IAGenWeb Project

Shelby County


1889 Bio Index

H. J. RUNNELLS, one of the pioneer settlers of Shelby County, was born in New Hampshire about the year 1825, and at an early day came to DuPage County, Illinois, and for many years made it his home. His life was spent in various pursuits; having learned both the baker's and carpenter's trades, he devoted much time and attention to these industries. He also engaged in farming, and at different times he was interested in the mercantile trade.

He was married in Illinois to Martha Hawkins, daughter of Luke and Margaret Hawkins, who was born in Indiana. Mrs. Runnell's maiden name was Benjamin. They continued to reside in Illinois until 1851, when Mr. Runnells came west alone and spent some time in and about Council Bluffs. He was employed as ferryman and also assisted in a bakery and store. He returned to Illinois and in 1854 removed his family, consisting of wife and three children, to Galland's Grove, purchasing a claim of Mr. Galland. Since that time he has made Grove Township his home, with the exception of a few years spent in Nebraska and Utah. Mr. Runnells figured very prominently in the political history of the county, being elected the first recorder of the county, and having filled several minor offices in the township. He was also well versed in the practice of law and had been admitted to the bar. He took charge of many cases that came up in the county. He was an important factor in the advancement of the educational and social interests of the county, and probably did as much as any man living toward the establishment of the schools in the community. He dealt very extensively in real-estate, always improving lands in his possession.

He was a man highly esteemed for his integrity of character, and his death, which occurred in Council Bluffs, April 28, 1888, was deeply regretted by a host of friends. He left a wife and seven children. Mr and Mrs. Runnells were the parents of ten children -- Sophrona; Cynthia, wife of Stuart Culver; Alice (deceased), George E., the subject of this notice; Martha (deceased), Henry S., Florence (deceased), Altha, wife of George Stevenson; Hattie, James, and Asha, wife of B. Zilla.

George E. Runnells was born in DuPage County, Illinois, March 10, 1849, but was reared in Iowa, having come with his parents to the State when a child. He was educated in the district schools and was trained to the occupation of a farmer, which he follows in connection with stock-raising. He owns a farm of eighty acres in section 22, forty acres in section 9, and five acres in section 15. He took his home place from the raw prairie and has made numerous improvements in the way of erecting buildings and in the cultivation of the soil. Mr. Runnells is an energetic, enterprising farmer, and enjoys the esteem of a wide circle of acquaintances. He was married June 22, 1870, to Miss Sarah, daughter of Willson and Sarah (Parks) Keairnes. Mrs. Runnells was born in Shelby County, August 24, 1855. They are the parents of one child -- Inez, born May 3, 1871. The family are among the most worthy and respected people of the county.

Footnote: H. J. Runnells initials stand for Henry Jefferson Runnells, and he was born May 19, 1826, married December 18, 1843, in Wheaton, DuPage County, Illinois, and married to Martha Ann HANKINS instead of Hawkins, and parents were Luke and Margaret Benjamin Hankins. Daughter Cynthia Polly Runnells was married to Stewart Clinton Culver, December 26, 1869 in Manteno, Shelby County, Iowa.
Source: Personal records of Craig Poole researching the Runnells, Culver & Keairnes families.

Source: 1889 Biographical History of Shelby County, Iowa, pp. 576, 577. Family Researcher: Transcribed and submitted by Craig and Nancy Poole - cpoole@unmc.edu

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