Biography of Charles Howard Vail
Audubon County, IA Biographies


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CHARLES HOWARD VAIL is a descendant of the sixth generation of John and Elizabeth Vail, who came from England and landed at South-hold, Long Island, in 1650, to enjoy freedom to worship God; they were members of the Society of Friends. They had three children John, Samuel and Martha. The eldest, John, was a useful minister among the Friends of that remote period, and his descendants became distinguished in political life and scientific attainments. The second son, Samuel, was born October 21, 1618, and was twice married. He purchased a large plantation on Green Brook, near the place that is now covered by Plainfield, New Jersey; this property has been in the possession of members of the family ever since - 164 years. Samuel Vail died April. 26, 1733. (A copy of his will is now in the possession of C. H. Vail.) His eldest son, John, and a brother occupied the Green Brook farm. In 1730 John married Margaret Shotwell Laing, and they were the parents of eight Sons who were all married and who had large families, whose descendants are numerous and widely scattered. The eldest son, John Vail, Jr., and great grandfather of C. H. Vail, married Catherine Fitz Randolph, a descendant of a large and influential family of Friends, who came from England to America in 1630, settling in Massachusetts. John, Jr., and Catherine had seven children, Margaret, Edward, Amos, Isaac, Phoebe, Nathan and Joel. During the contest for American Independence, when the British forces held possession of Perth-Amboy and the adjacent country, General Washington and staff called at the farm residence of John Vail, and asked to be guided to some prominent spot on the mountain, from which a good view of the plain below could be obtained; this request was granted, and the spot to which he was conducted still bears the name of Washington's Rock. Edward Vail, the second child of John, Jr., and Catherine Vail, grandfather of our subject, was born March 27, 1764, at Green Brook, New Jersey. When a young man his father gave him one of the Green Brook farms, and there he built a commodious residence. On the 26th of December, 1793, he was married to Sarah Kinsey, of Woodbridge, New Jersey, who was born June 8, 1770, and whose family have always held an enviable position in the best society - socially, politically and religiously. They came originally from Scotland. Edward and Sarah Vail had xiine children, six of whom lived to be over seventy years of age. Their seventh son, Abel Vail, father of C. H. Vail, was born February 12, 1807, at Green Brook, New Jersey, and was married November 2, 1831, to Arletta Bristol, of Dutchess County, New York. She was born March 1, 1809. Abel Vail was a hatter for many years, but afterward went upon the old homestead and was a farmer the remainder of his days. He and his wife were the parents of four children, of whom C. H. Vail is the youngest. In 1853 Abel Vail moved to Indiana, settling near La Porte; he died while on a visit to New York, August 15, 1885. In the history of the Society of Friends in New Jersey, it is said that there is no family name more honorably or continuously associated with the welfare of the society than that of the Vails. From the earliest records of the meetings it is learned that a conspicuous and important part was always taken by some of the family from the very beginning of the society. In 1687 mention is made of John Vail, as an active member of the first meeting at Amboy, and as one of the founders of the meeting at that place. Among the numerous names of ancestral fame and honor, that of Vail was pronounced the leading one in the number bearing it. Charles Howard Vail was born February 26, 1851, near Plainfield, New Jersey. When two years of age his parents removed to Indiana, in which State he grew to manhood; he was educated in the district school, and spent his summers working on the farm. In 1875 he came to Audubon County, Iowa, and settled at Oakfield: he soon after became clerk in a general store, a position lie held until 1878, when he took charge of a branch store for R. Kemmling, at the old town of Hamlin. In the fall of 1879 he formed a copartnership with John T. Jenkins at Brayton, Iowa, in the dry-goods and general merchandise business, under the firm name of Jenkins & Vail; this business relation continued until 1886, when Mr. Vail was elected clerk of the district court. He assumed the duties of that office January 1, 1887, and in the fall of 1888 he was re-elected for the two years following, having filled the office to the entire satisfaction of his constituents. Mr. Vail was married March 31, 1880, to Mrs. Martha C. Reynolds, of Oakfield, Audubon County. Mrs. Vail was born in New York. They have two children-Arthur H., born in Brayton, Iowa, June 2, 1881, and Arletta, born in Brayton, Iowa, August 10, 1883. Mrs. Vail had one daughter by her former marriage, Rose G., wife of Joseph S. Grosvenor.

Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties Iowa
W. S. Dunbar & Co., Publishers.
Chiago, 1889.