Nathan Norton is now living retired in Rowley but for a long period was identified with general agricultural
pursuits in this county. He has advanced far on life's journey, having reached the seventy seventh milestone. His
birth occurred in Erie county, Pennsylvania, September 1, 1837, a son of Nathan and Nabby (McCray) Norton. The
father 's birth occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, January 14, 1792, and the mother was born there on the 6th of
December, 1794. Nathan Norton, Sr., became a farmer and after leaving New England carried on agricultural pursuits
in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. He removed to McHenry county, Illinois, and there purchased and cultivated a tract
of land upon which he lived for several years. The year 1855 witnessed his arrival in Buchanan county, where he
bought eighty acres in Homer township and at once began to till the soil and add to the improvements upon the place.
In the later years of his life he left the active work of the farm to others but continued to make his home upon
that place until his death, which occurred August 19, 1872. For several years he had survived his wife, who died
in March, 1865.
Nathan Norton, whose name introduces this review, was but a young lad when his parents went to Illinois and there
upon the home farm he spent much of his youth, the public-school system of the state affording him his educational
opportunities. He was eighteen years of age when the family came to Iowa and continuing upon the home farm, he
took charge when his father retired. He also purchased eighty acres adjoining, in Sumner township, and developed
both places, adding thereto many improvements which made the farms among the most desirable in that section of
the county. Year after year he carefully tilled the soil and in the sale of his crops won substantial success.
In 1903, however, he retired and removed to Rowley. He also made stock-raising an important feature of his business,
handling shorthorn and thoroughbred Holstein cattle and Poland China and Duroc Jersey hogs. Upon coming to Rowley
he erected a fine residence, which he has since occupied.
On the 9th of November, 1859, when twenty-two years of age, Nathan Norton was married to Miss Lovina Dodson, a
daughter of Thomas and Charity (Gear-lock) Dodson, the former born September 1, 1790, and the latter in January,
1794. They were pioneer settlers of Illinois and the father, who was a carpenter by trade, was killed by falling
from a building on which he was at work. Mr. and Mrs. Norton became the parents of three children: Walter R., now
living in Independence; Arthur E., a hardware merchant of Rowley; and Jessie, the wife of H. Todd, a farmer of
Cono township. The wife and mother passed away February 5, 1874, and Mr. Norton was married in October of that
year to Miss Orissa L Blakeley, a daughter of Ambrose C. and Betsy (Lucky) Blakeley, both of whom were natives
of the Empire state, the father's birth occurring in Windham, Greene county, New York, September 18, 1814, while
the mother was born in Rensselaerville, Albany county, August 30, 1818. Mr. Blakeley was a farmer by occupation
and removing to the west, became identified with the pioneer development of Buchanan county, taking up his abode
here before the city of Independence was established. He secured a tract of land and was thereafter engaged in
general agricultural pursuits until his death, which occurred December 5, 1888, while his wife passed away July
2, 1883. By the second marriage of Mr. Norton three children have been born: Herbert A., now engaged in the grain
business in North Dakota; Emerson B., a farmer of Sumner township; and Allen C., residing in Cedar Rapids.
Mr. Norton votes with the republican party and has ever kept well informed concerning the questions and issues
of the day. He filled the office of trustee while living in Homer township, and he has been treasurer of the school
board for several years. Aside from his business his greatest activity has been along the line of church work.
He is a devout Methodist and is a trustee of the church and one of the class leaders. He united with the church
when but fourteen years of age and has always been most loyal to its teachings and precepts. The Methodist congregation
of Rowley was organized in 1870 and the house of worship erected in 1871 at a cost of twenty five hundred dollars,
previous to which time the meetings had been held in the schoolhouse. That building was wrecked in 1874 by a tornado.
The members picked up the pieces and rebuilt the church and in 1913 a new building was erected at a cost of twenty-five
hundred dollars. Today there is a membership of seventy five and the church is in a flourishing condition, the
work being well organized and constituting a force in the moral development and progress of the community.
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Bachanan County, IA
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