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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 1050~





Realizing the fact that persistent industry constitutes the basis of success, William Billmeyer, a well known citizen of Auburn township, Fayette county, sought no royal road to the goals of which he dreamed when a youth, but began to work earnestly and diligently in order to advance himself, and the result is that he is now numbered among the progressive, successful and influential agriculturists of this locality. He comes of a sterling old family of the Keystone state, he himself having been born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, April 11, 1847, but most of his long and useful life has been spent in Auburn township, Fayette county, Iowa, whither he came when a lad and where he grew to maturity, receiving his education in the district schools. He is the son of Ellis and Matilda (Berdine) Billmeyer, both natives of Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, the former born in April, 1827, of German ancestry. Mrs. Billmeyer, born in 1826, was one of three children, and was left an orphan at a very early age. They were both reared on farms. Ellis Billmeyer learned the milling business, but gave it up on account of the dust, and mastered next the cabinetmakerís trade, later taking up the trade of sawyer for his father and followed that for a number of years. He purchased the home farm at his fatherís death, also the saw and grist-mill, etc., and conducted them for a number of years. In 1855 they sold out in Pennsylvania and moved to Ft. Atkinson, Iowa, where Mr. Billmeyer took up a homestead, but he remained there only five months, moving to Auburn, Fayette county, in the fall of 1855, where he worked in a saw-mill as a hired hand for one hundred days that year. In the spring of 1856 he bought forty acres of timber land in section 27, Auburn township, where his son, William of this review, lives at present. The senior Billmeyer built a saw-mill on the forty acres and began sawing lumber for the market, operating the mill until 1893 when he sold to his son, Charles, who operated it until about 1902, when he sold out and engaged exclusively in farming. The elder Mr. Billmeyer from time to time added to his first purchase of forty acres, at one time owning four hundred acres, principally timber, but a large portion of this was eventually cleared and his sons farmed the land.


Politically, Mr. Billmeyer was a Republican and was a faithful worker for his party, though he never desired or sought public office. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was public spirited and friendly toward churches and schools. The death of this excellent citizen occurred on April 18, 1898, his wife having preceded him to the silent land on April 9, 1887, leaving eight children, two daughters having died young. Those living at present are, William, of this review; Ella, wife of Andrew Wilson, of Hawkeye, this county; Emma, wife of Herbert Hall, living at Auburn; Lydia, the wife of Allen Desent, living in Dover township, this county; Josephine, the wife of David Musser, of Auburn township; Rittie, the wife of Samuel Musser, of Auburn, Auburn township; Charlie lives in Auburn township, adjoining the home farm; Clara, the wife of William Dwello, of Granville, North Dakota.


Ellis Billmeyer was twice married, his last wife being Mrs. Elizabeth (Ostrander) Miles, whom he espoused in April, 1890; she was born in New York state, and at present she resides in Omaha, Nebraska. William Billmeyer remained on the home place, assisting his father with the general work until he was twenty-one years of age. He continued to live with his father, but worked for himself until the age of thirty-five years. He bought five acres of timbered land in section 34, this township, which he cleared; he added more land to this from time to time, clearing it, until he now has a very valuable and well improved farm of five hundred acres, all cleared but one hundred and eighty acres. Fourteen acres are in section 27, and twenty-two acres were formerly a part of the old homestead. He also owns eighty acres in sections 25, 26 and 35. He has devoted his life to clearing and farming his land and he has been very successful and owns a good comfortable home. He has made all this himself, having received practically no aid from anyone. Politically he is a Republican, but he has never held office.


Mr. Billmeyer was married on April 22, 1883, to Ellen Bopp, who was born in Eden township, this county, August 4, 1855, and is the daughter of Michael and Margaret (Smith) Bopp. Mr. and Mrs. Billmeyer are the parents of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Those living are, Mabel L., wife of Felix Pickworth, living in Carthage, Missouri; she was born February 23, 1884; her husband is the son of Felix Pickworth, chaplain of the Iowa State Reformatory for the past twelve years. Alma Edna was born May 6, 1890; Margaret M. is the wife of Clare Shepard, living at Mason City, Iowa, was born December 4, 1891; Anna Elizabeth, born September 12, 1893. William E., Jr., born August 5, 1898.



~Transcribed for Fayette County IAGenWeb by Nancy Schroeder


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