Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


Jacob Bumgardner, a representative farmer of Des Moines county, living on Section 8, Union township, is a native of Pennsylvania, his birth having occurred in Dauphin or Lebanon county, on the 24th of July, 1838. His parents were John and Anna (Kimport) Bumgardner, both of whom are natives of Pennsylvania, and removed to Cumberland county, that State, during the early boyhood of their son Jacob. After about six years they came to Des Moines county, Iowa in 1849, for a year they lived in a brick house that is now owned by Samuel Senti, but was then the property of David Ernest. The father was in such limited financial circumstances that he could not even purchase a cow, though one could have been bought at that time for ten dollars. The family numbered ten children, of whom Jacob is the second. The journey westward had been made by the canal from Cumberland county to Pittsburg, thence by steamer to Burlington. The father had been a teamster in Pennsylvania, driving four and six horses, but hoping that he might eventually become the owner of a farm here, he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, renting a tract of land. His wife died when their son Jacob was about sixteen years of age, and in the early ‘50s the father went to California in search of gold. He traveled eastward to New York, and thence sailed for the Isthmus of Panama. Crossing that narrow strip of land, he afterward embarked on the Pacific waters for San Francisco; and when he reached California, he made his way to the mines. In that locality he engaged in teaming, and became the owner of mining interests. He had left his children in Union township, and they remained together until two of the daughters were married. The home then being broken up, Mr. Bumgardner decided to do for himself as soon as he became of age.

Not long after Jacob Bumgardner attained his majority, he and his brother, William H. H. Bumgardner, also went to California, making the journey by way of the Isthmus in 1860. There they worked in the mines until the fall of 1862, when the brother joined a company of one hundred who enlisted in the Union army. They made the trip back to Boston to join a regiment, and were all members of the same company. They were known throughout the war as the California Hundred. William H. H. Bumgardner was in cavalry service, and was wounded in Loudon county, Virginia, by Mosby’s guerillas, his injuries terminating his life. In 1863 the father died in California, being then about fifty years of age, and his remains are interred on Iowa Hill, in Place county.

In 1864 Mr. Bumgardner returned by way of the Isthmus, New York, and Canada to his old home in Iowa. He had been here only ten or fifteen days when his patriotic spirit being aroused by the continued attempt of the South to overthrow the Union, he enlisted in Company F, Forty-fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry for one hundred days, and was sent to Wolf River, Tenn., to do guard duty. On the expiration of his first term of enlistment he was again enrolled as a soldier, becoming a member of Company C, Fifteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, with which command he was sent to Atlanta to join Sherman. He participated in the celebrated march to the sea, and was with Sherman’s army until after the grand review in Washington, D. C., at the close of the war. Returning to Des Moines county, he settled in Union township, where he purchased land in connection with his brother-in-law, A. S. Perry. They continued business together until Mr. Perry was elected sheriff of the county, when the land was divided.

On the 24th of August, 1865, Mr. Bumgardner was married in Union township to Miss E. J. Perry, who was also a native of Pennsylvania, and a daughter of John R. and Jane (Estep) Perry. She was about fifteen years of age when the family came to Iowa, settling in Union township. She was liberally educated, attending school in Burlington for a couple of terms after completing the public-school course, and she was a successful teacher in both Des Moines and Lee counties prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Bumgardner began their domestic life upon a farm. He purchased sixty acres of land, which he still owns, and to it he has added from time to time, as his financial resources have increased, until he now has nearly three hundred and seventy-four acres. This is divided into three farms, and his property is so well improved that he receives therefrom an excellent annual income.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Bumgardner has been blessed with five children: William H. H., the eldest, born in 1866, acquired a fair education, and married Ella Orm, by whom he as one child, Oma. Their home is in Union township. Carrie B. is the wife of E. C. S. Miller, a resident near Mexico, Mo., and they have seven children, Edith J., Ida E., Lester J., Ray E., Ruth, Leona, and Carl. Walter P., living near Wapello, Louisa county, Iowa, married Miss Mary Dellzell, and has one child, Max C.; Elmer, who operates the home farm, married Julia Helt, and has one son, Millard. Bertha I. is the wife of Fred A. Woodward, and has three children, Ellis and Willis (twins), and Florence. Their home is near Agency, Iowa.

In his political views Mr. Bumgardner has always been a staunch Republican, casting his first presidential ballot for U. S. Grant, in 1868. He has been interested in good schools, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend, his services as a school director several terms being especially helpful, and has held the office of secretary of the board for twenty-five years. Always interested in his party and its upbuilding, he has done what he could to advance its welfare, and has served as a delegate to various conventions. His wife became a member of the Baptist church of Burlington prior to her marriage, but Mr. and Mrs. Bumgardner now attend the Methodist Episcopal church. He belongs to Matthies Post, G. A. R., at Burlington, and in all matters of citizenship he is as true to his country in days of peace as when he followed the old flag on the Southern battle-fields. Viewed from a business standpoint, his life has certainly been a successful one, and he enjoys the full confidence of the business community. Starting out for himself empty-handed, he possessed the determination which enables one to overcome difficulties and obstacles; and as years advanced, he has so managed his business affairs that he is today one of the substantial agriculturists of Union township.


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