Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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There is all of consistency in designating Mr. [George W.] BRETT as one of the most progressive and public spirited citizens of Cerro Gordo county, where he is associated with his father in the ownership of the largest landed estate in the county and where he has had the active management of the same for many years. He also makes a specialty of the real estate and loan business and maintains his offices in the old postoffice building in Mason City. He has been actively identified with the promotion of many enterprises that have admirably conserved the industrial and civic development of upbuilding of the county, and no citizen commands a fuller measure of popular confidence and esteem in the community. He has served as mayor of Mason City and has at all times given his influence and co-operation in the promotion of measures projected for the general welfare of his home city and county.

Mr. Brett is a native of Boone county, Illinois, where he born on the 13th of October, 1849, and he is a son of William and Ellen (BRETT) BRETT, both of whom were born and reared in England, where their marriage was solemnized.

The parents came to the United States in 1843 and number themselves among the pioneer settlers of Boone county, Illinois, where the father secured a tract of government land and instituted the development of a farm -- the old homestead on which George W. BRETT was born. In 1866, William BRETT came with his family to Iowa and settle at Waverly, Bremer county, in which locality he made investments in land, which with the passing years greatly increased in value. He bought and sold much land in various sections of the state and he is today one of the most extensive land holders in northern Iowa. In the '70s he purchased large tracts of land in Cerro Gordo county, and under the direction of his son, George W., who assumed the supervision of the estate in 1878, these properties have been splendidly improved and now constitute the largest landed estate in the county, the father and the son each being large land owners in the county. Of the three children the subject of this review and one brother, Albert, are the only children of William and Ellen BRETT now living, the one daughter having died in 1904.

William BRETT established his residence in Mason City about the 1888, and here he continued to pass the summers for a number of years, sojourning for the winter seasons in California. In 1904 he established his permanent home in Los Angeles, that state, where he is the owner of a considerable amount of valuable property. Though now [1910] eighty-eight years of age, he is well preserved in both his mental and physical powers, as is also his cherished and devoted wife, who has attained to the age of eighty-four years. William BRETT has been a man of great business capacity and in his extensive operations his course has ever been guided and governed by the highest principles of integrity and honor, so that he has not been denied the uniform confidence and regard of those with whom he has come in contract (sic) in the various relations of life. He is the owner of real estate in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North and South Dakota, as well as in Iowa and California, and he has long been recognized as a substantial capitalist. His political allegiance has been given to the Republican party from the time of its organization to the present and both he and his wife have long been zealous members of the Congregational church.

George W. BRETT passed his boyhood days on the old homestead farm which was the place of his nativity, and after availing himself of the advantages of the district schools of Boone county, Illinois, he continued his studies in the high school at Belvidere, that state. He accompanied his parents on their removal to Bremer county, Iowa in 1866, and here he completed a preparatory course under private instruction with the intention of entering college. However, he finally decided that it would be more expedient to discontinue higher academic studies, and under these conditions he went to the city of Chicago, where he completed a course in the Bryant & Stratton Business College, thus admirably fitting himself for the active duties and responsibilities of his exceptionally successful business career.

After his return to Iowa he became associated with Lewis CASE in the opening of a carefully prepared set of abstract books of Bremer county, and he there continued in the abstract business for the ensuing four years at the expiration of which, 1878, he disposed of his interest in the enterprise and came to Mason City, where he assumed the active supervision of his father's real estate and general business interests, which he has continued to manage during the long intervening years. He has thus been most prominently identified with the development of the agricultural resources of this section, and has purchased and sold large amounts of land. When he assumed control of the estate it comprised about four thousand acres, and at the present time the joint holdings of himself and his father in northern Iowa aggregate thousands of acres, the greater part of the property being well improved and under effective cultivation. As has already been noted the BRETT landed estate is the largest in Cerro Gordo county, and its development and great appreciation in value have been admirably conserved under the able administration of him whose name initiate this article.

Mr. BRETT was one of the organizers of the Iowa State Bank of Mason City and was its first president. He has since disposed of his interests in this institution. His father, William BRETT, is one of the principal stockholders of the First National Bank. George W. BRETT has given tangible aid also in the fostering and upbuilding of a number of manufacturing and business enterprises in Mason City, and his loyalty and public spirit have been of the most insistent and beneficent order.

In politics he is found arrayed under the banner of the Republican party, and he served from 1902 to 1906, inclusive, as mayor of Mason City, giving a most effective administration and one that did much to advance the best interests of the city. He had previously served two terms as a member of the city council.

He is affiliated with the local organizations of the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Mrs. BRETT holds membership in the Pythian Sisters and in the Christian Science church. She is a prominent and popular factor in the social activities of the community and presides most graciously over the attractive home, which is a center of generous hospitality.

In the year, 1872 (changed to 1874) at Brandon, Wisconsin, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. BRETT to Miss Alice A. SHELDON, who was born and reared in Syracuse, New York, and who is a daughter of the late Ezra SHELDON, who died in early life on the old homestead, leaving a good wife and four children to mourn his loss. Mr. and Mrs. BRETT have two children -- Bert H., who is associated with his father in the latter's varied business operations, and Harriet M., who is the wife of Frank L. MICHAEL, of Mason City.

SOURCE: Wheeler, J. H. History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Vol. II. Pp. 398-401. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2011



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