IAGenWeb logo

Delaware County, Iowa


 Biography Directory

Charles F. Fleming

Businessman & Land Owner

Delaware County



     To some men who have been blessed with strong constitutions and who respect the laws of nature it is given to enjoy an old age that is vigorous and active and such a man is Charles F. Fleming, who, although he is eighty-six years of age, still personally manages his extensive business interests, as he owns several thousand acres of land in this and other states. He has led an eventful life, having been sailor, miner, miller, farmer and capitalist. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on the 3d of June, 1828, a son of Andrew M. and Anna (Nordenshuld) Fleming, both of whom passed away in Sweden.

    In April, 1840, at the age of eleven years, Charles F. Fleming left home and shipped upon a boat bound for South America and for a number of years followed the sea. At odd times he attended school at Kingston, Massachusetts. He quickly mastered the principles of seamanship and navigation and when but a boy of sixteen was second mate of a ship in the American registry and this necessitated his becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. He was at the time the only person in this country who had taken out his naturalization papers at so early an age. In 1849, when a young man of twenty years, he went to California, by way of Isthmus of Panama, and there remained for six prosperous years, but in 1855 he returned to Massachusetts and was there married. In 1857 he came west and located in Delaware county, Iowa, and his family followed him in 1858. He purchased land and built a gristmill, which he ran successfully for a time, but in 1861 he turned his attention to sawmilling, erecting a mill upon the Maquoketa river. He successfully conducted this enterprise until 1894, when he sold, and the was in use for a number of years after that.

     Throughout his life he has displayed great business ability and as the greater part of his capital has been invested in land, he now owns eleven hundred and forty acres in Iowa, seventy six hundred acres, comprising six plantations, in the "black" belt of Mississippi and Alabama, and two hundred and forty in

Missouri. He and six other men, namely: Judge F. B. Doolittle, Benjamin Thorpe, Sr., Judge John M. Brayton, Rensselaer Eddy, A. E. Martin, and R. Boon, built through Delaware county the railroad first known as the Davenport & St. Paul, but which has since become a part of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. He is the only one living of the seven founders of the road. Although he has lived much longer than the three score years and ten allotted to man, his mind is yet clear and decisive and his physical health is good. In the conduct of his business, which is extensive, he manifests those qualities which we expect to find only in men many years his junior, as he is able to quickly grasp the salient points in a given situation, prompt in coming to a decision and resolute in the execution of his plans.
      On September 13, 1855, at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Mr. Fleming was married to Miss Mary S. Holmes, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Holmes, both of Mayflower stock and natives of Massachusetts, They both passed away many years ago and are buried in Plymouth. Mrs. Fleming died April 11, 1911, at the age of seventy six years. Mr. and Mrs. Fleming became the parents of six children: Charles F., who died in Delhi in 1880; David A., who passed away in Scooba, Mississippi, in 1894; Elsie Caroline, who died in 1887; Andrew M., a resident of Mississippi; E. H., the postmaster of Delhi; and Mary L., the wife of George H. Barr, who lives in Manchester.



~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page 328-331.

               Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.

~transcribed and contributed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb


Return to Delaware County