Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke 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.


William Frederick Cave, well known in business circles in Burlington as a dealer in coal and wood, came to this city from Ontario, Canada, in 1891, his home in the Dominion having been about sixty miles from the city of Toronto. He was born there June 23, 1855, a son of Edward and Mary A. (Mair) Cave, the former a native of England and the latter of Canada, the mother's birth having occurred in the same house in which the subject of this review was born. Many of the ancestors were English, but on the paternal side Mr. Cave is descended from French Huguenots. His great-great-great-grandfather was in the seventeenth century a colonel on the staff of William, Prince of Orange, afterward king of England, when he was warring against King James over Catholicism. The paternal great-grandfather, Mr. Cave, who was a native of Ireland, left that kingdom and settled in Wiltshire, England, upon a farm of five hundred acres, and this property has since remained in the care of his descendants, the place being called Long Newnton. That the estate was prosperous is indicated by the fact that when the grandfather of Mr. Cave retired from farming in 1857, he sold stock from Long Newnton netting him one thousand and nine hundred and seventy pounds, three shillings, and three pence, equivalent to about ten thousand dollars in United States money. Thomas Mair, the maternal grandfather, was born in Yorkshire, England, and as a young man immigrated to Canada, settling on the Penetanguishene Road, where he entered into a contract with the British government to supply the garrisons at Penetanguishene and the fleets on the upper lakes with beef, pork, and other meats. He bought livestock over a large extent of territory to fulfill his contracts, all of this being driven overland to the designated points. At his home he had a large stock farm, and to this he imported some of the first blooded stock in Canada, including English coach horses, Durham cattle, and Leicestershire sheep, doing much by his praiseworthy activity in this line to improve the stock in that portion of the Dominion. He married a lady who was a native of Kent, England, and who after the death of her first husband had come to America as lady's maid to the wife of the governor of Upper Canada, she being a lady of superior attainments and culture and the widow of a wealthy lace manufacturer of London, who lost his fortune and died at the close of the Peninsular war, leaving his widow in very straitened circumstances. She married Thos. Mair in Toronto, and had strong influence over him, he appreciating the fact that she had always been accustomed to the advantages of wealth, and putting forth every effort in his power to provide her with all that he believed would promote her happiness and welfare. He had removed from Toronto to County Simcoe, in the Province of Ontario, in 1819, and there he died at the advanced age of eighty-one years and six months. To him and his wife were born three daughters, who grew to maturity, these being Elizabeth, who married James F. Wickens; Hannah, wife of Frederick Usher, Mr. Wickens and Mr. Usher being both members of prominent families; and Mary A., who became the wife of Edward Cave, and the mother of the subject of these memoirs.

Edward Cave was born in Wiltshire, England, in the year 1818, and was there educated, coming to Barrie, County of Simcoe, Upper Canada, in 1845. In that county he purchased a farm and successfully conducted agricultural operations until the time of his coming to Burlington with his son in 1892. He married Miss Mair in 1847, and to them were born six children, only one of whom, William F., attained maturity. Mrs. Cave died in 1868, and her husband's demise occurred at the home of their son in Burlington in 1894. Both were members of the Episcopal church.

The mother of William Frederick Cave died when he was thirteen years of age, and afterward he was a member of a household that numbered only his father, his grandfather and himself. The public schools afforded him his educational privileges, and he remained upon the home farm during the period of his boyhood and youth, assisting in its development and improvement. He afterward became the owner of one hundred and eighty acres of land in Canada, comprising four farms, and at one time he also owned the old homestead, covering two hundred and fifty acres. At length he sold his farm property in Canada and came to Burlington in 1891. Here he secured employment in a rolling mill, and afterward in the shops of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, having charge of the tool room. In 1896 he bought a coal and wood yard of Joseph Slocum on Osborn Street, and two years later he bought out his present location at 833 Jefferson Street of W. W. Kennear. He uses three teams in the delivery of coal and wood, selling only to the retail trade. He deals in anthracite, Illinois soft coal, smithing coal, and coke, and in addition to the conduct of this business he operates a farm of seventy acres two miles from the city. He is also interested in mining property in Colorado. Mr. Cave has extensive fraternal connections, having been made a Mason in Des Moines Lodge, No. 1, of Burlington, and being also a member of Iowa Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons, and of the Independent Order of Foresters, of Burlington, of which latter he has been chief ranger.

Mr. Cave was married in the township of Oro, in Ontario, Canada, Dec. 17, 1872, to Miss Emma Lucy Harrington, who was born in the State of New York, and is of English parentage, her birth occurring two weeks after the landing of her parents, James and Ruth Harrington, in the New World. They were farming people, and removed from the Empire State to Canada. The father is now deceased, but the mother is residing in Youngstown, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Cave have become the parents of nine children: Emma Mary is the wife of Frank B. Wilson, of Burlington, a son of Captain Frank Wilson, of Cleveland, Ohio: Roland Mair wedded Winnifred Vandervere, and is employed in the shops of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad; Edward H., who married Beatrice Rosendale, of New York City, attended the country schools of Canada, and was first connected with editorial work in Cleveland, Ohio. He was for a time editor of the Sporting Goods Dealer, of St. Louis, was afterward on the Motor Review, and is now editor in chief of Field and Stream. James F. is with his father in the coal business. Gertrude E. is a teacher of music. Ernest Alfred, Arabella O., Coral Ruth, and Roderick Baldwin are all at home with their parents. The family home is at 1902 West Avenue, a two-story residence of eight rooms standing in the midst of two city lots. In his political views Mr. Cave is a Republican, but the honors and emoluments of office have had no attraction for him, as he has ever preferred to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs. He was reared in the Episcopal faith, but is now a member of the Presbyterian church.

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