George Agnew, a veteran of the Civil war, formerly a successful farmer of this county and well known in this section, is now living retired at Audubon. Mr. Agnew was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, on January 1, 1839, son of Samuel and Anna (McKinley) Agnew, both natives of County Antrim, Ireland, both of whom passed away more than a half century ago. The former was born in 1784 and died in 1860, and the latter was born in 1799 and died in 1844.|
Samuel Agnew was a shoemaker by trade, who learned the trade in the land of his birth, and who after coming to America and farming for a short time, resumed the shoe business and was engaged in the making of custom shoes in Erie county, Pennsylvania, for many years. In 1857, he sold the farm, which he had previously owned, together with his shoe business and moved to Johnson county, Iowa, where he spent the rest of his life.
George Agnew began farming in the spring of 1861, and in September of that year enrolled his name among those from Johnson county who were offering their services to their country in behalf of the preservation of the Union. The recruits thus enrolled failed to fill a company and Mr. Agnew enlisted under Captain Castle, whose company went into quarters at Mt. Pleasant, where they organized, Mr. Agnew being elected sergeant. This squad then was ordered back to Iowa, with a view to having the company filled. This design failing, the recruits were given the privilege either to join other companies or to go home. Some of the men went home, but Mr. Agnew and thirteen others made a proposition to Company C, Fourth Iowa Cavalry, that if one of the squad should be given the position of orderly sergeant they would attach themselves to Company C. This proffer was accepted and Mr. Agnew thus began his military service as a member of Company C, Fourth Iowa Cavalry. He served first under Captain Miller, then under Captain Porter, following which he saw service under Captain Morrison and Captain Beckworth, but was attached to the same general command until the close of the war. He was engaged in the battle of Vicksburg, and in fact all of the Vicksburg campaign; in Wilson's raid, and in the campaign around Atlanta, Georgia, as well as in numerous important expeditions. He was mustered out of service in August, 1865, and resumed the vocation of farming on his return home. In partnership with his brother, William J. Agnew, he rented a farm for two years, and then moved to Pawnee county, Nebraska, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, and engaged in general farming for seven years. The Nebraska farm comprised virgin soil and Mr. Agnew "broke" the land for the third time. In 1874 he returned to Johnson county, Iowa, and rented land there for seven years, after which he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres ten miles south of Iowa City, and remained there until 1891, when he came to Audubon county and purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in LeRoy township. During the active period of his career in this county Mr. Agnew was engaged in general farming, and during that time he invested upwards of four thousand dollars in improvements upon his LeRoy township farm. He was accustomed to feed out one hundred head of hogs every year, and also raised a great many cattle. In 1909 Mr. Agnew sold the farm and removed to Audubon where he has since lived in comfortable retirement.
In 1867 George Agnew was married to Mary E. Marshall, daughter of Josiah and Mary Marshall. Of the six children born to this union only four are now living. The deceased children are Esther and Catherine. Those living are Charles, Elmer, Mary E. and Carrie. Charles in unmarried. Elmer married Lucinda Frederickson and they have two children, Dorothy and Mary. Mary is unmarried and Carrie married George Kirby, to which union two children have been born, Helen and Russell.
Mr. and Mrs. Agnew are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and are interested in all good works. For many years Mr. Agnew has been a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and several times has served as commander of the local post. In politics he is, and has been for many years, identified with the Republican party.
George Agnew is a worthy citizen of this great county, and is honored and respected by his fellow townsmen. Having worked hard during the time he was able to work, he has the satisfaction now of enjoying the competence which he has accumulated for his declining years. He well deserves the confidence placed in him by his fellow citizens and the esteem bestowed upon him by his fellow townsmen.
Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 573-575.