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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1044~


James E. Jennings

Zachariah Jennings



In the villages of the middle West are found men who were born on the farm, who went through hard times and struggles in early life, who by dint of hard work and good management won first a living, then a competency, from the soil, and now have settled in the village, enjoying the fruits of their labor, active in all the interests of the neighborhood, -- men whom it is a pleasure to meet and to talk with, veritable mainstays of the community. James E. Jennings, better known as "Ed," was born February 7, 1850, near Delhigh, Clayton county, Iowa, the son of Zachariah (known as "Uncle Zack") and Mary (Morris) Jennings. The Jennings family are of English descent. Zachariah as a boy went from Pennsylvania to Illinois with his father, who took up land there and then went back east after his family. Zachariah’s parents died in Illinois. They were the parents of five children. Zachariah married in Warren county, Illinois. The Morrises were of Welsh descent, but his wife’s mother was a German and was a woman of great natural ability as a doctor and used to ride over the country and treat the sick very successfully. She was the mother of thirteen children and raised several besides. Zachariah Jennings started in a small way by farming near Mineral Point and working in the mines. In 1848 or ’49 he went to Clayton county, Iowa, entered a claim, partly prairie land, and started to make a home, building a log house and making other improvements. He lost this claim and in 1853 came to this county, settling in Illyria township on the river near Fry bridge. He first worked in the Roll Mitchell saw-mill, then pre-empted a one hundred and twenty-acre claim, erected a log house, and went to Elkader to work in a grist-mill to get money to pay on his land. He found that another man was trying to beat him out of the land, so he walked from his home to the land office at Dubuque, starting from his home a one o’clock Sunday and reaching Dubuque by eight o’clock Monday ahead of his rival, who had driven through. He cleared and improved the land and lived on this farm until his death, April 4, 1908. His wife died September 21, 1901. She was a very active worker in the United Brethren church and was the first person baptized in Volga river. Besides being an excellent wife and mother, she had inherited her mother’s ability as a doctor and made many remarkable cures in the country about. Zachariah Jennings was a man very well known and very much esteemed in the county. During the later part of their lives both he and his wife were cripples, the result of a sad accident when, returning from a visit, their team carried them over a forty-two-foot embankment. They were the parents of ten children, namely: John A., a farmer of Sumner, Nebraska, who married a Mrs. Wheeler; Jane, who married Henry Gage, a farmer and photographer, living near Spokane, Washington; Joseph, of Volga City, Iowa, a farmer and minister in the United Brethren church, who married Eleanor Crane; she died in June, 1908; Alonzo died at the age of three years; David, of Alberta, Washington, a blacksmith, married Emma Kaufman; J.E., the subject of this sketch; Sarah, who was a teacher in this and Clayton counties and married Alonzo Fitzgibbons, of Clayton county; Mary married Wallace Crandall, of Illyria township; William died at the age of nineteen; George, a farmer in Illyria township, married Ella Walters.

J. E. Jennings had little chance to go to school and, except for the knowledge gained by three months’ attendance at the old log Mitchell school house, is entirely self-educated. He lived at home until his marriage to Annie E. Walters on February 10, 1873. (See sketch of Rev. John Walters.) They have three children: Sidney, a farmer in Illyria township, who married Mary Wittenbaugh; Maggie, who married John Wittenbaugh, farmer and rural route carrier of Wadena, and is the mother of five children, Alta, Lola, Gertie (dead), Lile and Robert; Bert A., a mail carrier in Illyria township, who married Tillie Larson, to which marriage four children, Vivian, Harry F., Floy and Gladys G., have been born.

After his marriage Mr. Jennings lived in Clayton county one year, on the old Tusing farm in Illyria township two years, on John Harriman’s farm one year, and then returned to Clayton county for two years. Here he bought a sixty-acre farm of Deacon Morley, going into debt for every dollar of the purchase price, lived there for eight years, got out of debt, then sold the farm and bought one hundred and five acres of J. Harriman three-fourths of a mile from Wadena, and three years later bought fifty-five acres more. He carried on general farming and made all the improvements on the place. He engaged in the livery business in Wadena for one year in 1903 and the next year he and his wife moved to the village, where he bought a home, remodeled it, and has since lived. Mr. Jennings has also made the real estate business part of his vocation and has been very successful. He made thirteen trips to Dakota in one year and also went often to Texas where he sold a great deal of land. He has been a member of the council and street commission to Wadena, and was formerly school director. Mr. Jennings is a Republican, and a member of the United Brethren church, a man well known and well liked, informed on all subjects and a good talker, one of the solid men of his town."

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Nancy Schroeder


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