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. 296-300.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  W. S. Van Buskirk

Business enterprise and activity finds its root in laudable ambition.  It is the man who is not satisfied but recognizes the possibilities for further development, who finds genuine pleasure in the .solution of difficult business problems, that is not only winning advancement for himself but is aiding in pushing forward the wheels of progress for the world at large.  Of this class of men W. S. Van Buskirk is a worthy representative.  He has been a resident of Alta for about twenty-five years and is actively engaged in dealing in buggies, wagons and harness.  He is numbered among the old settlers of the state, dating his residence in Iowa from 1856.  His birth occurred in Hamilton, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, February 21, 1844.


His father, Samuel Van Buskirk, was also a native of the Keystone state, as was his wife, who bore the maiden name of .Miss Mary Ann McNeal.  Both were reared in Pennsylvania and after their marriage they settled on a farm in Monroe county, where all of their children were born.  In 1856 they removed westward to Iowa, taking up their abode in Delaware county, where the father purchased a farm, on which some improvements had been made.  There he carried on general agricultural pursuits for some years, but afterward removed to Buena Vista county, settling in Alta, where his last days were passed.


W. S. Van Buskirk was a youth of twelve years when the family left the place of his nativity.  He had begun his education in the public schools there and he continued it in the schools of Iowa.  During the periods of vacation he assisted in the work of the home farm, giving his father the benefit of his services until he reached the age of twenty-one years, when he fitted up a breaking team of oxen and engaged in breaking prairie for several years.  He broke hundreds of acres in Delaware county and thus materially aided in the upbuilding of the state at different times.  He and his brother purchased and operated a thresher for several years and later, going to Dubuque county, Iowa, Mr. Van Buskirk, with the proceeds of his farm labor, purchased eighty acres of prairie land, which he broke and fenced.  He also built upon it a comfortable home and there carried on general farming for four or five years, when he sold that property.


While living in Dubuque county, .Mr. Van Buskirk was married, on the 1st of March, 1872, to Anna Tineknell, a native of Dubuque county, and a sister of Fred Tineknell, cashier of the Alta Bank.  Following their marriage Mr. Van Buskirk brought his bride to Buena Vista county, where the previous year he had purchased one hundred and sixty acres of raw and undeveloped prairie in Maple Valley township.  This later he placed under the plow and converted it into productive fields.  The same fall he bought eighty acres adjoining.  He then made a permanent location in Buena Vista county and afterward bought land near Alta.  He also bought forty acres additional just across the road, placed it under the plow and for a number of years devoted his time and energies to the work of the farm.  He became connected with the mercantile interests as proprietor of an implement business and, in connection with Samuel Parker, established and conducted a lumberyard for a few years. Purchasing a few implements, he gradually built up a business in that line but in later years closed out that department.  At the present time he carries a large line of buggies, wagons and harness, and occupies a business block which he erected and still owns.  At different times he has invested in farm property and owns a number of farms in the county.  He has developed much land here and thus contributed in a large measure to the early progress of the county in agricultural lines.  At different times he has owned four or five places and he still has two hundred and forty acres south of town and three hundred and twenty acres in Lincoln township.  The former tract is the first farm which he ever purchased on coming to the comity.  It is supplied with all modern improvements and the many evidences of a model farm of the twentieth century.  He has been a breeder of Aberdeen-Angus cattle for a number of years and has a herd of over sixty head of pure blooded registered cattle.  He thus ranks with the leading stock raisers of the state for his herd is one of the finest in the county and at its head is an imported male.  In addition to his property in Buena Vista county he also has four hundred and eighty acres in Minnesota and formerly owned land in South Dakota, but has sold the latter.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Van Buskirk have been born four daughters and two sons.  The elder son, Charles, is associated with J. M. Wegerslev, who is postmaster and editor of the Alta Enterprise, while Ralph is a farmer of Nokomis township.  The eldest daughter, Belle, is the wife of W. 0. Tompkins, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, well located at Cherokee, Iowa; Ida is a graduate of Cornell College, of Iowa, and is regarded as one of the most successful public school teachers of this part of the state, being principal of the Linn Grove school; Alice is the wife of Charles Abbott, a farmer of Nokomis township; and Nellie is at home.


On the 17th of April, 1902, Mr. Van Buskirk was called upon to mourn the loss of his first wife.  He was again married in 1906, his second union being with Mrs. Mariette (Houser) Meigs, a native of Pennsylvania and the widow of Samuel Meigs.


Mr. Van Buskirk gives his political allegiance to the republican party, but has never sought nor desired public office.  He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Fraternal Insurance Company.  His life has been successful owing to his enterprising industry and well directed labors.  He has worked his way steadily upward, has made judicious investments in property and as the years have gone by, has become one of the prosperous and energetic citizens of Buena Vista county, his business activity and unquestioned commercial honor gaining him a prominent place among the representative residents of northwestern Iowa.