Jerome Edward Hedges represents a prominent pioneer family of Des Moines county, as he has been a resident of this county for sixty-five years, his birth having occurred July 12, 1840, on the farm where he yet resides. His parents, Joash and Eliza (Stage) Hedges, came to Des Moines county about the year 1836, when this was largely an unimproved wilderness. Burlington was but a small town, and the country round about was unimproved, only a few settlements having been made here and there over the prairies and along the streams.
Joash Hedges located in Huron township, where he established a pioneer home and remained for many years. He was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, in 1808, and departed this life in December, 1875, while his wife's death occurred in June of the same year. They were the parents of six children: Joshua, Richard, and Benjamin, all deceased; Sarah, the wife of Dr. Antrabus, who is living in Kansas: Jerome E.; and one that died in infancy.
The family shared in all the hardships and privations incident to frontier life, and as the years passed by developed there an excellent farm. It was upon this place that Jerome E. Hedges was born and reared, and he retains vivid recollections of pioneer conditions and environments, his mind forming a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present. His education was obtained in the early subscription schools. The schoolhouses were built of logs, with puncheon floors and slab seats, while a rough slab laid upon wooden pins driven into the wall served for desks. Greased paper was used for windows, and the methods of instruction were almost as primitive as the schoolhouse.
One of Mr. Hedges' teachers, whom he well remembers, was Mrs. Lizzie Ripley. He had the privilege of attending school only through the winter months, for in the summer seasons he worked upon the home farm from the time his age and strength permitted. He also early learned the blacksmith's trade under Nels Brown, and established a shop of his own about 1865. For thirty-five years he continued at this trade, doing the blacksmithing for the people of his locality, his excellent workmanship securing him a good patronage in that line.
He has also followed farming through many years, and is today the owner of a valuable tract of two hundred and sixty three acres, of which one hundred and thirty-three acres are a part of the old homestead farm which his father purchased of a Mr. Westphal on arriving in this county. In his farming operations Mr. Hedges displays business ability and executive force, which have been strong elements in his prosperity.
His home is on Sections 13, 14, and 18, and he has placed most of the improvements upon his farm. His residence is one of the most modern and attractive homes in this section of the county, and in the rear stand good barns and outbuildings, which in turn are surrounded by highly cultivated fields. In addition to the raising of the cereals best adapted to the soil and climate, he also raises some cattle and hogs.
Mr. Hedges has likewise been an active participant in public affairs. He has served as school director for many years, and was treasurer of the school board for about twenty-two years, still serving in that office. He was postmaster of the village of Huron for thirty years, and resigned his position in 1903, having through that long period discharged his duties with promptness and fidelity. His co-operation can always be counted upon to further any movement for the general good, and his worth is widely acknowledged by all who know him.
On March 8, 1866, Mr. Hedges was married to Miss Vina Luckenbill, a daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Myers) Luckenbill, and a native of Huron township, born April 28, 1842. Mr. and Mrs. Hedges have two children, Eliza and Benjamin, both at home. The family are well known in the county, Mr. Hedges having a particularly wide acquaintance because of the long years of his residence here. His memory is stored with many of the historic annals of the county, and he relates in an interesting manner many anecdotes of the early days when pioneer conditions existed.