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Macksburg, Iowa

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The following items involve the Townsend Surname
Levi T. Townsend Eli Townsend
1866 railroad


Macksburg, Iowa - Madison County

Information taken from History of Madison County IOWA 1915 Vol. II

Levi T. Townsend, who is an important factor in the life of Macksburg, Madison County, and who was for many years a general merchant, was born in Logan County, Ohio. September 30, 1845, of the marriage of Eli and Abigail (Woods*) Townsend. The family history has been traced back to the year 1275 and it has been found that the patronymic Townsend came into use at a considerably later date, the family name being originally Woodville. Representatives of the family settled in London, at the end of the town, and they gradually became known as town's end people. Men of the family were knighted, and we find that the family seal, which was originally given Sir Richard Townsend, of Ranheim**, Norfolk, England, is that of a stag being chased by hounds, with a crown of purple and gold and a Latin inscription meaning, "By their fidelity they conquer." In 1620 a Townsend emigrated to America and located at Lynn, in the colony of Massachusetts.

When the land beyond the Alleghenies began to be settled members of the family made their way westward, and Eli Townsend, father of our subject, was born in Harrison County, Ohio in 1823. He learned the carpenter and builder's trade, which he followed in the Buckeye state until 1863, in which year he came west, taking up his residence in Warren County, Iowa. He bought two hundred and forty acres of land, to the cultivation of which he devoted the remainder of his life. His residence was one of the finest country homes in his district and his farm was splendidly improved, while he was rightly considered one of the most progressive agriculturists of that county. He was financially independent and in addition to owning his excellent farm was a director in the Bank of Indianola. For many years he served as justice of the peace and was also county supervisor. His religious faith was that of the Quaker church. He was active in the Grange and was prominent in the management of the elevator belonging to that organization. He did all in his power to place farming upon a more scientific and more business like basis and was notably successful not only in the cultivation of crops but in the feeding of cattle and hogs, his labors yielding him a handsome return yearly. His wife, who was in her maidenhood Miss Abigail Woods*, was born in Mount Gilead, Ohio, in 1821 and died when eighty-nine years of age. He was but fifty-six years of age when he was called to his reward in 1879. To their union were born eight children, of whom our subject is the second in order of birth.

Levi T. Townsend attended the district schools in and near Mount Gilead, Ohio, but when fourteen years of age left home and entered the employ of a doctor who had a sawmill. Mr. Townsend was an energetic and capable boy and was soon doing a man's work in the mill. After returning home, he was employed in sawmills until November, 1863, when he went to the defense of his country, enlisting in Company K, Ninth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. He joined that command at Mount Gilead and was sent to Camp Denison. That winter was spent in drill at Cincinnati but in February of 1864 the regiment left for the front by way of Louisville and Nashville. In the vicinity of the latter city they were employed on forage duty for some time, after which they were ordered south to Athens, Alabama. Mr. Townsend was taken sick and was for a time unfit for active duty at the front. He was therefore detailed as guard from his regiment and assigned to the work of accompanying drafted men to the front to follow Sherman's Army. He made twelve trips while serving in that capacity. He was popular with his comrades and with his captain, and on the 28th of November, 1864, was appointed clerk to Brigadier General A. J. Slemmer president of the board of examiners for sick officers. Mr. Townsend is an excellent penman and his ability in that line was of value to him in his capacity as clerk. He still has in his possession orders for "Report for duty," "Leave of absence," etc., which are signed by Brigadier General Slemmer. On the 12th of June, 1865, Mr Townsend was mustered out at Cincinnati and after receiving his discharge went to Delaware, Ohio, and applied for work in a sash and door factory. He was wearing his soldier's uniform at that time and this aided him in securing the desired position. However, his health failed and he was compelled to leave that place. In August, 1865, he came to Iowa, but after farming for a time with his father in Warren County he returned to Delaware, Ohio, and was made foreman of the sash and door factory. In 1867 he again came to Iowa, locating in Des Moines and entering the employ of Gilchrist Brothers, who owned and operated a sash and door factory. Their factory burned and he had to go to work in another factory. Subsequently he leased the factory owned by B. F. Allen. He later leased the factory of A. E. Roberts and S. E. Rankin, then state treasurer. He built up an enviable reputation for excellent work and filled the orders of the best contractors of that city. The factory burned and he lost every dollar he had. After he was burned out he decided to turn his attention to other interests, and in October, 1877, left Des Moines and came to Macksburg.

At that time there was no railroad in the town and it required much faith in the development of the western country to foresee the increase in population and wealth that the intervening years have brought. Mr. Townsend believed in the growth of the country and engaged in the mercantile business in Macksburg. He conducted a general store for twenty-nine years and was accorded a liberal patronage by the people of this town and its vicinity. He invested heavily in real estate and became the owner of about a thousand acres of fine farming land, in the development of which he contributed largely to the agricultural progress of the county. He was also connected with its financial development, as he was one of the organizers of the Macksburg National Bank and was its second president, although he has now disposed of his interests in that institution. He owns considerable property in Des Moines and has important interests in Macksburg an Madison County. He is not only one of the wealthy men of his locality but is also one of the most highly esteemed and best liked, as his success has been won by constructive methods and has not depended upon the defeat of his fellowmen.

1866

In 1866 Mr. Townsend married Miss Lois L. Thompson, who was born in Delaware County, Ohio in 1847 and who died at Macksburg at the age of fifty-one years, eight months and eleven days. Her father was a tailor of Delaware County, and was well known there. Mr. and Mrs. Townsend became the parents of the following children: Edwin L., a grocer of University Avenue, Des Moines who married Artie B. Mack, by whom he has two children. Mack L. and Fern; Ada M., the wife of J. B. Callison***, a real-estate dealer of Macksburg; Burton L., who passed away leaving two children, Dee E. and Bessie; and Jennie L., the widow of J. L. Canning, who was a farmer residing at Macksburg, by whom she has two children, Louise and Armadene. On the 3rd of October, 1900, Mr. Townsend married Mrs. Estelle E. Elton. Her parents were both natives of new York and continued to reside there during their entire lives. Her father was a farmer and sheep raiser and was highly respected as a citizen. Mrs. Townsend was born in New York but later removed to Des Moines, Iowa. She is active in social, club and church circles of Macksburg, and also takes a keen interest in the work of the Woman's Relief Corps.

Mr. Townsend is a republican in politics and has had much to do with the direction of public affairs in Macksburg. He held the position of justice of the peace for many years and then declined to serve any longer, feeling that his other interests demanded his undivided attention. He also served as mayor of the town and under his administration the affairs of the municipality were managed in a business-like manner and there was never the slightest question as to his absolute honesty and integrity. He is connected with the Masonic order, belonging to the local blue lodge, and the tenets of that organization find expression in his relations with his fellows. He was one of the organizers of J. D. Craven Post, G.A.R., of Macksburg, and was prominent in its councils until it ceased to exist. His has been a successful life from every point of view, as he has won prominence as a business man, has done his share in promoting the moral and civic development of his community, has gained the warm regard of many loyal friends and the sincere respect of all who know him, and has proven his willingness to serve his country, even to the extent of laying down his life if need be.

On the 21st of March, 1915, Mr. Townsend was converted at a revival meeting held in Macksburg, and both he and his wife have been baptized and joined the Methodist Episcopal church. By birthright he was a Quaker, but when the country became involved in civil war he entered the army and thus forfeited his membership in the Friends church, as it is against the religion of that denomination to engage in warfare. His life, however, has always been upright and honorable and he has ever followed Christian principles.

* Abigail's maiden name is not "Woods," but rather is "Wood." Her full maiden name being Abigail Mosher Wood.

** Ranheim should be spelled Raynham. After eight centuries and many generations the Townsends still live at Raynham, Norfolk England. The 7th Marquis and 12th Baronet Viscount George Patric Domenic Townsend, his wife and three children still live there. The estate is situated on about 10,000 acres and contains another smaller estate called East Raynham in which the former Lady Agnes Durham, daughter of the 5th Marquis Townsend lived. The famous Inigo Jones was the architect and built Raynham in 1635

*** J. B. Callison's correct name is John D. Callison


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