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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 1315~


Erastus Williams Appleman


Whenever the claim is made that business enterprises cannot be successfully undertaken by the government it is usually met by a reference to the postal service, which employs thousands of men, is almost absolute in its certainty of service and is efficient in every way. The postal service is a very attractive field of work, offering excellent opportunities to the young man or even to those who, like Mr. Appleman, are older and who have been quite successful along other lines, but see in the mail service a field of endeavor which satisfies them.


Gustavus Adolphus Appleman, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Connecticut, February 23, 1817. The sea had a strong attraction for him and he shipped as a sailor at the age of fifteen, and followed the sea for twenty-three years, during which time he advanced to the command of a whaler, sailed around the world three times, and visited every known country, including China, Japan, Australia, the Spice Islands and Greenland. He sailed around Cape Horn several times, was on whaling voyages in the north Pacific ocean and in Bering sea, and gathered a large collection of interesting and instructive relics in the course of his voyages, including articles from every region visited. His love for the sea was inherited from his father, John Appleman, a native of Germany, who emigrated to Connecticut, and was a seafaring man all his life. Gustavus Adolphus married Prudence Ann Williams, who was born in Cider Hill, Cider Hill, Connecticut, in 1821, the daughter of Erastus and Nancy (Hewitt) Williams, and sister of Judge Elias H. Williams. Of their union the following children were born: Anna M., wife of ex-Governor William Larrabee; John, deceased; Noyes, of Witten, South Dakota; Hannah, deceased; Erastus W.; Lucy, deceased, lived in Elkader, left three children: Elias H., of  Clermont; Franz S., of Portland, Oregon; and Lydia, wife of H. J. Grotewohl, of Hartley, Iowa. In 1854 Mr. Appleman abandoned the sea and came to Garnavillo, Clayton county, Iowa, and the next year came to Fayette county and spent the remainder of his life on the farm where his son Elias H. now resides, dying November 4, 1893. His wife had preceded him on December 5, 1880. Mr. Appleman was a Whig in early life and later a Republican. He was a man who was noted for the vast range of his information on all important subjects, and a man with whom it was a treat to talk. His reputation was unexceptionable.


Erastus Williams Appleman was born at Mystic River, Connecticut, March 27, 2854, came to Iowa an infant, and was educated in the Fayette county schools and Ames Agriculture College. He taught school for sixteen years, part of the time in normal work, making a specialty of mathematics. The Horace E. Horton Bridge and Iron Company then engaged him as field engineer, and he filled this position for eight years, during which time the firm had under construction the High bridge at Dubuque, Iowa, and the steel arch bridge from Hennepin to Central avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the world-renowned High bridge of St. Paul, one of the highest in the world. In the employ he traveled over the entire middle West. In 1888 he accepted a position under the government in the railway mail service. Because of his familiarity with the workings of the system, he was appointed to represent this service at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis, his duty being to explain the details of the service to visitors from all parts of the world, especially those from foreign nations. Here he met representatives of every government of the world. His performance of the duties of this position were very satisfactory to all and won him much commendation. At present he is assigned to the service on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway from Dubuque, Iowa, to Sanborn, Iowa.


On August 7, 1877, Mr. Appleman was united in marriage to Helen Almira Van Buren, a cousin of President Van Buren, born in Osceola, Polk county, Wisconsin, August 7, 1858, the daughter of Martin and Margaret (Bell) Van Buren. Eight children, all living, are the fruits of this union: Roger Williams, Dudley Ralph, Frederick Adolphus, Augusta Larrabee, Anna Margaret, Helen Joy, Marion Prudence and Van Buren.


Mr. Appleman is a Republican and he and his wife are members of the Episcopal church, in which he is an earnest worker, now being one of the trustees having in charge the welfare of the "church of our Saviour." Mr. Appleman is well known about Clermont and liked wherever known, for he has qualities about him which win liking and respect.  As a teacher, as an engineer and in his present position he has performed his duties in such a way as to reflect credit on himself and to please those who employed him. He is a man of more than ordinary intellectual calibre and acquisitions, having accumulated a store of knowledge and wisdom in his varied experience in life.   


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