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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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the necessities of the occasion, arose and addressed
the meeting with all the authority of age, mingled
with the fire and eloquence of youth, and so roused
the pride and energy of the citizens that the enter-
prise at once passed from doubt to certainty. He
accepted the position of treasurer and financial agent
of the railroad, and in less than one year the Fort
Madison, Farmington and Western railroad became
an accomplished fact, and the cars were running
over twenty-five miles of road west from the city.
The first stopping place west of Fort Madison was,
by the directors of the railroad and without the
Judge's knowledge, named in honor of him, "Viele

In June, 1828, Judge Viele was married to Miss
Catherine Gertrude Brinckerhoff, a daughter of Isaac
Brinckerhoff, of Troy, New York. Mrs. Viele, a most
estimable lady, possessed a sound and discriminat-
ing mind, united with sweetness of temper and ele- '
gance of manners ; she was fervid in her religious
principles, and her love of the beautiful in nature
and art were surpassed only by her veneration of
God ; she was admired by all, and her death, which
occurred on the 4th of August, 1869, was mourned
as a public loss.

The judge has no children to cheer his declining
years, but, since the death of his wife, he has
adopted for a niece Miss Maria C. Newton, whose
parents, Enos and Lucy Ann Newton, reside in his

On the nth of August, 1872, Judge Viele was
stricken with paralysis of the right side of his body,
which for a time threatened serious consequences.
However, he soon began to improve, and although
he has never fully regained his bodily vigor, he is
able to walk about and attend to his business, and
visit his neighbors, who always greet him with a
hearty welcome. Judge Viele has a competency of



"worldly estate " and all that is necessary to render
his days upon earth happy, except the companion-
ship of her who for forty years cheerfully shared his
joys and alleviated his sorrows.

He is a firm believer in Christianity and the im-
mortality of the soul, and doubts not that he shall
meet her, and others whom he has loved on earth, in
a purer and more perfect home.



THE subject of this brief memoir is a native of
Scotland, and was born near Dundee, on the
zist of February, 1843. His parents were William
Curr, a well-known liberal leader, an able speaker,
and county magistrate, and Mary Heron Stormont,
a granddaughter of the Earl of Stormont, who was
proscribed by the English government for taking an
active part in the Scottish Rebellion of 1745. The
Currs were originally from Denmark, and date their
ancestry back to a.d. 1400. The Stormont family
is Celtic or Gaelic, and suffered much in behalf of
the Stuart dynasty and Scottish Rebellion.

Allan spent all his younger years in literary insti-
tutions: in the high school at Arbroath until fifteen,
at Chorlton College, Manchester, England, until
nineteen, and graduated at Regent's Park College,
London University, his studies being classical, gen-
eral and theological.

He early developed decided artistic tastes; ex-
hibited pictures in watei'-color and oil in various
Scotch and English galleries, receiving prizes, once
a gold medal, for the same ; he played on the vio-
lin in early boyhood, is fond of the organ, and has
composed 'the music and words of several popular
airs, and also some sacred music, which has been
printed in Scotch collections.

Like Bayard Taylor and Henry D. Thoreau, Mr.
Curr, in early life, thought the finest views could be
had afoot, and while a student took sketching-tours
through the best of scenery in northern Europe,
thus spending some of his vacations. He has
traveled over most of middle and northern Europe,
the Dominion of Canada and the United States,
and makes good use of the fruits of his extensive
observations in enriching his conversation and em-
bellishing his lectures and other public efforts.

Mr. Curr was reared a Presbyterian, but was
converted by reading Spurgeon's sermons, and be-
coming a Baptist; studied for the ministry of that
denomination while at Regent's Park College. He
chose the ministerial work because he regards it as

the noblest in which man can engage. After leav-
ing college he became pastor of a Baptist church in
London, and while acting in that capacity he served
as private secretary of the Lord Mayor of London
for three years. Before leaving the old country
Mr. Curr lectured in more than five hundred places,
and on a great variety of subjects — literary, scien-
tific, temperance and sanitary. He was a Reformer
in England, and during our civil war warmly es-
poused and openly advocated by tongue and pen
the cause of the Union through the London " News"
and "Star."

Mr. Curr is a fellow of the Geological Society
and of the Royal Society of Literature, London.
In England he was a member of the 26th regiment
Volunteers. While a minister in London in 1865-67,
he was superintendent of custom-house. West India
Docks, and prior to that date, while a student, was
committee reporter in the House of Commons for
several years. He was vice-president of the United
Kingdom Alliance for the suppression of the liquor
trafific, and president of the East London Temper-
ance Association. During one year he was lecturer
in the tropical department of the Crystal Palace,

Between four and five years ago Mr. Curr was
invited to come to the United States and lecture.
He complied with the invitation, and proposes to
remain in this country. He has lectured in most of
the northern and a few of the southern states, and
has everywhere received the warmest commenda-
ti6ns of the press. He could easily keep in the
lecture field nine months in the year, but he feels
that his chief work is in the pastorate, and two
years ago he took charge of the Main-street Baptist
GJiurch, Dubuque, a body which has rapidly grown
under his pastoral care, and which, through his
indomitable energy and almost superhuman efforts,
has erected one of the finest Protestant houses of
worship in the city. It is doubtful if there is
another man in the northwest who, similarly situ-



ated, could have accomplished the work of church
building which he has done. In politics he is a
republican and free trader.

The wife of Mr. Curr was Catherine Frances An-
drews, of an old Kentish family, and an only child.
They were married in 1867, and have three children,
all boys. They have a beautiful residence on the
Twelfth-street bluff, overlooking the business part
of the city and presenting a grand view of the
"Father of Waters." It should be called the Poet's
Retreat, for Mr. Curr has great skill in versifying,
and published two or thi-ee volumes of poems before
coming to this country. He is also the author of
two novels, one of them, " The Last of the Stor-
monts," a historical romance, has had a very large
sale. He has published a number of iniscellaneous
works, and has been, and is, a liberal contributor to
newspapers and periodicals.

Mr. Curr began to preach when only fifteen or
sixteen years old, and was known as the "Scotch
boy preacher," beginning such work, like Chalmers,

before he was converted. As a preacher, since he

completed his college course, we give the opinion of

one who knew him in the old country, and who is

now a member of his church in Dubuque :

As a preacher, he is less emotional than intellectual.
His sermons, as a rule, are logical in arrangement, positive
in statement, sententious in style, abound in passages of
beauty and eloquence, and are delivered with great force
and emphasis, and albeit his voice is not one of the clearest,
nor his manner remarkable for its ease, he can hold the
attention of his audience from first to last. He has great
facility of illustration. Striking scenes, startling incidents,
natural and artificial wonders, important events, past and
passing, and remarkable anecdotes, are freely used to ex-
plain the doctrines and enforce the duties of evangelical
religion. In a sentence, his sermons are pointed, pithy and

Mr. Curr has gray hazel eyes, a sanguine, bilious

temperament, and a short body which makes very

quick motions. He has not seen a sick day since

boyhood. His flesh is very solid. Though only

five feet and seVen and a half inches tall, he weighs

one hundred and sixty-five pounds. Rhetorically,

or with the fist, he can strike a very hard blow, and

would be classed with the "muscular christians."



ONE of the early settlers in Linn county, Iowa,
the man who built the first frame house in
Marion, and the first brick house in Cedar Rapids,
one of the original proprietors of the latter city, and
the man who gave it its name, is George Greene, one
of God's noblemen. No town in Iowa, we think it
is safe to say, owes more to any one man than Cedar
Rapids owes to Judge Greene, and the citizens of
the place are fully sensible of their indebtedness to
him. He has found prompt, hearty and whole-
souled co-workers, and between them all they have
built up a city of which they may well be proud.

George Greene, a native of England, was born at
Alton, in Staffordshire, on the 15th of April, 1817.
His father, Robert Greene, emigrated to this country
in 1819. The mother of George, a Woodward, and
also a native of Staffordshire, was a considerate, pious
woman, who early instilled into the hearts of her chil-
dren the principles of rectitude and truth. The fam-
ily settled in western New York, where the father
died when the son was about eight years old. The
boy had a strong thirst for knowledge, but had to de-
pend upon his own resources to procure ah educa-
tion. He was willing to do any kind of respectable

work and forego some of the amusements of youth, if,
by so doing, he could defray expenses and continue
his studies. He attended school one year at the
Carysville Collegiate Seminary, Genesee county; one
years at the Aurora Academy, Erie county, and two
years at French's Collegiate Institute, Geneva, leav-
ing at the end of the sophomore year. During the
time he was in the last named institution the means
were furnished by his friend and school-mate, Beth
Grosvenor Heacock, brother of Rev. Dr. Heacock,
of Buff"alo. Years afterward Mr. Heacock studied
law with Mr. Greene in Iowa. The latter cherishes
very tenderly the memory of his boyhood's helper.
Mr. Greene spent some time in the family of Dr.
Chapin, of Buffalo, reading medicine without intend-
ing to practice it, and collecting the doctor's bills
and otherwise assisting him, in order to defray ex-
penses. At the same time he began to read law
with Hon. George P. Barker, forty years ago one of
the most brilliant lawyers at the Erie county bar,
but immigrated to Iowa, then a territory, in 1838,
before being admitted to the bar. Reaching Daven-
port, he made the acquaintance of David J. Owen,
an spent six delightful months with him in making



geological surveys, mainly in the territory. At the
close of this scientific research, during which he
aided Mr. Owen, made some money and made con-
siderable progress in knowledge, he went to Ivanhoe,
Linn county, and taught school in the winter.

Mr. Greene was admitted to the bar of Johnson
county in 1840, Judge Williams presiding at the
time of his examination. Soon afterward he went
to Marion, Linn county, and there practiced law
about five years. He had not been there a year be-
fore he was sent to the territorial council, and he
attended two sessions, the last one held at Burling-
ton and the first one at Iowa City, representing
Cedar, Linn and Jones counties. Though a very
young member, he took quite an active part in the
debates, -and especially in the work of committees.

Soon after settling in Marion Mr. Greene was sent
as a special delegate to Washington to secure the
removal of the United States Land Office from Du-
buque to Marion, that it might be more convenient
for parties wishing to enter lands. At the end of
one year the office was again located at Dubuque.

In 1845 Mr. Greene removed to Dubuque, and
while in the active practice of his profession took
charge of the " Miner's Express," editing and pub-
lishing it for two or three years. Meantime he
formed a partnership with J. J. Dyer, Esq., and the
old and highly reputable law firm of Greene and
Dyer is still remembered by the earlier settlers in
northern Iowa. Mr. Dyer afterward became judge
of the United States district court, and the talents
and legal acumen of Mr. Greene were soon discov-
ered, fully appreciated and partially honored by his
being appointed judge of the supreme court of the
state. That office he held a little more than eight
years, and rarely has a man of his age so dignified
the ermine. Here the industry of Judge Greene
began to fully develop itself; while on the bench he
reported the opinions of the supreme court and pub-
lished them in four volumes, known far and wide as
" G. Greene's Reports."

Judge Greene had long had a partiality for Cedar
Rapids, and removed thither in 1851. The town was
then small, but he saw its promise, and his expecta-
tions in regard to it have been realized. Something
like ten years before settling here, in connection
with N. B. Brown, Alexander L. Ely, Addison Dan-
iels and others, he had purchased claims, perfected
titles to lands, and made slight improvements on the
site of this town. A portion of it was surveyed and
subdivided by some of these parties as early as 1849.

Very soon after settling here Mr. Greene went
into the banking business a short time, in the firm
of Weare, Finch and Co., and a long time in the
firms of Greene and Weare and Greene, Merritt and
Co., and he has operated more or less in this busi-
ness up to the present time. He is now president
of the Union Bank of Cedar Rapids; he is also
president of the Star Wagon Company ; of the Farm-
ers' Manufacturing Company, and the Cedar Rapids
Oil Works, and has a large interest in all of them.
He has been president of the Coe Collegiate Insti-
tute since its origin under another name.

Judge Greene was one of the foremost men in the
efforts which resulted in bringing the Chicago and
Northwestern and Burlington and Cedar Rapids
railroads to this city, and which brought the latter
to Plymouth and originated its several divisions.
He gave freely of his time, energies and means to
secure these roads for Cedar Rapids, fully realizing,
as he then did, their great benefit to the city. He
and his brother William built the so-called Mc-
Gregor Western road to Conover, and the Rockford,
Rock Island and St. Louis road. They had some
part also in the Central Railroad of Iowa.

Judge Greene is an Odd-Fellow and has been a
Master Mason for several years. He is a communi-
cant in the Protestant Episcopal church, and has
held the office of warden more than twenty years.

He was a democrat until 1872, and now votes with
the republican party. Since he left the bench he
has sedulously refused to accept political office.

On the 30th of May, 1838, he married Miss Harriet
Merritt, daughter of Dr. Jesse Merritt, of Buffalo,
New York. She had four children, two surviving;
one of them, Edward M. Greene, is an extensive
lumber dealer in Cedar Rapids; the other, Susan H.,
is the wife of Hon. A. S. Belt, a prominent lawyer in
Cedar Rapids. Mrs. Greene died in Dubuque, on
the 25th of April, 1850. In February, 1855, Judge
Greene married Miss Frances R. Graves, daughter of
Calvin Graves, Esq., of Cooperstown, New York..
She has seven children living, having lost one. The
older ones are being very carefully and thoroughly
educated. Judge Greene has been very fortunate and
happy in his married relations, both his wives being
women largely endowed with the accomplishments
and virtues which charm the family circle and have
a healthful social influence.

A sketch of Judge Greene would be imperfect
without reference to a scene which occurred on the
morning of the Centennial Fourth, when he was too



feeble to leave his home. His residence is two
miles from town, on a high point of land, overlook-
ing from the cupola of his stately mansion no less
than seven counties, and on the 4th of July between
two and three hundred citizens went out in carriages
and on foot to make him a neighborly call and pre-
sent him with three sets of silver, worth more than
a thousand dollars, as a token of their regard and
their appreciation of his services in building up the
city. Judge N. M. Hubbard made the presentation
speech, and we cannot better conclude this brief
account of Judge Greene's life than by giving the
address in a slightly condensed form :

Mr. Greene, — In behalf of the ten thousand good peo-
ple of Cedar Rapids, and at the request of their committee,
I have the pleasure and the honor to present you this silver
service. Like your genius, it is brilliant; like your judg-
ment, it is solid ; like the lives and characters of your excel-
lent wife and yourself, it is pure; and like the memory in
the hearts of all our people of your public deeds and spirit,
it is lasting. It is given by our people as a spontaneous
heart-offering to testify our respect and esteem for you.

When the committee made known this plan our people
hunted them, eager to share in the honor, and the commit-
tee were compelled to limit the amount of their sub.=;crip-
tions that more might participate in this gift.

Praise belongs to the dead, not to the living, and I shall
therefore pronounce no eulogy. It is enough to say that
the history of the growth and prosperity of the State, and
especially of Cedar Rapids, is your history. . . In the
building of all our railroads, in the beginning and progress
of all our public improvements as a city, upon the founda-
tion and superstructiu-e of all our manufactories, are found
the impress of your organizing, executive mind, and the up-
building of your hands. And now, after the unceasing
labor of head and heart and hands for twenty-five years,
and you feel that the great strain is loosening the tension of
the fibre and of the nerve, — though the spirit flags not, — as
you look off from this beautiful mound home, the work of
your hands, upon that beautiful city which owes so much
to you, perhaps you sometimes wonder whether the busy
delvers and dwellers therein realize and appreciate the la-
bor, the energy, the unflagging zeal, the unconquerable will
and the executive power you have expended for their pros-
perity. Let this token assure you. ... Be assured our peo-
ple bring this offering, not alone for what you have done
for Cedar Rapids, but for your greatness and goodness of
heart and brain also; for your good example; for your pub-
lic enterprises in behalf of mankind, accomplished and to
be accomplished ; for your virtues ; for your manly, noble
character, and, finally, for what you are.



THE subject of this sketch, a native of Penrith,
county of Northumberland, England, was born
on the 22d of July, 1825. When he was four years
old his parents immigrated to Montreal, Canada,
where his father resumed his occupation of dry-
good? merchant. During the cholera epidemic of
183T and 1832 the mother was stricken and died four
hours after the attack, and in two weeks the father
died of brain fever, leaving a family of one daughter
and six sons. Wesley, the next to the youngest,
being then six years of age, and his next older
brother, went to live with an uncle at Cincinnati,
Ohio, where he lived until he was fourteen years
old, attending school a part of the time, and worked
as " printers' devil " the remainder of the time. He
was one of the first newsboys, now so common in
our large cities, and employed his leisure hours
selling papers and magazines on the steamboats.
In 1839 his uncle, fearing that he would be con-
taminated by the evil influences incident to the
character of his work, sent him to live with the eld-
est brother, then a cabinet-maker at Fairfield, Ver-
mont. He lived with his brother four months, but
becoming dissatisfied, ran away, having five cents in
his pocket and wearing a common suit of clothes.

He walked to St. Albans, and thence worked his
way to Whitehall, New York, where he hired out to
drive horses on the canal, continuing thus employed
during that season ; he then hired out to a farmer
in Washington county. New York, receiving, as a
compensation for his work, his board and clothes
and three months schooling during the year. After
two years thus spent he went to Saratoga Springs,
and was employed during two seasons as "dipper
boy " at " Congress Spring." Having saved a little
money he now returned to his friends at Cincinnati,
who had not heard from him for five years and
hardly recognized him.

He next hired out as cabin-boy on a steamboat
bound for the upper Mississippi, but when he arrived
at Bloomington (now Muscatine) in September, 1844,
he concluded to visit a brother who was living in
Iowa City. Accordingly, hiring a hack in company
with others, he arrived at his destination in safety
late at night and stopped at Swan's Hotel. Before
leaving Bloomington, as an accommodation he had
changed a three-dollar bill for a stranger, and upon
his arrival at Iowa City gave this bill to the driver
for his fare, but he had scarcely got to sleep when
the driver awoke him with the information that the



bill was worthless. It was sad news for him, as he
found by counting his money that he had barely
enough to pay the driver and settle for his supper
and lodging. Not^being able to pay for a breakfast
he went without.

He soon obtained employment at three dollars
per week in the office of the " Iowa Capitol Re-
porter," conducted by Jesse Williams, Esq., who was
then territorial printer.

The constitution of the state was printed that
winter, and Mr. Redhead had the honor of assisting
in the work by using the ink-roller in the capacity
of devil.

The next year, 1845, he went to Anamosa, in
Jones county, to operate a carding machine, and
was getting along well with his work when he was
stricken down with bilious fever, from which he re-
covered only to be taken with fever and ague, then
very prevalent in the new country. Being obliged
to give up his situation, he returned to Iowa City,
where he had the chills for nine months.

Not being able to engage in hard work, he learned
the tailoring business, serving three years, and after-
ward worked as journeyman tailor until the winter
of 1851, when he decided to start in business for
himself. Going to Fort Des Moines, he continued
his business for one year and then discontinued it,
obtaining a clerkship in a store, where he worked
one year at twenty-five dollars per month. At the
expiration of that time he was appointed postmaster
by President Fillmore to fill a vacancy caused by
the resignation of Hoyt Sherman, Esq. He soon
afterward opened a book-store in connection with
the office ; it was the fourth book-store started in
the state, and the sales averaged about five dollars
per week. As showing the growth of this business
it may be stated that the present firm of Redhead
and Wellslayer conducts a business of about three
hundred dollars per day. He held the office of
postmaster for nine years and then resigned. Since
about 1869 Mr. Redhead has been largely engaged
in the Des Moines Coal Company, being principal
owner, secretary and superintendent. He is also
secretary and treasurer of the Black Diamond Coal
Company in Marion county, and besides is treasurer
of the Des Moines Scale Company, a director of the
State National Bank, and vice-president of the State
Printing Company. He also conducts a large farm
one mile from the city, giving special attention to
raising hogs, and having some of the finest " Berk-
shires " in the state. Mr. Redhead is never idle,

and in all his varied career has never sued any, one
or has himself been sued.

He has been twice married : first, in October,
185 1, to Miss Isabel Clark, of Iowa City. Mrs.
Redhead was a sister of Hon. Ezekiel Clark and of
the wives of ex-Governor Kirkwood, Edward Lucas,
J. E. Jewett and^William Rutton, of Iowa City, a
noble band of women from Mansfield, Ohio. After
seven years of uninterrupted happiness Mrs. Red-

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 15 of 125)