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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


William H. Connell


Delaware Township



WILLIAM H. CONNELL, a representative farmer of Delaware township, Delaware county, is a native of Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and comes of old English stock, his ancestors having resided in Yorkshire as far back as any records or family tradition give an account of them. His father was the Rev. John Connell, born March 25,1804, in Yorkshire, being one of seven children of Benjamin and Tamar (Burnley), Connell. John Connell married Elizabeth Dixon, March 25, 1825; entered the ministry of the Methodist church about the same date; immigrated to America in 1832, and settled at Waterloo, Seneca county, N. Y., where he resided for some years engaged in ministerial labors; moving in 1844 to Walsingham, Norfolk county, Canada, and thence, in 1857, to Parkersburg, Butler county, Iowa, and ten years later to Lawrence county, Mo.; returning in 1880 to Parkersburg, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying near that place while on a visit to relatives, March 16,1889. He spent almost his entire life actively engaged in the ministry of the church, and was a powerful means in the hands of his Master in the spread of the truths of the gospel. He first joined the primitive Methodist church, and was licensed to preach by its authority; but after coming to America, in 1843, he was active in the secession movement, out of which came the Weslyan Methodist Church of America, being one of the delegates that attended the Utica convention and took part in the organization of the present Weslyan Methodist Church of America; and when the first conference of that denomination was held at Syracuse, he was one of the twenty-three ministers who were ordained by the Revs. Orange Scott, Luther Lee and L. C. Matlock to preach under the authority of the new organization. He was an itinerant minister and carried the tidings

of salvation to suffering men and women in widely scattered regions, performing his labors amid great hardships and privations, and often at the risk of his own life and health. He was a pioneer preacher in all the localities where he served, and the duties which were imposed upon him by reason of his position and relation to his church were throughout life of a most exacting nature. Among the people of Parkersburg and vicinity, this state, he is most pleasantly remembered, many of whom among the older citizens have sat under the sound of his voice and listened to him expound the truths of the scriptures, receiving enlightenment from his expositions and spiritual strength from his counsel and encouraging words. He organized the first Methodist Episcopal church in Beaver Valley circuit, and labored zealously for many years for its success. Parkersburg is now a part of it. He carried with him, to that beautiful land toward which he had so long pointed the bright and shining way, the genuine esteem, the sincere love and affection of all who knew him, or knew of his valuable services in behalf of his fellow men and the cause of Christianity.

Our subject's mother, Elizabeth (Dixon) Connell, was a daughter of John and Susan (Dyson) Dixon, natives of Yorkshire, England, where they always resided, and where, after long lives of activity and usefulness they died. The father was a minister of the Wesleyan Methodist church, a zealous worker in his church as well as in the cause of Christianity. Our subject's mother followed the fortunes of her husband to America, and bore him a faithful and affectionate companionship through all his labors and the changing scenes of his career up to the time of her death, which occurred January 7, 1864. The Rev. John and Elizabeth Connell were the parents of ten children, four of whom are now living, and six deceased, four of the deceased ones dying in infancy. The eldest child, a daughter, Susan, is now the wife of William Wright, a farmer residing in Parkersburg, Butler county, Iowa. William H., the subject of this notice, is the next. Benjamin, a farmer residing near Seattle, in the newly made State of Washington, is the third. The fourth is Elizabeth B., wife of Stephen J. Oliver, a farmer residing near Attica, Harper county, Kans. The two deceased ones who reached any age were John, who died at the age of two years on the passage to America in 1832, and James, who died at the age of twelve at Walsingham, Ontario, Canada.

William H., with whose personal history the remainder of this notice will be taken up with, was born November 29, 1832. He was, therefore, only a child when his parents came to America. He was reared partly in
Waterloo, Seneca county, N. Y., and partly in Walsingham, Norfolk county, Province of Ontario, Canada. He grew up on the farm and received a fair English education. He came to Iowa with his parents in 1857 and located at Parkersburg, Butler county. He was then a comparatively young man, and had saved some money from his labor, having at that time about $160 in cash, which he, immediately on locating, invested in public lands, buying forty acres, on part of which the present town of Parkersburg now stands. After a short residence there he went to Alden, in Hardin county, this state, where he remained for about two years. Returning then to Parkersburg, he settled on his farm and resided there, engaged in agricultural pursuits till 1868, when he traded his farm for one in Delaware county, being the southeast, quarter of section 13, Delaware township, to which he moved and where he has since resided. He has added to his original holding by purchase until he now owns two hundred and twenty-nine acres lying on the north line of Delaware and on the south line of Clayton counties. He has been actively engaged during all these years in farming and stock raising, and it is but fair to say that he has attained to more than ordinary success. Mr. Connell has been identified with the best interests of the several localities where he has resided since coming to Iowa, always taking an active part in everything looking to the advancement of the material, social, educational and religious welfare of his community. While residing in Butler county he held the offices of assessor and trustee of his township, and while a resident of Parkersburg, Butler county, was engaged during the winters of several years in teaching in the local schools of the place. Connecting himself with the Wesleyan Methodist church at the age of eleven, and going from that to the Methodist Episcopal church shortly afterwards, and from that to the Second Adventist church, in 1858, of which he has since remained a member, he may be said to have spent his entire life from the age of discretion in the service of the church, taking a leading part as a lay member, and giving to the doctrines and principles of those organizations, to which he has belonged, much earnest consideration as well as a practical support in their broader views and more catholic purposes. There is probably no man in the limits of Delaware county who has done as much for the Sunday schools of that county, and indeed for the Sunday-schools' interest of northeast Iowa, as Mr. Connell. Regarding the Sunday school as the cradle of the church and the church as the ark of safety for society, he has labored zealously in founding new schools over the county, and in maintaining an efficient organization where they have already been started. He has held a number of official positions in connection with the Sunday schools and churches, the duties of which he has discharged with fidelity. He is the present secretary of the North Iowa Second Adventist Conference. Mr. Connell is an enthusiastic prohibitionist and has given a large share of his labors to the suppression of the vice of intemperance.

March 20, 1853, our subject married Miss Ruth Siprell, of Walsingham, Ontario, Canada, this lady having been born in Oxford, that province, October, 19, 1833, being a daughter of William and Caroline (Gray) Siprell, natives of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, respectively. One child was born to this union, a son: John S., who was born in Walsingham, March 8, 1854. Mr. Connell had the misfortune to lose his wife in November, 1854. He married again January 28, 1857, taking as his second wife Miss Clarinda Alden, then of Alden, Hardin county, Iowa. This lady was born in Conway, Mass., May 5, 1834, and was a daughter of Henry and Hannah
(Richmond) Alden, both natives of Massachusetts, the father being a descendant of John Alden, one of the pilgrims who came over in the Mayflower. The parents came to Iowa in 1855 and settled in Hardin county, the town and township of Alden in that county being named for him. The father and mother both died there in the home of their adoption. The fruit of Mr. Connell's second marriage was four children: Henry A., Oscar E., Susan D. and Clara, all of whom are now deceased. Henry A. and Clara died in infancy. Oscar E. was born in Parkersburg, Iowa, in 1859, became grown, married Mattie J. Miller, of Delaware county, and died in the same county in 1889. Susan D. was born in Parkersburg in 1861, became the wife of Dwight Bushnell, of Delaware county, and died in 1885. Mr. Connell lost his second wife March 7, 1866. He married again September 9, 1866, taking to wife Miss Harriet E. Alden, a sister of his former companion; the last wife being a native of Conway, Mass., born March 20, 1844. This union has resulted in the birth of six children: Grace E., born October 28, 1868, and died January 22, 1889; Amy B., born April 3, 1871; Bertha S., born July 15, 1873; Ray W., born January 24, 1876; Willie A., born August 30, 1878, and Myrtle L., born January 4, 1885.

~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 586-591; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson