Martha M. Retherford is living
in Elk township, where she is the
owner of a good farm of eighty acres on section 30, in addition
to which she has other property interests in the village of
Greeley. She has been a lifelong resident of this county and is a
daughter of James and Catherine (Bragg)
Retherford, both of whom were natives of Illinois. In 1838
the father removed to Delaware county.
He was, indeed, one of its earliest settlers, for white men had
scarcely penetrated within the region now included within the
borders of the county. He settled in what is now known as Colony
township, securing a tract of land,
which he entered from the government. Naturally it was entirely
destitute of improvements and not a furrow had been turned
thereon, but he at once began to develop it and erected there a
log cabin, which he covered with a clapboard roof, using a
blanket for a door. In that primitive home he lived for several
years. On coming to the county he had no team but cut twelve tons
of hay and carried it on two poles to the stack. Mr.
Retherford made arrangements to
engage in farming the next year, after which he cut logs and
built his cabin, a little structure sixteen feet square. He sawed
the logs into puncheons, which were used for the floor, and all
the furnishings of the house were of a most primitive character.
When the work of improvement was carried thus far forward he
returned to his old home, but the following October again came to
Delaware county, where he lived until
his death. He took a most active and helpful part in the work of
general development, especially in the reclamation of wild lands.
Every phase of pioneer life was familiar to him from the time
when Indians could be seen here with as great frequency as the
white man. He also saw wolves and other wild animals, while wild
game, including deer, was to be had in abundance.
It was in the year 1849 that James
Retherford was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Bragg,
and they became the parents of seven children: Emily J., now
deceased; Joseph and John W., who have also passed away: James
M., living in Edgewood, Iowa; Samuel T., who has departed this
life; Mary M., the wife of Charles Marshall, now of California;
and Martha M.
The last named has spent her
entire life in Delaware county and is
now the owner of eighty acres situated on section 30, Elk
township, while in the village of Greeley she has a house and
four lots. She is an excellent business woman, managing her own
interests, which she does in a most capable and sagacious manner.
She belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church,
in which she always takes an active and helpful part. She
represents one of the old pioneer families and one that has been
closely connected with the development and improvement of the
county for three quarters of a century.