Genealogical and Biographical Profiles of Early Solon Settlers

Marilou West Ficklin © 2005. All rights reserved.
Return to Main Menu

A. Individual and Family Records


E.M. Adams
1838 Territorial Census 3
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 3 souls 4
1858 Petit Juror 5

Moses Adams
1848 Military service eligible males 6
1839 Signatory, Claims Association 7
Secondary sources: 16

Excerpt from family group sheet, "Emmons Family Tree," Sharon Emmons-Mason,
	":1845856" database, ID I88014259; and "Tamara & Jerry's Genealogy," 
	Jerry L. Neville, "jerr_bear" database, ID I6058 
	(Ancestral File W6RZ-6Q ): 
		Moses Adams
		b. 2 Nov 1815, Oxford, Oxford County, ME
		m. 8 Jan 1859 to Sarah Jane Keislar (b. 16 May 1836,
			Columbiana,Columbiana County, OH)
		d. 23 Mar 1899, Solon, Johnson County, I
		bur. Oakland Cemetery, Solon
A man named Moses Adams is shown in the 1830 Census, New York, Chautauqua County, Ripley Township, p. 435 39

Ebenezer Adams
1838 Territorial Census 3

Louisa Adams
m. John C. McGrew (See McGrew below)
Secondary sources: 16

Excerpt from family group sheet, "Rose/McGrew/Turner/Klaenhammer Family,"
	Fred Rose, "fredrose27" database, ID I777:
		Louisa Adams
		b. 1821
		m. 25 Aug 1852, Muscatine County, IA
		d. 1864, Muscatine County, IA


Paul B. Anders/Andrews
b. 1812 Pennsylvania 11
m. Emaly ___________(b. 1818) 1
Mentioned in "Hamilton H. Kerr," biography (See Section 5.)10
1848 Military service eligible males 6
1850 census 11


Abner Arosmith
b. about 1812, KY 11
m. Elizabeth_________(b. 1813, OH) 11
Grand Juror, 1840, October term, p.81 12
1850 census 11
Secondary source: 16
Excerpt from a family group sheet and family tree, "Kah Genealogy,"
Kathleen Hunt, "lyngaas," database, ID I17525 :
"Abner Arrasmith" b. 9 July 1812, Paris, Bourbon, KY m1. 25 Dec 1831, Colbrook, Warren County, IL to Elizabeth Corbin Peckenpaugh(Elizabeth b. 9 Mar 1814, Breckenridge, KY, d. 31 Jan 1868, Olathe, Johnson Co. KS) 10 children, 6 b. in Cedar Rapids, 4 born in Big Grove Township [Johnson County] m2. 5 Oct 1869 to Charlotte Kent d. 19 Jan 1885, Olathe, Johnson County, KS Father: Wesley Arrasmith Mother: Elizabeth Reed


John Brakel
b. about 1818, Germany 11
m. Margaret _______ (b. about 1817, Germany) 11
First blacksmith 1
1848 military service eligible males 6
1850 census 11


Peleg Brown
b. about 1799 NY 11
1850 census 11
Speculation: 16
Two men named Peleg Brown are shown in the 1820 census for New York:
   Chenango County, Smyrna,
   Oneida County, _____,

P.C. Brown
1844 Iowa State census, household of 5 souls 4
1838 Territorial census 3
1839 Signatory, Claims Association 7

Edwin A. Brown
1838 Territorial census 3
1840 census 14

J.G. Brown
1844 Iowa State census, household of 1 soul 4
Huldah Brown
1844 Iowa State census, household of 3 souls 4


Norman Calkin/Calkins
b. 1812, NY 11
m. Mary (b. 1812, NY) 11
1850 census 11
1858 Petit Juror 5
1860 Probate, guardianship of Minerva and Elliott Calkin,
    minor children of Norman Calkin, deceased to Mary Calkin, 20 Feb 1860,
   Probate Vol. 3:217.15
Secondary sources: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet and family tree,"Eric Crandall
	Satterthwaite's Ancestry," by Eric Satterthwaite, "esatterethwaite" database,ID I1447: 
		Norman Calkins
		b. 28 Nov 1811,Elizabethtown, Essex County, NY
		m. 12 Dec 1832, Mary Thompson
		d. 10 Dec 1859, Big Grove Township, [Johnson County], IA
		Father: John Calkins
		Mother: Lucy Kellogg


William D. Cannon
b. 22 Mar 1811, Blanford, MA 17
m Julia A. Pratt 17
d. 10 Dec 1856, Solon 17
1840 census 14
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 3 souls 4
1850 census 11
Charter member of ME church 2
Guardian of minor heirs of W.D. Cannon to be appointed by Julia A. Whipple,
19 Dec 1862, probate records, Vol. 3, page 496. This implies that Julia
Cannon had remarried after the death of W.D. Cannon.15
Secondary sources: 16,17
Excerpt from family group sheet of James Craig Sutton, Pedigree Resource
	 File Disk 28 pin 871689;17 see also "James C. Sutton Genealogy,"
	 "suttonja" database, ID I00971.
1830 [a William Cannon found in census, St. Lawrence County New York, Stockholm Twp, p.45] 17

Wilbur D. Cannon
b. 6 Nov 1840, Solon, IA
d. 1915
First white child born in Johnson County (Old Settlers Yearbook, 1866-1897, p. 17 47
Biography at State Historical Society 18
His home in Iowa City is now an historic landmark.19
Father: William D. Cannon (above)
Mother: Julia Pratt
Secondary sources: 17
Excerpt from family group sheet of James Craig Sutton (above)


Nathaniel Case
b. about 1826, OH 11
1850 census 11
Secondary sources:
1820 [a Nathaniel Case found in census, Trumbull County,Ohio, Bristol Twp] 20

Joseph B. Case
b. about 1816, OH 11
m. Margaret____ 11
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 5 souls 4
1850 census 11
Secondary Sources : 16

Excerpt from family group sheet, "Jeannie's Family Tree," 
	Jeannie____,"themiyamas1" database, ID 12047216:
		Joseph Bonner Case
		b. 8 Mar 1816, Adams County, OH
		m. 29 Mar 1838, Adams County, OH to Margaret Cloud
			(Margaret b. 25 Mar 1818, Highland County, OH)
		d. 10 Feb 1853, Johnson County, IA
		Father: Othanial Case
		Mother: Mary Ann Starn


Timothy B. Clark
b. 1811, Connecticut 11
m. Alvira/Alvina______11
Mentioned in "Hamilton H. Kerr," biography 10
1848 Military service eligible 6
1844 Iowa State census, "J.B. Clark," household of 3 souls 4
1850 census 11


Presley Connelly
b. about 1819, Ohio 11
m. Amanda Isabella Dennis (b. about 1819, OH) (see Dennis below) 11
Mrs. Presley Connelly in "Women of Big Grove Township" 21
1838 Terratorial census 3
1848 Military service eligible 6
Daughter Mathilda, b. 1845/46, married Wilmot Spurrier (see Spurrier below) Secondary Sources: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet, "Our Family Tree," Ellen____,"familyinfo" 
	database, ID I351316:
		Presley Nevil Connelly
		b. 1819, OH based on U.S. Census 1850-1880
		m1. Amanda Isabella Dennis, 20 Nov 1845, Johnson County, Iowa 
			(3 children)
		m2. Martha Malvina Huss, 14 Oct 1856, Sandusky County, Ohio 
			(6 children )
Charles Connelly
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 8 souls 4
Mrs. Charles Connelly in "Women of Big Grove Township" 21


James Dennis
b. about 1785, PA 11
m. Martha (b. about 1789, PA) 11
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 9 souls4
1850 census11
Secondary sources:16
Excerpt from family group sheet, "Our Family Tree,"Ellen____, "familyinfo" 
	database, ID I40416:
		James Dennis
		b. 1784 Pennsylvania
		m Martha Fife (b. 1787, Allegheny County, PA) 
		d. 18 Nov 1859, Johnson County, IA
		Moved from PA to OH about 1826, to Iowa 1842/3
		Buried at Oakland Cemetery, Big Grove Twp, Johnson County, IA
[Milton] Dennis
b.1826, PA 11
m. Eliza J. (b. 1828, OH) 11
1850 census 11
Amanda Isabell Dennis11,16
m. Presley Connelly (see above)


Porter Estabrook
1844 Iowa State, household of 5 souls 4
1850 census 11
Secondary resources: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet "Price Family Tree," Barry Price, 
	Ids 151186 and 1151187.These group sheets contained minimal source
		Porter Estabrook [Sr.]
		b.  1 Oct 1773, Hartford, Windsor County, VT
		m. 31 Dec 1795, Lebanon, Grafton County, NH; spouse,
			 Eunice Smith Thurston
		d. 1815, Waterloo, Seneca County, NY
		Father: Joseph Estabrook: b. 2 May 1741, Mansfield Center,
			 Tolland County, NY
		Mother: Theda Porter: b. 16 Sept 1739, Mansfield Center, 
			Tolland County, NY
Porter Estabrook [Jr.] b: 20 Aug 1807, Hartford, Windsor, VT 16
m. Margaret Van der Werken
d. after 1880
Father: Porter Estabrook (see above)
Mother: Eunice Smith Thurston
A son, John Vedward Estabrook, was born about 1842 in Tuscarawas, Ohio.


Henry Felkner
1838 County Commissioner 46
1838 Territorial Census3
1839 Signatory, Claims Association 7
Grand Juror, 1840, October term 12
1848 Military service eligible 6

Johnson County Representative in Iowa State Assembly 47 Third vice-president, Old Settlers Association, (Old Settlers Yearbook, 1866-1897, p. 8)47


Chancey Fowler
1840 census 14
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 1 soul 4
Mrs. Charles Fowler, "Women of Big Grove Township" 21
Secondary sources: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet "Covey Connections," Wes Covey,
	 ID I07622616
		Charles Chauncey Fowler
		b. 8 Oct 1829, Middlebury, Addison County, VT
		Father: William Chauncey Fowler
		Mother: Harriet Webster


James Griffith
b. 11 Dec 1801 VA/MD 22
m. Elizabeth M. Hall 11 Jan 1825, Knox County, Ohio 23
(Elizabeth b. 12 April 1805, OH/PA, d. 23 Sep 1891, Chicago)24
d. 27 April 1884, Chicago, IL 25
Father: Joseph Griffith of Belmont and Knox Counties, OH
Mother: Catherine Griffith
   Catherine Griffith, b. about 1827, 11Bladensburg,Knox County, OH26
     m. Orson West (see Orson West below)
   Rachel Griffith, b. 25 Mar 1832, Bladensburg, Knox County, Ohio,
      m. Pleasant Morris Harlan, 28,Sep 1858, Quincy, Adams County, IL 26
   William H. Griffith, b. about 1838, OH 11
   James Griffith, b. about 1841, OH 11
   Elizabeth Griffith, b. about 1843, OH 11    Cyrus Griffith, b. about 1845, IA 11
1850 census11
Land Patent, Big Grove Township 27
Secondary source: 16
Excerpts from family group sheet, "John West of New York and 
	James Griffith of Virginia," Marilou West Ficklin, "alfred_01" database,
	 ID I1.


Mrs. Hannah Hill
b. about 1806, NC 28
m. John West 17 June 1853, Johnson County, IA 29
d. 20 Jan 187234
bur. Sandtown Cemetery, Hills, IA16
Daughter: Rachel Hill, m. George Osborn, 21 May 1854 30
1860 Census 28
1870 Census, Johnson County, Newport Twp. 31
Guardianship of minor heirs of Joseph Hill dec. to Hannah Hill, 1852, Vol. 5:80 32
Guardianship of Louisa Hill by Hannah Hill, 1862, Vol. 3:407 15
Estate of Hannah (Hill) West 33
Hannah Hill, dec., George Osborn, Exec.Probate 1872, Vol.. 6:615; 1875, Vol. 8:201 34
Secondary sources: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet, "The Eugene and Judith Whorton Henderson 
	Family Tree," Judith L. Henderson, "jlhenderson742,"  ID 145909.16
		Mrs. Hannah (Stout) Hill
		b. 16 July 1806, Denton, NC
		m1. Zachariah Yarborough
		m2. Joseph Hill
		m3. John West
		d. 20 Jan 1872, Iowa City


Hamilton H. Kerr
b. 1810 Pennsylvania10,11
m. Almira Brooks, 1847, Pennsylvania10,11
d. 1897, Union Township, Johnson County, IA10
Mentioned in local histories:
Biography in Old Settlers of Johnson County10
Mentioned as co-founder, surveyor and first postmaster in "Back in 1877"1
1848 Military service eligible6
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 4 souls4
1850 census11
1870 census, Johnson County, Big Grove Twp.35


Harvey Lyman
b. about 1795, CT 11
m. Mary S.______(b. about 1805, OH) 11
Charter member of ME Church 2,18
Grand Juror, 1840, October term, p. 4412
1840 census14
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 5 souls 4
1850 census (Newport Township)11
Secondary source: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet, "Pelton and Barbe Families....,"
	 Gary Garbe,  "garygarbe60" database, ID I03779: 
		Harvey (Harry) Lyman
		b. 13 Dec 1794, New Keniford, CT
		m. 8 Apr 1830 to Mary Sopronia Pelton 
			(b. 21 Sept 1805, Gustavus, Trumbull County OH)
Josiah Lyman
1838 Territorial Census3


Elizabeth Lyon
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 4 souls 4

Charter Member ME Church 2, 18


Jesse B. McGrew
b. 1815, PA 11
m. "Sharlotty" ________(b. about 1830, NJ)11
Charter member ME Church 2,18
1848 Military service eligible 6
1839 Signatory, Claims Association 7
Mrs. J.B. McGrew in "Women of Big Grove" 21
Grand Juror, 1840, October term, pp. 15, 23 12
1838 Territorial Census 3
1844 Iowa State census, household of 4 souls [J.B. McGrew] 4
1850 census 11

John Chevalier Mcgrew
Secondary source: 17

Ancestral File, Trudy Arlene Fincher, FLWX-SG;
	Pedigree Resource File, CD20, Pin 543145 
		b. 6 Feb 1815, Dayton, Montgomery County, OH
		m1 Lydia Ann Willetts, 11 Aug 1837, Muscatine County, IA
		m2 Louisa Adams, 25 Aug 1852, Johnson County, IA (see Adams above)
		m2 Isabel J. Beck O'Donnell, 29 May 1866
		d. 12 July 1889, Muscative, Muscatine County, IA
		Father: William Mcgrew
		Mother: Charlotte Chevalier

Note: No known direct family relationship between John and Jesse McGrew


Jehiel Parks
Mrs. Jehiel Parks in "Women of Ciaden Township" 21
Grand Juror, 1840, October term, pp. 15, 23 12
I.C. Lasher v. Jehiel Parks and John West, 1840, May term, p.99 12
1840 census 14
The following speculative information is presented as a possible link
   to Jehiel Parks' origins.
      Men named Jehiel Parks are shown in the following census:
         1830, Chautauqua County, Ellery Twp, New York, p. 322 37
         1825 New York State Census, Chautauqua County, Ellery Twp 38
         1820, Chautauqua, County, New York, p. 55 39
History of Cayuga County, NY, p. 260 states that a man named Jehial Parks of
    Sterling Valley came to Cayuga County in 1807 and went west with a large family. 40


William Payn
b. about 1786, VA 11
m. Ellen____ (b. about 1793, VA) 11
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 7 souls 4
1850 census 11
Secondary source: See Joseph Payn below

Joseph Payn
b. about 1814, OH 11
m. Mary ____ (b. about 1823, OH) 11
Secondary sources: 16

Excerpt from family group sheet, Ellen___, "Our Family Tree," "familyinfo"
	 database, ID I888016
		Joseph Payne
		b. 9 Sep 1814, Licking County, OH
		m. Mary Lake (b. 11 Mar 1824, OH)
		d. 3 Jan 1895, Solon, Johnson County, Iowa
		Father: William Payne (b. 1784, Hampshire County, VA)
			 See William Payn above.
		Mother: Ellen Kelso (b. 1792/3, VA)
	William Payne shown in the following census:
		1820 Licking County, Washington Township, Ohio20  
James Payn
b. 1816, Ohio 11
m. Elizabeth_____(b. 1916, OH) 11
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 6 souls 4
1850 census 11


Fannie Pratt
First school teacher, probably prior to 1841. 1
1844 Iowa State Census of Iowa, household of 4 souls 4 Wife of C.T. Pratt (Old Settlers Yearbook, 1866o-1897, p. 112-114 47

Ephraim Pratt
1848 Military service eligible 6
Petit Juror 1858 5
Secondary source: 16

Excerpt from family group sheet (fgs),"Ancestors of Jennifer & Adam 
	Fisher," Susan Fisher, "catlover" database, ID I0352.16 This 
	well-documented fgs contains a transcription of an interesting biography. 
		Ephraim Porter Pratt
		b. 1820, PA
		m1. 27 May 1843, Athens County, OH to Amanda M. Roberts 
			(Amanda b. 1822, OH)
		m2. 1864 to Mary Ford Bentley (b. 10 Dec 1830, Bradford County, PA)
		d. 10 May 1890, Washington County, IA
Charles Pratt
Petit Juror 1858 5

Julia Pratt
Secondary source: James Craig Sutton, Pedigree Resource File
   Disk 28 pin 87169017:17
b. 11 Feb 1823 at Temple, ME
m1 William D. Cannon.
m2 ____Whipple 15
d. 17 Mar 1877, Solon
Charter member ME Church 2, 18


Cyrus Sanders
b. about 1818, OH 35
(Principally an Iowa City man with ties to Solon)
1870 Census 35
1848 Military service eligible 6
Co-author "unfinished History of Johnson County" 41
1839 Signatory, Claims Association 7
Mentioned in local histories 2


Warner Spurrier
b. about 1807, Maryland 11
m. Harriet Ballan/Ballou (b. about 1819, Iowa) 11
   (name of wife from secondary sources, Love and Spurrier, below)
d. about 1865 11
   Mary Spurrier b. 1839/40, OH
   Matilda Spurrier b. 1843/4, IA
   Henry E. Spurrier, b. 1844/5, IA
   William Monroe Spurrier b. 1846 (see below)
   Wilmot H. Spurrier, b. 1848/9 IA (see below)
   Albert Spurrier, b. 1857/8, IA
Samuel Spurrier in 1850 census household (b. about 1831, OH) 11
Moses Templeman in 1850 household, farmer (b. 1807, Virginia) 11
1840 census 14
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 6 souls 4
1850 census 11
Charter Member ME Church 2, 18
Grand Juror, 1840, May term, p. 23 12
Petit Juror, 1858 5
Census enumerator 1854 Iowa State Census 42
Guardianship of Tully Sutliff to Warner Spurrier 17 April 1857, Book 5:482 32
R.W. Spurrier, decd, Warner Spurrier exec, Probate 11 December 1865,
   Vol. 4:579 and 31 July 1867, Vol. 5:40434
Secondary source: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet,"Ancestors of William E. Love," database "dehinten," ID I1083.See also "spurrier relativity", Duane Spurrier, database "duanespurrier799," ID I522733794: 
		Warner Spurrier
		b. 19 Aug 1807, Maryland
		m1. Mary Hoops, 11 Oct 1827
		m2. Harriet Ballan McHugh (b. about 1810, OH) 6 children
		sons: William Monroe and Wilmot below 
		d. 9 Apr 1888, Lisbon, Linn County, IA
William Monroe Spurrier
b. about 1846, Big Grove Township, Johnson Co. Iowa 43,11
Secondary Source: 16 (See above fgs reference for Warner Spurrier)
		William Spurrier
		b. about 1846/7 
		Father: Warner Spurrier
		Mother: Harriet Ballou
Wilmot H. Spurrier (shown as Wilmot E. in 1850 census)
b. about 1848/9 11
m. Matilda Rosamond Connelly 1 May 1867 (See Conley)
Father: Warner Spurrier (see Secondary source for Warner)
Mother: Harriet Ballan/Ballou


Stiles, Warren
b. about 1804, NY 11
m. Clarissa __________ (b. about 1820, New York) 11
Daughter Mrs. Mary Chandler in "Women of Iowa City" 21
1838 Territorial Census 3
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 7 souls 4
1850 census 11
Guardianship of minor heirs of Warren Stiles decd. to Clarissa Stiles
    8 Aug 1854, Vol 5:25532
Secondary source: 16
Excerpt from family group sheet (fgs), "Maher, DeMean, Portr, DeVault,"
	 Don Patterson, ":445394" database, ID I305.16  This fgs contains a short
	 and interesting biography of Warren Stiles.
		Warren Stiles
		b. circa 1804, West Chazy, [Clinton County], NY
		m. bef 1825, NY to Clarissa ___________
		d. 1850, San Francisco, CA
		bur. Solon 


John West
b. about 1797, NY 11
m1. Clarissa ______(b. about 1801, Vermont) 11
m2. Mrs. Hannah (Stout) Hill, 17 June 1853 (see Hill above)29
bur. Sandtown Cemetery, Hills, IA (See secondary source, Hill above)
son: Orson C. West,(below)
Co-founder and surveyor of Solon 1
Charter member of ME Church 2,18
Road District Supervisor 1841; director of road construction
   from Solon to Iowa City, 1842 44
Grand Juror, 1841, May term, p. 93. 12
1840 census 14
1844 Iowa State Census, household of 12 souls 4
1850 census 11
Estate of John West, deceased, James Hill execr. Henry Felkner,
    appraiser, Probate Records of Johnson County, Vol. 3: 218, 351,
   440,427,432,438,493,505 15
Cases before Second Judicial District Court12
      p. 99 May Term 1841; I.C. Lasher vs. Jehiel Parks and John West
      p. 101 A.H. Frisbee vs John West 1 June 1841
      p. 132 Thomas Ford vs. John West.
         Mentions Jehiel and Harrison Parks.
Property: se 1/4 sw 1/4 sec 12 T81N R6W, Johnson County Recorder 45       Deed Bk. 10, .146 sold to Norman Calkin 1854.
Moved to Newport and acquired s 1/2 ne 1/4 sw 1/4 sec 25, T80N R6W45
Son: Orson West (below) Secondary source:16
Excerpts from family group sheet, "John West of New York and James Griffith 
	of Virginia," Marilou West Ficklin, "alfred_01" database, ID I32.
Orson West
b. about 1827, New York 11
m. Catherine Griffith, daughter of James Griffith (see Griffith above) d. 4 April 1901, San Francisco, CA
   (see secondary source John West (above) for complete documentation)
Father: John West 11
Mother: Clarissa_____ 11
Purchased sw 1/4 sw 1/4 sec 12 T 81N R6W, from Charles and    Clarissa Gower, Johnson County Recorder, Deed Bk. 9, p. 131. 45



B. Biographies

Moses Adams

Yearbook of Old Settlers Association of Johnson County, 1866-1897, p. 137. 47

Moses Adams, of Cedar township, who came here in '39. Mr. Adams is 80 years of age, and cast his first vote for William Henry Harrison two days after he was 21 years of age. (date of reunion not known) [b. about 1819] Description by Miles K. Lewis in 1900 Old Settlers Association Yearbook, p. 11: "Mose Adams, who to my personal knowledge bached all alone. I staid over night with Mose and he used an old broken saucer for a lamp, with a wick torn from his underwear, the same being dipped in fried meat grease and lit with a spark from his old flint lock youger, and that lamp gave such a brilliant light that we could hardly tell one card from the other."

biography menu
Return to top

Henry Felkner

Excerpt from Biography of William J. Felkner, by Ruth Irish Preston, Yearbook of Old Settlers Association of Johnson County, 1915-1916, p. 20-21; 1921-1922, p. 6; 1924-1925, p. 4. 47

Henry and Elizabeth Felkner were prominent pioneers of Iowa. The Felkner family is of German and Scotch descent and for several generations, on the mother's side, had been members of the Quaker faith. They came from Ohio into Iowa soon after the Blackhawk Purchase was thrown open for settlement and brought with them an inherited veneration for those forms of free government so aptly expressed by Manasseh Cutler in the "Bill of Rights" for the North West Territory.

Henry and Elizabeth raised 3 sons, the youngest, William, was born on the family farm in the vicinity of Iowa City, July 18, 1852. Like his father, William was stalwart in form, large hearted and kindly. Henry had been one of Johnson County's earliest settlers, one of the organizers and law givers of the State of Iowa, and of him it has been said by one of his noble associates that "He was a typical pioneer. Who that has looked upon his giant form, crowned by a face limned in benignity and strength can forget him!" This man of strength, of courage, of ability and honor--this pioneer Henry Felkner, came into the wilderness of Iowa then known as the Blackhawk Purchase as early as 1837 accompanied by two others of our celebrated and greatly beloved pioneers, Philip Clark and Eli Myers. These brave young men, joined by a few others of like courage and foresight, came into this region when the Indian trails and the rivers were the only highways of communication, and settling on the western edge of the Purchase, set to work at once to lay the foundation of the future State of Iowa. By peaceful though strenuous labor they in a few years wrought marvelous changes in the community that had but recently been a wilderness inhabited only by the Indian and the trapper. By the hands of these pioneers, the Indian trails of this vicinity were widened and along their deep cut banks the wigwams were giving way to the settlers' cabins. Meanwhile the tomahawk and scalping knife were being sheathed and the breaking plow and other instruments of peaceful husbandry were transforming the prairies into cultivated fields.

In 1843 Mr. Felkner returned to his boyhood home in Ohio and claimed for his bride the sweet young Quakeress, Elizabeth Lewis, the choice of his youthful heart. Elizabeth was the daughter of Enoch Lewis and Mourning, his wife, and she was possessed of many virtues and graces inherited from a long line of noble and talented ancestry from which she sprang.

The 1924-1925 Yearbook of Old Settlers states on page 4 that in 1837 Mr. Henry Felkner was engaged in building a sawmill on Rapid Creek about three miles northeast of Iowa City. His supplies being exhausted, he walked eight miles to the home of the nearest acquaintance, borrowed a horse and rode to Bloomington, forty miles distant, and procured his supplies. Returning to the home of his friend, he walked eight miles carrying seventy pounds of provisions.

biography menu
Return to top

Hamilton H. Kerr

From M. Cavanagh, "Hamilton H. Kerr," Thirty-Fifth Annual Reunion of the Old Settlers of Johnson County, p. 25 14

In 1839 there came to Johnson county a young unmarried man from the state of Pennsylvania. He made a claim and afterwards entered land in Big Grove township, and with Timothy B. Clark and Paul B. Anders subsequently made a dedication of the original townsite of Solon and gave it the classic name which it bears of the great Athenian lawgiver. He was the first postmaster at Solon, and served as such for a number of years. This man was Hamilton H. Kerr, who departed this life some years since, and it is felt that something should be said here in honor of his memory. Mr. Kerr was a man of most sterling worth and unblemished character, always aligning himself on the side of the right as he understood it against the wrong; a good neighbor, a fast friend, just in all his dealings with his fellow men, a public-spirited citizen and withal so modest and unassuming, so wanting in self-assertion, that people who were not his immediate neighbors knew but little of his intrinsic worth. He lived for many years at the home he first established and then sold out and bought a small farm near Iowa City across the Iowa river, on which he reisded several years, until his advanced age and that of his wife made it advisable that they should give up the active operations of the farm, after which they made their home with their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Breese of Union township. This continued to be their home until Mr. Kerr's death in 1897, and it is still Mrs. Kerr's home.

Mr. Kerr was very social in his tastes and highly prized the society of his old friends and neighbors and in the later years of his life made man visits to their homes, where he was always received with the greatest pleasure and cordiality. In short, suffice it to say that his life was a model of domestic, social and civic virtue, and if any man among the pioneers in letter and very spirit kept every one of the command of the decalogue and observed in all its divine beauty the precept of the Golden Rule, that man was Hamilton H. Kerr.

His early life here had all the trials and vicissitudes incident to those pioneer days, but he was called upon to go through a trial and endure a privation that did not necessarily belong to pioneer life.

I said at the outset that when he came here Mr. Kerr was an unmarried man;; now, while this was true, it is also true that he came to select a place in which to establish home which a fair daughter of the old Keystone state had promised to share with him. She, his affianced wife, he left behind him until he should go to the fraway trans-Mississippi country, the land of beautiful Iowa, which was then firing the imagination of the young men and maidens of that day in the older states, as the place of others in which to seek and build elysian homes for themselves and their offspring.

When Mr. Kerr came it was his purpose to return within a year and ask the young lady who had promised to become his wife to fulfill her promise. He brought with him a sum of money, the savings of his modest earnings for some years. This money would enable him to provide the home which he was looking forward to with so much anticipated happiness, and to pay his expenses back to Pennsylvania and the return with the wedded woman of his heart. But, alas, he had formed the acquaintance of an honest (?) blacksmith of the neighboring county of Cedar, to whom he loaned his money as an accommodation for a few days; but the few days grew into many days, and the days into months and months into years, and his money was still loaned--a permanent investment--and so the years of this painful waiting dragged their weary length along, until the celebrated historical waiting of Jacob for Rachel was threatened with eclipse.

As it was out of the question for Mr. Kerr to get the money he had loaned he was compelled to wait the slow process of earning enough to assist him in carrying out the plans so dear to his heart. But earning money then in Iowa was a slow process at best in any vocation, and Mr. Kerr being an artisan patronized only by those who could afford tailor-made apparel, his patrons were not many and his earnings were necessarily slow.

But at last in 1847, eight long years after he came, Mr. Kerr succeeded in getting his affairs in shape, and as all things are said to have an end, so this long waiting, and he hied himself away to the betrothed of his heart, and as he had withstood the charms and blandishments of the pioneer belles and beauties of Iowa in that early time, and she had kept her plighted troth, they were married; and who shall say that the long enforced separation of this devoted pair, the "hope deferred that maketh the heart sick," has not added zest and bliss to the almost fifty years of their wedded life which followed, for it was a most happy union. Not that they had no sorrow, for that is not possible in the lives of sentient beings like ourselves. For out of a family of six children born of this union four sweetly sleep beside their father, beneath the grassy sod in the little cemetery at Solon. It has been said that "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved," and is it not better that children be born, though they die in infancy, than that the parents should always have been childless? For is not the memory of these departed little ones and the hope of meeting them in the great hereafter a source of sublimated joy and happiness?

I should say that Mrs. Kerr (or rather Miss Brooks, for this was her maiden name) beguiled the tedium of the eight slow-passing years of Mr. Kerr's absence in Iowa before his return to her by teaching school, and that among her pupils who attended her school for a number of terms in her young girlhood was the mother of the Honorable A.B. Cummins, and who shall determine how much this teaching of his mother by Mrs. Kerr has influenced the aspirations and ambitions which have led him to the conspicuous place he occupies in the eyes of the people of Iowa and made him the candidate of the great Republican party for the highest office in their gift?

In jutsice [sic] to Mrs. Kerr I wish to say that she did not know that there was to be anything said here today in relation to her late husband or herself, otherwise I have no doubt her native modesty and disposition to shrink from public observation would have caused her to withhold her consent. I beg her pardon for taking such a liberty, my only justification being that the valuable lesson of their lives should have more publicity.

biography menu
Return to top

Thomas Lingle

Iowa Writers Project, History of Johnson County, Iowa, Works Project Administration, 1941 46

To the north and northwest of Solon, in Big Grove Township, stretched a broad expanse of level, fertile, well-watered land. It was here that Thomas Lingle, a miller as well as a farmer by trade, located a dam and mill not far from his claim. In 1840 the mill was completed and in operation; the full-flowing creek which furnished the power was known henceforth as Lingle's Creek. But ill-fortune hung over this mill though it was well patronized by the whole countryside. After having been damaged several times by floods, in the early fifties, it was completely washed out and destroyed. Then Frank Riddle took it over in 1854.

biography menu
Return to top

Jesse McGrew

Yearbook of Old Settlers Association of Johnson County, 1921-1922 p. 24: Jesse B. McGrew taught school in a one-room log cabin. He was of middle age, probably about thirty years old, and the scholars were of all ages from full adult age down to 7 or 8, and of both sexes. Mr. McGrew was not a professional teacher, and the school he was then teaching is perhaps the only one he ever taught. He was a bachelor but during the term he was then teaching he was married to Miss Charlotte Calkin--one of his pupils, a beautiful and winsome girl of thirteen, and it was said at the time that he eloped with her. However this may be, certain it is that he scurried away with her to Esquire Sutliff's, a justice of the peace in the eastern part of the county, where they were married. How McGrew managed to procure a license is not known. Some of the most outspoken in condemnation of this proceeding were some of the mature young men of the school who perhaps were smitten by the charms and graces of Lottie, as she was called, for she had charms and graces in profusion. And it is a fact that she was a true and dutiful wife to McGrew as long as she lived, which was many years.

As a teacher Mr. McGrew was not averse to corporal punishment, but he only resorted to it once at that term. The victim was Alban Brown, a son of P.C.Brown, one of the early pioneers. On this occasion the teacher sent one of the boys out to cut a whip with which to chastise Alblan, who was a particular friend of mine, whom I did ot wish to see whipped, and accordingly when it was about time for the boy to be back with the whip I slipped out and stayed until the scene was over.

biography menu
Return to top

E. P. Pratt

Biographical sketch in an unspecified history of Washington County, Iowa, page 537, posted at Rootsweb, World Connect, by Susan Fisher at "Ancestors of Jennifer & Adam Fisher".

E.P. PRATT, farmer and stock-raiser, section 1, Marion Township, is a native of Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1820. He is the son of Elias and Polly (Swain) Pratt, the former a native of Massachusetts and the latter of Pennsylvania. When he was but two years of age his father moved to Athens County, Ohio, and there the subject of this sketch was reared on a farm and educated in the district schools of that county. In October, 1845, he left Ohio and came to Iowa with his wife and two children, and stopped in Cedar Rapids, where he remained during the following winter. In the spring of 1846 he settled where the Omish [sic] settlement now is, on the Iowa River, where he attended a farm one year for another man. He then went to Johnson County, twelve miles northwest of Iowa City on the Iowa River, and there took up a claim of 160 acres of Government land. He improved that place and made it his home for some six or eight years, and then bought another quarter of raw land, which he also improved, and where he lived eight years. He helped organize the first school district in that county, and held the office of director for twelve years. While living in Iowa County he was on the grand jury that me at an Indian trading point. This was before the admission of Iowa as a State. When he went to attend that Court he found the County Clerk making shingles, on the site of the present city of Marengo.

In 1859 Mr. Pratt went to Douglas County, Kan., and there remained from October too the following May. While there his wife died, and was buried at Bloomington, Kan. In May, 1860, he came to Washington County and leased a farm for four years. During this time he bought a farm of 160 acres on section 1, Marion Township, to which he moved on the expiration of his lease, and where he has since continued to reside. He was first married in 1842 in Athens County, Ohio, to Amanda Roberts, a native of Ohio, and daughter of Amos and Mary Roberts. By that union there were eight children: Jasper N. died at the age of twenty-two years; Lavinna Frances, the wife of Solomon White, of Crawfordsville, Iowa; Sarah Jane married A.F. Bentley, and died in Ringgold County, Iowa, in 1884; Mary Eliza, the widow of John Nichols, who died in Ringgold County, Iowa; Melissa Emeline, now the wife of John White, of Ringgold County, Iowa; Cynthia is now the wife of Blanchard Nevill, of Ringgold County, Iowa; Viola married George R. Black, a mail clerk on the route between Burlington, Iowa, and Albert Lee [sic], Minn.; Sophia is the wife of M.T. Benson, Postmaster at Goshen, Iowa.

Mr. Pratt contracted a second marriage in 1864, with Mrs. Mary F. Benson, the widow of J.C. Benson. She was a native of Pennsylvania. By this union there are five children: Margaret A., the wife of I.M. Lewis, of this county; Ephraim Porter died Aug. 12, 1886, aged eighteen years; Norman N. resides at home; Olive L. died at the age of two years, and Alva B. is at home. Mr. Pratt has thirty-four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all in good health and smart. He feels a just pride in the fact that all his daughters have married good men. Mr. Pratt is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics, he is a Republican. Mrs. Pratt died Jan. y, 1887.

Commencing life in limited circumstances, Mr. P. has by close attention to business, good management and economy, acquired a competency. He is a man well respected by all who know him. A representative citizen of Washington County, his portrait properly adorns the pages of this volume.

biography menu
Return to top

Warren Stiles

Stiles Family Came in 1838
Built 2-room Log House, Biggest Along the Dillon Furrow

From the Iowa City Press Citizen, July 1, 1939, p. 16AA:

Warren Stiles was one of the small band of adventurous settlers who came to Johnson County in 1838. Unlike so many of those first emigrants who came as young men, unmarried, footloose, Mr. Stiles was a married man and the father of several children at the time of his arrival here. It is difficult to visualize the courage and the fortitude which must have been his and that of his brave wife to risk and dare all, even their precious family to reach a new, better land and there establish a home.

Born in West Chazy, [ Clinton County near Canadian border] New York, he had followed the business of merchant there until 1837 when he brought his little family west, by way of river steamers down the Ohio, up the Mississippi to Bloomington. Here he stopped for a year, but not liking the low, unhealthy surroundings along the "Big Slough," he came on to Napoleon in the spring of 1838 and settled north along what next year was established as the Dillon Furrow linking the new town of Iowa City with Dubuque--the Old Military road.

Here he built a large two-room log house, the biggest along the road, and kept tavern along with his farming enterprise. Here in 1840 was held the first election when Johnson county was laid off in two precincts, the south part voting at Iowa City, the north part at Stiles' log house.

In 1849 Warren Stiles was one of that first great surge of adventurers blazing the dangerous overland trail to California and the gold diggings. He was supposed to have been successful in his mining activities, and in 1850 boarded a boat for home. While still in San Francisco bay, cholera broke out on ship board, the boat was beached and many perished in the resulting confusion. Among them was Mr. Stiles, either from the cholera or murdered and robbed for his gold as some believe.

Meanwhile his widow and six children carried on, running the farm and the tavern for travelers for many years. She did not die until 1880, when she was 80 years old, a remarkable age considering her years of toil and privation following her husband's untimely death. Her oldest daughter, Hannah, married Strauder Devault, himself a true pioneer of the county. Her second daughter, Mary, married in 1855, William Chandler, who came to Iowa in 1858, and followed a course in married life very similar to that experienced by her mother. For, in 1865 her husband died, after just ten years wed, leaving the care of a young family and the management of a farm entirely to her hands. Like the courageous woman that she was and a true daughter of a valiant pioneer mother, she never faltered in her duty, keeping together and educating her little brood, building up and improving for a full generation the Chandler farm, the present home of Mr and Mrs. Stephen Sunier, just north of Iowa City on the Solon road. No one can say that the education which Mary Stiles received in the school of pioneer experience did not serve her in good stead, when the emergency same in her life. [sic]

In 1856 a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. William Chandler, named Elizabeth, who was destined to have much more than an average experience with the world in her role of school teacher. for, following attendance at the university, lacking graduation in the class of 1880 only because she was a hopelessly "irregular" student, irregular because of the intermittent schooling possible from a fatherless home such as hers she became a school teacher. In 1880 she had the lower grades at West Branch, some 48 pupils in all. Among this number was a new pupil, his first term at school, a blocky little square faced fellow who answered to the name of Herbert Hoover!

biography menu
Return to top

John and Orson West

John West, a pioneer of Solon, Iowa, was born in New York about 1797. His first wife, Clarissa, was born in Vermont about 1801. Clarissa apparently died between 1850 and 1853. John married Hannah (Stout) Hill, a widow, in 1853. Mr. and Mrs. West, were charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1855.

John is mentioned in histories of Johnson County as the partner of Hamilton H. Kerr. Together they hired Cyrus Sanders in October 1840 to lay out eighty acres of Big Grove Township for the town of Solon. Big Grove township was part of the Blackhawk purchase of 1832--land ceded to Johnson County from the Sac and Fox Indians. Johnson County formed in 1837. The first settlers came in 1838. Johnson County land sales were sold out of the Iowa City Land Office after the U.S. Treaty of 1832 which acquired the lands of the Sac and Fox Indians as a result of the Blackhawk War.

John was appointed a director to cut a road from Solon to Iowa City in 1842. His plan to sell lots in Solon was not successful for at that time the U.S. government was selling quarter sections of farm land at a very low price. John did not record title to any of the town land.

John later acquired property in Newport Township north of Big Grove and he and Hannah both died there, John in 1861, Hannah in 1872. They are buried at Sandtown cemetery, Muscatine.

Although John and Clarissa probably had a large family, only one son, Orson West, has been identified. Orson was born in 1827 in New York. He evidently met and married his wife,Catherine Griffith, in Big Grove Township, Johnson County. Catherine came to Solon with her parents, James and Elizabeth Griffith, from Ohio. Catherine was born in Bladensburg, Knox County, Ohio.

Orson came to Solon with his parents about 1838 at age 11. Both Orson and Catherine acquired deeds to farm land in Johnson County about 1850. Orson and Catherine disposed of their land and eventually moved to Illinois and Missouri. Orson became a stock dealer and the couple moved frequently between Missouri and Illinois. This movement might be attributed to the Civil War. Missouri was a Union state with strong Confederate sympathies. Kansas City and the region of southern Missouri became a dangerous place. Kansas Jayhawker abolitionists fought Missouri Bushwacker Confederates in the border between Kansas and Missouri. Illinois was a Union state and would have been relatively safe. The were in Missouri in 1851, Quincy, Illinois in 1857, back in Kansas City, Missouri in 1860 and in Quincy again from 1862-1879, at which time Catherine apparently died. Orson purchased a grave site in Quincy. He returned to Kansas City with his children in 1880.In the 1890s he and his family migrated to Denver, Colorado and then Napa, California. Orson died in a grizzly accident in San Francisco in 1901 when he fell down an elevator shaft and was then crushed by an elevator.

biography menu
Return to top menu



Back to menu
Abbreviations used: 1. "Back in 1877: Solon was a boom town," West Liberty Index, July 7, 1977, Solon, Iowa.

2. Aurner, Clarence Ray. Leading Events in Johnson County, Iowa, History
(Cedar Rapids: Western Histoical Press, 1912-13) pp. 164, 309.

3. 1838 Wisconsin Territorial Census for Johnson County, Iowa, comp.
Ronald Vern Jackson (Bountiful, UT: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1981)

4. 1844 Iowa State Census, Johnson County, transcription at

5. Petit Jurors, Johnson County District Court 1858 Special Term, sheriff's summons, 9 Aug 1858; Johnson County, Iowa Miscellaneous Records, item #1, microfilm 985414, LDS.

6. "Johnson County, Iowa, Military Service Eligible Males, 1848," reproduced at

. 7. 1839 signatory to Constitution and Laws of the Claims
Association of Johnson County, Iowa, adopted 9 Mar 1839 as transcribed at

8. 1830 U.S. Census, Chautauqua County, New York, Ripley, p. 137,
trans. Virginia Barden and Lois Barris, Chautauqua County Genealogical
Society, 1995, at:

9. Although reference 1 (above) attributes the name "Solon" to one of Ander's sons, the 1850 census does not show such a son in Ander's household. Perhaps the child had died by then. Alternatively, the origin of the name "Solon" might reflect the hometown of one of the founders, ae, Solon, Cortland County, New York.

10. "Hamilton H. Kerr," 35th Annual Reunion: Old Settlers of Johnson County (Iowa City: Iowa Citizen Publishing Company, Printers, 1901)

11. 1850 U.S. Census, Johnson County, Iowa, Big Grove Precinct, 8 Oct 1850, NARA microfilm M432, Roll 208.

12. Iowa District Court Records, Johnson County, 1839-1841 Second Judicial District, Iowa State Historical Society, Box 2, LDS microfilm 989168, item #1.

13. Index to 1830 U.S. Census, New York, Ronald Vern Jackson (Bountiful, UT: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1977)

14. 1840 U.S. Census Iowa, Johnson County, comp. Rowena T. Obert (Salt Lake City, UT, 1968)

15. Probate Records, Johnson County, IA, LDS FHL microfilm 985944.

16. World Connect, Rootsweb.com at wcrootsweb.com

17. LDS FHL www.familysearch.org

18. Wilbur D. Cannon Papers, 1860-1915, State Historical Society of Iowa, Special Collection, Iowa City, Iowa City Library Manuscripts, BL 71.

19. Wilbur D. Cannon,Iowa City mansion in series on historic landmarks of Iowa city, Iowa Press Citizen, Aug. 1-4, 2004, Iowa City.

20. Index to 1820 U.S. Census, Ohio, Ronald Vern Jackson (Bountiful, UT: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1971)

21. "Women of Big Grove," comp. Jacob Risora, Johnson County, Iowa Miscellaneous Records, item #1, LDS Film 985414.

22. Dr. James Griffith birth calculated from age given in obituary, Chicago Tribune, 28 April 1884, p. 3.

23. Griffith/Hall, Knox County Probate Court Marriage Records 1808-1838, p. 117, LDS Film 1294304.

24. Mrs. Elizabeth Griffith birth calculated from age given in obituary, Chicago Tribune, 25 Sep 1891, p. 3. Elizabeth Griffith, Chicago city Board of Health Death Certificate 1891-5219.

25. James Griffith, Chicago City Board of Health Death Certificate 1884-39938.

26. Alpheus H. Harlan, History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family (np,1914)

27. James Griffith, Certificate 3117, Iowa City Land office, 16 Sep 1850, patent 1 Apr 1850, nw 1/4 se 1/4 sec 22, T81N R6W, Johnson county Recorder Bk. 6, p. 218.

28. U.S. 1860 Census Johnson County, IA, Newport Twp., NARA microfilm M653, 2d filming, roll 327, p. 541, Household 365.

29. Marriages of Johnson County, IA, 1839--1867, Vol. 3, p. 142, Johnson County Recorder, Iowa City.

30. Marriages of Johnson County, IA, 1839--11867, Book 3, p. 22, Johnson County Recorder, Iowa City.

31. 1870 U.S. Census, Johnson County, IA, Newport Twp., NARA microfilm M593, Roll 400

32. Johnson County, IA District Court, Guardianships 1851-1938, UGS 1990, microfilm 1705134, item #1.

33. Johnson County Probate Records, Vol. 8, p. 201, LDS FHL microfilm roll 985947.

34. Johnson County Probate Index, Vol. 1, 1840-1883, UGS microfilm 985942.

35. 1870 U.S. Census, Johnson County, IA, Iowa City, p. 7, NARA microfilm M593, Roll 400.

36. LDS FHL. (No documentary sources cited for this submittal).

37. 1830 U. S. Census, New York, Chautauqua County, Ellery,
p. 322, trans. Jay Priest, Chautauqua County Genealogical Society:

38. 1825 New York State Census, Chautauqua County, Ellery,
p. trans. Mrs. Lester Lewison, NSDAR

39. 1820 U. S. Census, New York, Chautauqua County, Chautauqua,
p. 55,trans. Virginia Barden and Lois Barris, Chautauqua County
Genealogical Society, 1995, at:

40. Elliot Storke, History of Cayuga County, New York, 1789-1897( Syracuse: D. Mason, 1879), p. 260.

41. Cyrus Sanders and Henry Felkner, "Unfinished History of Johnson County," manuscript, Iowa State Historical Society, Iowa City, Iowa.

42. Iowa State Census 1854 transcribed at

43. Willliam Monroe Spurrier, International Genealogical Index (IGI), LDS FHL.

44. Irvin Weber, "Solon History," in "History of Johnson County Iowa," Iowa Press Citizen, 24 Sep 1975, p. 2; see also Solon Reaper, 28 July 1982; and Aurner (2 above), Leading Events..., p. 164.

45. Johnson County Recorder, Iowa City, Iowa

46. Iowa Writers ProgramHistory of Johnson County, Iowa<\/em>,State of Iowa Work Projects Administration, 1941.

47. Yearbook of Old Settler's Association of Johnson County, IA, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Return to menu