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.


The name which introduces this review is one well known to the citizens of Des Moines county, where he was born Jan. 20, 1844, being the son of William and Hannah (Banta) Van Osdol, both of whom were natives of Kentucky. The father was born in 1816, and was a miller by trade. When a boy, he emigrated to Indiana with his parents, settling in Switzerland county, where he grew to manhood, and where he was married. He came to Des Moines county at an early day, and purchased eighty acres of partly improved land in Section 4, Benton township, and there lived for six or eight years. Later he bought a farm in Franklin township, where he settled for a short time, and then purchased the site of the old Franklin Mills. He built the original mill, which was used as a sawmill, but afterward converted it into a flouring-mill, and there he lived, carrying on the business of milling until 1856.

After being engaged in the mercantile business in Mt. Pleasant for four years, he bought a farm in Section 33, Benton township, where he lived till his death, which occurred Oct. 3, 1868. He was a public-spirited man, and was ever ready to do his duty in matters pertaining to the welfare of the community. Upon the death of Mr. Van Osdol, his widow removed to Mediapolis, where she resided for some twenty-four years, until her death in July, 1892, at the age of sixty-seven years, and was buried by the side of her husband in the cemetery at Franklin Mills.

They were the parents of twelve children, of whom ten are living: Mehala, widow of J. W. McDonald, resides in Mediapolis; Melissa, widow of J. W. King, and also a resident of Mediapolis; Martha, has been a teacher in the high school for many years; John W., our subject: Melinda, wife of T. S. Poole, a Methodist minister now located on Mt. Pleasant circuit, whose daughter Lydia is a missionary in India; Mary, wife of Nicholas Boyce, of Iowa City; Jane, wife of Henry Walker, of Mediapolis; Anna, now Mrs. Frank Corder, of Mediapolis; Minnie, the wife of Albert Hollinger, of Burlington, Iowa; and Birdie, who married John Piper, and lives in Mediapolis.

Our subject received his early education in the common schools of Franklin township and in the high school in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Although only eighteen years old, on his country's call for preservation by her patriotic sons he enlisted, Aug. 19. 1862, in Company G. Twenty-fifth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry, at Mt. Pleasant, and was discharged at Vicksburg in 1864, immediately re-enlisting in Company H, Forty-fifth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He participated in the battles of Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, was also at the famous siege of Vicksburg, and was honorably discharged at Keokuk, Iowa, in September, 1864. After his discharge he returned to the home of his father, who at that time resided in Benton township, and remained on the farm assisting his father three years; after which he went to Mediapolis, where he was engaged in the stock and grain business for four years, in partnership with his brother-in-law, J. W. McDonald, doing a successful business under the firm name of McDonald & Company. They erected a large elevator, which is still the only one in Mediapolis, and conducted an extensive and prosperous business. In 1876 they sold the elevator and business, and Mr. Van Osdol rented the farm of two hundred and eighty acres which he has now owned for several years, and which he bought in October, 1892. His farm is now all under cultivation, and he has made substantial improvements upon it, erecting a handsome two-story frame house, a commodious and modern barn, as well as other necessary buildings, and is now engaged in raising a high grade of hogs and cattle, besides carrying on general farming quite extensively.

Oct. 10, 1867, occurred the marriage of Mr. Van Osdol and Miss Lydia Poole, who was born in Benton township, on the farm which is now her home. She is the daughter of Robert and Lydia (Saddler) Poole. Her father was born in Clarke county, Ohio, Aug. 3, 1817, his parents being born in Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Poole were married in 1839, and in 1841 the young couple emigrated to Iowa, which was then only slightly improved. The land was unbroken, and fierce wolves and wild deer roamed over the prairie, while neighbors were far apart. They bought three hundred and sixty acres of partly improved land, and erected a log cabin, in which they lived in true pioneer style for the next ten years, when Mr. Poole erected a large and handsome residence. Other improvements were made from year to year, and the farm was increased to four hundred acres.

It was upon this place that their six children were born, two of whom died in infancy. The others are: Nancy E., who married William Foster, of Mediapolis; Thomas S., educated in a private school in Burlington, and also in a commercial college in Chicago, now a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, stationed at Bentonsport, Iowa, being ordained in 1878; Lydia, wife of John Van Osdol, of this review; Eliza Josephine, wife of Samuel V. McAllister, of Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Poole retired from farming in 1881, and moved to Mediapolis, where he lived retired till his death, which occurred Sept. 6, 1894. Mrs. Poole died Jan. 27, 1896, and both were buried at Kossuth, Yellow Springs township. They were active Christians from early childhood, and took a prominent part in church and Sunday-school work, being for many years members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and active in organizing and building the church at Tama- town, Benton township. Mr. Poole was steward of the church for over forty years, and one of its most liberal supporters, and in 1884 was lay delegate to the Iowa annual conference. He was also justice of the peace for twenty years and township clerk for many terms. They were greatly comforted by seeing all of their children become Christian men and women, and happily situated in life.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Van Osdol were born three children, all living in Des Moines county: Thomas O., was born in Benton township, June 21, 1868. He was educated in the common schools, finishing with two years at Mediapolis. He married Miss Mattie L. Walker, daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Friend) Walker, and they have four children, all born in Benton township: Alma, Mary, John, and Wren. They live on part of the home place, where he is engaged in farming. He is secretary of the Benton township school board. Nora M., married James R. Walker, son of Isaac and Hannah (Friend) Walker, and they also live on a part of Mr. Van Osdol's farm, and have had seven children: Jay, Rollie, Ralph, Dale, Thomas, deceased, Howard, deceased, as is also an unnamed infant. Zora M., is a member of the class of 1907, Iowa Wesleyan University at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Mr. Van Osdol is a member of the Tamatown Methodist church, of Benton township, and has been one of the trustees for some years. In politics he gives allegiance to the Republican party, and has been the school treasurer for his district for eighteen years. The welfare of the township, the needs of the church, and the support of education are all subjects in which he is much interested. He is a man of broad and liberal views, and this, together with the upright moral life he has led, makes him of great value in the community, where his friends are without number.

Copyright ©  IAGenWeb Project