Sylvester Lazarus Jones
A beautiful monument in Charter Oak cemetery marks the last resting place of Sylvester Lazarus Jones, who was one of the highly esteemed citizens of Crawford county and for thirty years was closely identified with its agricultural interests.
He was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, April 28, 1847, and was baptized the following December by Rev. Henry Baker in the Lutheran church. He was the son of Erasmus M. Jones, who was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania. April 27, 1824.
The father was left an orphan at two years of age and was reared by neighbors. After reaching maturity he became a machine operator in a woolen factory in Pennsylvania. Subsequently he engaged in farming in that state, and in 1880 came to Iowa, making the trip by boat down the Ohio river and up the Missouri to Omaha, Nebraska. He located on one hundred and sixty acres in Charter Oak township, Crawford county, where he continued until his death, which occurred May 14, 1903.
In Pennsylvania he was married February 11, 1844, to Lydia Wheelan, who was born in Center county, Pennsylvania, October 23, 1826. The beloved wife and mother departed this life May 5, 1909, having arrived at the advanced age of eighty-three years. Mr. Jones was one of the prominent men of the community and served as school director and road supervisor. There were twelve children in the family, and the following still survive: Mrs. Susan C. Dieter, of Wyoming; John H., of Charter Oak, Iowa; Mary E., who is now Mrs. G. F. Wirtz, also of Charter Oak; and Winfield S.
Sylvester Lazarus Jones received his early education in his native state, devoting his attention later to agriculture, in which as the years passed he became more than usually proficient. In 1878 he yielded to the attractions of the west and came to Crawford county, Iowa, working at any employment he could find in Charter Oak township. He was a man of great industry and perseverance and was soon renting land and living with his family in a sod house until a more commodious dwelling was erected. In 1881 he bought one hundred and sixty acres at eight dollars per acre on section 22, that township, by paying twenty-five dollars down, but crops were bad the first year and he would gladly have returned to his old home in Pennsylvania but had no money with which to travel.
However, he was encouraged by a neighbor, C. Z. Marshall, who advised him to try his fortune on the farm another year. The next season proved favorable and later he purchased one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his original place and engaged on a much larger scale in farming and stock-raising, feeding seven carloads of cattle and hogs yearly. He also bought a ranch of three hundred and twenty acres in Big Hom county, Wyoming, which carries a rich vein of coal. It was his delight to visit the ranch each year with members of his family and there follow his favorite recreation of hunting and trapping. The home is now adorned with many evidences of his skill as a sportsman.
On August 1, 1875, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Jones was united in marriage to Miss Nancy N. Bechtel, who was born February 20, 1853, in Blair county, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Daniel and Nancy L. (Ray) Bechtel. Her father was a miller and engaged in farming and the grist-mill business, being a well known and highly respected citizen. He was of German and the mother of Irish parentage.
To Mr. and Mrs. Jones ten children were born, namely: Lurella, now Mrs, Carl Fish, of Idaho; Dosha I., now Mrs. H. Sterner, of Letcher, South Dakota; Lydia A., who married Carl Sterner, of Charter Oak, Iowa; Emma Marie. at home; Nora A., now the wife of Charles D. Ward, of Sioux City, Iowa; Martha E., who married W. H. Will rock, of Denison, Iowa; Daniel Harvey, who was born November 2, 1886, and is manager of the home farm; S. Walter, who was born August 2, 1888, and is now living in South Dakota; Dorothea E., now Mrs. L. Satterly, of Denison; and Ben S., who was born July 30, 1893, and is living at home.
Mrs. Jones and her children attend the Methodist church. She has twelve grandchildren and also has two sisters living in Pennsylvania, a sister at Danbury, Iowa, and a brother at Marshalltown, Iowa. She recalls many interesting reminiscences of early experiences in Crawford county when she and her husband labored patiently to gain a foothold among strangers. Often Indians came to the door begging for something to eat when she was at home with no protection but her children, her husband being at work in the fields. She experienced the hardships of pioneer life which were in striking contrast with the many comforts and conveniences she now enjoys.
Mr. Jones passed away on his Wyoming ranch, April 11, 1910, his death being caused by the bite of a poisonous insect known as the wood tick. He was a man of broad sympathies and generous nature, who made friends wherever he was known and always commanded the respect of those with whom he associated. He voted in support of the republican party but was never greatly attracted by politics, as his energies were devoted principally to his family and his business. He was eminently successful in financial affairs, was straightforward and true, and his memory will always be revered by those who knew him.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.