. She was raised a Quaker, is a graduate of
the Iowa University and a lady of culture and refine-
ment. They have two children, Timothy and Jesse,
both still in infancy.

Mr. Murphy is a gentleman of considerable ge-
nius, wit, brilliancy and dash, characteristics derived
from the Irish element in his composition. He is,
moreover, hospitable, generous and open-hearted.
As an entertainer he has but few equals in the west.
His character in this regard will be more readily in-
ferred from the fact that his home is the general
stopping-place of politicians of all parties. It is no
uncommon thing for opposing candidates to meet at
his house as guests while seeking favors and support
from friends of their respective political parties.

As a lawyer, he is full of expedients, but generally
tries his cases on their merits, without resorting to



A pioneer in Dallas county, Iowa, an enterprising
man, and at an early day a member of the leg-
islature, Benjamin Greene is well worthy of a place
among the old settlers who are men of mark in the
state. He comes from very old New England stock,
the ancestor of the family settling in Newport, Rhode
Island, a few years after the collapse of the English
commonwealth. His name was originally Clark ; he
was a distinguished nobleman ; a military officer un-
der Cromwell, and when Charles the Second came to
the throne, fled to the West Indies, and thence to
Rhode Island. General Nathaniel Greene belonged
to this branch of the family, and was a near relative
of Silas Greene, the father of Benjamin. Silas was
eighteen when the revolutionary war closed (1783),
and two years before that date was wounded while
aiding to clean out a squad of tories near Newport.
Benjamin Greene was born in Richfield, Otsego

county. New York, on the 4th of March, 1819. His
mother was Deborah Brown, who sprung from a very
early Massachusetts family. Silas Greene moved to
the vicinity of Oswego, on Lake Ontario, when Ben-
jamin was four years old. There the son was reared
on his father's farm, picking up a fair education in the
common schools, and beginning to teach during the
winters when only sixteen years of age.

In 1838, anxious to see the west, he came out as far
as Belvidere, Illinois, farming four seasons and teach-
ing two winters; returned to Oswego in 1842, and read
law and taught school until the spring of 1846, when
he came to Iowa, taught a few months at Utica, Van
Buren county, and then two years at Keokuk.

Mr. Greene first saw Adel, his present home, in
April, 1849, when the village consisted of perhaps
half-a-dozen log cabins, one of them having a few
shelf goods, and another a generous stock of tobacco



and whisky. He took up a claim one mile south of
town and commenced digging a tellar, thinking to
locate there, but changed his mind and built in town.
Here he sold goods five or six years, in the early part
of this period purchasing the claim of the land on
which he resides, adjoining the corporation on the
south. He has a little over two hundred acres of
land, one fourth of it timber, the rest devoted to agri-
culture and horticulture, thirty-five acres in orchard.
For the last sixteen or seventeen years Mr. Greene
has given his attention mainly to nursery and fruit-
growing, and has done a great deal to encourage
fruit-raising in the county. In his nursery he raises
none but the hardy varieties of trees, and they are
being scattered all over the country.

Mr. Greene was elected school-fund commissioner
about 1850; served one term, and during that time
disposed of a large quantity of the lands in Dallas
county selected for that purpose. In 1852, and again
in 1856, he was elected a member of the legislature,
attending in his second term the last sessiori ever
held in Iowa City. He has served several times in

the board of supervisors and on the school board,
and is an eminently practical and efficient business

Mr. Greene is of federal stock in politics, voted
the whig ticket in his early manhood, was a republi-
can from 1856 to 1872, and has since been ranked
among the independents. In religion he is equally
independent. He is a great reader of scientific works,
and forms his opinions therefrom.

Mr. Greene was joined in wedlock with Miss Per-
melia C. Sturges, of Van Buren county, Iowa, on the
nth of October, 1848, and they have five children,
four daughters and one son. Ada is the wife of Will-
liam S. Russell, of Perry, Dallas county ; Mary is the
wife of John B. White, an attorney of Adel, and Em-
ma and Arietta are single. Sturges H., an attorney,
has a family and lives at Adel. He graduated at the
Iowa Law School. The daughters are all well edu-

Mr. Greene has a family relic which he has seen fit
to preserve — a calf-skin pocket-book purchased by
his father in 1782, and presented to the son in 1838.



GEORGE DUFFIELD comes of good blood,
his grandfather, William Duffield, with a broth-
er, being in the revolutionary army. The Duffields
are old Pennsylvania and Maryland stock, the father
of George moving into eastern Ohio at an early day.
His wife, who was born in Jefferson county, Ohio, on
the 12th of February, 1828, was Barbara Roop, of
Pennsylvania-German pedigree. When George was
sixteen years of age, having received a fair common-
school education, he accompanied his parents to
Iowa, and, after spending one year in Van Buren
county, in 1845 they settled in Davis county, where
William Duffield yet lives, being in his eightieth year.
His wife died in 1875.

George aided his father in opening a farm in Lake
Creek township; commenced teaching winter schools
when about eighteen, following that occupation two
or three seasons; in 1850 moved into town; clerked
two years in a general store, then went into the mer-
cantile trade for himself and has continued this busi-
ness ever since, except when in the military service.

In the summer of 1861 Mr. Duffield enrolled a
company for the 3d Iowa Cavalry ; was elected cap-

tain of company E; at the end of one year was pro-
moted to major; at the end of another year to lieu-
tenant-colonel, in that capacity serving until near
the close of the war. Toward the end of its first
term of enlistment Lieutenant-Colonel Duffield was
detailed as enlisting officer, and more than seven
hundred members of the regiment reenlisted.

During his term of service Colonel Duffield shared
in all the hardships and perils of the regiment; had
the command of it during the last two years, yet-
never received a wound that disabled him for an
hour. This military record is creditable alike to him
and the state.

The colonel is still in trade, being one of the older
class of merchants in Bloomfield. He has had his
ups and downs, but has, on the whole, had a fair de-
gree of success.

He was recorder and treasurer of Davis county
from 1855 to 1857, and was a member of the county
board of supervisors when the civil war commenced,
resigning that office to enter the army. In civil office
as well as military he has been faithful and trust-



At an early day Colonel Duffield was a democrat,
and voted for Stephen A. Douglas for President in
i860. Since that time he has been an ardent, un-
wavering republican; but, though firm in his political
principles, he lets nothing interfere with attention to

He is a Knight Templar among the Freemasons.

Religiously, he has a partiality for the Methodist
church, where he is an attendant, his wife being a
member of it. She was Miss Nancy J. Strahan, of
Bloomfield, formerly of Henderson county, Illinois.
They were united in matrimony on the 21st of Au-
gust, 185 1, and of four children born to them only
one is now living.



AUGUSTUS BORCHERS, the man who laid out
. Hamburg and gave it its name, is a native of
Hanover, Germany, and was born on the 26th of Au-
gust, 1817, his parents being Frederic William and
Amelia Steffen Borchers. His father died when the
son was but four years old. He attended school un-
til he was fourteen, and was then apprenticed to the
mercantile business, serving until twenty years of age.
In 1837 he came to the United States; was two years
employed in a store in Baltimore, Maryland, and in
1839 removed to Weston, Platte county, Missouri.
There he engaged in mercantile trade in company
with an elder brother, George Borchers. A few
months later he went to Holt county, in the same
state, and opened the first store in that county, his
brother having an interest in it.

In August, 1840, he settled on the banks of the
Missouri river, in Atchison county, and after trading
two or three years with the Indians, the country be-
ginning to settle up, he relinquished trade awhile,
made a claim, and engaged in agricultural pursuits.
He was thus employed when, on the 15th of May,
1846, the Mexican war being in progress, and the
governor calling for troops, he enlisted as a private
in company C, Missouri Mounted Volunteers, and
served until the war closed.

Returning to Missouri, Mr. Borchers clerked in a
store at Linden, Atchison county; continued there
until the spring of 1850, and then came to Iowa, be-
fore Fremont county was surveyed and organized.
He traded a short time at a place called " Forks-of-
the-road," between the points where Hamburg and
Sidney now stand ; and in the autumn of the same
year, when Sidney was selected for the county seat,
he moved thither, built the first store, was appointed
the first postmaster, and continued in business there
five years. In 1857 Mr. Borchers laid out Hamburg,
naming it for Hamburg in his native country. That

year he put up the dwelling-house in which he now
lives — the first building of that kind in the place.
Here he was engaged in the hardware business seven
years, being in the firm of C. A. Danforth and Co.
Since 1864 he has dealt in real estate, and has been
eminently successful in his varied operations. His
accumulations have been made by fair and honora-
ble means, all his dealings with his fellow-men being
in accordance with the strictest principles of integ-
rity. He has always made it a rule to encourage
settlement, and hence has sold property at low figures.

At an early day, while a frontier merchant, Mr.
Borchers had one or two narrow escapes from death
on the Missouri river. One time, while taking a load
of potatoes down the river on a flatboat, it struck a
snag, went to pieces, and he hung to a limb in the
water four hours, and was finally picked up by some
French mountaineers.

Mr. Borchers was in early life an old-line whig,
and when that party dissolved he joined the democ-
racy, with which party he still acts. He has frequent-
ly been importuned to accept political office, but has
sedulously refused. He is now treasurer of the school
board, and in a quiet way is performing his duties
faithfully as a citizen.

He is Lutheran in religious doctrine and beUef,
but there is no organization of the kind in Hamburg.
He is a man of the purest moral character. He is
a Master Mason, and secretary of the local lodge.

His wife was Miss Rosamound Nuckolls, of Vir-
ginia; married on the 12th of June, 185 1. She had
ten children, and died on the ist of March, 1869.
Five of her children are with her in the spirit world.
Of the living, the eldest daughter, EHzabeth, is the
wife of Edward H. Sweetser, of San Francisco, Cali-
fornia. Albert is also married, and lives at Dead-
wood, in the Black Hills country. The others, Carrie,
Florence and George, are single.


68 I

Mrs. Borchers was one of the constituent members
of the Baptist churches at Sidney and Hamburg,
an active, christian woman and an affectionate and
true mother. She was an invalid for many years, but
never failed to remember the poor.

In 1870 Mr. Borchers made a trip to Germany, tak-
ing with him his eldest daughter, whose name is first
mentioned above, and three years later he made an-
other trip, taking Albert with him.

While the old world is making some progress, Mr.

Borchers has lived to witness grand strides in that
direction in the new.

He has seen Iowa double her population three or
four times, Fremont county settled with enterprising
and thrifty farmers, and Hamburg, which he founded
twenty-one years ago, expand into a city of three
thousand inhabitants. The father of the place, and
one of the prime movers in making it what it is, he
is held in very high respect by its citizens, and by
the people generally of Fremont county.



THERE are few lives of Americans which afford
to the pencil so great a variety of shade and
color, such opportunities for bold foregrounds and
lengthened vistas, such temptations to paint the poe-
try rather than the plain prose of life, as the career
of William Gordon ; the descendant of Scotland's
proud dukes of Gordon, of Gordon Castle, and on
his mother's side boasting the blue blood of the
'equally distinguished house of Ogilvie. The son of
John Gordon and Margaret Ogilvie, he was born in
the parish of Keith, Banffs-hire, Scotland, on the 12th
of June, 1814. Gordon Castle, the home of his pa-
ternal ancestry, is familiar to students and travel-
ers; the Ogilvie farm, which is known as the mains
(manse) of Glengerrick, where William passed his
boyhood, is scarcely overshadowed in importance by
its battlemented neighbor. Here the Ogilvigs have
lived for a score of~ generations, and as the last pro-
prietor, William Ogilvie, the grandsire of William
Gordon, had a family of eleven sons and three daugh-
ters, all but one of whom have grown to man's and
woman's estate, and some of whom are blessed with
large families, it is probable that the old manse will
remain with the Ogilvies for all time to come.

Little of the affluence or splendor of either castle
or manse was reflected upon the pathway of William
Gordon. Neither of his parents stood in the line of
inheritance, and their children were early taught to
be the architects of their own fortunes. Accordingly
we find William apprenticed at an early age to the
carpenter's trade, devoting five and a half years to
that initiatory service. Then came a year all his own,
which ended with the resolve to change the pent-up
life of Scotland for the freedom of America. In the
winter of 1833, being then nineteen years of age, he

embarked with the sailing ship Universe for New
York, and after a long and perilous voyage, during
which his ship was twice dismasted, he stepped upon
the shores of the new world. Here he sought James
Gordon Bennett, a former near neighbor of the fam-
ily in Scotland, and was directed by him to the ex-
tensive shops of Hon. Richard White, where he found
instant employment, and after eight months' service
as journeyman was promoted foreman of the works.
Among the notable buildings constructed under his

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 105 of 125)