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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


Robert Hunter

Farmer and Stock Raiser

Elk Township




      ROBERT HUNTER, a veteran of the Mexican war, and now a prosperous farmer of Delaware county, Iowa, was born in Watertown, Jefferson county, N. Y., March 30, 1825, and is a son of James Hunter, who was born near Belfast, Ireland, and when a young man came to the United States and settled in the county where our subject was born.  He was a linen weaver by trade, which vocation he followed in Ireland, but later became a farmer and removed to Rockford, Ill., where for a number of years he served as school treasurer of his congressional township district, an office similar to that of county treasurer of the present day. He died in Rockford in 1869 at the age of seventy-six years, beloved and respected by all who knew him. Robert Hunter, the father of James, came to the United States a few years after the arrival of his son, and died in Jefferson county, N. Y. Sarah (Gillett) Hunter, the mother of our subject, was a native of Columbia county, N. Y., and died in Boston, Mass., whither she had gone for medical treatment.  She was the mother of two children: Robert, the subject of this sketch, and Mary Ann, deceased. To the second marriage of James Hunter were born seven children, viz.: David, James, Joseph, Benjamin, Sarah, Jane and Isabella, their mother having borne the maiden name of Sarah Akin.

     Robert Hunter, our subject, came West with his father and stepmother in 1845, and in April, 1847, enlisted for the Mexican war in Company A, Sixteenth United States infantry, at Rockford, Ill., and was sent to the Rio Grande to serve in the army of occupation under Gen. Taylor, remaining until the close of the war. He received his discharge at Newport, Ky., in August, 1848, and at once returned to Rockford, where he was married, and where he lived until 1853, when he brought his young bride in a two horse wagon to Delaware county, Iowa, where he located a land warrant for 160 acres in section 25, township 90, range 4 west, on which he has his present residence. Of his first tract he has since sold forty acres and has purchased forty acres of timber land in section 3.

      The lady whom Mr. Hunter chose for his life companion was Miss Mary H. Cummings, a native of Geauga county, Ohio, but at the time of marriage a resident of Rockford. She was born in 1833 and is a daughter of  Nehemiah Cummings.  She is a lady of culture and refinement, having been educated at the Female seminary  at Rockford, and her wedded life has been a most happy one, although the couple have met with some very discouraging drawbacks, among the most serious of which was the breaking of Mr. Hunter's leg a few months after his arrival in this county, which mishap caused his confinement to his bed for five long months. Mr. Hunter had had some experience in running threshing machines before moving here. A neighbor employed him to take charge of one, but he had run it only a short time when he accidentally got his leg caught on the tumbling shaft in such a way that the leg was broken, the ends of the bones being driven into the ground; his ankle, also, being thrown out of place. There were no surgeons in Delaware county at that time, but the best effort possible was made by local doctors to set the bones. The effort, however, was a failure, and Mr. Hunter lay for weeks suffering the most excruciating pains. But his faithful wife, to whose unceasing care the preservation of his life was due up to that  time, believed he could recover, and she placed him in a two-horse wagon, and returned to their old home at Rockford, Ill., where, under more skillful treatment, he got well.  Immediately on his recovery they returned to Iowa, and again took up their residence in Elk township, on the place they had procured, and there they have lived since.  Mrs. Hunter, to whom is due the credit of saving the life of her husband, as here related, and whose sad experiences during those times of trial words can hardly tell, is a lady possessing many excellent virtues, and the change from happy school life to the rough and rugged life of the West was a great one, but she as proven herself equal to the emergency and has adapted herself to her surroundings. The first church Mr. and Mrs. Hunter attended in Delaware county was in a small building made of logs, covered with heavy boards and floored a with thick slabs. The pulpit was a rude affair, and there were only two rows of benches, one on each side of the building, the men occupying one row and the women the other, facing each other. 


      There was much wild game in the country then, and it was no uncommon thing for deer to come up to within a few steps of their house.

      Mr. Hunter has always been a farmer and stock-raiser, but the esthetics of life are by him nowise neglected. He takes great interest in school matters, and for several years has been school director.  His children have received careful school training, and his daughters are highly accomplished.

      In politics he was formerly a Whig, but on the formation of the republican party he cast his lot with the new organization, and has adhered to it ever since. He has never sought public office, but has always been willing to render such service to his fellow townsmen that might be expected from a good citizen, and has willingly given his time and attention to the duties of the position of township trustee, socially, the family occupy a very high position, and the skill and sound judgment displayed by himself in the management of his farm and herds are the admiration of his neighbors. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Hunter are five in number, and named Addie, Minnie and George, all living; and Omri and Robert, deceased.


~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 399-401; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson