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About the time he arrived at his majority Mr.
Brush became interested in the west, and concluded
that here was a good field for young men of any
business tact and a disposition to work. Thus
impressed, he left Putnam county in May, 1855 ;
reached Dubuque about the time the land office-
was being removed ; followed it to Decorah ; there
opened a real-estate office and bank, and again fol-
lowed the United States land office when it was

removed to Osage in July, 1856. The next year
Mr. Brush was joined in the banking business by his
younger brother, Francis Albert, the firm name
being J. H. Brush and Co. In 1861 another brother,
Jesse Piatt, and in 1866 the youngest brother, Avery,
engaged with the subject of this sketch in banking,
and they are still in business together. In 1865
their private bank was changed to the Osage Na-
tional Bank, of which J. H. Brush is president, J.
P. Brush, cashier, and Avery Brush, assistant cashier.

Of the land-office business Mr. Brush has had
special charge since he began it. Few men have
located as many acres of land in the Turkey river
land district for non-residents as he, and probably
fewer still have accommodated as many men who
wanted to find homes in this district. During all
these years he has never needlessly distressed a
man — never took advantage of his necessities to
foreclose on him, but has uniformly shown all possi-
ble leniency. Indeed, he has seldom had occasion
to resort to law.

Mr. Brush has engaged in other business when he
could command the time to attend to it. In 186 1
he built the Osage flouring and saw mills, and oper-
ated them until October, 1873. He is one of the
half-dozen Osage men who were most active in



securing the railroad which reached this city in
1868, and one of those who labored and gave to
establish the Cedar Valley Seminary, and also one
of the very few to advocate and work for the total
prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors in
Osage. Few men in this section are more public-
spirited or have labored harder to bring settlers, and
those of the very best class, into northern Iowa. In
his own city he has always been prompt to furnish
means to men of real enterprise and stamina, who
wished to put up blocks or single stores, and in
addition to the mills and his own bank he has built
some elegant residences.

Mr. Brush is a republican in politics, and a strong
supporter of the party, but has held no office.

He has been a member of the Methodist Episco-

pal church since about 185 1, and is generous in his
support of religious, educational and benevolent in-

On the 4th of May, 1862, Miss Julia Buckmaster,
daughter of Francis Buckmaster, of Osage, became
his wife, and has been the mother of five children.
A son and two daughters are living.

Francis Albert Brush, of whom we have spoken,
who was killed in the battle of Pleasant Hill, in April,
1864, was first lieutenant, company K, 27th Iowa In-
fantry. He entered the service in the fall of 1862 ;
was a brave soldier, and most highly esteemed by
his comrades in arms, as well as by the community
in which he enlisted. Few men who went from
Mitchell county and laid down their lives for their
country were, in their fall, more deeply lamented.



TAMES HARPER BROOKS comes of good pa-
J triotic fighting stock, both grandfathers being in
the revolution. His grandsire Harper was a colonel;
his grandsire Brooks a private. His parents were
James Brooks, farmer, steamboat owner and con-
tractor, and Mary Harper, industrious, well-to-do
people, residing, at the time of the son's birth, on
the 3d of April, 1829, at Conneaut, Ashtabula coun-
ty, Ohio. His father was a private under General
Harrison during the second contest with the mother
country. James Harper made Ashtabula county his
home until past age, although he was absent, more
or less, nearly every year after sixteen. He finished
his education at Kingsville Academy, in his native

In his seventeenth year his father sent him to
Illinois with two thousand sheep, the only assistance
he had being a boy one year younger than himself.
His eighteenth year he spent mainly on the farm at

During the seasons of 1848 and 1849 he acted as
clerk on the steamer Ohio, owned by his father, and
run on Lake Erie.

In the spring of 1851 Mr. Brooks moved to Kane
county, Illinois ; there farmed for three years, then
took a contract on the Chicago and Northwestern
railroad, furnishing the ties and some other wood-
work for the track from the junction to Dixon.

In the spring of 1856 he removed to Iowa, set-

tling in Otter Creek township, Tama county, alter-
nating between farming and railroading for ten or
eleven years ; most of this time, when off the farm,
he was an employe rather than a contractor.

In the spring of 1866 Mr. Brooks moved his
family into the new village of Tama City, then
springing up on the Northwestern railroad, two
miles south of Toledo. He went on the Union
Pacific railroad and spent fourteen months there
as a contractor, in company with Lewis Carmichael,
the work done being largely between the Black
Hills and Ogden. The operations of Mr. Brooks
at this period were very successful.

Since leaving the Union Pacific Mr. Brooks has
done some heavy work on the Chicago and North-
western railroad in Monroe county, Wisconsin, on
the Baraboo division.

Meantime he is also farming, merchandising and
banking, mainly by proxy, and, strange to say, mak-
ing a success of every branch. He has a thousand
acres of land in Tama county, all under good im-
provement, most of it cultivated by renters. He is
of the firm of Brooks and Holmes, dry-goods mer-
chants, Tama City, the business being managed
principally by his partner, Ryland A. Holmes, a
promising young man, son of Rev. O. A. Holmes.
This store was opened two years ago, and is one of
the largest and best in the place.

Mr. Brooks has been in the banking business for



seven years, and is of the firm of Brooks and Moore
at Traer, Tama county, and of Brooks and Moore
Brothers at Reinbeck, Grundy county, both places
on the Pacific branch of the Burlington, Cedar
Rapids and Northern railroad.

Mr. Brooks has great energy and pluck, usually
pushing his business rather than allowing his busi-
ness to push him. He has kept all the irons in the
fire, but let none of them become overheated.

Latterly he has let other parties assume most of
the labor, and having a competency, he lives very
much at his ease. He has one of the most delight-
ful residences in the county, located in a two-acre
lot most tastily embellished. The house alone cost
twenty-five thousand dollars, and the entire home-
stead, as it stands, must be worth twice that sum.

Mr. Brooks was in early life a whig; since 1855
he has been a republican ; is very decided in his

political sentiments; is ready to help a worthy friend
to office, but has no aspirations himself in that di-

His wife was Miss Harriet Hartshorn, of Erie
county, Pennsylvania. Married at Meadville, on
the 5th of December, 1850. Both are active mem-
bers of the Baptist church, filling their places, and
generously responding to the calls and requirements
of the church, and of religious and charitable objects
generally. Few kinder-hearted men live than James
H. Brooks. He not only pities the poor and un-
forturfate, but is always ready to help them.

Mr. and Mrs. Brooks have had two children, and
lost one of them. Arthur Lee Brooks, their only
child, has a famity, and is managing the home farm,
paying particular attention to the stock department.
He is energetic like his father, a hard worker, and a
young man of sterling worth.



ONE of the oldest merchants and bankers in
West Mitchell, Iowa, and the man who built
one of the first frame houses in Mitchell county, is
Charles Sweatt, for twenty-two years a resident of
this state. He is a Vermonter by birth, a native
of Thetford, Orange county, dating his birth on the
30th of May, 1832. He is a son of William Sweatt,
a physician, and Zylpha (Baxter) Sweatt. The
Sweatts are an old New Hampshire family. His
father was a surgeon in the war of 1812-15.

Charles was educated at the Thetford Academy ;
commenced clerking in his native town at fifteen ;
at the end of four years he went to Post's Mills, in
the same township, and there and at Stanstead, Can-
ada, continued clerking three years more, when, in
1855, he removed to Iowa, settling at West Mitchell.
Here, in company with his elder brother, John
Sweatt, he opened a general variety store, continuing
in trade together until 1862, when Charles sold out
to his brother, and rested on his oars one season.

In 1863 Mr. Sweatt resumed mercantile business,
by buying out his brother, continuing alone until
1870, when he sold out to two younger brothers, W. S.
and F. Sweatt, and started a bank in company with
Calvin S. Prime. It is still in operation under the
firm name of Sweatt and Prime. Mr. Prime was
for several years clerk of the court for Mitchell

county. The bank is doing a fair business, being the
only one in the place.

In 1875 Mr. Sweatt took back the store and stock
of his younger brothers, and is running it with fine

When first settled in Iowa, Mr. Sweatt entered
government lands, and has dealt more or less in real
estate during all these years. In this branch of his
business, as well as the others, he has done well. He
still owns some lands, but has his funds mainly in
the bank, in merchandise and in mortgages. Few
better business men ever operated in Mitchell coun-
ty. He has always dealt fairly, and his reputation
for honesty has never been marred an iota. It is
such enterprising men as Charles Sweatt that have
made the Cedar Valley what it is — one of the most
blooming gardens in the State of Iowa.

Mr. Sweatt has voted the republican ticket since
there was such a party, but does not allow his name
to be used in political conventions.

On the 17th of January, 1865, Miss Cornelia E.
Lyons, a native of New York, and then living in
West Mitchell, became his wife, and they have one

Mr. Sweatt has gray hazel eyes, a fair complexion,
and a symmetrical form, is five feet ten inches tall,
and weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds.



He is social, cordial and gentlemanly, shrewd and
keen, and well calculated to make friends and to
succeed in life.

John Sweatt, who catne with his brother to Iowa

in 1855, still lives in West Mitchell, dealing in real
estate, and loaning money. Like his brother Charles,
he has been an eminent success. He has a wife and
one child, and is among the sterling men of the place.



THE pioneer merchants of Eldora, IoA*a, were
Edgington Brothers, a firm which for more
than twenty years was a household word in Hardin
county. Samuel R. and Jonathan Edgington reached
the present site of Eldora on the ist of January,
1853, when there was not a building of any kind to
be seen. Six miles north, on the Iowa river, was a
saw-mill, and there they obtained the lumber for the
first frame structure of any kind erected in Hardin
county. They built it for a store, on the southwest
corner of what ig now the public square, part of it
being used by Jonathan Edgington two or three
years as a dwelling-house. This first building in the
place was followed, the coming spring and summer,
by four or five log houses, all the improvements
made that year. Hardin county was organized in
February of that year, and Alexander Smith, the
first county judge, received twenty-eight votes.

It was in the latter part of the same month, seven
weeks after they reached their future home, that
Edgington Brothers opened their store, putting in a
stock of goods costing between two hundred and
three hundred dollars. It was drawn from Iowa
City, distant one hundred and ten miles, by one

Trade increased as settlers came in, and the stock
of merchandise was enlarged from month to month.
Before the close of the first year Jesse J. Edgington,
a younger brother, was taken into the firm, and in
1856 Joseph Edgington, the eldest of the four, joined
the firm. With each additional member the capital
was enlarged, and business expanded with the town
For several years the four brothers, operating to-
gether, filled all the places of salesman, book-keeper,
teamster and porter. Their stock slowly worked its
way up from less than three hundred dollars to more
than twenty thousand dollars. For several years
they did from thirty thousand dollars to forty thou-
sand dollars annually, being the leading merchants
in the town and county.

In 1869, on the completion of the railroad from

Ackley to Eldora, Joseph and Jonathan went out of
the firm and engaged in other business. Samuel
and Jesse remained until January, 1875, when the
firm was dissolved and the mercantile business dis-

These brothers were sons of Jesse and Hannah

Edgington, of Springfield township, Richland county,

Ohio, originally a family of twelve children, only

seven of whom are living. The four brothers were

reared on a farm. All had only a common-school


j Joseph was born on the 28th of January, 1820;

was married in 1844, and has no children. He was

I two years in the Union army, enlisting a company

i for the 32d regiment Infantry, and going out and

j returning as captain of company F. Failing health

' compelled him to resign. He served eighteen

[ months as justice of the peace in Eldora, to fill a

vacancy, and has been postmaster between four and

five years. He has a beautiful home, with vineyard

and other pleasant surroundings.

Jonathan, born on the 30th of September, 1824,
went from the mercantile directly into the grain
trade, which he still follows, being one of the lead-
ing men in that line in Eldora. He was deputy
sheriff six years, and justice of the peace four. He
has a wife and four children.

Samuel, better known as Colonel Edgington, was
born on the 12th of March, 1827. Was a soldier in the
war with Mexico, going out in the 3d Ohio Infantry,
and serving one year. Raised a company for the
i2th regiment Iowa Infantry in September, 1861, and
went out as captain of company A, and returned as
lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. He resigned at
the end of two years, because of the illness of his
wife. He was the first school-fund commissioner
of Hardin county, and is now chairman of the
board of supervisors. He was married in 1849, and
has a family of three boys. The eldest, Melvin, is
a partner of his father in the Commercial Hotel,
which stands on the original site of the Edgington



store. It was opened in September, 1875, and is
the best hotel building in Eldora.

Jesse, born on the 23d of February, 1831, like the
other three brothers, continues to reside in Eldora,
delighted, as they all are, with the elevated location
and beauty and healthfulness of the city. For two
years he has been in no especial business. Has a
wife and four children.

The four brothers are members of the Masonic
order, and the three younger are also Odd-Fellows.
Jesse has been grand master of the Independent
Order of Odd-Fellows of the state.

Jonathan is a Universalist in sentiment ; the others
Methodist in their preferences. None are members
of a church.

All are republican in political faith.

Identified as their interests are with Eldora, being
among its " nursing fathers," they have always been
public-spirited, and promptly lent a hand in every
enterprise that would build up the place. During
the rebellion those of them who were not able to
give their time to aid in crushing it cheerfully gave
of their substance. They are a patriotic band of



OLIVER McMAHAN, banker and capitalist,
was born in Ohio in 1819. His father, Joseph
McMahan, served as a soldier during the entire pe-
riod of the American revolution, and was highly
esteemed for his patriotism and sterling integrity.
He was killed on the ill-fated steamer Moselle, at
Cincinnati, in 1838. His ancestry reaches back to
the first settlers of Pennsylvania, and is thence
traced to the Protestant section of the north of
Ireland. His mother, a worthy and estimable lady,
was likewise a native of the same state.

After pursuing his studies in the common school
of the vicinity during his early childhood, the ne-
cessities of his family compelled him to provide for
himself At the early age of twelve or thirteen
years, with a very delicate and slender body, weigh-
ing only sixty pounds, he sought and obtained, at
length, employment on a farm at four dollars per
month ; and during the following six years labored
in a stone-quarry without adequate compensation.
These years of severe toil and trial tended ultimately
to develop the latent sterling qualities in the boy,
and bring them forth into active manhood.

It is worthy of remark that although the parentage
of the subject of this sketch was humble, yet it was
honorable and justly respectable. The resources
of the country immediately subsequent to the war
of independence, having necessarily been neglected
and undeveloped, left the people extremely impov-
erished. Many families were compelled to endure
poverty and destitution. The heroes of many a
well-fought field found it difficult to keep the wolf
from the door of their humble dwelling; hence

many worthy youths, thrown upon their own re-
sources, were forced to seek and obtain their own
livelihood. In 1837 he was induced to seek a home
in the west. Having taken his farewell look of Cin-
cinnati, and of all in it that was near and dear, with
the world all before him, he set his face westward.
" The child is father of the man," says the poet, an
aphorism happily illustrated on this occasion. Ar-
riving in due time at his destination with very
limited resources, and without means to grapple
successfully with the obstacles that opposed him in
his new and rugged sphere in which he was called
to labor, he spent years struggling with the adverse
circurnstances that surrounded and hedged him in
on every side. Fortune at last seemed to change in
his favor. His brother, unitedly with himself, entered
into a profitable and successful enterprise of steam-
boating on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. In
this employment they continued several years work-
ing hard and faithfully, and advancing step by step,
showing what indomitable energy and intelligence
can accomplish.

He married in 1840, and settled in Illinois.

In 1842 the connection with his brother having
been mutually dissolved, he embarked in the lumber
business, and during the eight following years was
widely known as a very successful lumber merchant.
At this period of life every enterprise on which he
entered was crowned with success. In 1863 he
united with other capitalists and organized the First
National Bank in Clinton county. As a banker, he
has been highly successful, and is greatly esteemed
by the business community for his integrity and

(^IJ^^ Of^,



thoroughness. In the various transactions of busi-
ness in which he has been engaged during the past
quarter of a century he had acquired such a reputa-
tion for financial abiHty and tliorough acquaintance
with monetary affairs, that when the panic of 1857
occurred he carried all the public interests intrusted
to him successfully and triumphantly through that
financial crisis.

Mr. McMahan is likewise, at this time, heavily in-
terested in the well known house of Stiles, Goldy
and McMahan, a firm that justly enjoys the con-
fidence of the business community in which it is
located. The extent and variety of his business
relations, and his reputation for financial ability, is
so extensive that he is made the custodian of im-
portant trusts, not only in his own, but in neighbor-
ing communities. His entire business and financial
career has been characterized by eminent success.

Educational topics have always had for him a
very strong attraction, and he has in the education
of his children always patronized the best institu-
tions in the counlrv.

Although generally eschewing politics, he is a de-
cided republican in principle and sentiment, yet has
no sympathy with the party hacks who make politics
a trade.

In religion, he has been a worthy and prominent
member of the Methodist Episcopal church more
than twenty years, contributing liberally to its sup-
port, and working zealously for its interests and

He has always manifested public spirit, and has
contributed materially to the improvement of his
immediate vicinity and county. Though of slender
and delicate organism, he has led since his early
childhood an eminently busy life ; and the honorable
position to which he has attained has been won
by his own unaided and indefatigable efforts. He
ground his wealth out of poverty, by never exceed-
ing his means, and by always laying up some portion
of his earnings for capital. Whatever spoils he took,
he won, and became what he is by the development
of his faculties and resources. He is widely esteemed
for his intrinsic worth and social qualities.



ONE of the best read physicians of Hardin
county is James Seaton Kelso, a graduate of
the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He is a na-
tive of Ireland, and was born in Lisburn, county of
Antrim, on the 25th of December, 1820. His father.
Rev. Joseph Kelso, was a Presbyterian clergyman
of some eminence, and pastor of the United parishes
of Ballinderry and Maghragal. Hismother, Rebecca
Johnstone, before her marriage, was distantly con-
nected with the Johnstone family of Annandale,

Dr. Kelso obtained his preliminary education at
an ordinary parish school, and was prepared for
college by a private tutor, completing his classical
education at the Royal Academical Institution, Bel-
fast. After being examined at Apothecary's Hall,
in Dublin, he was articled to an apothecary, and
learned carefully the art and mystery of that busi-
ness, in connection with hospital practice, at Belfast.
He commenced the study of medicine at the Uni-
versity of Glasgow in the winter session of 1838-39,
and completed his course at the session of 1841-42,
obtaining not only a degree from the University of

Glasgow, but a diploma from the Royal College of
Surgeons, Edinburgh. He was thus qualified to
enter the civil service of the East India Company,
which step he had in view, and after waiting a short
time for his commission he concluded to visit the
United States before going to the Indies. He came
over in the autumn of 1844, and soon afterward his
commission followed him; but he liked this country
too well to exchange it for any other, and has never
left it.

In the spring of 1845 Dr. Kelso opened an office
in La Fayette county, Wisconsin, and there remained
steadily in practice until i860, when he made a
short trip by the overland route to California, to
attend to some business. Not completing it as soon
as he expected, he took charge of the " Shasta
Courier," changing it from a democratic to a repub-
lican paper, and conducting it during the campaign
which ended in the election of Leland S. Sandford
for governor.

On the breaking out of the rebellion, in 186 1, Dr.
Kelso returned to Wisconsin, and the same year
was commissioned as one of the surgeons of the



2d Wisconsin Cavalry, continuing in that position
until the close of the war.

On returning to the north he located at Ackley,-
Iowa, then a new town on the Iowa branch of the
Illinois Central railroad, and here we still find him
devoted to the practice of medicine. He has long
been the leading physician of the place, and here,
as he was in Wisconsin, is popular and influential.
One of the early settlers in Ackley, he has constant-
ly labored for its welfare. He projected the Sabula,
Ackley and Dakota railroad, the first division of
which, from Sabula on the Mississippi to Marion,
Linn county, is completed. He was at one time a
director of the Central Railroad of Iowa, which runs
north and south through Ackley. He is president
of the Ackley Agricultural Works.

Dr. Kelso is a ready writer on various subjects,,

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 62 of 125)