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Delaware County, Iowa


 Biography Directory

Martha M. Retherford


Elk Twp.



     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.



~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page  395-396.  Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.

~transcribed and contributed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb


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