Hon. Leonard King of Farmington, is numbered among the pioneer settlers of Van Buren County. His residence in this section dates from 1838, consequently covers a period of fifty-two consecutive years. Few of the settlers of that early day yet remain to tell the story of Iowa life during the days when the State formed a part of the extreme Western Frontier.
Mr. King was born in Cayuga County New York on April 22, 1807, and was one of a family of twelve children, whose parents were Paul and Eunice Morgan King. His father was born on Long Island in 1762, and his mother, a native of Connecticut, was born in 1775. Becoming residents of New York in youth, they were married in the Empire State and for many years resided in Orleans County.
A family of twelve children was born unto them, all of whom grew to mature years, were married and reared families of their own, but our subject is now the only survivor, and upon his devolves the duty of perpetuating their memory by written record: Henry, the eldest, died in California; Elizabeth became the wife of Reuben Ellis, and they made their home in Wisconsin; Sylvester died at about the age of seventy-five years; Enoch emigrated to Mississippi, and subsequently removed to Texas, where he died of yellow fever; William S. from the age of eighteen months made his home with an uncle who was a printer, and with him learned that trade.
When fourteen years old, he went to Charleston S.C., arriving in that city with only fourteen cents in his pocket, but he soon entered the Courier office, where he remained, rising steadily step by step until at his death he had become owner of the paper, and a man of wealth and influence in the community; Sarah became the wife of Abraham Fisk; and Susan her twin sister, married Riley Fisk, and both families settled in Jefferson County New York; Elijah died near Quincy Illinois; Lucy became the wife of Henry Bartholemew, and their home was in Orleans County New York; Leonard, of this sketch is the next younger; Ede married Ephraim Beardsley, and settled near Quincy, Illinois; Russell P. became a resident of Adams County Iowa, but afterward removed to Lee County. The parents of this family lived to an advanced age and died within three day of each other, from exposure while making a trip to the home of their son in Jefferson County. They were consistent and faithful members of the Christian Church, whose upright lives and many deeds of charity and kindness won them the love and esteem of all. Their children were reared to habits of industry, and in early life deep lessons of truth were impressed upon their minds. They became good citizens and members of society, doing honor to the training of their Christian parents.
The member of the family in whom the people Van Buren County are most interested—Leonard King—was educated in the common schools of his native state and at Fredonia Academy. He prepared himself for teaching, but did not follow that occupation, circumstances arising which caused him to devote his attention to other pursuits. He was married in Fredonia, Chautauqua County New York in 1833, to Miss Angeline Beardsley, a native of Massachusetts. Their union was blessed with two children, but death visited the home, and both were taken away. The daughter, Olive, became the wife of Thomas Stark, and died in this county; Miles, an only son, was a young man of more that ordinary ability, quick to learn and of excellent habits, but in 1861, feeling that his country needed his services, he enlisted for the late war, and laid down his life on the altar of freedom. He was assigned to Company B, of the Third Iowa Cavalry, and mustered in at Keokuk. He remained with his regiment up to the last, was always found at his post of duty, and never shirked a task imposed on him. In an engagement on April 16, 1865, he was wounded, and three days later in Columbus, Georgia he closed his eyes in the last sleep, and was laid to rest on southern soil. Mr. King was tendered a pension, but would not accept it because of an oath to which he had to swear. He would not perjure himself for a few paltry dollars, but with the integrity that had characterized his entire life, he relinquished all claim to the money, rather than sacrifice his honor.
It was in 1838 that Mr. King first came to Iowa. Van Buren County was then wild and unsettled, and its brightness could never have been dreamed of, much less realized. The work of improvement seemed scarcely begun, only a few log cabins having been built here and there over the county, but he has lived to see commodious and elegant residences replace the pioneer homes, while a schoolhouse has been built on almost every hilltop, with a church by its side, the outcome of the enterprise of a well educated and contented people, the citizens of a once unsettled community. Countless manufactories have sprung up on every hand, railroads cross and recross the country, penetrating every nook and corner of this vast state, and telegraph and telephone have been introduced, permitting man to address a message, or to converse with one hundreds of miles away. Taking into consideration these things, we can but exclaim, “surely the age of wonders is upon us,” The progress made in Van Buren County is due almost entirely to its pioneer, and not the least of those who left comfortable homes in the East, and endured the trials and hardships of western life, is Leonard King. Van Buren County owes to him a debt of gratitude for the work he has performed in her behalf.
As the years have passed bringing changes to the county, Mr. King has also prospered and his efforts have been crowned with success. Only a few clouds have come to darken his pathway, and these were occasioned by the loss of his children, and his estimable wife, who died on October 27, 1866. She was a member of the Methodist Church, and her death was mourned by a large concourse of people.
In 1839 Mr. King removed to Lee County; the following year, was commissioned by Governor Lucas, as Justice of the Peace the commission still being in his possession. After ten years however, he returned to Van Buren County, where he has since made his home. He was honored with the office of Mayor of Farmington, and for a number of years was a member of the city council. Faithful and prompt in the discharge of every duty, he proved a capable official. His life is characterized by the strictest integrity, in his dealings he is honest and upright, and his word is as good as his bond.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.