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He was reared a Baptist, but is now a member of
no church ; he believes in the fundamental doctrines
of the christian religion, and adheres to the golden
rule as his guide.

He was married on the 15th of January, 1856, to
Miss Fannie A. Ferguson, of Danbury, Connecticut.
They have two children, a son and a daughter.

Much of his success may be attributed to his
industry and honorable dealing with his clients.
Mr. Stewart is somewhat above medium height, of
good physical appearance, suggestive of good health
and habits. He has an elegant residence about



three miles from the city, surrounded by handsome | life in a new country, without friends and in straitened
grounds, and where, free from the dust and din of ! circumstances, he has by his own unaided industry
the city, he rests from the toils of the day. Mr. j and perseverance gained a competence, and the
Stewart is emphatically a self-made man. Beginning I esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens.



W'ESLEY JONES, prominent merchant, Bur-
lington, Iowa, was born in Springfield, Ohio,
on the nth of February, 1841, and is the son of
Wesley Jones, senior, and Mary Margaret Jones, who
were early settlers of the state, his father locating
at Burlington in 1838. Soon after the birth of
Wesley the family removed to Burlington, where
he attended the common schools for a short time,
but the death of his father leaving him dependent
upon his own exertions for a living, he accepted the
first position that offered, which was that of carrier
for the " Hawkeye " newspaper, in which office he
learned the printer's trade, and remained two years.
He then secured a situation as clerk in the dry-
goods house of W. H. Postlewait, in whose employ
he spent seven years, and remained with his suc-
cessors, Garrett, Rhodes and Co., until they quit
business. Shortly after this he went west and en-
gaged in a series of speculations, which, though at
ttmes perilous and in which he labored under great
disadvantages, were very successful, and he again
returned to Burlington.

In 1866 the book-store of J. L. Corse, deceased,
being offered for sale, he purchased it. It was then
doing a business of eighteen or twenty thousand
dollars per annum. He took hold of it a green

hand knowing nothing at all of the business, but
investing the same energy and will which had
proved so successful in the mountains of Montana,
and with an eye to the growing demands of the
country, and a determination to succeed, has built
up the establishment to what it is now, the leading
house in its line in the northwest, and doing a
business of three hundred thousand dollars per
annum. He is undoubtedly the proprietor of the
largest book and paper store owned and controlled
by any one man in the United States, and is vice-
president of the American Book Trade Association
of the United States, erected July, 1875, at a con-
vention held at Niagara Falls. His success has been
attained by his indomitable energy and close at-
tention to business. He is in the fullest sense of
the term a self-made man : commencing in early life
without a penny, he has raised himself by his own
unaided- ability, industry and perseverance.

He was brought up in the Episcopal church, and
is still and attendant of that form of worship.

In politics, he is a liberal democrat, but is in no
sense of the word a politician.

Though still young, he has by his superb business
qualifications attained the respect and confidence
of the trade, and is a most exemplary citizen.



THE subject of this sketch was born in Craw-
ford county, Pennsylvania, on the 21st of Janu-
ary, 1 83 1, his parents being Abram Miller and Nancy
Ross Miller. His paternal grandfather was a Bap-
tist minister for thirty-five years, and his father, a
hale old man, is living in Mason City. His ma-
ternal grandfather was a son of Sir ^Villiani Ross,
of Ireland.

Young George had a strong thirst for knowledge, i

and when twelve years of age used to attend a
select school, fi\-e miles from home, walking ten
miles daily.

When he was fourteen his parents moved to Vir-
ginia, and after working one year with his father on
a farm the son was apprenticed to the tailor's trade,
serving his full time of three years. While working
on the bench he was accustomed to study, more or
less, giving all his leisure to text-books, fitting him-



self for a teacher while learning his trade. He
went directly to teaching, devoting eight years
steadily to this, in Erie county, Pennsylvania, and
in the southern part of that state.

Mr. Miller moved to Rossville, Allamakee county,
Iowa, in 1856, being one of the early settlers in that
place. Rossville was named after an uncle of his.
At twenty-six years of age he commenced studying
law at Rossville, and was admitted to the bar at
Lansing, Allamakee county, in 1859. He practiced
in that county until 1868, when he moved to Mason
City, Cerro Gordo county, connecting real estate with
his legal business. For six years he was in partner-
ship with Hon. I. W. Card. The firm is now Miller
and Cliggitt, and has a high standing in the county.

In 1 86 1 Mr. Miller received a recruiting commis-
sion from Adjutant-General Baker, with the title of
lieutenant, and that year recruited a portion of the
ist Iowa Cavalry and the 5th and 12th Iowa Infantry.
The next year he recruited a compan,y for the 27th
regiment of Infantry, and went into the army as
captain of the same. He served until June, 1863,
when his health failed and he was discharged.

Mr. Miller represented Allamakee county in the
twelfth general assembly, 1868, being in the lower
house. He was one of the hard-working members.

He is a Master Mason, and has been a member of
the fraternity twenty years.

He has been connected with the Baptist church
since he was eighteen years old.

He was a Douglas democrat, and now calls hinti-
self a liberal democrat. He was a delegate to the
national democratic convention in 1876.

In June, 1853, he married Miss Mary E. Burchi-
nal, of Fayette county, Pennsylvania. They have
five children, all born in Iowa.

Mr. Miller had quite a struggle to get his educa-
tion, having no assistance except his own diligence,
perseverance and good, health. He has been iden-
tified with many important enterprises in northern
Iowa. He is one of the foremost men in Cerro
Gordo county in agricultural matters, and has been
president of the county agricultural society for the
last four years. He is one of the leaders in what-
ever is calculated to promote the best interests of



THE subject of this sketch, a son of Jedediah
Lake, a farmer, and of Patience Church Lake,
was born in Lapeer, then a part of Virgil, New
York, on the i8th of November, 1830. His grand-
father, Henry Lake, served four years in the revolu-
tionary war. Jedediah Lake died when his son was
only three years old, and the latter remained with
his mother on the farm until he was seventeen. He
enjoyed the usual educational advantages of farm-
ers' sons to be had in a district school. After that
age, for four or five years, he attended Cortland
Academy in the summers and taught school in the
winters. He paid some attention to classics, but the
English branches, and particularly mathemathics,
engaged most of his attention.

The years 1853 and 1854 were spent in travel-
ing in the middle and southern states, partly to
acquaint himself with the manners and customs of
the people and the resources of the country, and
partly to find a location in which to settle.

He came to the west in September, 1855, and be-
ing delighted with the valley of the Wapsipinecon,

resolved to settle at Independence, Buchanan county,
which he did the next month. He ran a saw-mill
and cultivated a farm until the financial crisis of
1857, when he found himself, like many of his
neighbors, ruined by its effects.

Prior to this date he had read a few law books,
and now resolved to devote himself to the legal
profession. He entered the office of C. H. Lathrop,
Esq., in the autumn of 1857, and studied about one
year, when he was admitted to the Buchanan county
bar. Here he has practiced ever since, except
when in the army, having a very remunerative busi-
ness and standing high in the profession.

In August, 1862, he enlisted as a private in com-
pany C, 27th Iowa Infantry. When the company
was organized he was elected first-lieutenant, and
was appointed lieutenant- colonel by the governor
before the regiment was mustered into the service.
In 1864, when Colonel Gilbert, commander of this
regiment, was promoted to brigadier-general, Lieut. -
Colonel Lake was commissioned colonel. He served
three years, at the end of which time the war had



closed. The 27th was at the capture of Little Rock,
Arkansas, under General Steele; in the Red river
expedition, under General Banks; at the battle of
Nashville, Tennessee; at the capture of Mobile,
Alabama, and several other engagements, but Colo-
nel Lake never received a wound.

In 1861 he was elected a member of the lower
house of the general assembly, and enlisted in the
army while serving in the extra session. Just before
enlisting he was appointed a collector of internal
revenue for the third congressional district, but he
declined to act, preferring to serve his country in
the field.

When the new law of Iowa, reducing the number
of supervisors to three, went into effect, he was
elected one of the members of the board and served
two years. He is one of the directors of the First
National Bank of Independence, and of the Mill
Company, a heavy local organization, owning the
largest flouring mill in the state.

Colonel Lake is a member of no church, and has
no religious preferences.

He has always been a republican.

On the 2d of Januarj', 1861, he was married to
Miss Sarah E. Meyer, of Buchanan county, and by
her has had three children, two of whom are living.



GEORGE S. SHAW, one of the most wealthy,
enterprising and useful citizens of Davenport,
and the proprietor of a large portion of East Daven-
port, was born in Chelsea, Vermont, on the 14th of
April, 1824. His parents were Elijah and Elizabeth
(Ainsworth) Shaw, of Scotch descent (the original
ancestor having migrated to New England some
three generations previously), perpetuating and ex-
emplifying in an eminent degree the characteristics
of that race ; hardly, patipnt, persistent, industrious
and frugal. The father owned a farm in the " Green
Mountain State " consisting of one hundred and
twenty acres of a steep hill-side, so closely covered
with small rocks and underlaid with larger ones,
that it resembled more a macadamized highway
than a farm of arable land. The earliest recollec-
tions of our subject are fraught with the drudgery
and hardship of removing those flinty impediments
to the plowshare, and the productiveness of the soil.
The only opportunities for education which he en-
joyed were three months in each winter, when the
ground was so frozen and coated with snow that
field-work was impossible. At the early age of teti
years he launched out in support of himself, and for
two years worked for his board and clothing, going
to school three months each year. The following
three years he worked as a day laborer or farm-
hand. At fifteen he was indentured as an appren-
tice to learn the house carpenter and millwright
business, to which he served four years, and was
considered an expert and ingenious mechanic, while
his health and general constitution had become

robust and established by the physical exercise in-
cident to his pupilage. On completing his appren-
ticeship he left his native town of Chelsea, Vermont,
and moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and lacking
means he was compelled to make the entire journey
of one hundred and fifty-five miles on foot. There
for two years he worked steadily at the bench as a
journeyman, and saved a small sum of money. At
the age of twenty-one years, having attained a rep-
utation for mechanical skill and integrity, he com-
menced to take contracts for the erecting of houses
and other structures, with general success, and was
daily adding to his little hoard. At the end of four
years he moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts, a sub-
urb of Boston, bringing with him what at that date
was regarded as a considerable " pile," and settled
in a suburb of the town which was then called
Winthrop. Here he invested his savings in adjacent
lands, which he subdivided into lots, streets, etc.,
and commenced the building of houses, which he
sold or rented as fast as completed, and in a short
time he had built nearly half the town, and was
considered the most distinguished benefactor of the
neighborhood. He was accordingly honored suc-
cessively with all the offices of the corporation from
school trustee upward. In 1857 he moved tcTChel-
sea, Massachusetts, where for nine years he con-
tinued the business of contractor and builder. He
was especially distinguished as a church builder, as
his conscientious and honorable dealings especially
commended him to that class of employers; and
during this last-named period not less than thirteen



beautiful ecclesiastical edifices were eTected by him.
Here, also, as in his former home, he was honored
with all the civil distinctions his fellow-citizens could
confer. But his unremitting toil, coupled with the
treacherous character of the climate, had been for
several years making serious inroads upon his hither-
to robust constitution, and his physicians gravely
advised him to seek a more genial climate some-
where in the west. He accordingly, in 1865, moved
to Davenport, Iowa, where in two years his health
was fully restored. His old habits followed him to
the west, and he was soon the owner of some of the
most picturesque and desirable declivities bordering
on the river, and overlooking the "Island," — the
center of gravitation for that region — upon which
he commenced building houses and laying out ad-
ditions, which were .originally known as " Shaw's first,
second and third additions to the city of Daven-
port," but now denominated " East Davenport," the
most beautiful and desirable portion of the city.
- In 1875, in partnership with William Renwick and
E, S. Crossett, Esqs., he engaged in the steam saw-
mill business, and has since been extensively engaged
in the manufacture of lumber with a success not
inferior to that which attended all his former enter-
prises. This establishment employs over one hun-
dred men and a large number of teams the year
round, while its oversight and management consti-
tute the chief occupation of our subject.

In 1868 he was elected a member of the city
council of Davenport, in which capacity he served
his fellow-citizens with zeal and marked ability

for six years, some of the wisest and most important
measures of city government and improvement ow-
ing their existence to his consummate judgment and
energy. One of the strongest traits of his character
is his decision, which, accompanied, as it always has
been, with perseverance, naturally resulted in his
eminent success. He is a man of remarkable pre-
science, a rare judge of human nature, but withal
strictly conscientious and scrupulously upright. He
is an unflinching friend and an uncompromising
opponent ; with him there is no neutral or equivocal
ground. He is a public-spirited and generous citi-
zen ; liberal with his wealth in responding to the
calls of benevolence and charity, whether public
or private, and a friend to the poor. Such an ex-
ample as that of George S. Shaw, without education
or influence, by his own unaided energy and indus-
try, rising from poverty and obscurity to affluence
and distinction, cannot fail to be an encouraging
inspiration to many a youth struggling with difficul-
ties, and often tempted to give up in despair.

On the 26th of April, 1846, he married Miss Mary
Ross, daughter of Willis Ross, of Bakersfield, Ver-
mont, a most estimable lady, who in the early days
of their pilgrimage bore with cheerfulness her due
proportion of the burden of life, and in later years
shares his affluence with unaffected modesty and
meekness. They have five children : George T.,
Edward A., Willis R., Lizzie C. and Hattie M.

In politics, Mr. Shaw has always been an ardent re-
publican, while in religion he follows in the line of
the Pilgrim Fathers.



AMONG the many New England men who have
^ strayed from home and crossed the Missis-
sippi to carve their way to "fortune and to fame,"
is William Benton Leach, son of James and Try-
phenia Benton Leach. He was born at Lisbon,
New Hampshire, on the 4th of July, 1832. His
grandfather fought in the great and successful strug-
gle for American independence. William's father
and mother died in his infancy. He lived with an
aunt until, he was nine years old, and was then sent
to Barre, Vermont, to live with Hon. Josiah Wood,
under whose guardianship he remained until of

Young Leach attended school at different Ver-
mont academies, and entered the University of Ver-
mont in 1853, but left in the sophomore year. He
spent two years on the preliminary surveys of a road
between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Pittston, Penn-

In 1857 Mr. Leach went to Faribault, Minnesota,
and studied law in the office of Bachelder and
Buckham ; was admitted to the bar the next year,
and practiced there and at Hastings until the break-
ing out of the rebellion.

In 1865 he removed to Cedar Rapids, and carried
on the milling business until 1870. The next year



he resumed the practice of law, adding to it the
business of insurance.

On the 29th of April, 1861, Mr. Leach was corn-
missioned adjutant of the ist regiment Minnesota
Infantry. Shortly after he was commissioned adju-
tant-general of volunteers by President Lincoln, and
served three years. Among the battles in which he
participated were the first Bull Run, Ball's Bluff,
siege of Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Peach Orchard, Sav-
age Station, Nelson's Farm, Malvern Hill, second
Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettys-
burg. Strange to say, though usually in the hottest
of the conflict, he was never wounded. Many fell
at different times by his side, and he had numerous
narrow escapes in the "imminent deadly breach.''
Mr. Leach came out of the army at the end of his
three years' service with the rank of captain ; an
honor well merited for his coolness and bravery.
He was one of the first men in Minnesota to enlist.

In the autumn of 1867 Captain Leach was elected
to the lower house of the. general assembly of Iowa,

and served one term. He was an active member on
several committees. At the close of the session
Governor Merrill placed him upon his staff, with the
rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Colonel Leach was a democrat until 1861; since
then he has voted with the republican party.

He is a Knight Templar in the Masonic order.

In religion, his connection is with the Episcopal

On the 19th of June, 1861, he was united in mar-
riage to Miss Mary C. Hammond, of Hastings,
Minnesota; she has had four children, three now

Colonel Leach was mayor of Cedar Rapids in
1869, and made an efficient head of the munici-
pality. He is a man of cultivation, is much inter-
ested ifi educational matters, and for the last four
years has been president of the local school board.

It is to such active and efficient men as Colonel
Leach, and a few others in Cedar Rapids, that the
city owes its excellent system of public instruction.



J Plech, Bavaria, Germany, on' the 31st of March,
1 8 18. His parents were John Christopher and
Anna Margaretta (Kessling) Schramm.

John S. received his early education in the pub-
lic schools at Plech, and at thirteen went to Culm-
bach and served five years in a mercantile house, at
the same time taking lessons in Latin and French.

In boyhood he was very fond of music, flowers,
and innocent fun, which he still enjoys. In later
years astronomy has become his favorite study.

His father served his military term (seven years)
under Frederick the Great, and was engaged in the
great battles of Sena and Austerlitz, and others of
less importance; after which he returned home and
engaged in the mercantile business.

Having received more than a common education,
he was elected to various offices of trust and impor-
tance. He was a well read man and had the finest
library within many miles of Plech.

After the seven years' war a part of the country
formerly belonging to Prussia was allotted to Bava-
ria, and his father, not feeling friendly toward the
licentious king, Ludwig I, resolved to leave Bavaria

and emigrate to America. Being well read in the
history of this country and sighing for the freedom
of its institutions, he resolved in 1837 to come.
This had to be done with prudence, for, being a jnan
of much influence, the government sought every
means to frustrate his design, inore particularly be-
cause he was the first one within hundreds of miles
applying for the privilege. His children were scat-
tered over the country engaged in various pursuits,
but letters gathered them once more at home, and
nothing was left undone to make him chang& his in-
tentions, but of no use; and in September, 1837,
after a tedious and stormy voyage of eleven weeks,
they arrived in New York, and after remaining a few
days started for Missouri, but on account of sick-
ness they were obliged to stop at Circleville. John's
knowledge of the Englisfi language being meager,
he found it. difficult to procure a situation, but at
last found employment in a printing office at four
dollars a month. This he accepted for two reasons :
to earn something, and more especially to gain a
more rapid knowledge of the English language. He
remained here five years, receiving journeyman's
wages the third year.



In the summer of 1842 he was influenced by a
friend to come to Burlington, thinking he could do
well here. He arrived in the month of August,
1842, with forty dollars in his pocket. He engaged
at once in the " Gazette " office, and commenced
work the next day. Here he remained but a short
time, as the paper changed hands and his services
were not needed ; and gathering his savings he
started for St. Louis, where he purchased a small
stock of groceries.

In his business affairs he has always been careful,
making calculations under the most adverse circum-
stances to meet his obligations.

While in the grocery business he also manufac-
tured vinegar, always finding a market for his over-
stock. He also taught music about three evenings
in the week, and established the first brass band in

He was married on the 15th of March, 1843, to
Miss Harriet, daughter of Jonathan Morgan, one of
the first settlers. The year 1850, when the cholera
swept over the land, it took his wife and one child,
and also his mother. His father died in 1849.

He remarried on the 24th of March, 1852, to Miss
Amelia P., daughter of Silas Williams, Esq. In
1854 he formed a partnership with his brother in the
dry-goods trade, which was dissolved in about five
years on account of the poor health of his brother,
whose interest he purchased, and has continued the
business till the present time.

His success may be attributed to his early home
influence, it having been the constant aim of his
parents to inculcate into their children the princi-
ples of doing right. They were members of the
Lutheran church and brought up their children in
the same faith.

He has been a member of the different orders of
Masonry for many years, and has been a master-
mason for thirty-two years. He has never sought
political offices, voting always in his opinion for the
best man, regardless of party.

He vis much interested in the public schools, and
spends much of his time in their benefit; and it is
his firm conviction that the-future prosperity and se-
curity of this nation rests upon a proper, universal
system of free schools.



Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 57 of 125)