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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 610~


William O. Sumner

William O. Sumner, a retired farmer residing on section 33, Scott Township, was born in Saratoga County, N. Y., January 31, 1837. The family is of English descent. His grandfather James Sumner, was born and reared in Connecticut, and there married Phoebe Alvord, also a native of Connecticut. with whom he removed to New York about 1800, locating in Fulton County, where he followed his trade of tanning and shoemaking. He then changed his occupation and gave his attention, after 1835  to farming. His wife died in Fulton County, and he returned to Connecticut in 1804, and married her sister, Asenath Alvord. Subsequently they became residents of Saratoga County, N. Y., where his death occurred in 1864, at the age of eighty-seven years. His wife died two years previous. He was a prominent and influential citizen, took great interest in public affairs and occupies various official positions of honor and trust. He was also prominent in the Baptist Church, of which he was a member from early life, and for its upbuilding and advancement he labored untiringly.


The father of our subject, James Sumner, Jr. was born in Fulton County, N. Y., and with his father learned the shoe-maker's trade, but at an early day engaged in farming. In Saratoga County, in February, 1836, he was joined in wedlock with Miss Sophia Hagedorn, a lady of German and English descent, and a daughter of Jonathan A. Hagedorn, who was born in Watervliet, N. Y. The young couple began their domestic life upon a farm in Saratoga County, and in 1865 Mr. Sumner and his family removed to Orleans County, where he spent the remainder of his days, dying in 1886. His first wife died when our subject was a lad of five years, and in 1843 he wedded Abigail Hagedorn, who departed this life in 1871. His third wife was Sallie Ann Weld, who still survives him. By the first union were born three children: William O., of this sketch, and two who died in youth. In Mr. Sumner we find one of the leading citizens of the Empire State in early days. He not only filled county offices, but in 1860-61 represented his district in the State Legislature. He was influential in electing Senator Harris, and through that gentleman could have received an appointment to a public office, but declined. He was not desirous of official honor preferring rather to devote his time and attention to his business interests, and the work of the church. He was blessed with prosperity, and of his means gave liberally to charitable and benevolent interests, and for the upbuilding and establishment of the Baptist Church, of which he was a faithful and consistent member.


William O. Sumner was reared to manhood upon his father's farm, and in his boyhood entered his father's sawmill. In this way he soon became acquainted with the business, and before he had attained his majority was placed in charge of the mill. He received good educational advantages, and was thus fitted for the duties of life. After attending the public schools, he pursued a three years' course of study in Kingsboro Academy. He engaged in farming in Saratoga County until twenty-eight years of age. The succeeding five years he spent upon a farm in Orleans County, and is possessor of the same since his father's death. In March, 1869, he came to Iowa, locating on his farm in Scott Township, Fayette County. It was then entirely destitute of improvements, and not a single furrow had been turned, but almost the entire township was in a similar condition. His own farm comprises four hundred acres of valuable land, and is furnished with good buildings and all the accessories of the model farm. However, he rents his land, having retired from active business life.


In Saratoga County, N. Y., in 1859, Mr. Sumner was united in marriage with Miss Attalanta Manchester, a native of that county, and a daughter of Abram and Hannah Manchester. Her father died at the age of eighty-six years, and her mother at the age of eighty-eight. They were the parents of six children. Mr. and Mrs. Sumner have one daughter: Mrs. Alice A. Winslow, who was born in New York, grew to womanhood in this county, attended school in Medina, N. Y., and is now residing in St. Paul, Minn., where her husband is employed as a civil engineer. The parents were members of the Baptist Church, but as there is no congregation here, their membership is with no local organization. He cast his first Presidential vote for Lincoln, and has since supported the Republican party, being a warm advocate of its principles. He has taken an active part in its conventions, and does all in his power to advance the interests and insure the success of Republicanism. Their pleasant home is the abode of hospitality. It is tastefully furnished and filled with books and periodicals which indicate the cultivated taste of the inmates. Among his fellow townsmen Mr. Sumner is held in high regard.





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