Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb 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. 242-43.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Elias L. O'Banion

Elias L. O'Banion, with a creditable official and business record, may well be classed with the representative citizens of Storm Lake.  He was born in Kentucky in 1848, a son of John P. and Ruth (Turner) O'Banion, who were likewise natives of the Blue Grass state.  The father is of English lineage and in early life was a lumberman and miller but in later years turned his attention to general agricultural pursuits and won substantial success in his farming operations.  His political allegiance has long been given to the democratic party and he is a devoted member of the Christian church.  He now lives near Decatur, Illinois, at the age of eighty-two years, but his wife passed away in 1895 when sixty-three years of age.  She, too, was a member of the Christian church and was of English descent.  The ancestors of our subject in both paternal and maternal lines came from England and settled in Virginia during an early period in its colonization, while later they went to Kentucky.  They were in sympathy with the attempt of the colonies to throw off the yoke of British oppression in 1776 and representatives of both families served in the Continental army.


Elias L. O'Banion is the eldest of a family of nine children, eight of whom reached adult age.  He was a pupil in the public schools of Illinois after the removal of the family from Kentucky to that state in the year 1857.  He was reared upon the home farm in Menard county and followed general agricultural pursuits continuously until 1891, manifesting a spirit of enterprise and diligence in all of his farm work.  He came to Iowa in 1878 and settled in Maple Valley township upon a farm which he rented.  As soon as his industry and economy brought him sufficient capital he purchased land in Washington township and there carried on general farming until 1891, when he came to Storm Lake and for five years successfully conducted a meat market.  His fellow townsmen, recognizing his worth and ability, called him to office in 1897, when he was elected sheriff.  On his retirement from that position he turned his attention to the real-estate business, in which he is still engaged, and since 1905 he has also engaged in the sale of threshing machines and other farm machinery and supplies.  As a business man he has been very successful, his perseverance and utilization of opportunity winning him a place among the prosperous residents of the county.


In 1873 Mr. O'Banion was married to ;Miss Fannie A. Leavitt, who was born in New Hampshire in 1848 and was of English ancestry.  They became the parents of eight children:  Clarence W., who is in a packing house at Baltimore, Maryland; Josie G., a teacher by profession, who lives at home; Walter J., who is engaged in the butchering business at Cherokee; Archie L., of California, who is meat and stock inspector for the United States government; Florence, the wife of T. F. Wait, a physician of Keota, Iowa; Allen, a teacher by profession, who is now a student at Ames Agricultural College; Earl, who is employed as a clerk and resides at home; and Guy, who passed away when nine years of age.


Mrs. O'Banion is a member of the Christian church.  Mr. O'Banion belongs to the Odd Fellows society and gives his political allegiance to the democracy.  He filled the office of sheriff for one term, was a member of the city council for fifteen years and in the spring of 1907 was elected mayor of the city, in which position he gave a public-spirited, progressive and business-like administration.  His official record has always been characterized by the utmost devotion to duty and he is in thorough sympathy with every movement that tends to benefit the community along substantial lines of progress.