Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 243-45.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of Aaron Conner

Aaron Conner was so closely connected with the business development and the substantial growth of Alta and this section of Buena Vista county as to render his life record an integral chapter in its history.  Honored and respected by all, there was no man of the community who occupied a more enviable position in commercial or financial circles, not alone by reason of the success which he achieved but also owing to the straightforward business policy which he ever followed.  He cast in his lot among the early settlers of Iowa and from that time forward labored earnestly and effectively for the welfare of the state.


Mr. Conner was born in Ohio, March 19, 1844, and was a son of Thomas Conner who removed to Iowa when the state had but few residents.  He lived for a time in Delaware county.  His son, Aaron Conner was reared to manhood in Iowa and at the time of the Civil war espoused the Union cause, enlisting in 1862 as a member of the Twenty-first Iowa Volunteer Infantry, with which he served for three years.  He continued at the front until hostilities had ceased, save for a brief period when he was ill with measles and returned home on a furlough, a man being sent with him to care for him.  He participated in many of the hotly contested battles of the war and at its close was honorably discharged, for he had always been loyal to the old flag and the cause which it represented.  During his absence at the front his people removed to Delaware county, this state, where he joined them, remaining on the home farm for two years.


Mr. Conner was then married, on the 17th of February, 1867, to Miss Martha J. Thompson, a native of Kane county, Illinois, born near Elgin and a daughter of George G. Thompson, who was born, reared and married in Greenbrier county, Virginia.  His wife, who bore the maiden name of Cynthia Surbaugh, was also born in the Old Dominion and was of German lineage.  Mr. Thompson removed westward to Illinois, making the journey across the country with teams.  He settled in Kane county, where he entered land from the government and opened up a farm, which he continued to cultivate for nineteen years.  He afterward bought and owned two farms there, but eventually sold his property in Illinois, removing to Iowa in 1862.  He then purchased land in Buchanan county, where he improved a farm of four hundred acres, whereon he spent his last years, his death there occurring some nine years prior to the demise of his wife.


Following his marriage Mr. Conner located in Plainfield, where he engaged in general merchandising.  He carried on that business at that point for five years and then sold out, joining his father in the conduct of a similar business at Manchester, Iowa, where he remained for about seven years.  He then disposed of his stock and removed to Alta, where he opened a stock of groceries but later he added boots and shoes and conducted the business up to the time of his death.  He built a large double brick business block and also purchased a neat residence in the town.  His store was one of the leading commercial enterprises here and he was also a stockholder in the Alta National Bank, of which he was serving as vice president at the time of his death.  He also aided in organizing and became one of the stockholders of the Buena Vista County Fair.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Conner were born two children:  A. M. Conner, who is represented elsewhere in this volume; and Ina M., the wife of Ed Larson, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this volume.  Mr. Conner was a prominent Mason, who belonged to the Blue lodge of Alta, to Cherokee chapter, and to the commandery and Mystic Shrine.  He was one of the earliest members of the Alta lodge, filled all of its offices and was a past master.  Both he and his wife were members of the Eastern Star, in which Mrs. Conner also filled all of the chairs and served as the first worthy matron.  Mr. Conner likewise belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he was honored with the various official positions and was a past noble grand, while both he and his wife were connected with the Rebekahs.  Always interested in his old army comrades, he joined the Grand Army post, and served as its commander for several years.  He was one of the most prominent and public-spirited citizens of Alta, respected by all who knew him because of his genuine personal worth, his business enterprise and his loyal citizenship.  He was laid to rest with Masonic honors and so useful and active had been his life that his death came with a sense of personal bereavement to the entire community.  Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Conner took charge of the store, in which she still owns an interest.  She has been very prominent in the ladies' auxiliary of both the Masonic and Odd Fellows societies and is well known in the social circles of the city, her many good qualities winning for her the kindly regard and friendship of all with whom she has been associated.