Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Frank H. Downs

Frank H. Downs, a well known farmer and stock-raiser of Crawford county, was born in Gloucester county, New Jersey, June 5, 1867, a son of Edward J. and Lucinda (Graham) Downs, the former of whom was born May 7, 1834. in New Jersey where he grew to manhood, and there his marriage took place Novernber 20, 1856.

He was a farmer and charcoal burner, marketing his products in Philadelphia, and he followed those occupations until he was forty-two years of age, when he came west, locating in Menard county, Illinois. He was a son of Thomas and Maria Jane Downs. His widow is a native of Ireland and makes her home in Denison, Iowa.

They were the parents of ten children, of whom all but one survive, namely: Hudson, who lives in Arion, Iowa; Maria Jane, who married Charles Gaines and resides in Menard county, Illinois; John F., who is a farmer near North Platte, Nebraska; Elmer Ellsworth, who is located in Dawson county, Nebraska; Franklin H.; Sarah Elizabeth, who became the wife of Morris McHenry, Jr., and resides in Dow City; Ed J., Jr., who is on a farm near Overton, Nebraska; Lucinda, who married Isaac Howorth, of Goodrich township; and Emma, who is the wife of Ed R. Green and lives in Overton, Nebraska.

The initial education of Frank Downs was obtained in the common schools of Menard county, Illinois, supplemented by a course in the Indian Point graded schools. With the object of taking up agriculture as his life vocation he began active work on a rented fann in Shelby county, where he remained three years and then came to Crawford county. Here he was engaged in the livery business for seven years, his stables being located at Arion. Deciding to once more embark in agricultural pursuits, he rented a farm, which he cultivated for two years and then bought one hundred and sixty acres in Boyer township, comprising what is called the McMartin farm. Here he resided for five years and then moved to his present location, his farm here consisting of two hundred and five acres. Besides this he owns real estate in the town of Arion. He is an extensive dealer in live stock, making a specialty of English Berkshire hogs and polled Durham cattle and also handles a high grade of Shropshire sheep.

The marriage of Mr. Downs took place April 8, 1898, when he was united to Mrs: Nellie (Acker) Wall, who was born in Ogle county, Illinois, a daughter of John and Nellie (Harrington) Acker, the former of whom was born in Ogle county, April 5, 1835, and the latter in Otsego county, New York, October 10, 1839.

During the Civil war Mr. Acker enlisted in the Union army at Chicago in 1861, becoming a member of an independent company known as Sturgas Rifles, named for the man who fitted them out. This company was sent out all General McClellan's bodyguard and participated-vin the seven days battle of the Wilderness, remaining in the service until McOellan was removed. As it was an independent company it could not be sent anywhere without the consent of Its members and they were mustered out and returned home in 1862. In 1863, however, Mr. Acker joined Company M, Seventeenth Illinois Cavalry, and was commissioned first lieutenant but during his service was on special duty most of the time, being stationed at Jefferson Barracks and later at Alton, Illinois, where he guarded three hundred prisoners. His wife was with him most of the time until he was ordered to the front in pursuit of General Price of Missouri. He served as aid-de-camp on General McNeal's staff, assisting in guarding about fifteen hundred prisoners at Alton all one summer. When they went into winter quarters his wife joined him, but when there was any danger of fighting she was sent home.

He was mustered out in 1865 at the close of the war. Mr. Acker moved to Boone, Iowa, in 1865 and lived there for three years, after which he went to Avoca, Iowa, and engaged in the hardware business for eighteen years, going from there to Hand county, South Dakota, where for the following thirteen years he followed farming and then removed to Everett, Washington, which is at present the home of himself and wife. They are the parents of five children, of whom the following are living: Nellie; Tessora V., who is the wife of George Dulitz and lives in Washington state; and Alice May, who became the wife of Homer Brown and resides in Oregon.

On the maternal side Mrs. Downs comes of good Revolutionary stock, her great-grandfather Harrington, having served as a private in the Continental anny. He died shortly after the close of the war from the effects of the hardships suffered during- his service. When at the front his brave wife was left with a family of small children to care for on a little farm, her stock consisting of one horse and a few sheep. She cultivated her land, doing all the work herself, sheared her sheep, carded the wool and spun and wove the material for the clothes of her family. She also knitted socks, dried meat and melted her pewter ware into bullets, which she took on horseback, a distance of a hundred miles, through the woods to her husband, although she was surrounded on all sides by the English troops. Her friends feared for her safety but she trusted implicitly in God and was brought safely home.

Mrs. Downs was educated in Avoca and taught school for thirteen years. While living in Everett, Washington, she was a member of the Women's Relief Corps of that city. Her first husband, Harry Wall, to whom she was married December 7, 1887, in Hand county, South Dakota, was a native of Indiana and followed the vocation of farming. To them was born one child, Eva May, who became the wife of Neil Graham and now resides in Everett, Washington.

Mr. and Mrs. Downs are the parents of three children, namely: Nathaniel Acker, Frank, Jr., and Eliza Early, all of whom are under the parental roof.

In his political views Mr. Downs is a republican. Both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which they give their hearty support. He is a well known representative of farming interests in Union township and his highly cultivated lands and the excellent condition of his graded stock indicate, as nothing else could do, his untiring energy and capable management, and his thorough reliability in all business affairs has gained for him the confidence of everyone with whom he deals.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.