From: Wayne Steel
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 9:46 AM
Subject: [PAGREENE-L] a 1908 LETTER
I came across this letter several years ago while digging at
Cornerstone G. Soc . Its a window to the past.
Thanks to who ever took time to cut and paste the old fashion way.
Maloy Iowa May 13, 1908
Editor Democrat, (Greene County Democrat Paper)
Dear Sir , I have just been perusing the Democrat this morning and
thought I might interest some of the readers of this paper by writing a few
lines for publication as I left home on short notice on the 30th of March.
I received a dispatch at twelve o'clock on that day of the death of my
brother John H. Steel and I started at 2 o'clock and expected to meet the 4
train at Point Marion. ( He was leaving from Davistown )But owing to the
condition of the roads, was 1 1/2 hours late, but struck the train at 6
the next morning, and arrived in Pittsburg at 10 and remained till 5, got
to Chicago at 9 the next morning, one hour behind time. Remained there
till 6 in the evening, took the Great Western for Denton Iowa and arrived
there at 10 Am April 2, where I was met with a team and conveyed to the
church at Delphos where I met the funeral of my brother, as we as a large
audience which had met to pay the last tribute of respect to a neighbor as
well as myself to a brother.Then , after a most excellent discourse was
preached to the large audience, his remains were followed to the cemetery at
Mount Ayr, about 8 miles. They have a fine cemetery there, from observation,
about 20 acres with a fine blue grass carpet and finely arranged. That was
as far as we could go with a brother, so we retired and took dinner in town
with a sister, Mrs.. Ruth Long, wife of Minor Long, the returned to my
brothers home and stayed over night, where my son Ramer met me the next
morning with a buggy and team and conveyed me to our farm where he resides
and I am here yet, writing this letter and have been assisting him in
getting in the spring crop. We sowed 28 bushels of oats and planted 3
bushels of corn and will plant another bushel tomorrow if not prevented and
that will be the amount of our crop.
John H, Steel ( H was for Hemphill, his grandmother's maiden name )
was born July 11, 1838 and was 67 years and 8 months of age. He was son of
John and Nancy Bowen Steel on the farm near Davistown, Dunkard township,
Greene County, He was reared on the farm and sent the common schools till 23
years of age when he was married to Rebecca J. Wright and moved to the head
waters of Colvin's run and lived for three years and then removed to the
house place with his father, then sold his personal property and moved to
Ringgold count Iowa and bought one hundred acres of land where he lived
until the time of his death .He paid $10 an acre for the land and since then
has added 200 acres more to it with all new buildings which is worth $60 per
acre with $3200 on the assessor's book and considerable stock. No one but
his wife survives him as they never had any children. He was the brother of
eight sisters and two brothers.,
Well I must say here that I am sorry to say I attended the funeral of
William Garard, brother of Corbly, cashier of the Citizens National Bank
about a week after I landed. I saw him the day I landed and talked with
him at the depot. Ramer's wife, where I am stopping, is a daughter of his.
They live on our farm . The weather has been fine here this month for
farming and getting in corn and the grass is looking fine. Wheat looks
well, oats is doing well. Corn is 40 cents, hogs 6 cents, cattle 4-3/4 ,
Horses are $200 for good ones, land from $50 to 90 per acre. One of our
closest neighbors is planting 160 acres of corn. He has three boys and a
hired hand. They work three horses abrest. It takes 12 head. He own about
2400 acres of land and he still wants to buy more. I must bring my
scribbling to a close, hoping to find a place in you paper, if not in the
waste basket... T.B. STEEL
My note :
All above were born in Greene County.
From: Steven DeBolt
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 2:09 PM
Subject: [PAGREENE-L] 1908 letter
Thanks Wayne. That was truly enjoyable. To move from Davistown to Denton, a
world away, that quickly, probably seemed even now amazing in those days. I wonder
how long it would have taken on horseback.
(And the trains weren't even running on time! :) ).
You're right, it's like looking through a window into the past. Enjoyed the
info about Davistown, too.
case any may not know, there is a cemetery at Davistown, and I think it's called
the Debolt-Steele cemetery. There is a cemetery by that name. I think it's listed
in Hennen's work.
There was a David Debolt in Davistown in the very early 1800's. Probably a
Your letter was quite appropriate for this list. I have some from that time
period, but another place, written by my grandfather's lillte sister and brothers,
to him during WWI.
There is one written by his mother, to him, telling how the phones rang
in the wee hours of the morning to spread the good news, and that Church bells
in the area were ringing (about a mile away), to heral the event:
WWI had just
ended. The letter was dated Nov. 11, 1918.
It's hard to read that letter from mother to son without getting a little
From: Brian D Core
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 6:44 PM
Subject: [PAGREENE-L] Re:1908 LETTER/Kinda Ironic
The Steeles and Garrisons have a long history together, with 3 or 4 known
intermarriages. The John Steele, subject of this letter, died in Mt.
Ayre, IA. Garrison descendants also lived in Mt. Ayre; Leonard Garrison's
eldest son Jonathan moved from Greene County to Butler Co., OH ca. 1802.
Several of Jonathan's sons moved from Butler Co. to Schuyler Co., IL in
the 1830's. Jonathan's son Isaac was one of three brothers who all
married sisters in the Vaile family before moving to IL. I have the
obituary for their son William Henry Garrison, who died in Mt. Ayre:
"DEATH OF WILLIAM H. GARRISON
William H. Garrison, oldest son of the late Isaac and Amanda Garrison, of
Littleton, was born June 27, 1844 and departed this life, June 16, 1923,
at Mt. Ayr, Iowa at the age of 79 years.
He was united in marriage with Ann Horney, of Adams county, June 4, 1872,
who passed to her reward more than twenty years ago.
He was of a family of seven children who grew to adult age, three of whom
are living, Moses M. Garrison of Pratt, Kansas, Mrs. Emma Alkire, of near
Des Moines, Iowa, and Mrs. George W. Green of Rushville. One brother
Walter and two sisters, Mrs. Permelia Moore and Mrs. Elizabeth
Chamberlain preceded him in death.
The remains were taken to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa."
I received a photocopy of the obit with no proper citation, but I would
presume that it was from the Rushville Times, which was the paper of
record for Schuyler Co., IL.
Kind of ironic that Greene County kin could take such disparate paths and
wind up planted in the same patch of earth.
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 10:05 PM
Subject: [PAGREENE-L] Obits for 1908 Letter
I'm going to try to post a few obits to go along with this Steele family and
connecting lines, but I'm sure it will take me a while, so keep watching for
This is the obit for the wife of John Steele Jr. Her maiden name was Nancy
Agnes Bowen. They were the parents of three of the people mentioned in the
1908 letter: John Hemphill Steele, Thomas B. Steele and Ruth (Steele) Long.
"Mrs. Nancy Steel died at her home near Davistown, Greene county, Pa. Sept.
3, 1890. She was a daughter of Thomas Bowen and was the only surviving member
of the family. Her mother, whose maiden name was Spicer, was, together with
her brother, captured by the Indians at the massacre of the Spicer family.
After being held a captive for some time she was released. Mrs. Steele was
born in Greene township, and was the mother of eleven children, nine of whom
are living. These are Hemphill Steele, of Iowa; Lot and Thomas of Dunkard
township; Mrs. Joanna Stephens of Blacksville, W.Va.; Mrs. Clara Stephens and
Mrs. N.L. Torrington of Ringgold County, Ia; Mrs. Martha Stephens of Greene
county; Mrs. Ruth Long, of Colorado; and Miss Sally Steele, remaining at
home. Besides the immediate family there is a large connection. Although
Mrs. Steele had lived in the county almost since the founding of it she had
never been to the county seat. She united with the Baptist church more than
sixty years ago and had been a faithful member. Her remains were laid to rest
in the Steel burying ground after funeral services by Elder ?? in the
Anyone who has connections to this family, I'd love to hear from you.
28848 Glen Oaks Drive
Sun City, Ca. 92586-2894
This is the obit for Thomas B. Steele (the person who wrote the letter)
>From "The Democrat Messinger", Waynesburg, Pa. Friday, 14 Apr 1916:
"THOMAS B. STEELE
Thomas B. Steele, a lifelong and prominent citizen of Davistown, Dunkard
township, died early Wednesday morning, April 12, 1916. He had been ill for
the past two months of dropsy. He was 75 years old, having been born March 1,
1841, on the farm where he died. He was a son of John and Nancy (Bowen)
Steele, who were natives of Greene county. He was one of a family of eleven
children, who all grew to maturity. On January 13, 1864, he was united in
matrimony with Miss Rebecca, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Stephenson. To
this union were born five children: John M, Artie B., Sadie L, R.B. and
The widow and two daughters, Mrs. R.C. Keener and Mrs. W.J. Sheets, of
Davistown and Raymer B. Steele of Iowa and John Steele of Missouri, survive.
Four sisters and one brother are also living as follows: Mrs. Joanna Stephens
of Blacksville, West Virginia, who is 96 years of age; Mrs. Ruth Long, Iowa;
Mrs. Nancy Herrington, of Nebraska; and Miss Sally Steele, and Lot Steele of
The funeral will be held Saturday aforenoon. The friends will meet at the
Steele home and from there go to the Methodist Episcopal church where the
funeral service will be held. Interment will be in the Steele cemetery.
As stated above, Mr. Steele's mother was a Bowen, being a daughter of "Granny
Bowen" whose maiden name was Elizabeth Spicer. She and her brother William
were carried away captive by the Indians when all the other members of the
Spicer family consisting of father, mother, and five children were massacred.
A part of the Spicer house still stands in Greene township on the west slope
of Keener's Knob. William never returned to civilization but "Betsy" as she
was called came back and married a man by the name of Bowen, reared a family
and died at the age of 84 years."
I'd love to hear from anyone connecting with these families.
This obit is for John Hemphill Steele (whose funeral Thomas B. had gone to
From: Mt. Ayr (Ia.) Record News; 12 Apr 1906:
J. H. STEEL
John Hemphill Steel was born near Davistown, Greene county, Penn. July 11,
1838. He was married to Rebecca J. Wright Sept. 4, 1862. They moved to Iowa
in October 1867, settling on the same farm in Benton township where he still
lived until the time of his death, which occurred Friday morning, March 30,
1906. In early live he received a hope in Christ and in September of 1896
he, with his companion, united with the Primitave Baptist church at Orsberg,
"Uncle Hemphill", as he was known to a host of relatives and friends, was a
man of strong character, positive in his opinons, yet with a high standard of
right and an unselfish devotion to truth and duty. The large number of
friends who followed him to his last resting place was a tribute paid which
voiced more eloquently than words the universal sorrow felt at his death. His
long and close walk with the Master whom he loved and served had inspired in
him a faith that faltered not even at death. During his last illness, tho his
suffering was severe, he did not murmur, but repeatedly said "All is well. I
know there is a mansion prepared for me. " To his wife he said, "Do not
grieve; the same hope that was with me in youth and health is with me now and
the Everlasting Arms are underneath me."
He is gone from among us but we are thankful he has lived. His life was a
benediction and will always be a blessed memory to those who knew him best.
He leaves a wife and two sisters---Mrs. I.M. Long of Mt. Ayr, and Mrs. Nancy
Herrington of Omaha, Neb; two brothers and three sisters in Pennsylvania; a
host of nieces and nephews, and friends inumerable to mourn his death.
Funeral services were conducted Monday morning in the Baptist church at
Delphos by Elder Young of Milo, pastor of the church of which he was a
member, assisted by Rev. Hiram Tharp of Benton, and interment made in the
Rose Hill cemetery at Mt. Ayr.
Six of his own nephews acted as pallbearers and with loving hands bore to its
last resting place the casket, containing all that was mortal of one we loved
so much. "Not now but in the coming years, It may be in the better land.
We'll read the meaning of our tears. And then, ah, then, we'll understand."
This is the obit for Rebecca J. (Wright) Steele, wife of John Hemphill Steele:
>From 'Mt. Ayr (Ia.) Record News'; 20 Nov 1910:
Rebecca Wright was born in Whitely, Pa. September 25, 1840. She was converted
and united with the Baptist church at her old home at the age of fourteen and
continued stedfastly until death. She was united in marriage to John H.
Steele September 22, 1862, and five years later they moved to Ringgold
county, Iowa, where they lived continuously until death claimed her companion
about five years ago. Since then she has made her home with her niece, Mrs.
Glazier Prentis, and her sister, Mrs. Sams.
A little more than two years ago she suffered a paralytic stroke from the
effects of which she never recovered although she rallied and at times was
cheerful and happy. But the last ten weeks of her life were full of suffering
although borne with patience and calmly awaiting the Lord's summons which
came Sunday morning, November 13, 1910 at 3:30 at the home of her sister,
Mrs. Sams, near Maloy, Iowa.
Her life was full of good deeds and besides a sister and two brothers, a
number of nephews and neices and other immediate relatives she leaves a great
number of friends and neighbors who will sadly miss her.
The funeral was conducted by the writer at the Delphos Baptist church after
which a large company of people followed the remains to Rose Hill cemetery at
Mt. Ayr, where she was laid to rest to await the Master's call.
This is an obit for another daughter of John Steele and Nancy Agnes Bowen,
but was received from someone else.
"MRS. NANCY ELLEN HARRINGTON
Nancy Ellen, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Steele, was born in Greene
county, Pennsylavnia February 3, 1846. She was the youngest of eleven
She came in early life as a pioneer of Ringgold county, Iowa, where she
resided until 1900, when she moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where she spent the
last 28 years of her life.
She was united in marriage to Mr. Marion Herrington, 1867. To this union were
born seven children, four boys and three girls.
She possessed faith in Christ in early life and united with the Baptist
church at Delphos, Iowa, where she remained a faithful member until death
called her to her reward.
She passed away at the home of her daughter at 4505 Camden Ave, Omaha, Neb.
October 25, 1928, aged 82 years, eight months and 22 days. Her companion
having passed away about 39 years ago and one son having preceded her in
death. She leaves to mourn their loss one sister, Miss Sally Steele, of
Pennsylvania; three sons, Richard H., of Sioux, Iowa; John of Benton, Iowa;
Frank of Powell, Wyo; three daughters, Mrs. G.W. Abarr, Mrs. A.D. Maloy; Mrs.
I. Moen, all of Omaha, Neb.; twenty grandchildren and eleven
great-grandchildren besides many other relatives and friends.
Mrs. Harrington was a person whose friends were numbered by her
acquaintances. She gave the best of her life for her seven children whom she
reared to manhood and womanhood. She was always ready to sacrifice herself to
be a blessing to others. We feel that our loss is her eternal gain.
'A precious one from us gone,
A Voice we lived is stilled;
A Place is vacant in our home,
Which never can be filled.'
Funeral services were held at the Baptist church in Mount Ayr Sunday
afternoon, October 28, conducted by Rev. C. J. Hamilton and interment made in
Rose Hill cemetery.
Those from a distance attending the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. Richard R.
Herrington and daughter, of Sioux City; Mrs. and Mrs. A.D. Maloy and
daughter; Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Abarr and two sons; Mrs. Ethel Moen and daughter
Lousie; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Petersen of Omaha, Neb; Frank Herrington, of
Powell, Wyo; Mrs. Ienza Parshall, of Clearfield; Mrs. Bell Hoover, of Des
Moines; Mr. and Mrs. R.M. Bowlby, of Beaconsfield."
Here is the obit for another daughter of John Steele and Nancy Agnes Bowen.
>From Mt. Ayr, Iowa newspaper, 26 Oct 1900.
"DEATH OF MRS. AZARIAH STEPHENS
Mrs. Azariah Stephens of Clinton township died at 12:10 yesterday morning at
the home of her son-in-law, R.M. Bowlby of Rice township. She came about two
weeks ago to care for her daughter, Mrs. Bowlby, who was ill, but took ill
herself, and died yesterday at the age of 74 years. Mrs. Stephens had lived
in the county about 20 years, having come here from Greene county, Penn. She
was a consistent Christian, and a member of the Baptist church. She was the
mother of T.J. and Ross Stephens, Mrs. J.F. Wright, and Mrs. R.M. Bowlby, of
Rice township, and Mrs. J.K. Parshall of Clearfield. Her bereaved husband is
in his 80th year.
Short services were held at the Bowlby residence at 1 o'clock yesterday
afternoon by Rev. Julius Nelson. The funeral was to be conducted at 1 o'clock
today from the late residence of the deceased. Interment will be made in the
cemetery two miles southwest of Redding."
This is the obituary for Azariah Stephens, husband of Clarissa Steele (d/o
John Steele and Nancy Agnes Bowen)
Azariah Stephens died very suddenly of heart failure at his home in Clinton
township October 29, 1902. He was born in Greene county, Pa. June 30, 1821,
was married Feb 1843 to Miss Clarissa Steel. To this union eight children
were born, six of which survive him. Mrs. Stephens died October 23, 1900,
since which time Uncle Azariah made his home with his son, T.J. Stephens.
Deceased was a life-long member of the Missionary Baptist church. He died as
he had always lived, a devoted Christian, a conscientious citizen and a
scrupulously honest man. He always carried his Christianity with him in all
his dealings with his fellowman, and his open, Straight-forward manner of
transacting business always left good impressions. His early life was spent
in a Christian home and those noble influences and impressions that he so
dearly cherished in his boyhood remained with him through his four score
years, and the stars that shone so brightly in his Christian life here will
continue to shine on through eternity. The funeral services were held at his
late residence and were conducted by Rev. William Golding, of Blockton. His
remains were buried at Bruchy cemetery beside those of his wife who preceded
him just three years ago.
This ends my obits for this evening. Please forgive me for any typing errors
I have made in these obituaries.