William C. Cross, who is engaged in the insurance business in Burlington, and who is very prominent and widely known in Masonic circles, was born in Georgetown, Mass. His father, George G. Cross, of New England parentage, was a painter by trade, and conducted a paint store in connection with his brother-in-law, George P. Folson.
He was also proprietor of a hotel at Wolf-boro, N. H. At the time of the Civil War he went to the front with a regiment of artillery from Rhode Island, and died in 1867 as the result of concussion from cannonading. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary A. Hatch, is now living in Dover, N. H. In their family were five children, of whom William C. Cross was the second in order of birth, and the only one now living. In his early boyhood days William C. Cross accompanied his parents on their removal to Dover, N. H., where he was reared to manhood, and acquired his education in the common and high schools. After putting aside his text-books he accepted a clerkship in a dry-goods store, where he remained for five years, then removing to Michigan, settling at East Saginaw, where he entered railroad services, with which he was connected for a long period as a representative of the operators' department of several great railroad systems. He first engaged with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad as a brakeman on a passenger train, and later was the company's representative and handled a gang of men in construction work on the building of an extension to its line. He was for four years conductor on a passenger train on the three divisions of that line, going from Saginaw to Detroit, Toledo to Holly, and Saginaw to Ludington, Mich. He ran the first passenger train out of Ludington, and doubled one week after the Ludington extension was completed. In 1877 he resigned his position with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad and came to Burlington, where he entered the service of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad as brakeman on the freight run between Burlington and Ottumwa, acting in that capacity through nine months. He was then put on a construction train as foreman of a gang working in the summer months, and was appointed a regular freight run in the winter season. He laid the iron on the Red Oak-Griswold extension of the Q system. He acted as clerk for trainmaster J. W. Working of the operating system for seven or eight years, and during the memorable railroad strike of 1888 he was appointed general yardmaster of the Burlington system at Burlington. In 1890 he was made trainmaster of the east Iowa division, in addition to his other duties as general yardmaster. In 1898 he retired from railroad work and established himself in the insurance business, representing such companies as the Continental German Alliance, Aachen-Munich, the Etna Accident, and many other good fire and accident insurance companies, with offices in the Parson's Block, and during his connection with the business he has secured a good clientage.
Mr. Cross was married in 1873 in East Saginaw, Mich., to Miss Maggie Landis, a native of Ohio, who was reared in Michigan.
He is very prominent in lodge work, especially in Masonry, and for long years has been a worthy exemplar of the craft. He belongs to Des Moines Lodge, No. 1, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and was made a Mason in Saginaw, Mich., Jan. 2, 1884. He is now a pastmaster of the lodge, and in September, 1874, he took the degrees of the Royal Arch and now belongs to Iowa Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons, of which he is the present high priest. On the fifteenth of November, 1900, he took the Knights Templar degrees in St. Omer Commandery, No. 15, Knights Templar, and is past eminent commander. He is likewise a member of Zarepath Consistory of Davenport, having attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish rite in August, 1886; while on the tenth of February, 1887, the thirty-third degree of Masonry was conferred upon him an honor to which few attain. He is also a member of Zerubbabel Council, of Burlington, of which he is thrice illustrious master. He belongs to Burlington Lodge, No. 84, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of which he was past most exalted ruler in 1900, and is past district deputy grand exalted ruler of Iowa. For eight years he has been trustee of the local lodge in Burlington. He is, perhaps, one of the best-known Masons in this section, thoroughly familiar with the teachings and tenets of the craft, and in his life exemplifying its beneficent spirit.
He was formerly a member and served on the executive committee of the order of Railway Conductors. In politics he is a Democrat, but has never sought or desired political preferment. Mr. and Mrs. Cross attend the Methodist Episcopal church, of which she is a member.