No history of Fairfield and Jefferson county would be complete without reference to John Bartholomew who is today
one of the oldest of the native sons residing within the county's borders. This was largely a wild and undeveloped
region when, on Christmas Day, 1842, his birth occurred in Fairfield. In the intervening period covering sixty
nine years he has witnessed notable changes, for the wild prairie land has been claimed and cultivated and the
few pioneer homes have been supplanted by large and attractive modern residences that indicate the success and
prosperity of the farming community. The villages, too, have extended into flourishing towns and cities and the
work of progress has been carried steadily forward through the unfaltering efforts of progressive citizens. As
the years have passed by John Bartholomew has prospered in his undertakings and his attention is now given to the
supervision of his property interests which include some valuable real estate in Fairfield.
Mr. Bartholomew is a son of Thomas and Nancy (Speer) Bartholomew, both of whom were natives of County Antrim, Ireland,
born near Belfast. The father's birth occurred July 10, 1811, and the mother was born in 1813. They were reared
and married there and after crossing the broad Atlantic in one of the old time sailing vessels they settled at
Cassville, Pennsylvania, where they resided for two years, In 1840 they arrived in Fairfield and during their remaining
days lived in Jefferson county. The father was a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade and in connection with the
manufacture of furniture here he also did considerable building. As he prospered in his undertakings he made judicious
investments in land, purchasing one hundred and sixty acres adjoining the city on the southwest, his sons operating
this farm after he retired to private life. He died January 3, 1802, having for more than ten years survived his
wife, who passed away December 24, 1881, when in her sixty eighth year. Their eldest son, Robert, was born in Ireland
and their eldest daughter, Agnes, in Pennsylvania. The former is now deceased and the latter is the widow of William
A. Barton, a resident of Colorado. Five children came into the family after the arrival in this state, namely:
John; Thomas A., deceased; Catherine, who is the widow of Charles Goddard and resides in Leadville, Colorado; and
James and Mary, both of whom are now deceased.
John Bartholomew spent his boyhood and youth in Fairfield and attended the public schools, dividing his time between
the duties of the schoolroom, the pleasures of the playground and the tasks assigned to him by parental authority.
On attaining his majority he went to Colorado where he resided for a quarter of a century. In connection with his
brother Robert he took up timber claims in that state, furnishing timber for the mines and also drove ox teams
in the transportation business. As the years passed he prospered for he was diligent, determined and persevering,
and the result of his labors is manifest in the fact that following his return to Fairfield in 1880 he made investment
in property here. At that time lie took up his abode at his present place of residence, having a five acre tract
adjoining the old home. He owns altogether twelve dwellings in this city that he rents and his time is largely
spent in looking after his property and other investments. In addition to his real estate he holds considerable
stock in banks and factories of Fairfield and is now numbered among the most substantial residents of this city.
On the 13th of October, 1892, Mr. Bartholomew was married to Miss Louisa Thoma, a native of Atchison, Kansas, and
a daughter of David and Theresa Thoma, who are mentioned in connection with the sketch of her two brothers, under
the name of Thomas & Thoma, elsewhere in this volume. Mr. Bartholomew and his wife have many warm friends in
this district where they have so long resided. Both are faithful attendants of the First Presbyterian church, in
which he is an elder. He is prominent among the business men and is widely recognized as a man of keen discrimination
and sound judgment. Moreover he is public spirited and has been a potent factor in many movements which tend to
promote the material, intellectual and moral growth of the community.
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Jefferson County, IA
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