Daniel Hunt was one of the well known pioneer settlers of Marion county and took a deep and helpful interest
in the work of general improvement and development. He was born in New Jersey, near Jersey City, on the sth of
May, 1817, and had therefore passed the eighty third milestone on life's journey when he was called to his final
rest December 24, 1900, his death occurring in Pleasantville, this county, where he had resided for four or five
years after retiring from active business life.
Mr. Hunt was reared and educated in New Jersey and came to Iowa in 1840, making his way to Van Buren county, where
he married Rachel Grooms. To them was born one son, John Hunt, who reached mature years but was killed while serving
in the Civil war. The wife and mother passed away in the later '40s and in 1849 Daniel Hunt made the overland trip
to California with ox teams, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast. He spent three years there
and accumulated a sum of money in mining and in other lines of business. On the expiration of that period he returned
to Marion county, where he invested his capital, buying considerable land. He had previously located on a small
farm, on which he built a cabin, but sold this property before he went to California. Upon his return he took up
his abode in a log cabin but afterward built a comfortable modern residence near Swan and occupied it for about
forty years. He prospered in his undertakings and became one of the most extensive landowners of the county, having
at one time thirteen hundred acres. He was the pioneer breeder of thoroughbred Norman horses in this county or
vicinity. He brought the first thoroughbreds here and he continued to engage in raising blooded stock until almost
the time of his retirement from active business about 1896. He was very successful and became widely known through
his activities as a farmer and stock dealer. He was also a man of good business ability, seeing clearly the possibilities
of a situation and carrying forward to successful completion whatever he undertook. Over thirty five years ago,
or about 1878, he owned land adjoining the Des Moines river in Swan township, at a point known as "the washout."
Entirely at his own expense he made three attempts and was finally successful in constructing a permanent levee
extending some three hundred yards at this point, a part of which was about ten feet high. Although the feasibility
of his plan was more or less discredited then, time has proved the immense practical value of this work.
Following his return from California Mr. Hunt was married on the 24th of January, 1854, to Miss Caroline Vanderford,
who was born in Athens, Ohio, May 7, 1831, a daughter of Eli and Barbara (Swaim) Vanderford, who were farming people
and were residents of Athens county, where they lived until 1851. They then drove overland to Iowa, stopping first
in Washington county, where they remained for eighteen months. At the end of that time they came to Swan township,
Marion county, and the parents spent their remaining days here, Mrs. Vanderford departing this life in 1852, while
Mr. Vanderford's death occurred in 1870, when he was sixty six years of age. The Vanderfords were an old southern
family, the grandfather, William Vanderford, removing from North Carolina to Ohio. The Swaim family came from Kentucky.
In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Vanderford were five daughters and one son. There was also a half brother and
of this family only one is now living, Zerry Vanderford, who makes his home at Indianola, Iowa. To the marriage
of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hunt seven children were born, all of whom are yet living: Emerson, of whom mention is made
elsewhere in this volume; Mrs. Isabel Richards, of Iola, Kansas; Leroy, a hardware and lumber merchant of Swan;
Mrs. Anna F. Smith, also living in Swan; Mrs. Miranda Stewart, of La Junta, Colorado; W. R., a hardware merchant
of Swan; and Mrs. Esta. McIntyre, of Warren county, Iowa, who formerly owned the home place near Swan, but has
recently sold it and purchased another farm.
For a long period Daniel Hunt figured prominently as a business man of Marion county. In early manhood he had fifteen
hundred dollars, which he invested in young cattle at eight dollars per head. On these he made money and he ultimately
fed from one to three carloads of cattle per year, continuing the business until he began the breeding of Percheron
horses. In all of his business affairs he was progressive, determined and energetic and he would allow no obstacle
or difficulty to bar his path if it could be overcome by persistent and honorable effort. In his fraternal connections
he was a Mason and was always true and loyal to the teachings of the craft after he became identified therewith.
His was indeed a well spent life. At an early age he was left an orphan, had but limited educational opportunities
and no particular advantages in other directions. He was both the architect and builder of his own fortunes and
he builded wisely and well, winning success and at the same time shaping his character in such a manner that respect
and confidence were given him in unstinted measure.
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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