The best history of a community or state is that which deals most with the lives and activities of its people, especially of those who by their own endeavors and indomitable energy have forged to the front and placed themselves in positions entitling them to the respect and emulation of progressive men. In this brief review will be found the record of one who has outstripped the less active plodders on the highway of life and who has achieved a success surpassed by few of his immediate contemporaries, his career in agricultural affairs having earned him a name which all men who know him delight to honor, on account of his upright life and his habits of thrift and industry.|
William Layland, a well-known retired farmer of Audubon, who came to this county in 1880, was born on March 18, 1854, in Holmes county, Ohio, the son of William and Nancy (Crozier) Layland, natives of Ohio. William Layland died in Ohio in 1861 and his widow died in Iowa county, Iowa, about 1886. They were the parents of seven children, namely: Mrs. Sarah Givin, deceased; Mrs. Elizabeth Williams, of Ohio; Mrs. Margaret Gilmore, of Ohio; Mrs. Mary Tealond, of Ohio, who died in 1912; William, the subject of this sketch; Isaac, who died in this county, and Jacob, who lives two miles south of Audubon.
In 1869 the Layland family left Holmes county, Ohio, and settled in Iowa county, this state, where William Layland finished his schooling, he having been but fifteen years of age when he came to Iowa. After his marriage William Layland began farming in Iowa county and in 1880 came to Audubon county, settling in Hamilton township, where he bought sixty or seventy acres of wholly unimproved land, at nine dollars an acre. Mr. Layland put up a small two-room house, twenty by fourteen feet, living in the barn for six weeks while building the house, all the work on which was done by himself. He lived on that place for five years and then rented the farm and returned to Iowa county, where he spent one year. Two years later he sold the farm for twenty-four dollars an acre and bought one hundred and sixty acres in Sharon township, for eighteen dollars an acre. One year later he rented this land for four years and then sold it. He then moved to the Kibby farm, on which he lived for one year, at the end of which time he purchased a farm of eighty acres in Leroy township, on which he lived for many years, making many changes and improvements on it. Later Mr. Layland purchased one hundred and sixty acres in Audubon township and lived on this latter farm for one year. He next bought one hundred and sixty acres in Hamlin township, improved the farm, rented it out and finally sold it. In the spring of 1896 Mr. Layland moved to Exira and in the fall of that year bought property in Audubon and has since resided in that city. He is the owner of two farms, totalling two hundred and thirty-six acres, including one hundred and sixty acres east of Audubon and nearly eighty acres near Casey, in Guthrie county. For many years Mr. Layland has been a breeder of heavy draft horses, and until recently was very active in that line, having been quite extensively engaged as a buyer and seller of horses.
William Layland was married on December 27, 1891, to Mary Elizabeth Riley, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, on May 16, 1856, the daughter of John and Catherine (McCann) Riley, natives of Ireland, who came to America, with their first child, about 1846. In 1863 John Riley settled on a farm at the end of the railroad in Iowa county, this state. He rented land for some years, but subsequently bought a farm and in old age retired to Victor, Iowa, where he died in 1896, his widow surviving him ten years, her death not occurring until 1906. They were the parents of the following children: Mary, who died in infancy; Rose, who died at the age of two; John, who died at the age of forty-five; Mrs. Catherine Gannon, of Victor, Iowa; Mary Elizabeth, who married Mr. Layland; James E., who lives in Sioux City, and Patrick, who lives in Victor, this state.
To William and Mary E. (Riley) Layland four children have been born, an infant, who died at birth, Charles, Cora and May. Charles, who was born on April 27, 1877, married Alice Moon, to which union four children have been born, as follow: Evelyn, born on October 10, 1902; William, November 8, 1903; Genevieve, June, 1908, and Margaret Fay, April 27, 1911. Cora, born on July 8, 1881, is the wife of Charles Elliot, of Creston, Iowa, and has one child, John Calvert. May, born on November 9, 1885, is the wife of Frank Sampson, and has one child, Mary Louise, who was born on May l0, 1911.
William Layland for years has been identified with the fortunes of the Democratic party, but he has never been active in its councils and has never been a candidate for office. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and their children were reared in that faith, all adhering to the same, the family being highly respected throughout the county.
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. 340-342.