The Jeffersons

IOWA: The land where you could "hear the corn grow", a thousand miles from Ohio.  By the 1850s, increasing industry forced farmers such as the Jeffersons to move west, to Iowa.

The founder of the family, William Jefferson, was born in England 1801. He came to America on his own in 1823 and was an early settler of Trumbull County Ohio. His wife Elizabeth Hewett was also from England. He drove for the Ohio Stage Company for sixteen years, and next succeeded in clearing a farm from heavy timber. Trumbull County was at that time covered with giant beech, oaks, walnut, maple, hickory and almost all kinds of timber native to that State. Wild beasts were also plentiful. The last years of his life were spent in Black Hawk County, Iowa, where several of his children were living. He died age 76.

The marriage of his eldest son William R. Jefferson to Eleanor Dunkerton has not yet been traced. Both were from Bloomfield in Ohio but settled in Black Hawk County in about 1855. The bride’s brothers had been farming in the area for about five years and the Jeffersons joined them. They raised a family of nine children, several of whom took advantage of cheaper land in Nebraska and Oklahoma. By the time 1900 came along, two children only were still in Iowa.

The second brother, Thomas H. Jefferson (1839) moved to the oil country of western Pennsylvania and married a daughter of a carpenter who had become a wealthy hotel owner. Her name was Rose Stewart. In 1867 the couple came to Iowa. For two years they lived near Thomas’s father and brother William. In 1872 the Jeffersons settled on wild land in Pottawattamie County Iowa, eventually farming over 300 acres. The neighbouring township contained only a store, a blacksmith shop, a saw-mill and three small cabins. They had three sons.

The Jefferson daughter, Mary, was twenty-six when her parents moved to Iowa. She married there in 1869 to George W. Wilcox, a native of Ohio, veteran of the Civil War and nephew of Eleanor Dunkerton. The Wilcoxes and Mary’s youngest brother Edwin were also living in Pottawattamie county in the 1880 census in the same township as their brother Thomas. The Wilcoxes later returned to Ohio.

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