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. 220-23.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Thomas Walpole

In a history of Buena Vista county it is imperative that mention be made of Thomas Walpole, who for thirty-six years has lived within its borders, while his residence in the state covers more than a half century. Throughout his life he has made good use of his opportunities and though no special advantages aided him at the outset of his career he has worked his way steadily upward to achieve success as the result of the simple weight of his character and ability.

He was born in Groton, Tompkins county, New York, September 21, 1855. His parents were James and Julia (Murphy) Walpole.  The father, who was a farmer by occupation, died in the year 1874.  The mother, a lady of much force and capability, kept her nine children together and gave all a good English education.  She faced a difficult situation for there was an indebtedness on the farm when her husband died and they had to face, too, the hardships of pioneer life, While comparatively little is known concerning the ancestral history of the family, it has been learned that a. public volume gives an account of the family name originating in Spain, from which country members of the family moved to France, from France to England, and from England to Ireland.  James Walpole was born at Drumshambo, county Leitrim, Ireland, February 2, 1832, and his father was Thomas Walpole. The mother of our subject was born in Cork, Ireland. August 5, 1832, and she was a representative of one of the old and well known families of that land.

Thomas Walpole, the eldest of nine children, pursued his education in the common schools and also a business course at Valparaiso, Indiana, while for one term he was a student in the Southwestern Normal School at Shenandoah, Iowa. He was but two years of age when, in 1857, he was brought by his parents to Delaware county, Iowa.  Early in life he manifested a literary taste and studious habits, showed aptitude in the work of the schoolroom and made continuous progress in intellectual lines.  In 1873 he removed with his parents to a farm in Maple Valley township, Buena Vista county, and as his father died soon afterward the work of the farm devolved to a considerable extent upon him.  He began teaching in 1874 and devoted the summer months to the labors of the fields.  With the exception of the year 1879-80, which he spent in pursuing a business course in Valparaiso, he engaged in teaching through the winter months until 1882.  He then accepted the superintendency of the public schools of Alta, where he remained until 1884.  During that year, in connection with A. C. Smith as a partner, he bought the weekly paper known as the Advertiser, later his brother, E. E. Walpole, became the successor of Mr. Smith, and still later C. H. Wegerslev succeeded his brother in the publication of the paper.  From 1888 until 1896 he was also county superintendent of schools of Buena Vista county and under his guidance the schools made substantial progress.  In 1895, however, he sold the Advertiser and in 1896 purchased the Storm Lake Tribune, which he consolidated with the Pilot under the name of Pilot-Tribune, with A. C. Smith as a partner.  In 1904 he purchased Smith's half-interest and in 1906 sold a third interest in the paper to C. H. J. Mitchell and has since continued in active connection with the paper, which is one of the leading country newspapers of this part of the state.  In 1898 Mr. Walpole was again called to office, being appointed postmaster at Storm Lake, and in 1902 and again in 1906 he was reappointed, so that he is now serving for the third term.  His administration of the affairs of the office has been entirely satisfactory to the general public and that he has the endorsement of the authorities at Washington is indicated by his reappointment.

On the 11th of May, 1887, Mr. Walpole was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Darnell, of Alta, Iowa.  Both the paternal and maternal ancestors of Mrs. Walpole were represented in the Revolutionary war.  There have been four children of this marriage, Elsie, Fay, James Wilbur and Eileen.

Mr. Walpole is identified with several fraternal organizations.  In 1895 he became a Mason and is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Court of Honor.  He attends the Presbyterian church and as has already been indicated is a republican in his political views and affiliations.  His public service has been characterized by a continued loyalty and progressiveness that is most commendable, while through his journalistic interests he has done much to promote substantial progress in the county.  He has an extensive and favorable acquaintance, while those who come within the closer circle of his friendship find him a most congenial and warmhearted gentleman.