History of Warren County, Iowa - 1908 - H

Warren County >> 1908 Index

History of Warren County, Iowa ... to 1908
by Rev. W. C. Martin, D. D. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1908.


Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

J. W. Harsh & Son

The firm of J. w. Harsh & Son, carpenters and contractors of New Virginia, has been prominently and successfully identified with the building interests of Warren county for many years. The senior member, John W. Harsh, was born in West Virginia, January 15, 1833, a son of John J. Harsh, likewise a native of that state. The latter drove across the country to Warren county, Iowa, in 1854 and took up a tract of government land west of the village, but later became a blacksmith, being one of the first followers of that vocation in Virginia township. His last days were spent in Clarke county, Iowa, at the home of his daughter, where he passed away at the age of eighty-eight years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Woodring, was also born in West Virginia and accompanied her husband on his removal to Iowa. Her death occurred in Clarke county when she had attained the age of eighty-nine years. Of her family of eleven children seven survive, namely: J. W., of this review; Henry and Abraham, residents of Indianola, Iowa; Mrs. Elizabeth Kellen, of Squaw township; Mrs. Margaret E. Wolf, of Washington township; Mrs. Mary Ann Osgood, of Clarke county, Iowa, and Mrs. Ruth Ann Stark, of Oklahoma.

J. W. Harsh spent his boyhood days in the state of his nativity and acquired his education in the common schools. In 1855 he made his way to Missouri and on the 1st of January, 1856, came to Virginia township, where he engaged in farming for a short time, and then became connected with the carpenter's trade. Hundreds of attractive structures throughout the surrounding country stand as monuments to his architectural skill and ability and he has erected more buildings than anyone else here. For a number of years he has been associated in business with his son, C. W., under the style of J. W. Harsh & Son, and they are well and favorably known throughout the county as men of excellent business ability and unfaltering integrity.

In Virginia township occurred the marriage of J. W. Harsh and Miss Mary Margaret Strock, a native of Pennsylvania and a sister of W. C. Strock, who is mentioned on another page of this volume. She has now attained the age of seventy-nine years and carefully reared five of her family of children. C. W., was born in New Virginia, obtained a public school education and learned the carpenter's trade under his father, with whom he has now been connected in business for many years. He wedded Miss Mary Kent, by whom he has one son, and they reside in a home which he erected and which is considered one of the finest dwellings in the village. Ida May, the wife of Jerry Brittan, makes her home in Minnesota. Daisy is the wife of John Stanchel, a real-estate dealer of New Virginia. Effie became the wife of J. C. Hackelby and lives in New Virginia. Winifred is the wife of G. W. Frazier, a blacksmith of New Virginia. Three children of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Harsh died in infancy.

Mr. Harsh was originally a whig in his political affiliation but on the dissolution of that party became a republican and has always been an active worker in its local ranks. He was postmaster of New Virginia during the Civil war, serving under the administrations of Buchanan, Lincoln and Johnson. He has likewise acted as township clerk, township trustee and as a member of the school board, being recognized by his fellow townsmen as an efficient public official. Both he and his wife have been lifelong and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the work of which they have been actively and helpfully interested. Though now past seventy-five years of age, he is still hale and hearty and is daily to be found attending to his business duties, displaying the enterprise and activity of a man of much younger years.

W. H. Hartman, a prominent pioneer of Warren county, and who is still engaged in mercantile and farming pursuits here, was born in Richland county, Ohio, March 25, 1835, his father being J. D. Hartman.  The latter, who was also a native of Richland county, Ohio, was a farmer and miller by occupation, and was married in the Buckeye state to Miss Margaret Parker, who was born in Pennsylvania.  The parents of our subject came to Warren county, Iowa, in 1846, laid out the town of Hartford and sold the first goods ever disposed of in that town.  J. D. Hartman conducted his mercantile enterprise in a log house, and for many years was known as the veteran merchant of Hartford.  He spent a few years prior to his death in California, and passed away in Indianola when sixty-seven years of age, his widow being called to her final rest when she had attained the age of eighty-one years.  Their family numbered five children, three sons and two daughters.

W. H. Hartman was reared and educated in Hartford and subsequently was employed in his father's mill.  Purchasing ninety acres of land west of Hartford, he grubbed out the timber and erected a house, developing a good farm property.  At the time of the Civil war he enlisted in Company B, Thirty-fourth Regiment, which was organized at Hartford, Warren county, and participated in the battles of Vicksburg and Arkansas Post, but after seven months' service was sent home on account of ill health.  Disposing of his farm near Hartford, he bought an improved place of one hundred and twenty acres in Camp township, Polk county, where he resided for two years.  In 1868 he bought eighty acres of his present farm on section 1, Allen township, subsequently added forty acres and still later fifty acres more, while from time to time he has made additional purchases.  He erected a good two-story residence and outbuildings, and fenced his fields, making the place a model farming property of the twentieth century.  In addition to the work of the fields he also raises a fine grade of cattle, feeding mostly hogs.  In 1883 he built a store in Clarkson, a quarter of a mile from his farm residence, and has since conducted mercantile pursuits here.  He is a well known and honored pioneer of the county, whose success in business also entitles him to representation among its prosperous and progressive citizens.

On the 27th of December, 1860, Mr. Hartman was married to Miss Samtha Roberts and by this union were born seven children, as follows:  Laura E., who died at the age of two years; Albert C., an agriculturist of Palmyra, who wedded Lily Miller, by whom he has three children; Lulu May, who is the wife of George Carty, and resides in the state of Nevada; Charles, who is on the home farm; Belle, at home, who for several years taught school in Des Moines and also in Indianola; Frank, who resides in Nevada; and Dora, at home.

Mr. Hartman gives his political allegiance to the republican party where national questions and issues are involved, but at local elections casts an independent ballot.  He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and since that time has never filed to support the presidential nominee of the republican organization.  He continuously served as postmaster at Clarkson for twenty-six years and never had an inspection during the entire period.  He likewise served as road supervisor, and for several terms was trustee, while for a number of years he was a member of the school board.  He has also been a delegate to several county conventions and has taken an active and helpful part in local politics, his aid and influence ever being given on the side of right, truth and progress.  He still maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic at Carlisle, and both he and his wife are identified with the Baptist church of Hartford.  A resident of this county for sixty-two years, he witnesses the building of Des Moines and Indianola, and in the early '50s carried mail from Hartford to Indianola.  He is one of the few remaining veterans of the civil war, and is widely known and highly esteemed as one of the oldest living pioneers in Warren county.


The agricultural interests of Lincoln township have a worthy representative in S. C. Hemphill, whose home is on section 31. He was born in Montgomery county, Indiana, on the 8th of February, 1834, and is a son of Newton and Mary (Irvin) Hemphill, natives of North Carolina, where they were reared and married and where two children were born to them ere their removal to the Hoosier state. They located in Montgomery county and there spent the remainder of their lives. By occupation the father was a distiller. In the family were three sons and three daughters but only two are now living: S. C., of this review, and Mrs. Margaret Hoover, a widow, residing in Indiana.

During his boyhood and youth S. C Hemphill attended the public schools near his home and he also acquired an excellent knowledge of farm work as he aided in the improvement and cultivation of the home place. He remained under the parental roof until coming to Iowa in 1855. He first located in Hamilton county, where he engaged in farming for about five years, and in 1867 came to Warren county, where he has since made his home. His first purchase consisted of one hundred and fifty-eight acres of land in Lincoln township, which he commenced to improve and cultivate, erecting thereon a good residence substantial barns and other outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. As time passed and he prospered in his undertakings he added to his property until he had two hundred and sixty-five acres of land, and now has three sets of farm buildings upon his land. Stock-raising has also claimed much of his attention and he has met with excellent success in all that he has undertaken.

In 1863 Mr. Hemphill was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Hill, who was born in Virginia but spent her girlhood in Iowa. To them have been born four children who are still living, namely: Jane, the wife of William Stewart, a farmer living near Milo, by whom she has two children, Ethel and Lena; James F., a merchant of Summerset, Iowa, who is married and has one son, Keith; Leonard I., on the home farm, who is married and has four children, Elsie, Don, Ray and Virgil; and Ina, who is at home with her parents. They also lost three daughters: Eveline, who died at about the age of twelve years; and Ida and Allie, who died in early childhood.

Since casting his first presidential vote for James Buchanan, Mr. Hemphill has never wavered in his allegiance to the democratic party, but he has never cared for political positions. For forty years he served as school treasurer in his district and now his son Leonard J. fills that office. An upright, honorable life has gained for him many friends throughout Warren county, and wherever known he is held in the highest regard.

Elias B. Hicks, who is one of the few remaining veterans of the Civil war and who was for years one of the prosperous farmers and stock- raisers of Union township, is now living retired in Sandyville, his mind a rich storehouse of memories of stirring events of the past. He was born in Owen county, Indiana, November 27, 1838, a son of James b. and Sarah (Beeman) Hicks, both of whom were natives of North Carolina. In early manhood the father left his native state and located in Owen county, Indiana, where, as one of the pioneer settlers of that section, he engaged in farming. He wedded Sarah Beeman, the mother of our subject, who died in 1856. He later married a second time and his widow now resides at Sandyville. In 1851 Mr. Hicks removed from Indiana and located in Union township, this county, where he opened up a farm, upon which he spent his remaining days. He died about 1881. 

Elias B. Hicks was thirteen years of age when his father located here, and his life since that time has been closely identified with the growth and development of the surrounding country. He aided his father in the work of the farm and contributed to the general advancement of the family interests up to the time he was twenty-three years of age when, at the outbreak of the Rebellion he enlisted in Company G, Tenth Iowa Infantry, in August, 1861, and was sent south with his regiment. He saw an unusual amount of active service, and is one of the fortunate few who lived to tell of their experiences in Andersonville prison, where during the years of 1864 and 1865 over twelve thousand Union prisoners died as a result of the cruelty and mismanagement of its superintendent, who later paid the penalty of his crimes by being executed after a trial by the United States court. Mr. Hicks' first engagement was at Charleston, Missouri; later he was in the battles of Champion's Hill, Jacksonville, Mississippi; Black River Bridge; the siege and surrender of Vicksburg, and finally in the battle of Missionary Ridge, where he was taken prisoner and held for thirteen months. He was first taken to Richmond, later to Belle Isle, and from there to Andersonville, where he remained all of one summer. That he escaped death is doubtless due to the fact that he was transferred from there to Charleston, where after being detained about two weeks he was finally committed to the Confederate prison at Florence. He was held there three months, when he was paroled and returned home, later receiving an honorable discharge at Davenport. He enlisted as a private, from which rank he was promoted to corporal and later to sergeant.

On March 22, 1870, Elias B. Hicks married Miss Charity Dillon, who was born and reared in Warren county. Following his marriage he located on his farm in Union township, and began operating it with the same energy that has ever characterized his efforts. The place consisted of one hundred and sixty-five acres, which was systematically seeded in a rotation of crops so as to insure a provision of hay, grain and pasturage for the care of his stock, in which he dealt quite extensively. He continued actively engaged in farm work until in 1899, when he rented his place and removed to Sandyville. He afterward bought a small farm south of Sandyville, which he cultivated for five years, eventually selling this and buying his present residence property in the village in 1905. Unto Mr. and Mrs. hicks have been born four children, three sons and one daughter, namely: James E., who is married and resides on the farm. He has one son, Oren. W. F., is a merchant of Sandyville, and is happily settled in a home of his own. He [h]as one daughter, Doris. Benjamin H., is in partnership with his brother W. F. Sarah Ann died in January, 1893, aged twenty-two years.

In politics Mr. Hicks has ever been a stanch republican. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, since which time he has not missed a vote for the republican presidential candidate. As a prominent and influential citizen he has been called upon to fill various offices, notably that of township trustee, in which position he has served for two or three terms, also as delegate to the county conventions, and he is now a member of the village board. Fraternally he is a member of the Grand Army post at Milo. Religiously he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he holds the position of trustee.