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Posted By: Joni (email)
Date: 9/26/2013 at 08:37:11

Alphonso B. Newcomb was born at Enfield, Connecticut, April 10, 1805. His grandfather was a physician in that place, and married the daughter of Gov. Terry of Connecticut. His father moved to the vicinity of Rochester, N. Y., when Alphonso was but a child, and after serving as a lieutenant-colonel in the war of 1812, and while holding the office of custom-house officer at the mouth of the Genessee river, died when the subject of this sketch was about ten years of age, leaving the family dependent upon their own exertions.

Alphonso began the battle of life as cabin boy on a lake steamer, and gradually worked his way up the rounds of sailor life. But when comparatively a young man he left the lakes and engaged in the mercantile business in Pontiac, Michigan. He was then connected with the Hudson's Bay Fur Co., and traveled extensively through the great Northwest, then uninhabited save by wild animals and the yet wilder red men.

He came to Iowa City in 1841, and was the builder of the dam, and one of the owners of the flouring-mills first erected where Coralville now stands.

During the "gold fever" of 1850 he was one of the bold "Argonauts" who undertook the long and perilous journey "across the plains," leaving Iowa City on the 15th of April, 1840 [sic]. Accompanied by his wife and little daughter, he began his pilgrimage toward the setting sun. The adventurous journey was accomplished with their slow-moving oxen in about five months. He went to Butte county, California, and for nine years divided his time between mining, lumbering, and selling goods. He was the first postmaster at Bidwell's Bar, the town at which he was located, and erected extensive saw-mills at Berry Creek, seven miles from that place. At the end of nine years, having met with varying fortune, and his health beginning to fail, he returned to "the states" by the way of South American, in which country he spent some time. Landing at New York, he made a short tour through several of the eastern states, but finally came back to Iowa City. He remained there but a short time and then moved to a farm twelve miles north of that place, upon which he lived quietly for sixteen years. At the end of that time he sold his farm and moved to the neighboring village of Solon, where he spent the remaining six years of his life. He died of heart disease on the 9th of June, 1882, after an illness of two weeks, at the ripe age of 77 years.

(Source: History of Johnson County, 1883, pages 696-697.)


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