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Everson, Hon. Norman


Posted By: mjv (email)
Date: 10/30/2020 at 11:49:42

Hon. Norman Everson is numbered both among the early settlers and most substantial business men of the county. He is a native of New York, born in Vernon, Oneida County, Dec. 29, 1815, and is the son of Isaac and Abigail (Usher) Everson, both of whom were natives of the old Bay State, but who moved to Oneida County, N.Y., previous to the War of 1812. In early life Isaac Everson was apprenticed to a tailor, but the work not agreeing with him he soon abandoned it for more congenial employment. On his removal to Oneida County he engaged in farming, which occupation he followed for many years. Mrs. Everson died about 1827, and Mr. Everson subsequently married Mrs. Rust, a widow lady, and in 1836 moved with his family to Lorain County, Ohio, where he died many years ago. By his first wife he was the father of seven children, three of whom are yet living: Mary, the widow of Jonathan Ames, of Hutchinson, Kan., Lafayette, living in LaCrosse, Wis., and Norman. By his second wife he had two children, one living – Isaac, in Lorain County, Ohio. Isaac Everson, Sr., was in his day a man well posted in the affairs of his State and was a special friend to education.

Norman Everson was reared in his native county, and until fourteen years of age varied his time in attending the common schools of the neighborhood in which the family lived, and assisting his father on the farm. When fourteen he went out into the world to do for himself, and worked his way through Hamilton College at Clinton, Oneida Co., N. Y., graduating at the age of twenty-two. In his younger days, to say nothing of the later period of his life, there was a vein of humor running through his composition, and in nothing did he take more delight than in playing some practical joke on the unsuspecting faculty. A little ingenuity was required occasionally to avoid punishment, but he finally passed his examination and received his degree. In 1837, after leaving college, he went to Elizaville, Fleming Co., Ky., and engaged in teaching school, a profession in which many of the greatest men in this nation first engaged as a step to future advancement, on the plea, doubtless, that if they could well govern a school they would be able to govern a Nation, for “men are but children of a larger growth.” After leaving Elizaville he went to Cynthiana, Ky., where he also engaged in teaching, in the meantime purchasing a small number of law books, which he read, passed an examination, and was admitted to the bar.

Believing the new territory of Iowa a better field for a young man, in 1841 Mr. Everson came to Washington County, and here first “hung out his shingle” as an “attorney and counselor at law.” But the county at this time was but thinly settled, and clients were “like angels’ visits, few and far between,” so he had again to resort to school-teaching, that he might secure the means to pay his weekly board bills, and now and then purchase another book for his small law library. For the next seventeen years he continued in the active practice of his profession, adding not only to his store of knowledge as the years went by, but accumulating “something of this world’s goods.” It will cure an attack of the blues at any time to hear him relate his experience, especially before the Justice’s courts of that early day. After abandoning the law Mr. Everson engaged in the banking and real-estate business, in which he has since continued to engage, with profit to himself.

Like all attorneys in an early day, Mr. Everson devoted more or less of his time to politics. The first office he held was that of Postmaster of Washington, at the time when his hat was the receptacle of all the mail that came to the office, and when it was easier to deliver it as he made his rounds inspecting public improvements in the future metropolis of Washington County. He says the staid old people of Washington did not desire that he should have the office, but “the boys” were in favor of him, and like Eli, he “got there.” He was also Road Supervisor at an early day, being strongly desirous of securing the appointment, from the fact that one dark night when going to singing-school he ran afoul of the stump of a tree that had been left in the middle of the road, and being just a little vexed he vowed that when he was Road Supervisor that stump should come out, and it did.

In early life Mr. Everson was a Whig, and during the existence of the party he was virtually its leader Washington County. By that party he was elected in 1850 to the State Senate to represent the district comprising the counties of Louisa and Washington, and served four years. At that time there were but four Whigs in that branch of the General Assembly. While a member of that body he helped to form the first code for the State of Iowa. Until the dissolution of the Whig party, after the defeat of Scott, Mr. Everson was its recognized leader in this county, but on the formation of the Republican party, he at once began to advocate its principles, and has continued to work and vote with it to the present time.

The first banking institution in Washington was established by Mr. Everson in 1857, and meeting with good success in the business, caused him gradually to withdraw from, and in 1858 abandon altogether the practice of law. This bank he continued to operate until after the establishment here of a branch of the State Bank, when its business was merged into the latter institution. On the organization of the First National Bank, in 1864, he became a heavy stockholder, and in 1879 was elected President of the same, and served for several years. As a financier he has been remarkably successful. In the building up and adornment of the town Mr. Everson has contributed his share. In 1868 he erected Everson’s Block and Opera House, one of the most substantial buildings in the city, and which cost $24,000. He has also other property interests here, add in the building of the academy and in church buildings has contributed liberally of his means. To him much of the credit is due for the railroad system of the place. In fact, there has been no enterprise advocated calculated to build up the place but he has shown a readiness to contribute both time and money in its aid.

In 1865 Mr. Everson returned to his old home in Lorain County, Ohio, and was there married to Miss Ellen E. Pierce, a daughter of Alonzo Pierce. Mrs. Everson is a lady of a great refinement and culture, a graduate of Oberlin College, the most noted educational institution in Ohio. In their pleasant home just east of the square they live a quiet and happy life, and when they so desire, spend their time in travel. Together they have visited almost every place of note or interest in this country, and in 1878 crossed the ocean, visiting England, France, Italy, and other European countries. In this way they have acquired a practical knowledge only derived through extensive travel.

As the Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County would not be complete without a portrait of Mr. Everson, its publishers are pleased to give the same in connection with this sketch. It will be appreciated by all.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa (1887). Excerpt from Biographical Sketch of Hon. Norman Everson, pages 273-274. Portrait found on page 272.


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