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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
John E. Pitts & Andrew J. Miller
Few residents of Jefferson township are as well known and highly esteemed as the public spirited citizen and progressive farmer whose name appears at the head of this sketch. John E. Potts is a native of the state in which he now lives and traces his genealogy on both sides of the family to Germany, from which country his paternal great-grandfather came to the United States many years ago, being the first of the name to leave his native country and find a home in the Great American republic across the sea. Among the immediate descendants of this ancestor was a son by the name of John Potts, who grew to maturity in Pennsylvania, where he married, reared a family and later came west, locating in Clayton county, Iowa, of which part of the state he was one of the early pioneers. Joseph B. Potts, son of the above mentioned John, was born in Pennsylvania and accompanied his parents to Iowa when a youth. He spent his early life in Clayton county where, in young manhood, he married Emily Bush, whose family also came from Pennsylvania and were among the pioneer settlers of the county of Clayton. Shortly after his marriage Joseph B. Potts moved to Delaware county, this state, where he lived for a number of years and then changed his residence to South Dakota, locating about twelve miles west of Canton on land which he purchased from the government and improved. After spending three years in the latter state, he returned to his former home in Iowa, where he continued to reside until 1882, when he disposed of his farm in Delaware county and purchased in Jefferson township, Fayette county, continuing to hold the same until his death, which occurred at Colesburg in the month of November, 1897. His widow, who is still living, makes her home in Manchester, this state, and of his family of nine children all but two survive, their names being as follows: Charles, a miner by occupation and a resident of Montana; Edwin S., a farmer of Jefferson township; George, who is also engaged in agricultural pursuits in Fayette county; John E., the subject of this sketch; James N., a jeweler of Spokane, Washington; Mrs. Lizzie Blunt, also of that city, and Ella, who married George Thorp, of Manchester; William and Albert are deceased.
John E. Potts was born in Clayton county, Iowa, on the 19th day of July, 1866. He received his educational training in the public schools and remained at home until 1881. He worked in a store at Fayette two years and then rented a farm for ten years and then bought his present farm in 1889. He has brought it to a high state of tillage and otherwise improved it, his place at the present time being one of the finest farms and among the most beautiful and attractive rural homes in the county of Fayette.
In the year 1901 Mr. Potts erected the elegant modern residence and large and commodious barn which add so much to the appearance and value of the farm as well as to the comfort of the family, and with other improvements in keeping therewith he is now well situated to enjoy life, being in independent circumstances with an ample competency to insure his future against care as far as material blessings are concerned.
On March 23, 1892, Mr. Potts and Allie Miller, of Jefferson township, were united in the holy bonds of wedlock, the union resulting in the birth of two sons who answer to the names of Andrew Joseph and Frank Dillman, both bright, intelligent youths with a promising future before them.
Mr. Potts carries on general farming and raises abundant crops of the grains, fruits and vegetables grown in this latitude. He also gives considerable attention to livestock and poultry, making a specialty of the Duroc breed of hogs and Holstein cattle, and for some time past he has also been doing a very successful business in the line of dairying. In his political affiliations he supports the Democratic party, but has never had any ambition in the direction of office holding, through well informed on the leading questions of the day and abreast of the times on all matters of local and general import. The Methodist Episcopal church holds his religious creed and all moral movements and humanitarian projects as well as enterprises for the material progress and general welfare of the community have his sympathy and co-operation.
Andrew Jackson Miller, the father of Mrs. Potts, was born in Erie county, New York, in February, 1834, being one of the children in the family of Huntington and Hannah (Seely) Miller, the following being the names of his brothers and sisters: George, Betsey, Phoebe, William, Samuel, Erastus, Julia and David, the last named dying in the year 1855 when a young man. Andrew J. Miller lived on the home farm in his native county until about sixteen years 9of age, when he hired out by the year, agreeing to remain with his employer until attaining his majority. After fulfilling the compact he came West and during the year 1855 roamed over the greater part of Iowa, following which he went to Wisconsin, where he worked for a short time as a farm hand, later renting land and engaging in the pursuit of agriculture on his own account. In 1861 he came to Fayette county, Iowa, and bought a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Scott township, but two years later sold the place and purchased two hundred and ninety acres, which in turn he disposed of in 1865 and invested the proceeds in three hundred and twenty acres of school land in the same township.
In 1870 Mr. Miller bought a quarter section of land in Jefferson township, to which he removed and which in 1882 he increased by the addition of an eighty-acre tract in the same locality. Later (1903) he sold his real estate in Jefferson township and bought the property in Oelwein where he now lives, his home being on the high ground in the northern part of the town, a valuable and sightly place which he has greatly beautified by the addition of a number of improvements. In 1862 he bought a tract of three hundred and twenty acres of land in Lincoln county, Minnesota, which he still holds and which has increased in value with each recurring year, this, with his other holdings and ample private means, making him independent, he being now one of the solid and substantial men of the county honored by his citizenship.
Mr. Miller, in 1870, entered the marriage relation with Martha, daughter of Dewitt and Eleana (Wood) Bennett, of Orange County, New York. Mrs. Miller came to Iowa with her parents in 1858, since which time she has lived in Fayette county; she is the mother of four children, viz: Lizzie, Alice, Blanch and Lucille. Alice married John E. Potts and lives three and one-half miles north of Oelwein; Blanche is the wife of Frank Whitney and lives in Chicago, where her husband is a salesman for a wholesale clothing house; Lizzie, deceased, and Lucille, at home.
Mr. Miller is a Republican in politics and as such wields a strong influence for his party, having served as trustee of Jefferson and Scott townships besides filling other local offices from time to time. He is essentially a self-made man, as he began life poor in this world’s goods and without influence of family or friends, but by industry, economy, judicious management and ever pursuing a straightforward course, he gradually surmounted the various obstacles in his way and rose to the conspicuous position which he now occupies in business circles. He was quite successful in raising horses and cattle and realized much of his money from this source and to him belongs the credit of being one of the first men in Fayette county to make the dairy business successful. Often he would milk as many as thirty cows and, churning his butter by horse power, hauled it to Strawberry Point, where it was sold to the highest bidder. At one time the daily output of his creamery averaged one hundred pounds, the excellence of which caused a much greater demand than could be supplied. Mr. Miller is now practically retired and at his beautiful home in Oelwein is spending his declining years in the enjoyment of many material comforts and blessings, being highly esteemed by his neighbors and fellow citizens and filling no small place in the confidence and esteem of the public.
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