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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 1336~


Rev. Jason Lee Paine, A.M.

(Photo in source book)


The subject of this sketch is a man so well known as a citizen of Fayette county that no words of introduction are needed. Everybody knows and honors Rev. Mr. Paine. He has been a familiar figure in the town of Fayette for more than fifty-five years, and his residence has been there about as long.


Jason L. Paine was one of the first to enroll himself as a student in the Upper Iowa University, and the first to complete the full course in the preparatory and collegiate departments. He was graduated in 1862, and in September following he engaged in the work which has characterized him through life as a devout and conscientious Christian gentleman. His first ministerial field was in the capacity of a missionary in Dakota territory, when then extended across the Rockies to Washington territory; but the western terminus of Mr. Paine's field was at Fort Randall, one hundred and fifty miles west of Sioux City, which was then on the western edge of civilization.


Mr. Paine next accepted a pastoral call in Cedar county, Iowa, and labored in that field until stricken with almost total blindness, and was obliged to discontinue all study for the succeeding eight years. He was unable during this time to read a chapter of Scripture. In 1873, his eyesight being partially restored, he resumed his pastoral work, but in 1880 nervous prostration compelled his permanent retirement from active ministerial labors. Between 1873 and 1880 he served as pastor of the Methodist Episcopal churches at Postville, Cresco and Monticello, in the counties of Allamakee, Howard and Jones, respectively.


Since retiring from the active ministry, Mr. Paine has devoted his time and talents largely to educational work, but he has also been active in other fields, particularly in temperance work. In the latter field he was president of the first temperance organization in Fayette county, beginning this career while yet a student in college.


Mr. Paine was county president of the prohibitory amendment campaign in 1882, devoting his time and the services of his team to this work for about three months; and it was largely due to his energy and eloquence that Fayette county polled a thousand majority for the amendment, decidedly the largest majority in northeastern Iowa. Mr. Paine has organized and superintended campaigns of prosecution which have resulted in closing not less than fifty saloons, and in condemning and destroying at least seven thousand dollars worth of liquors. He has done this work wholly because of his conscientious convictions as to what is right, and not because of any vindictive or belligerent spirit, these being entirely foreign to his nature. His efforts have been ably seconded by some of the best men in Fayette, who, like himself, were advocates of temperance and sobriety as the underlying principles of morality and purity in society. Mr. Paine's life, though physically weak, has been spent down to the period of the "sere and yellow leaf" in a laudable effort to benefit his fellow man either in body, mind or estate. He has been a leader in every movement for the elevation of human morals, the vindication of the right and the subjugation of the wrong. Recognizing the soil as the original foundation of all wealth, he early advocated the organization of farmers' institutes as a means of mutual interchange of ideas and the final development of agriculture into a science in keeping with its importance. He served many years as the president of the Fayette County Farmers' Institute.


In 1870, Mr. Paine was elected a member of the board of trustees of the Upper Iowa University and held that important office for thirty consecutive years, and is yet an honorary member of that body. He has never been an office seeker, but has held the office of county auditor by appointment by the board of supervisors, being the first incumbent after that office created. He also held the office of superintendent of schools by similar appointment.


The subject of this biographical sketch comes from early colonial stock, and traces his ancestors back in unbroken line to 1638, when the founder of the family on American soil came from England and settled in Massachusetts colony. His name was Steven Paine. In direct line of descent there were four 'Stevens,' the name being spelled the same in each case. Steven Paine II was active in the King Philip war; Steven Paine III was twice a representative in the colonial Parliament; Steven Paine IV moved to Connecticut and was a soldier in the old French war. He urged his sons to enlist in the patriot army during the war of the Revolution, and the paternal injunction was obeyed by the six stalwart sons. Edward Paine, the fifth generation in America, and the paternal great-grandfather of the subject of this article, enlisted in 1775, and rose to the rank of brigadier-general during the Revolutionary war. He located in central New York after the war, and served in the Legislature of that state in 1798-99. He came to Ohio earl in the year 1800, and founded the town of Painesville. He was a member of the first ensuing Territorial Legislature of Ohio.


Joel Paine, the grandfather of the subject, was sheriff of Cleveland, Ohio, and as such official it became his duty to execute the decree in the case of two Indians convicted of murder. At the moment of this execution, the news of Hull's surrender reached the town and Mr. Paine at once resigned his office and entered the army, his enlistment occurring in August, 1812. He was commissioned a brigadier-general and led his brigade against the Indians. But he died suddenly of quinsy, April 8, 1813.


Cortez Paine, father of the subject, was a man of deep religious convictions, and, though much interested in public affairs, never aspired to public life. He was born at Painesville, Ohio, November 19, 1806, and died in Fayette, Iowa, January 6, 1880. The mother of Jason L. Paine was a native of Peru, New York, born September 6, 1819. Her maiden name was Silva Hallock. She died January 12, 1900, at the age of eighty years.


Jason Lee Paine was born at Hudson, Summit County, Ohio, January 9, 1838. In 1846 he accompanied his father to Rock county, Wisconsin, where they remained until 1855, when they came to Fayette, Iowa.


The father, Cortez Paine, was an Abolitionist and could not tolerate the idea of human slavery. He was one of the first to espouse the cause and voted for James G. Birney for President, in 1844. The life of this noble man was devoted to the interests of downtrodden humanity, and was especially interested in all reform work tending towards the alleviation of human suffering and the upbuilding of righteousness among the people. He was universally respected by all who knew him. The subject of this sketch partook, somewhat, of his father's political views and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, in 1859. He was an active and zealous worker for the supremacy of Republican principles until 1888, when he espoused the cause of the Prohibition party, since which time he has been an aggressive worker in that cause, as previously intimated in this article.


Mr. Paine was married, July 24, 1861, to Margaret F. Kent, daughter of Helmer and Samantha Fletcher Kent, of South Hero, Vermont. Mrs. Paine is a sister of the late William Kent, of West Union, Iowa. Four children have been born to the union of Mr. and Mrs. Paine, the eldest of whom, Charles F., is editor and business manager of the Fayette Reporter, a more extended notice of which appears in the history of Fayette; Amy L., the second born, is principal of the high school at Norfolk, Nebraska; Louie B. is the wife of Rev. George BLAGG, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church at Morning Sun, Iowa, and Miss Margaret E. is the companion and helper around the domestic fireside of "the old folks at home.


Of the fraternal organizations, Mr. Paine is a Mason, and it is useless to add that his church affiliations are with the Methodist Episcopal denomination.


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