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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 608~


John B. Pember

"John B. Pember, senior member of the firm of Brown & Pember, of Maynard, and an extensive farmer of the county, came to Iowa during the early days of its history and has since been identified with the growth and progress of this community. He was born in Chautauqua County, N. Y., March 17, 1823, and is a son of Joseph S. and Mary (Thompson) Pember. The Pember family was established in America during the Colonial days, its progenitors belonging to the band of Puritans who settled in Massachusetts. John Pember, grandfather of our subject, a native of Vermont, served in the war of the Revolution and married Lucretia Bill. Their son Joseph S. was born in Vermont in 1794 and wedded Mary Thompson who was also a native of the Green Mountain State, born in 1800. She was a daughter of Reuben Thompson, who was a Revolutionary soldier belonging to an early New England family of English origin. Joseph and Mary Pember celebrated their wedding in New York, where for many years they made their home. The husband participated in the War of 1812 and died in the Empire State January 17, 1835. In their family were six children, of whom John B. is the eldest; Clarissa became the wife of John Schofield, of Rock County, Wis., and died in 1888, leaving a family of six children; R. T. is married and resides in Rock County; Mary, wife of Wesley Stevens, died in California; Lydia is the wife of Walter Newberry, of Pueblo, Colo., and Joseph S. who died January 2, 1835, at the age of two years. After the death of her first husband Mrs. Pember became the wife of Daniel P. Farnham, and three children were born of that marriage: Moses P. who is married and resides in California; Sarah, wife of Edward Everett, of Sioux City, Iowa, and Melvina who became the wife of a Mr. Thompkins and died in Missouri, some years ago. Mrs. Farnham died in 1867.


The subject of this sketch spent his early life in farm work and in attendance at the village schools of Westfield, N. Y. He studied medicine, fitting himself also for the practice of surgery but has never engaged in that work. He also read law to quite an extent and has practiced more or less, but his principal occupation through life has been farming. He was married in Sugar Grove, Pa., on the 13th of January, 1842, to Almira Ransom, a native of Chenango County, N. Y., and a daughter of Elisha and Electa (Johnson) Ransom, also natives of the Empire State, where her mother died. Her father was a cooper by trade and spent his last days in Rock County, Wis. Shortly after his marriage Mr. Pember emigrated to Rock County and engaged in farming in Johnstown Township where he opened up a farm. He became one of the leading citizens of that community and took an active part in public affairs. He engaged in general merchandising at Johnstown and also bought and shipped grain. He was one of the originators of the Anti-Horse-Thief Association and held many offices of public trust, was a member of the County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner of Highways for many years and filled other positions. For about a quarter of a century he was prominently identified with the history of Rock County and then again resumed his westward journey.


In was in 1868 that Mr. Pember first came to Fayette County, Iowa. He settled at what was then called Long Grove, now Maynard, in Harlan Township where he bought a tract of prairie land and opened up a farm. At one time he owned twelve hundred acres of land but much of this he has since disposed of. He yet has a good farm of two hundred and ten acres adjoining Maynard, together with a quarter-section in another part of the township. He carries on agriculture on a large scale, raising all kinds of grain and has given special attention to the breeding of fine stock. Last year he lost a fine stallion over twenty-one hands high. For about eight years he has been engaged in general merchandising, establishing a store in 1883 in Maynard, a thriving village of six hundred inhabitants. The business is now conducted by the firm of Brown & Pember and is constantly increasing. As a citizen Mr. Pember faithfully discharges every duty devolving upon him, but has never sought or desired public office in this county. He, however, takes an active in political affairs, is an ardent supporter of Republican principles and a leading member of his party in the community. He keeps himself well informed concerning all questions whether political or otherwise and is a member of the Patrons of Husbandry.


Six children have been born of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Pember: John Orville, who died in Rock Creek County, Wis., December 10, 1864, at the age of twenty-one years; James Ransom died in 1850 at the age of five years; R. R. who is now County Clerk and an attorney of Maynard; the next child died in infancy; Almira Adell, wife of W. S. Brown of Maynard, and Joseph N. who married Clara Smith and resides on the home farm."



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