Layton Township Biographies





M. B. DARNELL, P. O. Walnut, was born May 19, 1827, in Champaign County, Ohio.  Emigrated with his father’s family, in 1839, to Hancock County, Ill.  Attended the district school until he was in his seventeenth year, when he attended a seminary for about one year in Carthage, Ill.  He had formerly attended a very good village school, taught by Miner R. Deming, in a small town called St. Mary’s.  Deming received a General’s commission, and commanded the anti-Mormon forces which succeeded in arresting Joseph and Hiram Smith.  As a result of the intimacy which existed between Mr. Darnell and the General in consequence of having been his pupil, he procured for him without his knowledge, a Lieutenant’s commission from Gov. Thomas Ford, and was at once placed on his staff, and did duty as such officer throughout the entire campaign, and, a few hours after the troops were discharged, he was, by a mere coincidence, present at the jail and witnessed the killing of Joe and Hiram Smith.  Was also present when a deputation of Mormons came to the jail and removed the bodies to Nauvoo.  He was also a participant in all the “wars” (as they were denominated) which were organized for the purpose of ridding the country of the presence of the Mormons.



The 27th of March, 1850, he was united in marriage to Martha Craig, a lady of Southern birth, but residing then in Jacksonville, Ill.  Has had four children, the eldest of whom is a daughter.  One son, Murray A., who was a boy of unusual promise, just after he had obtained his education, lost his life by an unfortunate accident at Sioux Falls, Dak., at the age of twenty-four years, which has cast a permanent shadow over the remainder of subject’s life.


Having been elected to the office of Justice of the Peace when only a few days over twenty-one years of age, he discharged the duties of the office for a time, and formed an idea that he would like the law; consequently removed to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and read law with Col. A. H. Bereman, now of Breckenridge, Colo.  Was admitted to the bar in 1854, before R. P. Lowe, then Judge of the First District.  He at once formed a partnership with Mr. Bereman, and remained in the practice until the second year of the war, when he enlisted in the First Iowa Cavalry.  Was with the regiment about four weeks at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, when Mr. Bereman, who had received a Captain’s commission in the Eighteenth United States Infantry, and was with the regiment at Camp Thomas at Columbus, Ohio, wrote subject that if he would get transferred into the Eighteenth United States Infantry, he had assurances from Col. Carrington that in the near future he would get subject a Lieutenant’s commission, and consequently was transferred by an order of Gen. Curtis, and, upon arriving at Camp Thomas, Ohio, he found that the promise made to Mr. Bereman in his behalf was but a ruse to get his regiment supplied with competent men as First or Orderly Sergeants.  He accepted that position, and served for about two years.  He was under command of Gen. Buell, and was discharged for disability at Louisville, Ky., directly after Bragg’s raid on that city.


Returning to his home in Mr. Pleasant, he found his practice gone and the profession very full, consequently he moved to Cass County, Iowa, and made a farm, arriving there in May, 1864.  He removed from there to Pottawattamie County in March, 1873, when he again engaged in farming, three and a half miles from Walnut, dividing his time between the farm and a limited law practice in Walnut and before count[r]y Justices in Cass, Shelby and Pottawattamie Counties.  On the 4th of last March, he rented his farm, bought property in Walnut, opened an office, and is now engaged exclusively in the practice.


During his residence in the county, he delivered a number of agricultural addresses, having delivered about half of them before the Cass County Society since its organization; one at Avoca three years ago.  He had also delivered orations on the Fourth of July at Atlantic, Avoca and Carson, and, during the campaign which has just closed, he made more speeches for the amendment than any other man in the east end of the county, closing the campaign before an immense audience at the Presbyterian Church on Sunday night before the election.  It is the proudest recollection of his life that he was early identified with the anti-slavery cause.  The Republican party came into existence in his boyhood.  He at once espoused it, and was identified with the party from its birth, and contributed all he could in its behalf.  He was editor and publisher of a paper called the Republican News from June, 1859, for the period of one and a half years, and sold out at a profit.  He remained with the party until 1873, when he went off in the Greeley movement, and is out of politics today.


He has one among the finest homes in this city, and is taking it as comfortable as he can.  Although not living continuously in the State, it is now nearly forty-three years since his boyish feet trod the soil of Iowa, having been in Keokuk in 1839.  During his residence in Mt. Pleasant, he was twice its Mayor, while they were building the Burlington & Missouri Railroad and the insane asylum.  Saw the first dirt thrown on the Burlington & Missouri Railroad at Burlington in 1854, and the first stone laid in the foundations of the asylum at about the same time.  He has believed ever since the war, that there was silently developing in the Government an antagonism between capital and labor, and that such tendency, connected with the well-known degeneracy and corruption of politics, is becoming a permanent menace to the institutions of our country.  He believes that reform is wonderfully necessary in order to preserve the liberties and well-being of the people.


PETER KOLL, implements, Walnut, is numbered among the early settlers of Walnut.  He is a native of the northern part of Germany, and remained a resident of his native country until he was seventeen years of age.  His early life was spent on a farm, though he received a good education in his native country.  He settled first in the eastern part of Iowa after arriving in the United States.  Being wholly dependent upon his own resources, he began work at almost anything that promised a reasonable compensation.  He was industrious and economical, and gradually improved his prospect of securing a comfortable property.


In 1874, he became a resident of Pottawattamie County.  He settled in Walnut, and for about two years he did a bar business.  He has proved himself to be a good business manager.  He now owns a farm in Clinton County, Iowa, and has built two good buildings in Walnut, one of which is known as Koll’s Hall, and the other is his residence.  The two were built at a cost of $5,000.  In 1866, he made a visit to his native country, and returned the same year.  He is now largely interested in the agricultural implement business, in which he is doing an extensive business.  He is a member of the order of A. O. U. W., Lodge No. 194, of Walnut.  He is also a member of the order of L. of H. Lodge, No. 122, of Walnut.  Politically, he has led a quiet life; is by no means an office-seeker, preferring to attend to his business interests rather than to hold an office.  Mr. Koll has been twice married.  His first wife was Miss Christina Kaufmann, to whom he was married in 1867, and who died in 1877.  Three children are living of this marriage—Henry, Peter and Therese.  In 1878, he married Miss Catharine Kaufmann, sister of his first wife, both ladies natives of Germany.  There have been no children born of the last marriage.


WILLIAM H. LINFOR, insurance agent, Walnut, born in England April 25, 1841, son of William and Diana (Eseby) Linfor; he, a retired farmer, born in England August 25, 1801, emigrated to Ottawa, Ill., in 1849, bought a tract of 360 acres of land, lived upon it until 1880; was one of the first settlers of the southeast part of La Salle County, Ill., and, during the first five years, he labored under great disadvantages, being twenty-five miles from market; she, born in England on June 22, 1805, died March, 1880.  They had four children, viz., John, William H., Sarah and Robert.  Subject received a common school education in his native village until he was fourteen years old, afterward attending high school at Ottawa, Ill., until he was sixteen years old; commenced life farming on the homestead, and married in Illinois, February 22, 1865, Sarah J. Naugle, born in Cayuga County, N. Y., March 30, 1841, daughter of Garnet and Mary Jane Naugle.  Mr. Linfor is the father of seven children, viz. Cora, William, Robert, Charles, Claud, Frederick and Clara.


Subject is a member of the Episcopal Church, a Democrat, an Odd Fellow, a member of the      A. O. U. W., and moved to Wheeler’s Grove, this county, in 1869, purchased 180 acres of land, continued farming it until 1874, when he sold out, moved to Walnut and engaged in the real estate and insurance business.  In 1875, he was elected Justice of the Peace of Layton Township, which office he filled until 1881; in 1877, he was elected Supervisor of this county, and was the first Mayor of Walnut, holding that office for three consecutive terms.  Subject’s wife died at Walnut January 11, 1875; in September, 1877, he married Ladema A. Taylor, daughter of William and Betsy Taylor, of Tama County, Iowa.


JOHN SCHLOTFELDT, hardware merchant, Walnut, born in Clinton County, Iowa, March 6, 1860, son of Jacob C. and Catharine M. Schlotfeldt; he, a farmer, born in Germany October 9, 1829, and she, also born in Germany October 9, 1829, had four children—Henry F., born January 21, 1866; Rudolph, born November 7, 1867; Louis, born March 7, 1868; and John.  Subject attended a district school in Scott County, this State, for three winters, and this is all the education he ever received; commenced life by clerking in a dry goods store in Walnut; is a member of the Lutheran Church; a Republican and an Odd Fellow.  Subject hired out to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company as a trackman, receiving for his labor $1 a day; out of this small amount he sent his brothers to school.  In 1880, he hired as clerk with Green Bros., hardware merchants in Walnut, and, in 1882, he started a hardware store of his own in Walnut.


WILLIAM M. SMILEY, farmer, P. O. Walnut, born in Clearfield County, Penn., September, 1808, son of Samuel and Elizabeth Smiley; he, born in Ireland in 1764, died in 1824; she, born in Ireland in 1768, died in 1835.  They had four children, viz., David, William M., Susan and Elizabeth.  Subject received a common school education; commenced life as a farmer, and married, in Clearfield County, Penn., April 15, 1830, Jane Glassglow, born in Huntingdon County, Penn., September 12, 1812, daughter of John and Jane Glassglow, both born in Blair County, Penn.  Mrs. Smiley had eight children, viz., Elizabeth J., born August 4, 1834; Hannah, born May 28, 1838; David, born August 14, 1841; John, born July 6, 1843; Denisha, born June 16, 1848; Emily, born September 12, 1851; Susannah, born February 12, 1853, and William M., born December 12, 1859.


Subject is an active member of the Presbyterian Church, a Republican, and when twenty-two years old, he commenced farming on the old homestead, and all the property he possessed in his own right was one horse; took care of his parents until their death, when the property was sold, except the homestead, and he received $200 as his share, continuing on the homestead until 1868, when he moved to Cedar County, this State, where he purchased 160 acres of land, living there until March 4, 1875, when he moved to Walnut, this county, and purchased 240 acres of land, where he now resides.  On October 10, 1872, his wife died, and, on October 7, 1875, he married Clara A. Guiar, born March 2, 1842.