Edmund Boyer

Mahaska County
Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer CEMETERIES

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Pioneer Profiles

Van Banks DeLashmutt: Virginia Gentleman and Statesman

Van Banks DELASHMUTT was born  4 January 1802 in Ohio County (now Tyler Co.) West Virginia. He was the son of Mary ANKROM and William Waugh DELASHMUTT. He married Martha ‘Patsy’ Wells INGHRAM on 7 March 1821. They had seven children:  William Arthur, Sarah K., John Inghram, Elizabeth M., Zadoch Crammer, Valonia, and Margaret D.
In 1834, William DELASHMUTT moved his entire family to the Iowa Territory, traveling by riverboat from Sistersville, VA, down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, just below the mouth of the Des Moines River. While William and part of the family remained in Des Moines County, Van and wife Martha Wells Inghram moved farther west, stopping in Jefferson Co. by  1840. Halted by Dragoons at the ‘Dead Line’ of westward expansion, he remained in the Jefferson Co. area until new territory opened in 1843. One of the first to cross over into what became Mahaska County, Van DELASHMUTT settled in Scott Twp., near Talley’s Ford at old BelleFountaine, in the neighborhood known as the Six Mile Prairie.
Van DELASHMUTT was described by a contemporary as a ‘big, broad-shouldered man with a big soul.’  A man of tremendous energy and vitality, his life was devoted to family and community. He served as sheriff in Virginia in 1829, and was elected to the Virginia legislature for the 1834-1835 term. Upon coming west, he was elected in 1841 at Burlington, Iowa, to the first Territorial Legislature. After arriving in Mahaska County he served as delegate to the first state constitutional convention and in the following years served in every county capacity imaginable: helping to build schools and roads, and serving on the board of directors for 1st National Bank of Oskaloosa. His contributions shaped the destiny of the county  in countless ways.
An intelligent, thoughtful man, he reached out to aid friends, neighbors and strangers alike. His home, near the well-worn trail that forded the Des Moines, was open to all who passed his door. A Mormon group of about 100 made a winter encampment on the DeLashmutt farm in the mid-1840s. Around 1845, Van DELASHMUTT, along with Edward DELONG, donated land for a community resting place. Originally known as the Six Mile Cemetery, today it is the restored DeLong/DeLashmutt Cemetery.

The story is told of a dramatic rescue that took place during the floods of 1851:  While working in salvage efforts with a Mr. DUNN, the skiff they were in became caught in a powerful current and capsized. Van DeLashmutt caught hold of a bending sapling. Seeing that his companion was sinking, he seized him by the hair and held his head out of the water until help could arrive. It took a spirited horse several attempts in the powerful current before Mr. DUNN could be rescued, Van DELASHMUTT waiting  until a third try secured him from his perilous position.
Wife Martha died in 1853; Van married her sister Mary H. INGHRAM in 1869. Of the DELASHMUTT children, son William followed closely in his father’s footsteps, a prominent figure in the life of the Six Mile Community. Elizabeth DELASHMUTT married Judge John A.L.CROOKHAM. Zadoch DELASHMUTT served in the Civil War, and in later years was postmaster at Wright, IA.

Van DELASHMUTT died 16 February 1882 in Oskaloosa, and was laid to rest beside his friends and family in the community cemetery he helped to create. His obituary read:  “Here among his neighbors he was always looked upon as an honest man, of high integrity, firm in his friendships.” 

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Mahaska County Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Cemeteries
 1240 235th St., Leighton, Iowa  50143

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Last modified: 08/10/09
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