Historical and Biographical Record of Black Hawk County,
JOHN PALMER, one of Black Hawk County 's most prosperous farmers, resides on section 14, Black Hawk Township . He was born in Devonshire , England , June 14, 1831 , a son of John and Joanna Palmer. The former was born April 26, 1808 , and died October 20, 1877 , and the latter, February 11, 1809 , and died September 25, 1878 . Our subject was reared a farmer, receiving a fair education in the English branches. He is the second of thirteen children. The eldest, William H., lives in Mt. Vernon Township ; Silas, Ellen and Hattie live in Chicago ; Thomas is in New Zealand ; Mary Ann and Elizabeth live on farms in England ; James is in the mercantile business in London ; Stephen died in Chicago , and three others are also deceased. To better his condition in life and build for himself a home, he came to America , where there is room for all, embarking at Plymouth in a sailing vessel for Quebec , and, after a seven-weeks voyage, landed May 29, 1853 . July 18, the same year, he was married to Louisa Jeffrey, who was born in Devonshire , England , July 17, 1829 , and came to America in the same vessel with her husband. After reaching America Mr. Palmer found employment as a farm laborer at $12 a month. He remained in Canada three years, engaged in farm work and brick-making and chopping cordwood, carefully saving his earnings with a view of getting a home in the United States . In 1856 they started for Iowa, taking a steamboat on Lake Ontario, there being no railroad there at that time, making the journey from Chicago with one horse and a spring wagon, making the trip in twelve days, having a few household goods and $200 in money. He reached Waterloo in May and bought a few lots in the new village, and eighty acres of land outside the town. Trials were in store for them. Sickness made him unable to work, and in the spring of 1857, having spent the most of his property, he went to Butler County and pre-empted 130 acres of land. But that county was new, neighbors were scarce, and markets so distant that life seemed intolerable to them. In 1862 he disposed of his land, realizing only 90 cents an acre for it, and returned to Black Hawk County , and for two years rented the old Worthington farm in Black Hawk Township . In 1864 he bought eighty acres on section 14, which is a part of his present farm, and commenced improving it. Ten acres had been broken and a small house had been built. Now his fortune changed, and he began to steadily gain ground, until today he is one of the township's most prosperous citizens. His farm of eighty acres has been increased by additions till he now owns 310 acres of productive land, and his residence and farm buildings are among the best in the township. This has been gained by unyielding perseverance, thrift and a systematic and practical care and oversight of his work. He devotes the greater part of his attention to stock-raising, making a specialty of horses and cattle, having in 1886, 130 head. In politics Mr. Palmer is a Republican, casting his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. He has never sought official honors, but has several times been given positions of trust by his fellow townsmen. For four years he was magistrate, and has been a member of the school board for several years. He is one of the directors of the Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company, of Black Hawk County . He and his wife were reared under the ministrations of the Church of England, and are still in sympathy with the church of their youth. They have eight children—Emanuel J. and Silas G., of Wright County, Iowa; Samuel J., in the Black Hills, Colorado; Nellie, wife of Clarence Lamb, of Sioux County, Iowa; Elizabeth Ann, Ernest W., Hattie J. and Thomas A. are living at home. Three children are deceased—Edwin J., Stephen H. and Susannah, all dying in infancy. Mrs. Palmer's parents, Emanuel and Susannah Jeffrey, died in their native country, her father in 1855, aged seventy-five years, and her mother several years later, aged seventy years. They had a family of ten children, of whom but five are living—Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Elizabeth Lever, of Osage, Iowa ; John and Samuel, in Australia , and Emanuel in Wales . One son, George, was killed in the Crimean war.
STEPHEN PALMER, farmer, section 35, WaterlooT ownship was born in England , November 27, 1820 , a son of Stephen and Elizabeth (Vooden) Palmer, his parents living in England till their death. Our subject was reared to agricultural pursuits, and for many years carried on his father's farm in England . He was married in his native country to Mary Evely, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Cowles) Evely. After coming to America Mr. Palmer spent two years in Canada , after which he came to Black Hawk County , Iowa , and settled in Waterloo City , where he resided three years. He then was employed on the farm of Samuel Fields for a year, when he rented a farm from Mr. Fields, which he worked on shares for two years. He then bought ten acres of land on section 36, Waterloo Township , where he was engaged in farming for five years, when he settled on his present farm, buying then eighty acres of unimproved land. Since locating here he has built a commodious brick residence and good farm buildings, and now has his farm under fine cultivation. Mr. Palmer has a brother and two sisters living—Roger Palmer, Mrs. Grace Hicks and Mrs. Charity Weeks.
WM. H. PALMER, residing on section 24, Mount Vernon Township , was born in Devonshire, England, June 10, 1829 , where he lived till 1854, when he came to America . He remained over a year in Chicago when he came to Black Hawk County , Iowa , locating at Waterloo , and engaged in farming on a small scale, living there till May 9, 1861 , when he settled on the farm where he now resides. Mr. Palmer was reared on a farm and has always followed agricultural pursuits, in which he has met with success. He now owns a fine farm, known as the Cedar Valley farm, containing 181 acres, which is now for sale, at $65 per acre. This farm is well improved and in good condition. It is divided into ten fields with No. 1 fences, with 1,000 rods of tile drain and 800 feet of gas pipe for water, all in running order. The land is well supplied with water both winter and summer. It has two acres of orchard in bearing, and other small fruit; orchards and yards well protected north and west with an arbor-vitae grove, twenty to thirty feet high; groves of soft maple mixed with black and white walnut, and other varieties of trees. It has furnished wood for the place for the last fifteen years, and over 160 cords have been sold. On the farm is a good two-story frame house containing eleven convenient rooms, with cellar and cistern, running water in kitchen supplied from a never-failing well 150 feet deep; a barn 36 x 60 feet, with other farm buildings, all in good condition. Mr. Palmer's real and personal property is valued at $25,000. His place is beautifully situated six miles north and one mile east of Waterloo , and nine and a half miles from Cedar Falls , on two main lines of railway, and terminus of the Diagonal, or I. , W. & N. R. R. It has good school advantages and is about one mile from Mount Hope Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Palmer sold 164 acres of his 345 acres of land in January, 1884. In 1864-‘65 Mr. and Mrs. Palmer made a trip to England, and in 1875-‘76 made a second trip to their native country, visiting by the way several cities in Canada and the United States, particularly Washington, District of Columbia, and the Great Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. In 1884 they visited the South and the Cotton Exposition at New Orleans . They are noted for traveling. Mr. Palmer's early education was rather limited, only attending school a few months winters, finishing off his last six months in 1848 at Prospect Place College , under the auspices of the Bible Christian denomination. Mr. Palmer was married in Devonshire in the spring of 1853 to Elizabeth Hicks, who was born November 16, 1830 , the eldest daughter of William and Grace (Palmer) Hicks, residents of this township. Her parents were natives of Devonshire , England , the father born October 7, 1806 , and the mother December 3, 1810 . They were married in their native place in 1829, and in May, 1857, came to this country and settled in Lincoln Township , removing to Mount Vernon Township in 1868. They bought a farm here on which they lived till 1884 when they sold it, and have since made their home with their youngest daughter. They had a family of ten children—Mrs. Palmer, William, John, Harriet A. (deceased), Ezekiel, Mary A. (wife of H. E. Taylor), Stephen P., Thomas P., Julia E. (deceased), Clara P. (wife of D. W. King). Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had one child born to them—John H., born February 20, 1854 , and died of cholera infantum at Waterloo , September 7, 1855 . Mr. Palmer began life on limited means, and what he has made has been acquired by his own untiring energy and industry, assisted by his noble wife, who has done her share toward increasing the family funds. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer are members of the Episcopal church and it is due to their efforts that the Mount Hope Methodist Episcopal Church was built, they having raised $700 for that purpose, and subscribed $113 to the building of the church, and superintended the building. Mr. Palmer has been ever ready with a helping-hand for the benefit of the churches, society, charitable, agricultural and public enterprises in Waterloo and his neighborhood. He was the first to own and operate a clover huller, and the first to introduce tile drainage in the county. In his political views he is a Democrat. For the past fifteen years he has served as road supervisor and refused other offices. Mr. Palmer pays considerable attention to stock-raising. He has sixty head of cattle, about fifty hogs and twelve horses and colts. Mr. Palmer's parents, John and Joanna (Hicks) Palmer, were natives of England , the father born April 26, 1808 , and the mother February n, 1809. Both were reared on farms, and were married in 1828. The father died at his residence at Northlew, Devonshire , October 20, 1877 , of cancer, and the mother died September 25, 1878 . They were the parents of twelve children, our subject being the eldest. The remainder are—John, a farmer of Black Hawk County, Iowa; Stephen, deceased ; Elizabeth, married Mr. E. Squire, and lives in England; Thomas, married, living in New Zealand; Ellen, wife of John King, living at 680 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, Illinois; Edmund, deceased ; Edmund T., killed by a runaway horse; Silas, married and living in Chicago, Illinois, at 452 Warren avenue; Harriet, wife of John Northcott, living on Ogden avenue, Chicago, Illinois; Mary Ann, married E. Vallance and living in Devonshire, England; James, living in London, England.
Hon. Matt. Parrott, as everybody in Iowa calls him, is a native of Schoharie, Schoharie County, New York, and was born on the 11th of May, 1837. He is a son of William and Maria (Beck) Parrott, who were natives of England and Came to this country in 1833, locating in Albany, New York, where they remained two years, and then settled in Schoharie. William Parrott was a baker by trade, with quite as many children as he could supply with bread, there being ten in all, our subject standing third from the head. To all these children the father gave a fair education--all the fortune he had to bestow. Matt attended a district school until ten years of age, then the Schoharie Academy about three years, paying his way by building fires and sweeping the school-rooms, thus acquiring a fair English education. He had no especial relish for hard study, and exhibited no signs of superior genius by keeping uniformly at the head of his classes. At thirteen, in the autumn of 1850, Matt entered the office of the Schoharie Patriot, then published by Peter Mix, and received his first lessons in the art of printing. He liked the business from the start, because there were always plenty of newspapers to read in the office, while there had been a dearth at home, his father receiving only a county paper, a church monthly and an anti-slavery monthly. In the Patriot office, Matt was compositor, job printer, pressman, mailing clerk and almost everything else. In 1854 he left this office a full-blown journeyman printer and took his first tramp. Obtaining a situation in the job department of the Troy, New York, Traveler, he remained a few months: returned to his native town and worked in the Republican office until early in 1855, then went to Utica and obtained a situation on the Morning Herald. In July, 1856, started for the West; spent a few weeks on the Chicago Democrat, published by John Wentworth; went to Davenport, Iowa, in August, and worked in the Evening News office until about the 1st of February, 1857, when he connected himself with the office of Luse, Lane & Co., who were then printing the debates of the new Constitution. The following summer Mr. Parrott visited several new Iowa Counties hoping to find an opening for a newspaper in some destitute yet ambitious town, but failing to find such a place, he found a situation on the Burlington Hawkeye. In December of the same year, he went to Mr. Parrott, Jones County, and entered into partnership with C.L.D. Crockwell, in the publication of the Eureka, a paper then in its first year. A year or two later Edmund Booth bought the interest of Mr. Crockwell in the paper, and Mr. Parrott continued one of the publishers until December, 1862, when, having received flattering promises from citizens of Morris, Grundy County, Illinois, he sold out and started the Morris Advocate early in 1863. The help promised never came, and after a few months' hard struggle occasioned by the lack of sufficient working capital, the paper "breathed its last", and the unfortunate publisher returned to Iowa a poorer and, perhaps a wiser man. He learned that promises are not the most reliable assets on which to found business. In the autumn of 1863 we find Mr. Parrott once more in the office of Luse, Lane & Co. (this time in the position of foreman), then the largest job printing and publishing house in the State. He remained in that situation until 1869, perfecting himself in book-work, and giving unqualified satisfaction. In February of the year just mentioned, in company with J.J. Smart, he purchased the office of the Iowa State Reporter, at Waterloo, Black Hawk County, a paper originated as Democratic organ, and which had died of the political measles at the end of about eight months. Two months later the Reporter was revived as a Republican paper, a bindery was added in June, and the business of manufacturing blank books for counties actively commenced. The prospects were good at the start; business has grown rapidly, and hardly a county in the northern half of the State but has books with the imprint of their house on them. Their work is honestly and substantially done, and gives the best satisfaction. The Reporter, too, has thrived. It has increased in size and beauty as well as circulation, and is a credit to the newspaper press of Iowa, which is noted for its many first-class journals. In 1872 James L. Girton became a member of the firm, and the name was changed to Smart, Parrott & Co. In January, 1876, Mr. Smart retired, and J.P. Sherman took an interest and the firm name was changed to Parrott, Girton & Sherman. March 1, 1880 Sherman retired, leaving the firm Parrott & Girton. Mr. Girton died March 1, 1883, and on the 21st of February 1884, Mr. Parrott associated his sons, William F. and Louis G., into the business, and the name is Matt Parrott & Sons. The Reporter has a spacious and inviting home of its own, 40 X 80 feet, and has all the necessary facilities for business--steam, gas, power-presses--its outfit being perfect. No office in the interior of the State is better equipped. Mr. Parrott was a member of the City Council of Waterloo two or three years, was President of the School Board of East Waterloo independent district in 1873 and 1874, and was elected Mayor of Waterloo in March, 1877, and re-elected on the 4th of March, 1878, after a unanimous nomination and an almost unanimous vote. He was re-elected again March 5, 1879, receiving every vote except nine in a poll of 1,050. These positions all came to him unsought and were accepted only after repeated solicitations from his neighbors and townsmen. In January, 1878, Mr. Parrott was a candidate for State binder before the General Assembly, and after a lively canvass with two competitors in the field, he was nominated on the first ballot. His official term commenced the 1st of May, 1879. Was re-elected by the eighteenth and nineteenth General Assemblies, serving until May 1, 1885. At the Republican County Convention for Black Hawk County, held September 19, 1885, he was nominated for State Senator by acclamation, and elected at the November election by a majority of 743. At the organization of the Senate he was made chairman of the committee on municipal corporations and of printing, was also a member of committees on ways and means, railroads, insurance, highways, labor, congressional districts, agricultural college, orphans' home and enrolled bills. He was president of the Building and Loan Association four years, and at the organization of the Union Mutual Aid Association in the fall of 1881 was elected its president and is still serving; has also been vice-president of the street railway company from its organization. In local enterprises Mr. Parrott has promptly lent the aid of his hand and pen, and in all respects is an enterprising citizen. Mr. Parrott has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since 1860, and has held various official positions. He was a charter member and the first junior warden of Victory Lodge, No. 296, of Waterloo; was afterward senior warden, then treasurer, then worshipful master, serving as such until 1879, when it was consolidated with Waterloo Lodge, No. 105; also served as master of the consolidated lodges; is also a member of the chapter, commandery and consistory. Served as commander of the commandery two years, and one year as grand treasurer of the Grand Commandery of Iowa. He is a member of the Episcopal church and was one of the organizers of Christ Church parish, donating freely toward the building of the church now occupied, and has been an officer of the vestry ever since the parish was organized. He is a firm believer in practical Christianity and charity and always ready to relieve the necessities of the destitute, or to extend a helping hand to those who need such encouragement. Politically he was a Whig like his father in youth, and shouted for Scott and Graham in 1852. Since old enough to vote he has affiliated steadily with the Republicans, but while a party man he is not one of those who believe a party is of more importance than right and honesty. On the 25th of October, 1859, he was married at Davenport, to Miss Frank M. Field, youngest daughter of Isaac N.Field, and they have three sons.