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.


F. Otis Grandstaff, secretary of the firm of Acres, Blackmar & Co., manufacturing stationers of Burlington, has arisen to this position from that of a humble employee of the house, nor is there any unusual phase in his business career, his advancement being gained through close application, unfaltering energy, and a mastery of every duty assigned him — qualities which all may cultivate, and which never fail to bring results.

F. Otis Grandstaff was born in Guthrie county, Iowa, Nov. 18, 1866, his parents being James and Martha (Frazer) Grandstaff. The father was born in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1843, and was a son of Eli Grandstaff, who became a resident of Zanesville during the pioneer epoch in its history, and there followed the shoemaker's trade for a time, but later engaged in merchandizing at other places. In 1854 he came with his family to Iowa, locating near what is now Guthrie Center, although at that time the site of the town was an unbroken prairie.

There he secured a tract of land, made a home, and developed a farm, but because of the severe climate he and his son James, with their respective families, removed to Mercer county, Mo., and in that locality purchased land. Mr. Grandstaff continued to make his home there for some time, but when in advanced years he took up his abode in the home of his daughter at Stanberry, Mo., spending his last days with her.

James Grandstaff was educated in Zanesville, Ohio, and in the primitive schools of Iowa such as were common in every pioneer district. He has, however, been a close student in later years, reading broadly, thinking deeply, and thus acquiring an intimate knowledge not only of books, but of the great questions which have been of concern to the world in its progress toward an advanced civilization. He was but eighteen years of age when, in response to his country's call for aid, he enlisted in Company I. Twenty-ninth Volunteer Infantry, being with the regiment from its organization until it was mustered out after the close of the war. He was a non-commissioned officer, but during the greater part of his service acted as regimental quartermaster.

On his return from the army he was elected county superintendent of schools of Guthrie county, but resigned that position in order to remove south with his family and his father. He purchased a farm in Mercer county, Mo., where he continued to reside until 1884. In that year he returned to Iowa, settling at Leon, where he carried on business for a time. At a later date he occupied the position of recorder of deeds in Decatur county for nearly six years, his official service giving entire satisfaction. Upon his retirement from the office he again became a factor in business life, and is now a furniture dealer and undertaker at Leon. He is classed with the representative men of that place, prominent in commercial circles and in public affairs.

In his political views he has ever been a Republican, active in support of the party and its principles, as was his father. In September, 1865, he was married to Miss Martha Frazer, their only child being F. Otis, of this review. Mr. and Mrs. Grandstaff hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church, taking an active part in the work of both church and Sunday-school.

F. Otis Grandstaff at the usual age began his education, attending a typical country school of northern Missouri. The little temple of learning was a log cabin with puncheon floor and slab benches. Later he enjoyed the advantages of instruction in the graded schools of Leon, Iowa, and subsequently became his father's assistant in his store, aiding him during the periods of vacation and at other times when his studies would permit. He remained in Leon until 1890, removing to Burlington at the time his father was made recorder of deeds in Decatur county. Here Mr. Grandstaff entered the employ of J. L. Kelly & Co., dealers in agricultural implements, but after a few months he secured a position with the firm of Acres, Blackmar & Co., as bookkeeper, entering that service in August, 1890. His capability won ready promotion, and in each transitional stage of his business career he has found opportunity for further advancement and broader effort. Eventually he became interested in the business financially, and is now secretary and general manager of the company, conducting the largest stationery manufacturing business in Iowa, and giving employment to a large force of operatives and local salesmen as well as traveling men. The product of the house is sold throughout Iowa and surrounding States, and a liberal patronage is enjoyed because of the excellence of the manufactured goods, the reasonable prices, and the reliability of the house in all trade transactions.

Mr. Grandstaff has made for himself a prominent position and honored name in commercial circles, and yet is perhaps equally known as the champion of Republican principles, being recognized as one of the leading members of the party in this city. He belongs to the county central committee, and has been a delegate to many of the State conventions. He has never sought or desired office, however, although in March, 1904, he was elected councilman at large for Burlington. As a member of the board of aldermen he is now serving as chairman of the finance and judiciary committees, and is also an active working member on other committees, including the claims, water, and light committees. He entered upon his official duties with the same spirit that characterizes his business career, that of close application and a thorough mastery of every duty that devolves upon him.

Mr. Grandstaff was made a Mason in Malta Lodge, No. 318, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and has since taken the degrees of Iowa Chapter, No. 1, Royal Arch Masons, Zerubbabel Council, Royal and Select Masters, St. Omer Commandery, No. 15, Knights Templar, and Zerapath Consistory of Davenport, Iowa. He likewise belongs to the Kaaba Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Davenport. He is thus prominent in Masonry, having taken most of the degrees, and with its teaching and tenets he is familiar, while in his life he exemplifies its beneficent and helpful spirit.

Mr. Grandstaff was married on the twelfth of November, 1891, to Miss Anna L. Failor, of Newton, Iowa, a daughter of Benjamin M. and Sarah J. Failor. They have two children, Benjamin F. and Martha. They are members of the Presbyterian church at Burlington, Mrs. Grandstaff having served as its organist for many years. She is also associated with the prominent musical societies of the city, and is well known in connection with many of the leading musical events of Burlington, while her position in social circles is an enviable one. The family home is at 1304 North Sixth Street, situated on the Mississippi River bluff, Black Hawk Rock, a notable feature in the scenery along the river, being immediately back of this property.

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