Homer Howard Field.

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) online

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dent Order of Odd Fellows; the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks; and
the Woodmen of the World.


The farming interests of Ncola township find a worthy representative in
George W. Spencer, who resides on section 27, where he owns an excellent
farm of one hundred and eighty acres. He is, moreover, a public-spirited
citizen who in community affairs has been active and influential. He i- DOW
serving for the second term as a member of the county board and exercises
his official prerogative- in support of many measures and movements foi


the general good. More than a half century has rmur and gone since he
arrived in Pottawattamie county to become actively identified with its
agricultural interests.

He was but an infant when brought to the county in 1852, his birth
having occurred in Cook county, Illinois, September 23, 1851. In both the
paternal and maternal lines he is of English lineage, his parents, Thomas and
Salina (Childsworth) Spencer, being natives of England, where they were
reared and married. After crossing the Atlantic they spent about a year
in Cook county, Illinois, and in 1852 came to Iowa, making a permanent
location in Pottawattamie county. For many years the father earned on
farming but is now living retired in Neola.

I teorge W. Spencer was reared here amid the wild scenes and environ-
ments of pioneer life. He acquired a common-school education and when not
busy with his text-books assisted his father in the work of the home farm,
so that he gained practical experience concerning all the duties and labors
incident to farm life. On the 28th of February, 1877, Mr. Spencer was
united in marriage to Miss Jennie Hunter, who was born and reared in Scot-
land. After their marriage they lived upon a rented farm for a year and
Mr. Spencer then purchased eighty acres where he now resides. He paid for
this in four years and then bought an adjoining tract of eighty acres, which
he broke, tiled and fenced, converting the place into productive fields. He
has also built a good dwelling, a new barn and granary upon the place and
has added to the farm a tract of twenty acres, so that he now owns altogether
one hundred and eighty acres in one body. The soil is very rich and pro-
ductive, responding readily to the care and labor which he bestows upon the
fields. He has also planted an orchard and grove, has enclosed his farm with
barbed and woven wire fencing and has thus divided it into fields of con-
venient size. In connection with the cultivation of grain he raises and feeds
stock, and though he started out in life empty-handed he is today numbered
among the men of affluence ig. his community.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Spencer have been born a large family of eight sons
and six daughters, namely: Charles, who is married and resides in Sacra-
mento, California; William, who owns and conducts a bank at Thurston,
Nebraska ; Frank, with his brother in Sacramento ; Donald, who follows farm-
ing on his own account in Neola township ; Alexander, a graduate of the
Neola high school; George, Clayton and Raymond, all at home; Bessie, the
wife of Robert Sealock, a railroad man now of Sacramento; Helen and Mamie,
who are teachers in this county; Bertha, a student in Neola; Ruth, who is
attending 'the home school; and Gracie, who completes the family.

In his political views Mr. Spencer has always been a stalwart republican
since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. The first public office
to which he was ever called was that of township road supervisor. He has
also been identified officially with the schools, having been a member and
also president of the school board. He has. likewise been township trustee
and in 1903 was elected a member of the board of county supervisors, to
which position he was re-elected in 1906, so that he is now serving for the
second term. The present board have been putting forth effective efforts to


improve the county and are now putting in a big ditch about thirty miles in
length in the main ditch, with two branches. This is made after the most
approved modern methods and will prove of the utmost value to the county
in reclaiming wet lands for cultivation. Mr. Spencer has served as a dele-
gate to the state and county conventions and is deeply interested in the
success and growth of his party. He and his wife are members of the Pres-
byterian church, to which the daughters also belong. Mr. Spencer is a
Master Mason, holding membership with the lodge at Neola and his wife is
one of the officers in the Eastern Star. He also belongs to the Woodmen of
the World. Few residents of Pottawattamie county have longer been wit-
nesses of its growth and progress. He has killed deer and prairie chickens
here at a time when wild game abounded and has also killed many rattle-
snakes on the prairies. He has seen the railroads built and the towns laid
out and has kept in touch with the trend of general progress, being well
known in Council Bluffs and throughout the county as one of the prominent
public men and progressive citizens as well as honored pioneers.


Samuel D. Tobey, for many years actively engaged in the practice of his
profession, is now living retired. He ministered to the needs of mankind for
a long period and his sendees were of the utmost benefit because of his broad
scientific knowledge, his professional skill and his deep humanitarian prin-
ciples. His present rest is well merited.

Dr. Tobey is a native of Rhode Island, his birth having occurred at Bris-
tol Road on the 21st of January, 1837. His father, the Rev. Zalmon Tobey,
a Baptist minister, was born in Norfolk, Connecticut, on the 27th of July, 1791,
and died September 17, 1858. For several years he was pastor of the Baptist
church in Providence, Rhode Island, where his death occurred. Hi- wife, who
bore the maiden name of Sophronia Baker, was born at Upton, Worcester
eounty, Massachusetts, March 22, L799, and departed this life in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, on the 7th of February, 1875.

Dr. Tobey accompanied his parents to Pawtuxet, Rhode Island, and later
went to Warren, that state, where the family lived until 1856. He was a stu-
dent in the Warren Classical Institute for four years and afterward matriculated
in Brown University at Providence, where he studied two year,- for the min-
istry. Changing his view- regarding a life work, he then began the study of
medicine in the Universitj of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he was graduated
as a member of the class of 1860. He located for practice at Ganges, Allegan
county, Michigan, where he remained until the outbreak of the Civil war,
when he enlisted as a hospital steward in the Sixth Michigan Infantry. Later
he was transferred as first lieutenant to Company F of the Sixty-fifth Infantry,
or the Scottish Brigade, under command of Colonel Cameron, and when the
brigade was captured at Harper's Ferry, Dr. Tobey was transferred as a pa-
roled prisoner to Camp Douglas at Chicago. Later lie was again transferred,



becoming assistant surgeon in the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, and during the
last two years of the war he saw active service in that capacity in the Western
Army. He was taken prisoner with General Stoneman while on the famous
Stoneman raid and was confined in the negro workhouse jail at Charleston,
South Carolina, being returned to his command when an exchange of prisoners
was made. He participated in both battles at Franklin and was also in the
Atlanta campaign, in which, however, he escaped all injury, and when the
war was over and the country no longer needed his aid he was honorably dis-
charged on the 20th of July, 1865. He had made an excellent military record
in the different divisions of the service with which he was connected and was
ever most loyal to the interests of the government.

After the war Dr. Tobey traveled extensively through the western states,
doing newspaper writing. He served on the editorial staff of the Daily
Times at Leavenworth, Kansas, and of the Daily Tribune at Lawrence, Kan-
sas, being thus connected until 1870, when he came to Pottawattamie county,
where he resumed the practice of medicine at Big Grove, later organized as
Oakland, where he continued as an able follower of his chosen calling until
1906, when he retired after thirty-six years of constant practice as a member
of the medical fraternity. He had kept abreast with the progress made by the
profession and his personal research and investigation had constantly promoted
his efficiency and broadened his knowledge, making him one of the able prac-
titioners of this part of the state. Following his retirement he removed to
Council Bluffs to spend his remaining days and he is now making his home
at the Ogden Hotel at No. 169 Broadway. He was the first regular physician
to practice in Oakland and his ability and skill won him a large and profitable

Dr. Tobey has also been well known in other relations. In 1896 he took
an active part in the political campaign, giving his support to the democratic
ticket. In that year he was defeated for the legislature, having been a candi-
date for representative from Pottawattamie county. He served as mayor of
Oakland during the year 1897 and for two years was president of the Old
Settlers' Association for the counties of Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont.
In 1903 he was chosen commander of the Veterans' Association of Old Soldiers,
being honored with that position for two years.

Dr. Tobey has been married twice. He first wedded Estella D. Jilson, a
daughter of Welcome Jilson, the wedding being celebrated at AYaukegan, Illi-
nois, September 29, 1859. Her death occurred at Ganges, Michigan, July 3,
1866, when she had reached the age of twenty-five years, one month and eleven
days. Oh the 9th of October, 1S69, Dr. Tobey was married to Augusta J. Ful-
ler, at Lawrence, Kansas, a daughter of Chauncey Fuller, whose home was in
Oakland. She died November 2, 1895, at the age of fifty-one years, six months
and eleven days. The children of that marriage were as follows: Carolyn S.
Tobey, born December 25, 1870, attended the Oakland schools for several
years and later pursued her studies in the college at Shenandoah, Iowa, in the
Female College at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and in the ladies' department of
Harvard University, from which she was graduated. She then became prin-
cipal of the high school at Oakland but in 1907 resigned her position there to


go to Golden, Colorado, to accept the position of teacher of Latin in the high
school of that place. Frances J. Tobey, the second daughter, was born in Oak-
land, October 27, 1872, and is a graduate of the high school of her native town.
She, too, was a student in the college at Shenandoah, Iowa, and in the college
at Lincoln, Nebraska. Afterward she was graduated from the Emerson School
of Oratory at Boston, Massachusetts, and was elected a member of the faculty
of that institution. After filling the position for two years she resigned and
entered the lecture field, traveling through the southern states for several years,
with headquarters at Atlanta, Georgia. She now lives in Greeley, Colorado,,
and is a member of the faculty of the Colorado State Normal School.

For more than forty years Dr. Tobey has been a member of the Masonic
fraternity and is also a very popular member of the Elks. He belongs to the
Congregational church and in his life his actions have been guided by the
principles of the church and of the fraternal organizations with which he is
connected. During his younger days he was a versatile writer of poetry and
prose, his productions always being accorded generous space in the leading
papers and magazines. He is widely recognized as a man of broad, scholarly
attainments and culture. He has left his impress upon every community with
which he has been associated. Today he is living retired in Council Bluffs, be-
ing the owner of several remunerative rental properties in Oakland, which sup-
ply him with a liberal income.


The Neumayer Hotel, long a factor in the business life of Council Bluffs,
is now conducted by the firm of Neumayer & Mergen. The senior partner,
one of the native sons of the city, was born October 14, 1874. His father,
Jacob Neumayer, was a native of Germany and coming to America resided
for many years in Council Bluffs, whore lie established and conducted the
Neumayer Hotel. He married Miss Franciska liaumeister, and unto them
were born eight children, of whom three are living: Theresa, the wife of
Matthias P. Mergen, of Council Bluffs; Lucas V.. of this review; and Louisa.

Mr. Neumayer. whose name introduces this sketch, was reared in the
place of his nativity and was a pupil in the public schools in early boyhood,
while in 1892-3 he attended St. Benedict's College, in Atchison, Kansas.
Leaving that city in L894, lie returned to Council Bluffs and for a year
occupied a position as clerk in the Boston store. He then entered the Neu-
mayer Hotel, with which he has since been connected, the present firm of
Neumayer & Mergen being formed in 1903. They have since been pro-
prietors of the hotel and have conducted it along lines pleasing to the public
as indicated by the liberal patronage which is accorded them.

In September, 1903, Mr. Neumayer was married in Council Bluffs to
Miss Mary A. McGann. Thev had one daughter and one son, the latter now
deceased. The wife and mother died in January. 1907. Mr. Neumayer is
a member of the Catholic church and is a democrat. The greater part of


his life has been spent in Council Bluffs, where he is widely known and
public opinion is altogether favorable regarding him as a citizen and as a
business man.


August F. Dammrow, cashier of the Treynor Savings Bank of Treynor,
Iowa, has made for himself a creditable record in business circles and has
never had occasion to regret his emigration to America, when the family
left the fatherland and came to the United States in 1884. He was born in
Brandenburg, Germany, January 5, 1870, and his parents were August and
Mary (Draeger) Dammrow, who were also natives of the same locality, born
July 12, 1837, and August 6, 1841, respectively. It was in the year 1884
that they determined to come to the new world and crossed the briny deep,
making their way at once to Pottawattamie county, where they have since
lived, their home being now upon a farm in Silver Creek township. They
had two children, the daughter being Anna, now the wife of Nia Duysen,
who is living near Henderson in Mills county, Iowa.

August F. Dammrow spent the first fourteen years of his life in the
land of his nativity and then bade adieu to the friends of hi- boyhood
preparatory to sailing for the United States. He has since lived in Potta-
wattamie county and remained upon the home farm until he came into the
bank. In 1887 he began farming on his own account and is now owner of
a good farming property two miles east and a mile and a half south of Trey-
nor, comprising two hundred and fifty acres of rich and productive land in
Silver Creek township. He acquired a high-school education in his native
country and in the school of experience has learned many valuable lessons.
Under the parental roof he was trained to habits of economy, industry and
perseverance and these qualities have proved salient features in his success
as the years have gone by. In addition to tilling the soil he has been engaged
in the cattle business since becoming owner of the farm, buying, feeding
and shipping cattle, in which connection he has met with gratifying pros-

On the 1st of July, 1906, Mr. Dammrow became cashier of the Treynor
Savings Bank, which was established on the 20th of May, 1902. It is capi-
talized for fifteen thousand dollars and has a surplus of two thousand dollars ;
its present officers are W. B. Oakes, president; M. Flammant, vice president;
and August F. Dammrow, cashier. Mr. Dammrow is a popular officer owing
to his unfailing courtesy to the patrons of the bank as well as his own relia-
bility in all business affairs.

He belongs to the Free Congregational church of Treynor and withholds
his co-operation from no movement or measure that promises to promote
the public good or advance the interests of society in any way. He was mar-
ried to Miss Sieke Duysen. who was born in Holstein, Germany, August 14,
1871, a daughter of Dudley Duysen, who is still living in the fatherland.


Mr. and Mrs. Dammrow have three children: Elsie, Detlef and Arnold.
Since their marriage they have resided upon the farm but expect soon to
occupy a new home in Treynor. They are well known socially and have the
warm regard of a large circle of friends. In his business career Mr. Damm-
row has made an excellent record for he has made good use of his oppor-
tunities, has molded conditions to his own ends, and at the same time has
been considerate of the rights of others in all commercial transactions.


Paul C. De Vol, deceased, was one of the oldest and best known business
men in Council Bluffs, where for many years he was well known as a hard-
ware and tinware merchant. He was also closely associated with commer-
cial interests in Omaha and in business oircles sustained an unassailable
reputation by reason of the progressive and honorable methods which he
followed. He came to Council Bluffs with his parents in 1847, when he was
only eleven years of age, his birth having occurred in Columbia county,
New York, on the 10th of January, 1836.

His parents were David and Delia (Tobey) De Vol. His mother was
born in the Empire state. January 9, 1812, and the father's birth occurred in
Chatham, New York, on the 27th of November, 1805. He was a son of
Joshua and Martha (Gifford) De Vol, both of whom were natives of Massa-
chusetts but were of French extraction. Following his marriage David De
Vol located in Chatham, New York, where he remained for a year and on
the expiration of that period he removed to West Stockbridge, Massachu-
setts, where he engaged in genera] merchandising for nine year.-. He sought
a home in the middle west, firsl settling at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he resided
for five years, when, in 1846, he again turned his face toward the setting
sun. He journeyed with ox teams and spent one winter along the Des
Moines river, arriving at Council Bluffs in 1847. His connection with the
business interests of his city began as a clerk and he was afterward variously
employed until 1861, when his son Paul opened a stove and tinware store
and the father was associated with him in business throughout the remainder
of his days. Both he and his wife died at the old home at No. 114 South
Firsl street, in Council Bluffs, and thus passed away two of the worthy
pioneer settlers who contributed in substantial measure to the early progress
and upbuilding of the city.

David De Vol was not only well known in trade circle- but was also
the first justice of the peace of Council Bluffs, being elected to the office in
1852. He served in that capacity for several years and rendered decisions
which were strictly fair and impartial. He was also assessor and deputy
district clerk and his opinions regarding political questions were those of
a stanch republican that led to his unfaltering support of the party at all


Unto Mr. and Mrs. De Vol were born ten children: George, now de-
ceased; Harriet, the deceased wife of Norman Green; Paul C, of this review;
Emily, who has departed this life; Mary A., who resides at the old De Vol
homestead at No. 114 South First street, Council Bluffs; Martha, David and
Charles, all of whom have departed this life; Delia, the wife of W. R.
Vaughan, of St. Louis; and William, deceased.

As previously stated Paul C. De Vol was only eleven years of age at
the time the family home was established in Council Bluffs, then known
as Mormon Crossing and later as Kanesville before the present name was
assumed. Here he began attending the public schools and in due course of
time he acquired a very good education. Early in his business life he fol-
lowed any pursuit that would yield him an honest living and was thus
employed in various ways until eighteen years of age, when he began to
learn the tinner's trade, which he followed until 1861. This proved the
initial step of his later business successes, opening to him a field of labor in
which he was destined to win prosperity. In 1861 he entered into partner-
ship with Milton Rogers, and they opened a stove and tinware store, carry-
ing on the business connection for two years. On the expiration of that
period Mr. De Vol purchased his partner's interest and conducted the enter-
prise alone until 1883, when he formed a partnership with W. S. Wright.
They not only conducted the store in Council Bluffs but also opened a job-
bing house, which they carried on for two years. At the end of that time
they organized a stock company under the firm name of Rector, Wilhelmy &
Company, at Omaha, transferring their jobbing business from Council Bluffs
to Omaha but still carrying mi the stove, tinware and hardware business in
the latter city. Mr. De Vol was made president of the company at Omaha,
with Mr. Wright as secretary, and continued to act in that capacity through-
out the remainder of his life. From the beginning the jobbing business
proved a profitable one and is now one of the largest of the kind in this city.
The firm have had many men on the road acting as traveling representatives
of the house, and the business has long since reached mammoth proportions,
owing to the capable management and safe conservative policy which was
inaugurated on the inception of the company. Mr. De Vol was also con-
nected with the stove, hardware and tinware business at the corner of Main
and Broadway streets in Council Bluffs, where a very large trade was en-
joyed. An extensive stock is here carried and Mr. De Vol's son, Paul C. De
Vol, Jr., is now conducting the business and is recognized as a prominent
and influential merchant of the city. The father possessed keen insight and
firm purpose вАФ qualities which are essential to mercantile success. He was
rarely if ever at fault in determining the value or foreseeing the outcome
of a situation, and his business capacity enabled him to rise from a humble
position in the commercial world to one of prominence and affluence.

On the 4th of February, 1868, Mr. De Vol was united in marriage to
Miss Katharine M. Swobe, a native of Johnstown, New York, and a daughter
of Michael Swobe, also of the Empire state, where he was engaged in farm-
ing. At an early day the father came to the middle west, settling in Michi-
gan, where he carried on general agricultural pursuits and also conducted a


dairy business and cheese factory. His time was thus occupied until his
life's labors were ended in death. His wife, however, died in New York when
in early womanhood. Mr. and Mrs. De Vol became the parents of five chil-
dren : Hattie, now the deceased wife of Clarence Judson ; Mary, who resides
in Council Bluffs with her mother; Paul C, of whom mention is made else-
where in this volume; William Roy, who is connected with his brother in
the hardware business in Council Bluffs; and Arthur, deceased.

During the latter years of his life the father, Paul C. De Vol, attended
to his business interests in both Council Bluffs and Omaha and met with a
very gratifying measure of prosperity. Though he started in life empty-
handed he became one of the successful merchants of the city, and his
financial position at his death was in strong contrast to his financial standing
as he started out. His first business venture was of very meager proportions
and of very primitive nature. He secured a space some six feet in width
between two buildings and kept a small stand, selling pies, ginger bread,
cider and other commodities to emigrant; who were on their way west. This
was the beginning, and the end is too well known to need recounting here,
for Mr. De Vol was regarded as one of the prominent merchants of Council
bluffs. An analyzation of his life work shows that he was ever reliable and
trustworthy in his dealings, that he was progressive in his methods and watch-
ful of opportunities, and these qualities constitute a safe foundation upon

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 38 of 59)