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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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valued by him than gain ; and his life presents a
wonderful example of how much may be done by
one man.

He is very popular among his fraternity, and is a
hard worker. Whatever he undertakes, he throws
into it his whole energy. As an ardent student he
has climbed the hill of knowledge, has been a suc-
cessful teacher, is eminent as a writer, and has done
much in the interest of his order. He ranks high
as a promoter of every good work, and has made a
record which might satisfy any ordinary ambition.



one years a resident of De Witt, Iowa, and
a leading attorney at this place, is a native of Lewis
county. New York, and was born in the village
of Copenhagen, on the 26th of June, 1829. His
parents, Seth and Mabel Sanford Merrell, were from
Connecticut. His paternal grandfather was in the
first war with England, and his father in the second.
When sixteen years of age Nathaniel began to
divide his time between farm and literary work,
attending some academy and teaching about half the
time until twenty-two. At that age he commenced
reading law with an elder brother, Eliada S., then

residing at Copenhagen, now a resident of Lowville,
and judge of Lewis county. He was admitted to
the bar at Watertown, Jefferson county, in July,
1855, and the next spring came to De Witt, here
building up a good reputation as an attorney, his
professional career being one of marked success.
He is a fluent speaker, quite persuasive withal, and
in any reasonably just cause carries the jury with

Mr. Merrell went into the army in the autumn of
1862, as captain of company D, 26th Iowa Infantry,
and was wounded severely at the battle of Arkansas
Post, on the nth of January, 1863.



He was mayor of De Witt two years ; was a mem-
ber of the lower house of the general assembly
during the fourteenth session, and of the senate
during the fifteenth and sixteenth sessions. In the
upper house he was chairman of the committee on
public lands, and was on the committees on consti-
tutional amendments, judiciary and agricultural col-
lege. In 1877 he was reelected to the senate for
the further term of four years, in all ten years.

Mr. Merrell has been a life-long democrat, but
does not " give up to party what was meant for man-
kind "; would not sacrifice his country for any polit-
ical body. He was an ardent supporter of the

national administration in its efforts to suppress the

He was married at Lowville, New York, on the
17th of July, 1855, to Mrs. Mary A. Moman Merrell,
then late of Richmond, Kentucky, and widow of his
brother. They have three children living, and have
lost two.

Mr. Merrell has gray eyes, a ruddy complexion,
stands perfectly erect, is six feet in height, and
weighs two hundred and fifty pounds. His physique
is impressive, his bearing commanding, his address
cordial, his manners are easy and pleasant, and his
conversational gifts excellent.



native of Franklin, Kentucky, was born on
the 6th of September, 182 1, the son of Tucker
Woodson Williamson and Permelia nee Martin. His
paternal grandparents were Thomas and Elizabeth
(Reynolds) Williamson ; the former was a Methodist
minister and one of the pioneers of Kentucky. His
maternal grandfather, John Martin, was a Kentucky

In 1828, when William was eight years old, his
mother died, and he lived with his grandmother
Williamson until 1834, when his father married his
second wife. Miss Caroline Depue, and removed to
Orleans, Indiana, and engaged in the mercantile
trade. Prior to this time William had attended
school at various places, but upon removing to In-
diana entered his father's store, where he was en-
gaged for two years. He afterward spent three
years on a farm in Orange county, and in 1840 en-
tered Asbury University at Greencastle, Indiana.

He continued his studies for three years, and in
the spring of 1843 taught a school for three months.
Going thence to Lawrence county, . he there had
charge of a seminary for more than a year, and at the
expiration of that time entered the office of George
G. Dunn, Esq., for the purpose of completing his
law studies which he had previously begun.

Being admitted to the bar in 1846, he began the
practice of his profession at Bedford, Indiana, and
continued it with good success until the spring of
1848, when he removed to Fairfield, Iowa. He had
intended to settle at Monroe City, the capital, hav-

ing been located there, but the legislature of that
year set aside the action locating the capital there,
and Mr. Williamson spent eighteen months at the
above-named place, Believing that the capital
would eventually be located at Fort Des Moines,
he removed thither in September, 1849, and estab-
lished himself in the practice of his profession.

He soon made for himself a fine reputation, and
in 185 1 was elected prosecuting attorney of Polk
county for a term of two years. In 1854 he was
elected on the whig ticket judge of the fifth judicial
district, which comprised all of western Iowa. After
his election had been reported, and his certificate
issued by the secretary of state, the election was
contested, the contesting board consisting of two
democrats and one whig. Pol) books were admit-
ted in a questionable, if not fraudulent, manner, and
the result was. that his election was set aside.

He continued his profession with marked success
until i860, when, by reason of his wife's ill health,
he removed his family to San Antonio, Texas. In
July, 1861, on account'of the civil war which had
already opened, he returned to Des Moines and
continued his practice until the fall of 1865, when
he again went to San Antonio. Such, however, was
the state of society, that he returned to Des Moines
in the following spring, and opened a law office, ad-
mitting into his business, as a partner, Mr. J. M. St.
John. By strict attention to business Mr. William-
son had accumulated considerable property, and at
this time was in good circumstances. Contrary to
his principles, he became surety for a friend who


^ '0

was engaged in the boot and shoe trade, and being
compelled to take an interest in the business, una-
voidably lost several thousand dollars.

As a result of the heavy drafts upon his finances
he failed in business in 1872, but closed up affairs to
the entire satisfaction of his creditors, none of whom
charged him with dishonest motives. In 1873 he
again opened an office and began the practice of
law alone, and continued until October, 1874, when
Manford E. Williams was admitted to the business,
which is now conducted under the firm name of
Williamson and- Williams.

In political sentiment. Judge Williamson was for-
merly a Henry Clay whig. In 1856 he voted the
conservative ticket. He supported Bell and Everett
in i860, and in 1864 voted for General George B.
McClellan. He supported Horace Greeley for the
presidency in 1872, and at the present time (1877)
believes that the salvation of our country rests with
the republican party.

From childhood "he has been a member of the
Methodist church ; but, being a man of liberal views,
he always grants to others that freedom of opinion
which he asks for himself.

He was married in September, 1847, to Miss
Clarissa A. McLane, daughter of Colonel William
McLane, a prominent merchant of Bedford, In-

diana. Mrs. Williamson was born at Orleans, Indi-
ana, on the 3d of May, 1824. She is a lady of good
sound judgment, quick at repartee, of active intel-
lect, and a devoted wife and fond mother. She has
been in poor health since 1859. They have had
five children: William Tucker, born on the 22d of
April, 1852, at Des Moines, and now living in Ar-
kansas; Charles Earnest, born the loth of March,
1854, at Des Moines, now a telegraph operator on
the Western Union line; Lillie, born on the loth of
April, 1857, and who died on the 8th of May, 1858 ;
Frank, born on the nth of March, 1859, a printer
by trade, and now a law student in his father's
office; and Clara, born on the 2d of July, 1861, is
now attending school.

Judge Williamson has always been a strong advo-
cate of temperance, and is also in favor of woman's

As a lawyer, he has a wide and worthy reputation
among his fellow practitioners, and is universally
known as an honorable, fair dealing man. In i860,
before he went to Texas, his was the leading law
business in Des Moines.

He has given close attention to his professional
duties, and lives now in the enjoyment of that re-
ward which follows patient, earnest and honorable



OF the younger class of physicians in Fayette
county, Iowa, Dr. Robinson stands at the
head. He is not only eminent as a medical prac-
titioner, but also as a surgeon. During the last few
years he has performed operations which require
and test the highest skill. He shrinks from no
task, however difficult, in this line, and has never
failed of success in any of his operations. He is,
however, the last man to boast of such things, for
his modesty equals his skill.

Stephen Eddy Robinson, a native of Indiana, was
born near La Porte, on the 7th of May, 1838. His
father, Thomas Robinson, was a farmer in early life
and afterward a merchant. An uncle on the mother's
side died in the war of 181 2. When Stephen was
eight years old his father moved on a farm in
Rock county, Wisconsin, and six years later pur-
chased a half interest in a store at Evansville, in

the same state, and settled in that village. Stephen
had only moderate means for education up to his
sixteenth year, when he went to the Lawrence Uni-
versity, Appleton, remaining there nearly two years,
and returned home to attend the Evansville Semi-
nary, then recently started.

He commenced studying medicine in the autumn
of 1857 ; attended two courses of lectures at Rush
Medical College, Chicago, and settled in West Union,
Iowa, on the 28th of April, i860, commencing prac-
tice on the day he was twenty-two years old. After
one year's ride he enlisted as a soldier in the 3d
Iowa Infantry, went to Keokuk with the regiment,
and was put on detached duty as a surgeon. Ac-
companying the regiment into Missouri as a soldier,
he was again detached, and had little more com-
pany service afterward.

Dr. Robinson was on hospital duty at the battle



of Pittsburgh Landing, soon after which he was
mustered out as a soldier by special order of Gen-
eral Halleck, and appointed surgeon for army duty
of such an ofiicer in that department. He organ-
ized two or three brigades and division hospitals ;
was for a short time post surgeon on General Pope's
staff; acted a few weeks as surgeon of the 51st
Illinois Infantry, and was finally, for a short period,
one of the three inspectors of hospitals for General
Halleck's command investing Corinth, Mississippi.

In the autumn of 1862 Dr. Robinson was taken
sick, resigned his position, and in December re-
turned to the north. He had not been at home
but a few months before George Kirkwood, at the
request of the regiment, sent him a commission as
assistant surgeon of the 38th Infantry, but his health
and business were such that he had to decline. In
1866 Dr. Robinson attended a third course of lec-
tures at Rush Medical College, and received his

diploma at the close of the term. He is a close
medical student, and growing in skill and popularity
as well as knowledge. _

Dr. Robinson is a Knight Templar in the Masonic
order, and a member of the fraternity of Odd-

In politics, he has always been a republican, ardent
and unwavering. His religious connection is with
the Methodist Episcopal church.

On the 26th of September, 1867, he was joined
in wedlock with Miss Sarah E. Artman, a native of
New York State. They have three bright little chil-
dren, two boys and a girl.

Dr. Robinson is one of the trustees of the Hospital
for the Insane at Independence ; is a member of the
American Medical Association, and of the Iowa State
Medical Society, and the North Iowa Medical So-
ciety. Few physicians in northern Iowa have a
better standing.



GEORGE WYATT CABLE, lumber merchant,
was born in Athens county, Ohio, on the
17th of June, 1831. His parents were Hiram and
Rachel (Henry) Cable, the former a native of Jef-
ferson county. New York, and the mother of Wash-
ington county, Ohio. The grandfather of our sub-
ject, James Cable, emigrated from England about
the year 1770 and settled in Massachusetts, whence
his descendants branched off to other states. His
mother was the daughter of Scotch-Irish parents;
a most excellent christian lady, to whose influence
are mainly due the better traits in the moral char-
acter of our subject.

Hiram Cable was a gentleman of considerable
local note in the State of Ohio, having been in the
early part of the century extensively engaged in
merchandising, and later in life actively connected
with public improvements and enterprises. He was
one of the projectors of the Piqua and Indianapolis
railroad, now a branch of the Pennsylvania Central,
one of the largest contractors for the construction
of the same, and for nine years a director of the
company. He was also the founder and builder
of the picturesque and thriving town of Cable, situ-
ated in Champaign county, seven miles from Ur-
bana, which was owned entirely by himself and his

brother, P. L. Cable. He represented his county
in the legislature during a number of years, and
was a man of great public spirit and energy, highly
esteemed and honored by all who knew him.

In 1857 he disposed of his Ohio interests and
removed to Scott county, Iowa, where for nine
years he was extensively engaged in farming, giving
especial attention to sheep-raising and wool-grow-
ing. The retirement and monotony of a farmer's
life were not, however, adopted to his tastes, nor
in harmony with his previous active public life ; he
pined for a more varied and enterprising sphere of
existence, and accordingly, in 1866, sold out his
farm and removed to the city of Davenport, where
in partnership with his son, the subject of this
sketch, he embarked in the coal and lumber busi-
ness, which is still in successful operation. Hiram
Cable is a brother .to the well-known P. L. Cable,
of Rock Island, Illinois, owner of the Coal Valley
mines of that county, and who in company with
his nephew, R. R. Cable, brother of our subject,
has recently built the Rock Island and Mercer
County railroad, which intersects a rich and popu-
lous farming district, bringing within easy reach of
market products hitherto valueless.

George W. Cable received a fair English and



mathematical education in the excellent public
schools of Urbana, Ohio, and commenced life as
a farmer in Champaign county, Ohio, which he
continued for several years with success ; but fol-
lowing the example of his father, he sold out in
1857 and removed to Scott county, Iowa, where
for nine years" he steadily pursued the business of
husbandry. In 1866 he removed to Davenport,
and engaged with his father in the coal and lumber
trade, to which was . afterward added an extensive
lumber manufactory, which has since been con-
ducted with marked success, the establishment
giving steady employment to about one hundred
hands, and turning out about ten million feet of
lumber annually. In 1874 his father, Hiram Cable,
retired into private life ; and two years later our
subject associated with him in business Mr. John
Homby, and the business is now carried on under
the style of Homby and Cable.

In politics, Mr. Cable has always been averse to
the institution of human chattelage, and conse-
quently has allied himself with the republican party,
but in common with all good citizens he mourns
over party shortcomings.

He is a prominent aud consistent member of
the Congregational Church of Davenport, and in
all the relations which he sustains to his fellow-
citizens leads an honest and blameless life.

As a man of business, he is endowed with rare
good sense and a well-balanced mind, so that as
he may operate with more caution than others, his
mistakes are fewer. His business integrity is pro-
verbial, his character for honesty has never been
sullied by even a whisper.

He is an affectionate and true husband and
father, devoted to the interests of his family, and
yet a warm and active friend to the poor and
needy. As a churchman, he is earnest and zealous,
" fully persuaded in his own mind," and an un-
compromising antagonist of " the world, the flesh
and the devil." He is generous and even self-
sacrificing with his means for religious and be-
nevolent purposes ; and at the time of the erec-
tion of the beautiful edifice of the Congregation
Society, in Davenport, he is understood, to have
given a tenth of all his property to the enterprise.
He carries his religion into every-day life, ex-
emplifying in his character the principles of the
"golden rule," yet entirely free from cant or phar-
asaic ostentation.

On the iSth of October, 1854, he married Miss
Eliza E. Baldwin, daughter of Richard Baldwin,
Esq., an extensive farmer of Champaign county,
Ohio. They have had six children, five of whom
survive : Charles H., Nanny Kate, Mary Ellen,
Josephene, and George W., junior.



AMONG the very few country journalists who
iA. have left the editor's chair to start a bank is
Andrew J. Felt, a native of the Empire State. He
was born at Victor, Ontario county, on the 27th
of December, 1833, his parents being Warren Felt,
merchant and farmer, and Cynthia Stowell. The
Felts were from Massachusetts. His grandfather
was a participant in the second war with England.
Andrew was educated at the Hamilton Academy,
Madison county ; at sixteen commenced teaching ;
followed that profession three winters ; at nineteen
commenced reading law with Thomas Frothingham,
of Rochester, finishing his legal studies with Judge
Nichols, of Sherburne, Chenango county, and being
seized violently with the western fever, came to Iowa
before being admitted to the bar.

Mr. Felt reached this state in the autumn of 1855,

and the following winter taught a school in a black-
smith shop upon the spot where Luana, Clayton
county, now stands. In 1856 he became connected
editorially with the " North Iowa Tiines," of Mc-
Gregor, published by A. P. Richardson, remaining
in that position till March, 1857. A short time after
this date he was admitted to the bar of Chickasaw
county, Judge Murdock presiding, but before com-
mencing practice he started, in the spring of 1857,
the "Cedar Valley News," at Bradford, running the
paper and a law office one year, when he sold his
interest in the newspaper and practiced law a year
in company with M. V. Burdick, of Decorah, Win-
neshiek county. In i860 he renewed his editorial
connection with the " North Iowa Times," and held
that position when the national flag was stricken
down at the south. His patriotic heart was instantly



fired, and he enlisted as a private in the first com-
pany which was raised in Chickasaw county — Com-
pany B, 7 th Iowa Infantry. He was taken prisoner
at Belmont, Missouri, on the 7 th of November, 1861 ;
remained in the hands of the rebels one year less
twenty days ; was in the hospital at Annapolis, Mary-
land, from October, 1862, to February, 1863; joined
the regiment at Corinth, Mississippi ; was promoted
to sergeant, and returned to Iowa the next spring.

Mr. Felt went immediately to West Union, Fayette
county, and established the " Public Record," con-
ducting it until 1866, when he sold out to Judge
Edmonds. In the month of May of the following
year he started the Nashua " Post," and conducted
it until February, 1874, when he sold out to Grawe
Brothers, and purchased the interest of M. C. Wood-
ruff in the Waterloo " Courier. " In October, 1875,
he abandoned journalism and started a private bank
in Nashua. This course seemed to be regretted by
many of the editorial brotherhood of Iowa, for he
was a keen and pointed writer, and his journalistic
career was eminently creditable to the Iowa press.

Mr. Felt was postmaster at Nashua from 1869
to 1874, resigning the office to go to Waterloo.

In politics, he was a democrat until he saw the

old flag insulted in 1861, since which time he has
acted heartily with the republicans. He was a
delegate to the national conventions which nomi-
nated and renominated General Grant, being one
of the secretaries of the Chicago convention in 1868.
He was president of the congressional convention
which nominated N. C. Deering in August, 1876,
and without being a candidate before the conven-
tion, was suddenly brought out, and although per-
sisting that he was not a candidate, came within
seven votes of being nominated. He has sometimes
taken part in a political canvass, where he has
shown himself to be a fluent and effective off-hand

Mr. Felt is a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the
Congregational church, where he teaches a bible
class, and a man of very pure character. He has
a very small body, barely enough, Sydney Smith
would say, to cover his mind.

The wife of Mr. Felt was Miss Emily Rutherford,
of Fairfield, Ohio. They were married at Bradford
on the 2ist of February, 1858 ; have had five chil-
dren, and have two boys and one girl living. Mrs.
Felt is a true wife and mother, and a woman pos-
sessed of very excellent qualities of mind and heart.



AMONG the physicians who located in Clayton
, county when it was sparsely settled is Dr. D.
W. Chase, who came to Iowa in 1855, and who has
made a commendable record both as a practitioner
and as a citizen. He is a native of New York, and
was born at Cohocton, Steuben county, on the nth
of November, 1819.

Dr. Chase's parents, Thomas C. and Melinda Butts
Chase, were plain farming people, and Dwight spent
his first eighteen years at home, aiding in tilling the
soil. He early cultivated a relish for books and
study, and although having but three or four months'
attendance on school annually, he was fitted, by
mental application at home, to teach a district school
at eighteen. During the next four years he attended
school at Lima eight months in the year, and taught
during the winters. At twenty-two years of age he
commenced studying medicine with Dr. W. W. Day,
of Eagle, Wyoming county. Attending lectures at
Berkshire Medical College, Pittsfield, Massachusetts,

and Jefferson College, Philadelphia, he graduated
from the latter in March, 1845. Practicing ten years
at Sandusky, Cattaraugus county. Dr. Chase immi-
grated to Iowa, settling near Yankee Settlement,
now Edgewood, Clayton county. There he had an
extensive and remunerative practice, but the educa-
tional privileges in that farming district not being
very good, in 1866 he removed to Elkader, the
county seat. Here his travels have been no less
extended in geographical area, and his business in-
creased so much that he has been obliged to take
into partnership K. F. Purdy, M.D., a graduate of
Rush Medical College, Chicago.

Dr. Chase has made medicine his life study, and
is just as much of a student now as he ever was.
With the exception of the news of the day, hjs read-
ing is almost exclusively professional, and few physi-
cians in the county are better read in mediciiie.
He has tried to confine himself to the medical prac-
tice, but in two or three instances has been persuaded



to accept office for a short time. He was president
of the board of supervisors in 1859 and i860, and
a member of the ninth general assembly, represent-
ing his county in the lower branch. He was in the
regular session of 1862 and the extra session the
same year, and was elected without opposition. He
was very active on two important committees, char-
itable institutions and schools and state university.
He was offered the chairmanship of either of these
committees, thexhoice being left to himself, but he
was a new, inexperienced member, and declined.

During the second year of the rebellion he was
offered the position of surgeon of some Iowa regi-
ment, Governor Kirkwood giving him his choice of

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 47 of 125)