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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


A. R. Loomis

Business man




      A. R. LOOMIS. An importance attaches to the life and an interest to the personality of A. R. Loomis not met with in the personal histories of many of the old settlers of Delaware county. This importance and this interest do not grow out of his environments so much as out of the individuality of the man. An heir to no fortune, action of no family of influence, a graduate of no school, he yet reckons his wealth among the hundreds of thousands, he occupies a position of honorable distinction, socially and otherwise, and he is the peer, in sound sense, discriminating judgment and correct business methods, of any college bred man not only of his community, but of his state. Mr. Loomis has been a resident of Iowa for nearly forty years, during which time he has had business interests in many localities of the state and business connections with many of Iowa’s foremost men, to most of whom he is well known, and to whom, we may add, the pen picture here given of him as one of Delaware county’s pioneer citizens, will form an interesting and valuable souvenir.


       A. R. Loomis was born in the town of Milton, Chittenden county, Vt., on the twenty-eight day of June, 1823. He is the younger of two sons born to Reuben and Rhoda (Johnson) Loomis, both natives also of Vermont. He comes of New England ancestry, being a descendant of that plain, sturdy, thrifty stock by which the northeast Atlantic coast states were mainly settled, and which has made that sterile region blossom with the best fruits of an advanced civilization. To that stock Mr. Loomis owes the simple debt of heredity. He received from it as his birth portion the germs of that character, the development and perfection of which his own labors have wrought. The fostering care and tender solicitude of a father he never knew. That parent died before the subject of this notice was born. It is true his earlier years were watched over by a kind and prudent mother, and all that a mother’s love and affection could do for a son was done for him; but in that large knowledge of the world which comes from actual contact with men in the practical affairs of life, she had never been drilled, and she could in the nature of the case render her son but little assistance. It was all she could do to give him the rudiments of an ordinary English education, and had she lived elsewhere than in New England she probably could not have done that. Young Loomis started out while still a lad to make his own fortunes in the world, beginning the race of life, he says, “as a yankee peddler.” He traveled for years in his own and adjoining states, supplying the country folks and villagers far and near with such commodities as he had for sale. By industry, thrift and economy, he gradually accumulated some money, and in 1851, having decided to give up his business as a peddler for one of a more settled nature, he immigrated West and settled in De Kalb county, Ill. There he purchased a large farm and for two years and a half devoted himself to farming. That was a comparatively early date for that locality, but having seen something of the West, and knowing the advantages it offered to young men of energy and determination, he made up his mind to push on towards the frontier and cast his lot with the rising fortunes of those sturdy settlers who were then peopling the prairies of the trans-Mississippi. He came to Iowa, locating in Delaware county, July 8, 1853. He brought with him a number of Mexican land warrants and he laid these in the county in different localities, taking up several hundred acres. He made his first permanent settlement near the old Quaker mill, about two miles north of the present town of Manchester, on the Maquoketa river, there opening a small store and beginning traffic with the settlers of that locality. After the expiration of about a year, a strong feeling spread throughout the community that something of a town should and would be built where Manchester now is. Mr. Loomis added strength to this feeling by at once moving on to the new town site and erecting the first dwelling that was put up in the place, and starting one of the first store buildings. He engaged in the mercantile business in the new town as soon as he could be accommodated with suitable buildings, and he was engaged from that on for several years in selling goods, first alone, then with H. M. & E. B. Congar, and still later, alone again. The country being new, and settling up rapidly, trade was prosperous, competition not so close, and profits better than now, so that each succeeding year marked a steady rise in Mr. Loomis’ fortunes. But with that energetic, aggressive disposition that has characterized his whole business career, he did not confine his attention exclusively to his mercantile interests. He has been from the beginning, a heavy investor in real estate, particularly in Iowa lands. In addition to the lands he took up under warrants, he made extensive purchases of government lands, paying the ruling price then of $1.25 per acre. Many of these purchases he held as permanent investments, and, by reason of his landed interests so acquired, he is now probably the heaviest real estate owner in Delaware county. He owns several thousand acres lying around Manchester, all in a good state of cultivation, and, under his careful supervision, yielding him annually handsome returns, Mr. Loomis has also been extensively interested in real estate in southern California, particularly in the city of Los Angeles, where he operated from 1874 to 1885 on a considerable scale, and where he made a large amount of money by his judicious investments. He has been interested for a number of years also in banking, being in fact the pioneer banker, as he was the pioneer merchant of his town. He assisted in organizing the First National Bank of Dubuque more than twenty years ago, taking $25,000 stock in it, and becoming a member of its board of directors, a position he has since held. He held an interest at an early date in the Delaware County State Bank; he, how ever, has disposed of that; but he has been engaged in lending money for more than twenty-five years in Manchester, and he has had, at two different times, private banks in that place. The present First National Bank, which was organized in February, 1890, and of which he is president, is the heir and successor to his local banking interests in and about Manchester. He assisted also a few years ago in organizing the First National Bank at Dell Rapids, Dak., and is a stockholder in that institution now. With these manifold and diversified interests, each of an engrossing nature, it is needless to add that Mr. Loomis’ life has been an active, not to say laborious, one. He is in fact a hard worker, and he is now, as he has always been, devoted strictly to business. He has never aspired to public position, and with one single exception, has never filled public office. He was the first mayor of Manchester, having been elected to that position in 1866 on the organization of the town, and reelected in 1867. It is proper to mention, however, that Mr. Loomis has been foremost as a citizen in encouraging enterprises and developing the best interests of his town and county, and to the teaching of a sound doctrine he has added the great weight of his example, living and being more as an industrious, useful citizen, than he has ever by precept enjoined on others to be. A man of remarkable vitality, he has passed all the years of a long life engrossed in the work which his busy brain and hands have found for him to do, and he still, at the advanced age of sixty-seven, prosecutes with unflagging interest, these same pursuits. Rising at five o’clock in the morning, he sets about the duties of the day with the regularity of clockwork, and follows them up oftentimes to the late hours of the evening. To everything within his reach he gives his own personal attention. Possessing a mind in which the constructive are happily blended with the analytical powers, he projects plans and lays out work for others and then sees that his directions are followed to the minutest details. His brain is a per feet repository of practical knowledge. He knows the quality, value and selling price of every marketable commodity from a pound of butter to the bank stock of the latest made national bank, and he rarely ever forgets any­thing. His judgment of men is almost unerring, and his ability to divine the practical turn which events will take in a given case amounts almost to prescience. One of his most marked characteristics is what may be called his mental litheness.  As an operator with capital he is like a trained athlete; when foiled at one point with consummate tact and skill he rallies his energies and attacks a weaker place, and, by dint of perseverance and natural alertness, he succeeds where hundreds of others would give up in sheer disgust and despair. Mr. Loomis having been trained in the practical affairs of life, is plain in manner, pointed in conversation, short and direct in his business  methods and matter of fact in all things. Fortunate by circumstances he has been blessed with the ability to see and the energy and determination to avail himself of his opportunities, and what he is and what he has, he owes mainly to these qualities.


      In his domestic relations he has been as happy as he has been prosperous in business. He married while still a resident of his native state, taking to wife, on December 23, 1845, Miss Phedora H. Parmalee, a daughter of Rufus Parmalee, of Colchester. Vt., his wife being a native of that place, and, like himself, a descendant of New England ancestry, coming on the Cushman side of her house from the Mayflower pilgrims. She, whom he took to share his fortunes, now near forty-five years ago, still abides with him, having borne him during all these years the companionship he sought with her hand. Five children have blessed their union, all of whom reached maturity and four of whom are now living. The children are: Mrs. Etna Hoyt, wife of Hiram Hoyt, of Manchester; Lora A., wife of S. C. Hubbell, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Alma L.; now deceased, formerly wife of Dr. H. G. Brainerd, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Jennie P., wife of M. F. LeRoy, of Manchester, a sketch of whom appears in this volume, and Loring R., the last named being the only son. To these the father has given the benefit of the best schools in reach, the eldest daughter having been educated at Musicvales, Conn., the second and third daughters, at Grinnell, Iowa, and the son at Ann Arbor, Mich.


     Mr. Loomis has a pleasant home and his life therein is ideally perfect, simple, unostentatious and garnished with those home loves and fireside friendships which form alike the chief pleasure and highest reward of the man of correct taste and well ordered life.

~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 389-392; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson