The History of Keokuk County, Iowa




One of the early settlers, came to Sigourney in 1845, and, with Devalson G. Burgess, manufactured fanning-mills. In 1848 he was appointed warden of the penitentiary at Fort Madison, and died there in the spring of 1850. His old partner, D. G. Burgess, died at Sigourney, September 8, 1855.



Came to the county from Fairfield in 1845. He was a very positive man, and the leading Democrat of the county. He died in the summer of 1848, in Lancaster, and, at his request, was buried on his farm two miles northwest of Lancaster, now owned by Josiah Utterback, where his solitary grave may yet be seen. He left a large family, of whom were Gen. M. M. Crocker and Mrs. Burton, wife of Judge Burton, of Ottumwa.



First located at Richland, removed to Lancaster and then to Warren township. Was justice of the peace for many years. Died in 1878.



For a long time justice of the peace in Lancaster township, came to the county at an early day. He was an exceedingly conscientious man, and a good officer. He died September 11, 1854. His father, Bennet Jacobs, was a Baptist preacher. His brother,



Who died October 21, 1873, was an energetic man. A few years before his death he was badly maimed by being caught in the machinery of his mill north of Lancaster. He was 72 years old to a day at his death.



Came to the county in 1843, and settled near the present Black Hawk Mills. Afterward he became the owner of the above named mill of Austin Jacobs, and, as a precedent for Mr. Jacobs, was entangled in its machinery in the spring of 1855, which, in a few months after, caused his death. He was an honest man, who stood very high among his acquaintances.



For many years a resident of Richland, and a justice of the peace, was a very upright, modest and unassuming man, and died in 1860.



Came to the county in 1855. For many years he was associated with Dr. A. C. Price in the practice of medicine. Was surgeon in the army during the civil war. Died November 28, 1868. His widow and two sons reside in Sigourney.



Came from New England to Illinois in 1838 or '9, from thence went to Burlington, Iowa, thence to Fairfield, and in the summer of 1845 came to Sigourney, being the first physician locating in the place. In 1841 he was a member of the Masonic order at Burlington in the same lodge with John C. Breckenridge, afterward vice-president of the United States. He died at the house of Maxon Randall, six miles west of Sigourney. His burial was among the first in the cemetery northeast of Sigourney. Was never married.



One of the early settlers near Black Hawk Mills, and afterward moved into Richland township, was a very estimable citizen, and died a few years since.



A prominent man at an early day in Clear Creek township. Was an active Democrat of his time. Was one of the commissioners to locate Oskaloosa as the county-seat of Mahaska county. Died in 1860.



One of the oldest citizens of Sigourney, for a time practiced medicine with Dr. E. H. Skillman, then in the mercantile business, and finally kept the "Lillie House " hotel. Died, November 27, 1871.



Was a blacksmith of some note, and located in Lancaster in 1846. After the removal of the county-seat, went to Talleyrand, and died there in March, 1864. One of his daughters is the wife of Levi Bower, present county treasurer.



For several years a merchant and post-master at Sigourney, died February 3, 1858. During his residence here he went to the city of Keokuk and had Dr. Hughes amputate one of his legs, on account of some disease in the limb. His widow and son, Chester, still reside near Sigourney.



Lived near Richland, was a local preacher of the M. E. Church, and a man of more than average abilities. Died some four or five years since.



Came to the county about 1848, and settled a few miles west of Martinsburgh. Was an active member of the Christian Church, and a leading man of his community. He died October 16, 1857. His son, Lycurgus McCoy, was afterward county treasurer for two terms.



One of the early settlers of Sigourney, and for one term sheriff of the county, was a most affable gentleman, greatly liked by his friends, and died in the year 1856.



A son of J. L. Hogin, Sen., was for some time engaged in the drug and book business in Sigourney, and fell a victim to consumption on the 31st of December, 1861.



Came to the county in 1854, and for a time kept a hotel in Lancaster, then moved to Johnson county and kept the Sixteen Mile house. In 1859 returned to Sigourney, and in 1864 moved into Van Buren township. His son, E. Laffer, is one of the most successful druggists of Sigourney. He died January 31, 1877, aged 64 years, 6 months and 11 days.



A brother of John J. Laffer, came to the county in the spring of 1854 and took a farm two miles southwest of Sigourney, raised a large family, mostly sons, and died in March, 1868. His widow died in the spring of 1873.



For many years the principal owner of the principal coal bank at What Cheer, and the locality then generally known as "Weeks' Coal Bank," was a very worthy man, and died March 23, 1876.



One of the early settlers of the county, located in Van Buren township and raised a large family of sons and daughters. He was greatly esteemed as a good citizen and an honest man. He died in the autumn of 1865. His widow, having since married Mr. John Scott, is living in Sigonrney.



Was born in Maine, March 16, 1790; came to Iowa in 1843; first to Louisa county, and to this county in 1845. Was farming for several years near Sigourney, and afterwards moved upon a farm near South English. After he became too old to farm he sold the farm and moved into the village, where he died February 24, 1879.



Came to the county in 18—, settling near Talleyrand; raised a large family, many of the sons and daughters, now all married, living in the county. Among the sons is J. H. Sanders, a man of rare intellectual strength, and at present editor of the "Live Stock Journal," at Chicago. He died in the year _______.



Came to the county in 1846, and succeeded Benjamin F. Edwards in conducting the principal business-house of Sigourney. He was an old man when he came to the county and was remarkable for his energy and perseverance. For ten years after engaging in business he was regarded as the father of Sigourney. He was a man of good judgment, fine conversational powers, and financially, was the Rothschild of the north half of the county. During the county-seat controversy he was the leader and chief reliance of the Sigourney party, and although defeated both at the polls and in the courts, he lived long enough to see the county-seat returned to Sigourney. He died in 1864, at the residence of his son, about eight miles northwest of Sigourney.



Was born in Kentucky, March, 1827. In 1847 he settled in Keokuk county, Iowa, and began the practice of law, he having been admitted to the bar shortly previous. Shortly after coming to this county he was elected prosecuting attorney, which office he held for five years. In 1859 he was elected county judge, which office he filled satisfactorily till 1861, when he removed to Fort Madison, Lee county. Since residing at the latter place he has devoted himself to the practice of his profession, and also given some time to literary work. For three years he was editor of the Fort Madison "Plaindealer," he having occupied the position of editor of the Iowa "Democrat" for two years prior to leaving Keokuk county. He has occupied many positions of honor in the Masonic fraternity, and has always been foremost in advocating measures of public interest. His former acquaintances and old friends in Keokuk county, as in the past, will continue to watch his career with interest.



Settled in Lancaster shortly after that place became the county-seat, and became one of the leading attorneys of the county. While located at Lancaster he married a daughter of Col. Crocker. When the county-seat was taken back to Sigourney, Mr. Burton removed to Ottumwa, and was for a number of years associated in the practice of law with Judge H. B. Hendershott. In 1858 he was elected District Judge. He has been successful in his profession, and although but about forty years old, has a reputation of being one of the best lawyers in the State.



Came to Sigourney in 1853 and engaged in the grocery business. He began with a small stand and gradually succeeded in building up one of the best houses in the county. He disposed of his business in Sigourney and removed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the spring of 1879.



Was born in Johnson county, Indiana in 1830. In 1844 he removed, with his father, to Fairfield, Jefferson county, Iowa, and shortly after to Keokuk county, where a claim was taken and improved in the most beautiful part of the county, about two miles northwest of Lancaster. In 1846 young Crocker was called from the plow to accept a situation tendered him by Congressman Leffler, to the United States military academy at West Point. At the expiration of two years he was called back to the farm by the death of his father. In 1850 he entered upon the study of law, and in the following year was admitted to practice, and opened an office at Lancaster. Here he followed the practice of law until 1854, when he removed to Des Moines and soon became recognized as one of the leading lawyers of the State. Upon the declaration of war in 1861 he immediately responded to the call for volunteers, and raised the first company organized in central Iowa. This company was incorporated in the Second Iowa Infantry, of which Mr. Crocker first became major. Shortly after he was promoted to the office of lieutenant-colonel and given command of the Thirteenth Infantry. At the battle of Shiloh he commanded a brigade, the commander having been wounded early in the engagement. He afterward was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, which rank he held at the time of his death. His health failing toward the close of the war, he was sent to New Mexico. His health improving while there, he was, at his own request, transferred, and again became connected with the Army of the Cumberland. In August, 1865, he started for Washington, his health again having failed. Here he rapidly grew worse, and on the 26th of that month died.

Among the former citizens of Keokuk, whom the readers of this work delight to honor, there is none who are held in a more grateful remembrance than Gen. Crocker, and whoever has crossed the ridge from Sigourney to Lancaster has doubtless had the old Crocker homestead pointed out, also the spot where repose the remains of the father of this illustrious son.



Was born in Kentucky in 1833. He removed to Keokuk county, Iowa, in 1856. Having failed in business prior to coining to Iowa, his first experience here was a patient struggle with poverty. He quarried stone, broke prairie, made rails, and from time to time served in the office of justice of the peace. In 1861 he began the study of medicine under the instruction of Dr. Price, and having completed his studies began the practice of his profession at Springfield, Washington township. He achieved a fine reputation as a physician and was for a year the president of the county medical association. In 1872 he was elected to the legislature. He established a dry goods store in Springfield in 1865, and subsequently established another in that neighborhood. When the Rock Island railroad was extended from Sigourney he was very active in the developing of the two towns of Delta and Rose Hill, at both of which places he established stores. He died in the very midst of a prosperous business and at the height of his influence, in May, 1879.



Was born in Kentucky in 1829. He succeeded in completing the regular course of collegiate studies at Knox College, after which he removed to Lancaster, Keokuk county, Iowa, where, after diligent application as a law student, he was admitted to the practice of law. After several years residence in this county, during which he became thoroughly identified with, the history of the county and achieved a brilliant reputation as a lawyer, he removed to Des Moines, where he engaged in the practice of his profession till the beginning of the war. He volunteered in the Fourth Infantry and afterward became the adjutant of that regiment; he was successively promoted to the office of lieutenant-colonel, colonel and brigadier-general, which last rank he held at the close of the war. He is commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington. The old settlers of Keokuk county will remember him as being in former years one of their number, also from the interesting address he delivered at the first meeting of their association in September, 1878.



Was born in the State of Maryland, Aug. 29, 1795, and when nine years old went with his parents to Western Virginia. When about thirteen years of age, being the oldest son, the support of the family devolved upon him by the death of his father. When nineteen years old the second war with England began and he enlisted, serving honorably till its close. He left Virginia and settled in Indiana in the spring of 1822. While living there he first participated in politics and took an active part in the organization of Rush county. He afterward represented that county in the legislature, serving in both the senate and house of representatives for a period reaching from 1832 to 1845. He removed to Iowa and settled near Springfield, Keokuk county, in 1845. In 1850 he was chosen to represent Mahaska and Keokuk counties in the State senate. He remained on his farm till 1857, when he removed to Sigourney and there resided till death, which occurred March 29, 1879. There have been few who were more intimately connected with the interests of the county, and none more highly respected than Mr. Lowe.

Transcribed by Pat Wahl. Thank you, Pat!


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