William J. and Rebecca Haight

William J. and Rebecca (Blackman) Haight


 William J. Haight born in New York married 8-27-1846 in Ohio to Rebecca Blackman took a homestead in Buena Vista County, Iowa, in 1869.

They both died on this homestead and both are buried in the Elk Cemetery six miles due north of Alta, Iowa. Four of their seven children are buried in this same cemetery. Charles and Mary who died in infancy are buried in Sandhill Cemetery near Sandusky, Ohio.



Pictured here are the children of William and Rebecca Haight taken about 1915.
Standing in back (L-R): Lafe and Stella Haight
Seated in front (L-R): William E., James F. and Fredrick F. Haight

There seems to be no doubt but what William J. Haight was born in Orange County, New York state, August 27 in the year 1826.  It seems likely that his folks came across the Hudson river at What was then Fishkill ferry and is now on the east side of the Hudson, Beacon and on the west side of Newburgh. Newburgh is in Orange County and Beacon is in Putman County.  Before that they more than likely came from Westchester County which is where New York City now stands.  And before that some time in the 1700 hundreds from the state of Conn.  And before that from the Massachusetts Bay colony founded in 1629 by John Endicott at or near Salem, Massachusetts.

At any rate William J. Haight's life began in Orange county, New York, in 1826.  His mother died when he was very young, perhaps when he was five years old or there bouts.  It may be that a friend or a close relative took him for a time.  Before long his father remarried and he tried life with his father and stepmother.  Due to large families and hard times it perhaps seemed best for him to get out on his own.

So at about the age of fifteen or so he decided to try his luck in what was a new county in Ohio.  Just whether his parents went at the same time or at all has not been established.  It may be William J. Haight went to Ohio with an Uncle and his parents (father and stepmother) may have come later or may not have come at all.  Or they may have tried Ohio and went back to New York State.

It would seem very likely that the route taken from Orange county New York to Sandusky, Ohio which is in Erie county, Ohio, and is near what is now Cleveland would be about like the following.  More than likely up the Hudson river a hundred miles or so to Albany, New York, at which point in about 1825 a canal known as the Erie canal had been completed linking Albany on the Hudson with Lake Erie at a point just above Niagara Falls.  Barges were mostly used as well as small boats to transport people and supplies to and form lake Erie a and New York City.  After going thus to Albany and through the canal no doubt working his way in one way or another he crossed over or through Lake Erie to Sandusky, Ohio, which is on the south shore of Lake Erie.  No doubt this was when he was about 14 years of age or about at that time.  A canal was in progress of being built form near Cleveland, Ohio, on Lake Erie south across the state of Ohio to Portsmouth, which was on the Ohio River.  In fact this canal may have been through at that time but another was then started from Toledo, Ohio, across Ohio to Cincinnati on the Ohio River.  This made it a boom county with many new towns and lost of work.  These canals were about 40 feet wide at bottom and 25 feet at the top and 10 ft. deep.

There were several hundred boats using these canals.  At many places men drove oxen or horses pulling the boats in the water.  Towns sprang up all along these canals.  People were settling like mad in this new country on rich fertile land.  Many coming form the "Old Country" to New York, up the Hudson to Albany through Erie Canal and across Lake Erie to the then new state of Ohio.

It was a great challenge to a young man hoping to make his mark in the world.  You will notice that from Portsmouth or from Cincinnati on the Ohio you could then go very easily down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and down the Mississippi to New Orleans on the gulf.  In other words the canal made boat travel possible between New York City and New Orleans via Lake Erie and the canals across Ohio and New York State.  All this canal work ended about 1850 and rail roads started being built which made more work.  Much competition between the railroads and the boat travel was the result with the railroads after many years of winning out.

But, back to William J. Haight's early life.  It is possible he came overland from New York State but very very unlikely.  It was a swampy, wet treacherous travel in Ohio and few attempted it.  There was much wild game. Both fowl and beast.  Bear Wolves, Deer, etc. No doubt he worked wither in or near Sandusky as there was much fishing and much transportation of supplies.  Sandusky grew fast.  He no doubt worked on farms part of his early life.

He met a farmers daughter who lived with her parents (a Mr. And Mrs. Hiram Blackman) Hiram born in Connecticut or New York state in 1777.  His wife Rebecca Wood was born May 7, 1790.

Rebecca Blackman who became Mrs. William J. Haight was the 12th child of the above-mentioned couple who farmed in Groton Twp., just south of Sandusky, Ohio.  (Hiram Blackman and wife both died and are buried in Ohio near Sandusky.  No doubt the Sandhill Cemetery). At any rate William J. Haight and Rebecca Blackman were married near Cooks four corners by a Squire Drake August 27, 1846.  William being twenty years old and she about 17.  They no doubt worked for farmers or perhaps her folks for some time.   Soon they started farming for themselves and the records show that William J. and his wife bought part of the entire Hiram Blackman farm, which is now in the south part of Sandusky, Ohio.  It is along side of the now (1958) Toll road and Maple St.

They lived near Sandusky, Ohio, for fifteen years.  Six children were being born there.  Two dying in infancy there and are buried in the Sandhill Cemetery.  The children in order born are William E., Fredrick F., Charles, James, Mary, Estella, and Alvin.  The first six were born in Ohio and Alvin the youngest in Iowa.

There were several terrific epidemics in Ohio in the early day.  As many as a fourth dying.  Typhoid Fever was a constant threat.  At any rate is quite certain Mary and Charles died from some such cause.

In 1861 William J. Haight with his family left Erie County, Ohio, and went just over the line into eastern Iowa.  This was some two or three hundred miles.  Travel was not easy in those days.

It seems that William J. Haight took with him from Ohio a large band of sheep.  Large for those days.  Maybe only a hundred or maybe two hundred head.  This was no small undertaking as he had with him his family.  Travel was with oxen and at best may have had a team of horses but doubtful.  Very doubtful.  Even plows were unheard of in those days.  Wagons were scarce and buggies not seen only seldom if at all.  They settled on a farm at West Liberty, Iowa, which is not far from Muscatine not far from the Mississippi River. It was also near where the "Mound Dwelling Indians" had at one time lived.  It was also near where at about that time the Mormons established the town known I believe as Zion on the Mississippi in Illinois.  They were soon to be chased form they're (The Mormons) to Utah in Salt Lake City country.

Again back to William J. Haight and family.  They farmed near Sandusky for eight years.  Going was rough even for those times.  Alvin (Lafe) Haight was born there.

In 1869 William J. Haight struck out west across Iowa with a couple of other men to look for newer and better land in Northwest Iowa.  Again some tow or three hundred miles farther on.  This time in early May 1869 he landed via Fort Dodge, Iowa at a place known at Storm Lake which is in Buena Vista County, Iowa.  From there he struck out some ten or twelve miles north west and homesteaded eighty acres of fine Iowa land which was on the west line of Buena Vista county and joined Cherokee County on the east.  He spent part of the summer of 1869 getting things so he could bring his family from West Liberty in eastern Iowa to his new homestead in the spring of 1870.  This he did and again travel was slow and tedious.  Imagine the anxiety of travel mixed with the hopes and the fears of a new home in a yet unsettled country.

They built a nice home from sawed native lumber hauled from 15 miles on the Little Sioux River to 30 miles from Ft. Dodge the end of the railroad at that time.  This home is still sturdy and strong in this year of 1958 or 88 years later.  In fact the place looks like it was only five or ten years old.  He continued to farm and his family grew to manhood and the one daughter, Estella, to womanhood.  The children married and all settle not farm away on farms.  William J. Haight was an excellent farmer a good manager and prospered.  He added to his original eight (? A.?) farm holdings.

When in his early twenties he accepted Christ and was one of the most religious men in that part of the country.  He was known as one of the kindest men.  One of his daughter-in-laws (Minnie Haight) said his middle name should have been "LOVE".  He was admired and respected by all that knew him.  He had a stroke on the farm, which he lived in December, 1897, and died December 15, 1897.  His wife Rebecca Haight was also a good and very kind woman and continued living on the old home farm until her death, 2-12-1909.

There are few living yet today (1958) who remember William J. and Grandma Haight.  They cannot speak too highly of both.


To his wife Rebecca Haight who stayed with children back at West Liberty, Iowa, while he sought a new home.

Dear Wife and Family, Storm Lake, Iowa, May 4, 1869

This is to inform you that we arrived here yesterday at 4 p.m. after having a pretty hard drive.  Our company consisted of five men and three wagons from Ft. Dodge to this place.  We took a bad road and was a long time getting here.  The sloughs, some of them being so bad that we had to unhitch the horses and drive time across.  Then take a rope about 50 feet long and hitch to the end of the wagon tongue and draw our wagons across.  Storm Lake, (Iowa) is about one mile wide and two miles long surrounded by some very nice land.  But this land is all taken up and there is no more here, to
be had in this county or Cherokee County for 1.25 per acre.

Tomorrow we are going to look at some land eight miles from here and six from the railroad.  There is a great deal of speculating in land and it is hard to tell when you are sure of getting it.  D. G. thinks this is the nicest place in Iowa.  I think I will have to give him a shower bath to keep him from having fits.  He was gone this afternoon to try and jump a claim. His is in an awful sweat.

Storm Lake City consists of two frame houses, 7 covered wagons, 2 sod stables, and 5 more may be seen at a distance.  Corn is 8 cents a bushel in Ft. Dodge.  We will have to haul corn 50 miles to feed and haul hay ten miles.  Since writing this we have had an addition to our town that consists of six wagons and it commences to look like a town.  But it needs something to improve its looks for there is no timber here and never was.  No crab apple or plum.  No hazel nut, nothing but smooth prairie.

We are both well and I should feel quite contented if I new you was all well.  You must write and let me know how you are getting along.  If you have no time let the boys write for I must confess that I am getting a little homesick.  So Good Bye for this time.

Yours as ever,
(signed) Wm. Haight

direct to Sue City, Sac County, Iowa.
Don't forget to write immediately.

P.S. Since writing the above I went to Cherokee and I intended to have put this in the office but the mail had gone so I thought I would take with me to Sue City.  Tell Lafe I wish he would send me a piece of butter in a letter as I have not tasted any since I left home.  I left Cherokee this morning and an tonight 4 miles from Sue City on my way to Carroll station on the Northwestern D. G. has gone to Sioux City, D. G. had 4 (an ink blot spoils a word or two).

Original letter in possession of Mrs. Leonard Peterson Corvallis, Montana now, A.D. 1958.

William J. Haight sent (this letter back to his wife and his children to West Liberty, Iowa where they had lived since leaving Sandusky, Ohio eight years before or about 1861.)  West Liberty, Iowa is eastern Iowa.  Storm Lake is western Iowa.


Died at his hoe in Elk Twp., Buena Vista County, Iowa Dec. 15, 1897, William J. Haight, aged 71 years 3 months and 8 days.

Deceased was born in Orange County, New York, August 27, 1826.  At the age of fifteen years, with his parents, he moved to Ohio where he made his home for twenty years, during which time he was married to Miss Rebecca Blackman in 1846.  From this union seven children were born, of whom tow died in infancy, and five (four sons and one daughter) survive him.  In 1861 with his family, he came to Iowa and settled in Muscatine County.  There he lived but eight years and in 1869 he came to Buena Vista County in Northwestern, Iowa. And located on the same farm where he died.

In early life he recognized his obligation to a higher power and his responsibility to this family and at once gave his life to god, became a Christian and for nearly half a century lived a consistent Christian life. He at once untied with the Methodist Protestant Church, but after coming to this county he united with the M. E. Church.

His neighbors speak of him as an honest, earnest and conscientious man.  About a week before his death he was stricken with paralysis, from which he died Wed. evening Dec. 15, 1897.

The funeral services were held from the M. E. Church, Elk Twp., after which his remains were carefully lain to rest in the beautiful cemetery near the church which id due north six miles form Alta, Iowa.

The above Obituary was from an original sent to Dwight Haight by Lettie Haight of Alta, Iowa.  Lettie is a granddaughter of William J. Haight.


Wife of William J. Haight

Elk Twp., Pioneer Dead.  Buena Vista County, Iowa.

Grandma Haight of Elk Twp., died on Friday of last week at the some of her son, Alvin Lafayette Haight in Elk Twp., at the age of nearly eighty years.

The deceased was born March 11, 1829, Groton Twp., Erie, Ohio, and died Feb. 2, 1909, at the age of 79 years 11 months and one day.  Squire Drake of Oxford Twp., married her to William J. Haight on August 27, 1846 in Erie, Ohio, near Cooks Four Corners.

To this union was born seven children, of which four sons and one daughter survive the parents.  Mr. William J. Haight, her husband, died December, 15, 1897, in Elk Twp., at their family home.  Since that time she has made her home with her son A. L. Haight on the family homestead on which she and her husband, Mr. Haight, settled in 1869.  The family moved from Sandusky, Ohio, to West Liberty, Muscatine County, Iowa, in the fall of 1862.  They lived there until the spring of 1869 when they moved to Buena Vista County, Iowa, and settled on the homestead in Elk Twp., which has been their home ever since.

While living in Ohio, Mrs. Haight became a member of the Protestant Methodist Church, and after coming to Elk Twp., she united with the First Methodist Episcopal Church organized in Elk Twp., services at that time being held in the Haight school house Dist. Number 4.  She has always continued a member of the Methodist  Episcopal Church but lately has been unable to attend because of the long distance of the home form the church and her poor health.  (A church having been built some four or five miles east of the one first held at the Haight schoolhouse.  It is near this later church both she and her husband were laid to rest along with all four of their sons and many grandchildren) Known as the Elk Cemetery.

The funeral was held on Sunday form the Elk M. E. church with the Rev. G. O. Kidder in charge.

Two children died in infancy and are buried in the Sandhill Cemetery, Erie County, Ohio.

The five living children with their families live in this vicinity, in Northwest Iowa.

Above furnished by Burl J. Haight, who is a grandson of this woman.  Rebecca (Blackman) Haight.

Fred and Laura Haight

Marriage record of Fred and Laura (Cassiday) Haight.

Married at the residence of the "Brides" parents in Elk Twp., [Buena Vista], Iowa, on Tuesday October 4, 1881, by Reverend Herbert Whitney, pastor of the Universalistic church of Storm Lake, Iowa.  Mr. Frederick Francis Haight to Miss Laura Edith Cassiday.

The contracting parties are old settlers of Buena Vista County.  They have the best wishes of their numerous friends.

Mr. and Mrs. Elgar Haight found this clipping in an old family bible at their home in Mason City, Iowa, this year 1958.

Much of my material has been made before and I cannot change easily what I have written.  So this above is in correction to any statements as to marriage of Fred and Laura Haight made previously by me.

I believe the marriage was on mother's 20th birthday.  Fred Haight was 31 the next day or Oct. 5, 1881.

My additional information about them does not do either one justice.  One cannot put on paper words or thoughts good enough for such fine people as they both were.

It seems none of us ever really know or appreciate the good qualities in those we know until they are gone.  Much, much too late.  It is the same the world over.

I hope all of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren live as good, as happy and as full life as did Fred and Laura Haight.

Written by Dwight L. Haight Nov. 23, 1938.

Lloyd Haight 2001

Haight Family Photo Album