Biographical History of Montgomery and Adams Counties, Iowa - 1892 - O

Montgomery County  >> 1892 Index
Adams County

Biographical History of Montgomery and Adams Counties, Iowa. 
Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1892.


Unless otherwise noted, the following biographies were submitted by Dick Barton.

Hugh O'Neil, a farmer on section 33, Nodaway township (postoffice Nodaway), was born in county Derry, Province of Ulster, Ireland, April 27, 1833, a son of Barnett and Catharine (Flanagan) O'Neil, natives of Ireland. His mother died when he was four years old, and three years afterward his father moved to Scotland, where they resided about seven years. They then came to America, settling first in La Salle county, Illinois, for a short time. Next they moved to Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, engaging in mining there for a time, and then returned to La Salle county, Illinois, where Hugh made his home for nineteen years, mining coal. In 1876 he came to Adams county, settling on and which he had purchased five years previously. He now has one of the best farms in the neighborhood, comprising 120 acres on each of sections 32 and 33, Nodaway township, also forty acres on section 5, Nodaway township, Taylor county, and twenty acres of timber on section 9, in the last mentioned township. His residence, 20 x 30 feet in dimensions and one and a half stories high, is nicely furnished, attesting the refined nature of the inmates. The barn is 24 x 34 feet in ground area. Other outbuildings and farm appurtenances complete the equipments. General farming and stock- raising constitute the scope of Mr. O'Neil operations. In politics he is a Democrat and in religion a Catholic.

He was married in 1854, in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, to Miss Margaret Collins, who was born in Sligo, Ireland, the daughter of John and Bridget (Tillen) Collins, both natives of the Emerald Isle. By this marriage there were eleven children, eight of whom are living, namely: Patrick and John, in Colorado; Mary Bigley; Maggie, a popular teacher in Omaha; Bridget, in Kansas City, Missouri; Hugh, Jr., at home; Michael, at Shenandoah (Iowa) College; and Charley, at home. The three deceased are, a babe unnamed; Winnie, at the age of twenty-two years, in this county; and Ellen, also at twenty-two, in this county; she was a successful school-teacher. All the children received a good liberal education.

Noah N. Odell, who resides on section 2 in Nodaway township, is one of the pioneers of Adams county, and one of the oldest present residents of his township, the time of his coming having been in November, 1856. There were then but few families in the township. He was born in Crawford county, Ohio, in 1826, the son of Eli Odell, a native of Vermont, who removed when a boy of eleven years with his parents to New York, thence to Canada, and from there went with an uncle to Crawford county, Ohio, in 1822, when he was a youth of nineteen years. There he married Miss Asenath Parcher. In 1854 Eli Odell removed with his family to Winterset, Madison county, Iowa, where they lived until death. They were the parents of two sons and five daughters who grew to mature years. The two sons and three daughters are now living.

Noah N. Odell, the subject of this notice, settled on section 16 in the fall of 1856, and there, in that year, erected a steam sawmill. This was the first steam sawmill in Adams county, which was an entirely new mill when Mr. Odell bought it at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and had it shipped to the place where it was erected. An effort was made about the same time to erect an old steam sawmill at Brook, but it was not a success, so that Mr. Odell's mill may properly be said to be the first steam sawmill erected in Adams county. He removed his mill to Brooks in the spring of 1859, and in 1863 to Washington township, having sold it to Christopher Hardier. This mill had now disappeared, as the man to whom Mr. Odell sold it disposed of various parts to different persons, who removed the same from the county. Mr. Odell has carried on farming ever since his mill experience, but in connection therewith was also engaged in carpentering and building for many years. His father was a carpenter and he very naturally learned that trade. He has done much building in Adams county, having built the first frame barn of any importance; this was on what is known as the "Billy Wilson" farm in Quincy township. The largest barn he built was on the Vernon place near Corning. In fact he has erected a large number of both dwellings and barns in Adams and Montgomery counties. He has resided on his present farm since 1866. He has a fine farm of 200 acres, and has also given land to his sons.

Mr. Odell was married in 1847 to Miss Lydia A. Field, a native of Ohio, and daughter of Selden Field, a native of Connecticut. Her mother's maiden name was Lydia Ketchum, a native of Vermont, but reared in the State of New York. Mr. and Mrs. Odell have seven children, six sons and one daughter, and have lost four daughters by death. In his political affiliations Mr. Odell has been a Republican ever since the organization of that party. His first presidential vote was cast for Martin Van Buren. He voted for General Fremont in 1856, and for General Harrison in 1888, and all Republican presidents between those two. He was reared in the Abolition school of politics, his father having belonged to that party, and in his early days in Ohio helped many an escaping slave on his way to freedom. He and his wife have long been faithful and consistent members of the Christian church.

We have thus endeavored to give a biographical sketch of Mr. Odell, one of the best known pioneers of Adams county, who with his wife came here when the country was new, and have done their part in contributing to the growth and development of the county. The lives of such as they are well worthy of preservation in the annals of the county with which they have been so long and closely identified. Cordial and genial in disposition and ever generous and hospitable, they have the esteem and respect of all.

Israel Olive, the enterprising proprietor of Mr. Olive farm, on section 18, Prescott township, was born in Lancashire, England, April 3, 1843, a son of Matthew Olive, a native of the same place. His mother, whose maiden name was Miriam Cochran, was born in Scotland, of Scotch parents. Israel was eight years old when his father came to America, and they labored assiduously to earn the money with which to bring over the rest of the family, which was accomplished in about two years. The family then settled in La Salle county, Illinois, at Split Rock, where father and son opened and worked the best coal mine in that county. The mother died there, and the father died at Springfield, that State, at the age of seventy-four years. Six of their children grew up. One of them, John, joined the One Hundred and Second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, during the war, and was killed at Duval's Bluff, Arkansas, when thirty years of age. Another son, Thomas, lives in Prescott township; Robert was killed in a coal mine in England; and the second Robert, named after the first, was killed by an accident in La Salle county, Illinois, when a small boy.

Mr. Israel Olive grew up to manhood in La Salle county, followed coal- mining and other occupations for twenty years there and then settled on ninety-two acres of wild prairie in Adams county, where he has since made his home. He now owns 215 acres, - the "Mr. Olive farm," which is one of the best in the township. On it is a fine modern dwelling, 18 x 24 feet, with an L 14 x 16 feet, and both two stories high, beautifully adorned surroundings and farm buildings and appurtenances, all in good condition. The barn is 32 x 46 feet, with 20-foot center posts. On this beautiful homestead the proprietor and his family can spend their days in comfort.

Mr. Olive was married in Ottawa, La Salle county, Illinois, January 2, 1874, to Miss Ellen Bush, a native of Scotland and a daughter of Joseph and Margaret (Watson) Bush, also of Scotch nativity. Her father died June 29, 1885, and her mother is living with her. The Bush family came to America in 1853, settling in Pennsylvania, and in 1862 they removed to La Salle county, Illinois. Mrs. Olive has one brother, James Bush, at Streator, that county. Mr. and Mrs. Olive have five children living, namely: Thomas, Charley, Estella, Maggie and Cora.

Mr. Olive is a Republican, is an Oddfellow and was reared a Methodist. Mrs. Olive was brought up a Presbyterian, but in Illinois united with the Baptist church.

David Osborn, a worthy citizen and a prosperous farmer, residing in section 36, Washington township, Adams county, Iowa (Mt. Etna postoffice), was born in Guernsey county, Ohio, May 11, 1832. His parents were Lewis and Mary a. (Covey) Osborn, both natives of New York. The father was a cabinet- maker by trade, and was one of the early settlers of that locality. He owned a farm, and carried on farming also. He died many years ago and his wife passed away in 1872, aged seventy-three years. She was a devout member of the Baptist Church. They had twelve children, our subject being the eleventh-born. Of this family ten are still living.

Young Osborn began life for himself at the age of nineteen years, at which time he started to California in company with fifteen others from Guernsey county, Ohio. They made the journey via Nicaragua and arrived at their destination March 5, thirty-one days after they left New York. He remained in California two years and a half, successfully engaged in mining. July 5, 1856, he turned his face homeward, and made the return voyage via the Panama route, arriving in safety after a journey of twenty-two days. He at once engaged in farming in Ohio, and was thus employed when the war came on.

In January, 1864, Mr. Osborn enlisted in Company D, Sixtieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was in a number of important engagements, and on the 17th of June, 1864, while charging the breastworks in front of Petersburg, was wounded in the hand, losing the second finger and the use of the others. He was sent to the hospital, afterward to Washington city, and still later to Little York, Pennsylvania, remaining in the hospital at the latter place until his discharge in July, 1865.

After returning home and recovering, he moved with his family to Story county, Iowa, where he lived two years and a half. He then moved to his present location on the half section road which leads through Mr. Etna, and here he owns 120 acres of land, a comfortable cottage home, orchard, etc., and is well fixed to enjoy life.

Mr. Osborn was married September 23, 1858, to Miss Christiana A. McPeak, daughter of Daniel and Lydia McPeak, of Guernsey county, Ohio. Following is the issue from their union: Lydia A., wife of James Homan, a farmer of Adams county; Mary A., wife of Alpheus Madison, who is engaged in the lumber business in Corning; Lizzie A., who has been a successful teacher for ten years and is now engaged as Principal of the Mt. Etna graded school; Carlie A., a farmer; Wesley E. and Rosella E.

Mr. Osborn is a deacon in the Baptist Church, of which his wife was also a devoted member. The latter's death occurred July 4, 1879, at the age of fifty-two years. In her life she was the truest and purest type of Christian wife and mother combined, and her death was a source of much bereavement to her family and many friends.