Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Henry James Cummings

Few men in Crawford county are more highly esteemed than Henry James Cummings, now serving his second term as sheriff of the county. The respect in which he is held is due to his fidelity to duty, and a genial and friendly manner which is one of his prominent characteristics.

He was born in Clinton county, Iowa, November 11, 1856, a son of Henry James and Elizabeth (Perrey) Cummings, the former of whom was a native of Ireland and the latter of Paisley, Scotland. The father was reared in County Tipperary, Ireland, and after reaching manhood served in the English army. He came to the United States and was married to Elizabeth Perrey at Lowell, Massachusetts. Later they settled in Clinton county, Iowa, where he died at the age of thirty-two years, in 1858, and the mother of our subject passed away in 1894 at the age of sixty-three. He was a Catholic but she was reared in the faith of the Presbyterian church and so continued during her entire life.

Our subject's maternal grandfather, Malcolm Perrey, was a dyer by trade and ran large dye works in Paisley, Scotland, employing several hundred men and women. He lived to be seventy-six years of age and was the father of the following children: Alexander, Robert, Malcolm, Matthew, Elizabeth and Mary. Two sons were born to Henry and Elizabeth Cummings, the elder of whom died in infancy.

Henry James Cummings, the younger of the sons, was reared in Clinton county and received his preliminary education in the district schools. The mother married again and when he was fourteen years of age he began making his own way in the world, working on a farm for the first four years. He then spent four years in the lumber woods and in rafting and steam boating on the Mississippi river. He followed various occupations and engaged in railroading until 1882, when he bought eighty acres of land in Charter Oak township, Crawford county.

His time was devoted to breaking the prairie for three or four years. He started the first dray line in Charter Oak, which he operated for four years, and then removed to his farm. After two or three years he sold the place and again took up his residence in Charter Oak, becoming a clerk in a store. He served for six years as deputy sheriff and performed his duties so creditably that in 1905 he was elected sheriff, being reelected to the same office in November, 1910.

On the 14th of December, 1887, Mr. Cummings was united in marriage to Miss Lizzie M. Farrell, who was born at Kankakee, Illinois, a daughter of Daniel and Margaret (Moore) Farrell. The parents were natives of Ireland and on coming to this country lived for several years at Kankakee and later in Poweshiek county, Iowa, and at Dunlap, this state. The father died at Dunlap and the mother at Omaha, Nebraska. Six of their children grew to maturity, namely: Peter J., Lizzie M., Daniel J., Anna, Andrew and Mary.

Five children came to bless the union of Mr. and Mrs. Cummings, Daniel, Rhea, Andrew, Eileen and Peter, but Daniel died at the age of two and one-half years.

Mrs. Cummings was killed by the cars September 3, 1908. The death of his beloved wife was a grievous affliction to Mr. Cummings and his children, and the entire community shared in the feeling of profound regret at the loss of one of its valued members. She was a sincere member of the Catholic church and a woman possessed of many of the most admirable traits of character, whose life was indeed a blessing to those with whom she associated.

Mr. Cummings is prominent in fraternal circles, being a member of Sylvan Lodge No. 507, A. F. & A. M., the subordinate lodge and encampment of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and to the Modem Woodmen of America and the Improved Order of Red Men. Politically he is allied with the democratic party. He has proved a most faithful and efficient public officer and is recognized as one who is fully entitled to the high honor in which he is held.

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