Aaron Boyer takes rank as one of the very early settlers of Iowa, and he and his ancestors have played a worthy part in the development of this portion of the State. His grandfather and his father, Peter Boyer, were the most prominent pioneers of Henry county, this State, where they laid out the town of Salem and built the first house at that place. There they also did much to develop the agricultural and business resources of the country, a fact for which they deserve the highest credit; for in those remote days the men who ventured forth into the wilderness, where civilization and industry were at best but a doubtful experiment, were compelled to exercise supreme courage, self-sacrifice, and boundless determination without hope of great reward for themselves, trusting only to leave a glorious heritage for coming generations.
Peter Boyer was born in Ohio, where he for a time engaged in farming, but he was attracted by the possibilities of the West, and came to Illinois at a very early day. He settled in Hancock county, but remained there only a short time, removing thence to Henry county, Iowa. In the latter county he platted the town of Salem, where he devoted himself to various pursuits, including farming, and to some extent the mercantile business; while in addition he was one of the pioneer brick manufacturers of the place, thus adding materially in its early development. He resided at Salem until the time of his death, which occurred in 1844, when he was approximately forty years of age. He rapidly became a man of influence and standing in the new community which he founded, and his untimely end was the occasion of genuine regret.
In his political allegiance he was a stanch Whig, but he never sought to enter the distracting whirl of public life, preferring rather to devote his talents to private affairs. He chose for his wife Miss Cecilia Street, who, like himself, was born and reared in the State of Ohio. She was a member of a good old Quaker family. She was the daughter of Aaron Street, who moved from Ohio to Salem, Iowa, where he became a successful merchant and hotel keeper, and where his death occurred when about eighty years of age. Cecilia Street Boyer was the mother of eight children, seven of whom attained to years of maturity and still survive. Her death occurred in her eighty-third year at Big Mound, Lee county, Iowa.
Aaron Boyer, the subject of the present article, was born in Hancock county, Illinois, May 15, 1835, and when only six weeks old removed with his parents to Salem, Iowa. He was but ten years of age when his father died, and on the removal of the family, in consequence of this sad event, from the farm where they were then residing to the village of Salem, he began his education in the subscription school of that place. Later, however, he continued his studies at Mount Pleasant and at Burlington, with much success. He remained in Salem until his fifteenth year, at which time his mother removed to Burlington, Des Moines county, and he began his independent career by obtaining work on a farm in Union township, thus exhibiting early in life the qualities of self-reliance and determination which have since made him successful. After being employed in this manner for some years, and so gaining the necessary experience in the practical details of agriculture and farm management, he rented a farm in Union township. This he conducted until about 1870, by which time he had, by the practice of economy, industry, thrift, and good business judgment, accumulated a fair-sized capital, and with this he purchased a farm in Augusta township. With this new venture he was occupied, with entirely satisfactory results, during a period of three or four years, at the expiration of which time he sold the land in order to purchase his present farm in Union township. This comprises one hundred and eighty-four acres of the very finest agricultural land, located in Section 6. The farm was well improved at the time of making the purchase, but Mr. Boyer has by constant study and care added much to its outward appearance and permanent value. He has engaged principally in general farming along the usual lines, but has also given great attention to stock-raising in accordance with modern ideas, and in both has achieved remarkable success.
In Union township on April 7, 1859, Mr. Boyer wedded Miss Sarah A. Walker, who was born in Union township, Des Moines county, Iowa, a daughter of James Q. and Louise (Short) Walker. Her father was born in Ohio, and thence came to Iowa about the year 1835, locating in Des Moines county and purchasing a farm in Union township, where he conducted general farming operations and the usual amount of stock-raising. His was one of the large establishments of the county, consisting of about three hundred acres, and his position among the leading agriculturists of his day was one of prominence. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, to whose support he always generously contributed and was devoted to good works. He died at the age of eighty-three years, while his widow, who survived him for three years, died in her eighty-first year. Mrs. Walker, who was also a native of Ohio, was the mother of the following children: Sarah, wife of our subject; Catherine, wife of Henry Magle, whose name stands at the head of another chapter of this work; and Charles, who resides at the original home place in Union township, Mrs. Boyer, who remained at the home of her parents until her marriage, received a good education in the schools of her native township. To Mr. and Mrs. Boyer have been born seven children. These are: James Edward, now a farmer and residing in Union township, married Miss May Van Dyke, of Union township, and has two children, Beatrice and Chalmer; Angeline, died when four years of age; Mary L., died at the age of ten months; Frank, residing on a farm in Union township, married Miss Emily Barnett, and has two children, Lorea and Earl L.; Cassie, is a member of the parental household; Gail, at home; and Charles, now conducting a fruit ranch which he owns, near Santa Ana, Cal., married Miss Margaret Nau, daughter of Samuel Nau, of Des Moines county.
Mr. and Mrs. Boyer enjoy to a very marked degree the respect and esteem of all who know them, and while he has never cared for or sought any public recognition of his undoubted merits, he has at sundry times received election to the various offices of his township, being chosen on the Republican ticket, as he is a conscientious adherent of that party. The fact of his life for which he deserves especial credit is that he has achieved success by his own efforts and without outside aid, thus winning that somewhat trite but still expressive and noble title of self-made man. The liberal share of worldly goods and respected station in the community which he has gained, has been gained by simple force of character.