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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 568~


Hon. Levi Fuller, M.D.

(A photograph is included in the source book.)

"Honorable Levi Fuller, M.D., a leading citizen of Fayette county for nearly fifty years, was born August 14, 1824, at Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. He was the eighth child of a family of eleven children and the only son who grew to maturity. His father, Capt. Elijah Fuller, was born December 9, 1787, at Surry, Cheshire county, New Hampshire, and died January 5, 1880, at West Union, Iowa. He was eighth in direct line from the Pilgrim Edward Fuller, who, with his wife, came in the "Mayflower" in 1620 and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, his line being, Edward, Samuel, Samuel, Barnabas, Samuel, Joshua, Levi, Elijah. He married Matilda Newcomb, born May 10, 1790, at Leyden, Massachusetts, died May 11, 1862, at West Union. She also was a lineal descendant of the Pilgrims. The blood of Governor William Bradford and Edward Fuller of Plymouth Colony were united in the marriage of Matilda Newcomb and Elijah Fuller. Jerusha Bradford, daughter of Thomas Bradford, son of Major William Bradford, son of Governor William Bradford, married Hezekiah Newcomb. Matilda Newcomb was a lineal descendant of this union.

Elijah Fuller's father, Levi Fuller, and three brothers, Samuel, Joshua and David, were in the Revolutionary war. Joshua was killed at the battle of Bennington, Vermont. Levi was a member of Capt. John Grigg's company, Col. Alexander Scammel's New Hampshire regiment, Continental Army, at the age of sixteen years. He enlisted at Walpole, New Hampshire.

Elijah Fuller was captain of a company at the time of the war of 1812, but was not called into service. In 1818 he was a member of the New Hampshire Legislature. His wife's father, Hezekiah Newcomb, was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature continuously for eighteen years.

Dr. Levi Fuller, of this review, had many marked characteristics that might be attributed to his Pilgrim ancestry. In early life he attended the academy at New Castle, Pennsylvania, after which he began the study of medicine and in due time entered upon the successful practice of his profession. He came to Stephenson county, Illinois, in 1846, and practiced his profession at Rockgrove several years. On May 13, 1845, he married Jemima Elizabeth Tipton, born June 3, 1826, who was his loved companion until her death, February 1, 1899. She was the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Shade) Tipton, of Howard, Center county, Pennsylvania. She was a woman of rare judgment, artistic tastes and strong religious convictions. Her health was poor for many years, but she always was cheerful and made home pleasant. Their home for many, many years was the stopping place for the itinerant ministers, who always received a warm welcome. To them were born three children, William E., born March 30, 1846; Matilda Jane, born May 17, 1848, died August 6, 1851; Mary Elizabeth, born June 9, 1850, died December 7, 1851.

Dr. Fuller came to West Union, Iowa, in April, 1853, and practiced his profession for a time, but soon entered into general business. He opened up a hardware store in West Union, in May, 1854, the first in the town and county. In 1868-9 he and his son, William E., owned and operated the West Union Bank, the only bank in the county, which was sold to S. B. Zeigler and afterwards merged in the Fayette County National Bank. For many years Levi Fuller was engaged in active brokerage business and buying and selling lands. He laid out three additions to West Union and erected many buildings.

Mr. Fuller was a Whig and a Republican.  His first Presidential vote was cast for Taylor in 1848. He was in the convention that nominated Lincoln in 1860 and attended most of the subsequent national conventions of his party.  He represented Fayette county in the Legislature during the war, serving through two sessions on important committees and being especially active in enacting legislation to raise money during the war period. His judgment and counsel was sought by Governor Kirkwood during the trying war period. Governor Kirkwood tended him the command of a regiment of Iowa troops, but he declined as he had no military training. The Governor commissioned him a surgeon in the Thirty0eighth Iowa Volunteers. Before going to the regiment, President Lincoln appointed him to the important office of United States collector of internal revenue for the third district of Iowa, composed of twelve counties. This position he held until November, 1865, when he resigned, he having filled this responsible position with honor to himself and his country. He collected many million dollars to aid the government in its extremity in putting down the rebellion.


Following the "Grasshopper raid" in northwestern Iowa, Doctor Fuller was one of three commissioners to distribute the relief appropriation of the Legislature for seed, performing the duty with his accustomed thoroughness and fidelity and returning back into the state treasury about one third of the amount appropriated. This is a rare incident in the history of the state.  In the later years of Doctor Fuller's life he became deeply interested in the subject of education, partially due, perhaps, to the confidence reposed in him by the people of the independent district of West Union, who for eighteen consecutive years kept him a member of the board, most of as president.  It was a matter of congratulations with the teachers and pupils that one of his last public acts, within a few days of his death, was to make the rounds of the grades, inspecting the work in each and addressing the pupils in words of wisdom fitting and appropriate to those who were to be the future men and women of West Union.


For about twenty years he was president of the board of trustees of the Upper Iowa University  and all familiar with that institution of learning are free to credit to his sagacity and conservative business management much of its later success. He gave freely of his means to assist the University. The Methodist Church at West Union was the constant subject of his fostering care and he assisted liberally in the building of all the churches in West Union. Doctor Fuller became a member of the Methodist Episcopal church at nineteen years of age and was an active member until his death, holding official positions, including Sunday school superintendent and Bible class teacher, during the active years of his life.  We quote the following extract in reference to his death from the West Union Gazette:

"All Saturday forenoon Dr. Levi Fuller was in his office or on the street following the daily routine of his life in this community for nearly fifty years.


"At 3:30 Saturday afternoon, December 8, 1900, he was dead. Through the morning he complained of not feeling well and attributed his condition to indigestion, to which he was often subject. He was persuaded to not come up town after dinner, occupying the lounge in conversation with Mrs. W. E. Fuller. Suddenly, in the midst of the talk, with no warning, without a struggle, he ceased to breathe. The shock, followed by consternation and grief, which accompanied the announcement that 'Doctor Fuller is dead' was not confined to his family, stricken as they were, but extended to all. For the moment it seemed as if the crowded streets were paralyzed and as the news spread throughout the county there was everywhere a feeling of grief suggesting the thought of a general demonstration of mourning. So much was he loved, admired, venerated and respected."

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