WILLIS F. VAN ORSDOL.
It has been said that death loves a shining mark and many times this seems to be exemplified when a leading and
valued citizen is called from the scene of his activities. Willis F. Van Orsdol was one of the valued residents
of Rowley and throughout his entire life displayed qualities and characteristics that endeared him to all who knew
him, causing his death to be greatly regretted wherever he was known. He was born in this county in November, 1863,
a son of James and Jessie Van Orsdol, who were pioneer settlers of this part of the state. The father was for many
years actively and successfully engaged in general farming and eventually removed to Rowley, where he conducted
a grain and livestock business in connection with his two sons. Willis F. and Frank J., remaining active in that
partnership until his death, which occurred July 24, 1912. His widow still resides in Rowley and extended mention
of them is made on another page of this work.
Willis F. Van Orsdol spent his youthful days in his parents home and good opportunities and advantages were afforded
him. He attended the public schools and also continued his education in Vinton, Iowa. After reaching his majority
he took up his abode in Rowley, where he became connected with the livestock and grain business, carrying on operations
along that line until his life's labors were ended in death on the 27th of August, 1910, after he had been ill
for only a brief period. In business he was a resourceful, energetic man who readily recognized and utilized opportunities
and as the years went on his reliable business methods, combined with unfaltering energy and determination won
for him a gratifying measure of prosperity.
In January, 1890, Mr. Van Orsdol was married to Miss Emma Page, a daughter of George W. and Lenora (Chandler) Page,
the former a native of New Hampshire and the latter of Maine. Her father was one of the first settlers of Linn
county, Iowa, where he purchased wild land and developed and improved a farm, being busily engaged in agricultural
pursuits until after the outbreak of the Civil war, when he considered his duty to his country his foremost interest
and enlisted from Linn county as a member of Company H, Twentieth Iowa Infantry, with which he served for ten months.
He then returned to Linn county and throughout his remaining days was actively engaged in farming, his death occurring
June 5, 1888 His wife survives and took up her residence in Rowley in 1904. To Mr. and Mrs. Van Orsdol were born
three children: Jay W., now engaged in the grain and stock business in Rowley, who was married on the 13th of December,
1913, to Miss Ruby Finch, a native of Courtland, New York; Ivadel, six years of age; and one who died in infancy.
They also adopted a little daughter, Genevieve, who came to them when but five weeks old.
Mr. Van Orsdol was a member of Holman Lodge, No. 593, A. F. & A. M., and was also identified with the Eastern
Star chapter and with the Modern Woodmen camp. He voted with the democratic party and never regarded lightly his
duties of citizenship but met every obligation that devolved upon him in that connection through hearty cooperation
with movements for the general good. He affiliated with the Presbyterian church of which his widow is a member
and guided his life by its teachings. He left to his family not only a comfortable competence, but that good name
which is rather to be chosen than great riches. He was an honorable and progressive business men, a loyal citizen,
a faithful friend and a devoted husband and father. Mrs. Van Orsdol still makes her home in Rowley, where she owns
an attractive residence and she also has good farm lands in this part of the county.
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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