For a long period Joshua Jenkins had the distinction of being the last surviving veteran of the Mexican war living
in Marion county. Moreover, when a nonagenarian he was still an active factor in the world's work, assisting in
the labors of the fields upon his home farm and accomplishing tasks which many a man of less resolute spirit and
of more limited industry would have failed to accomplish. He retained his physical powers in large measure and
seemed a man whose age was twenty years less. In spirit and interests he was yet in his prime when he had passed
the ninetieth milestone on life's journey.
Mr. Jenkins was a native of Monongalia county, Virginia, now West Virginia, born December 12, 1822, and when a
youth of fourteen years he accompanied his parents on their removal westward to Indiana, where the family home
was established in 1836. He shared with the family in all of the hardships, privations and incidents of pioneer
life. He was a young lad when his father died and he became of the greatest assistance to his mother in rearing
the family and providing for their support. After a residence of ten years in Indiana he responded to the country's
call for troops, for the United States was at that time engaged in war with Mexico. He took part in the battle
of Buena Vista and a number of lesser engagements and at the close of the war received an honorable discharge and
was also given a land warrant in recognition of his services. This entitled him to secure one hundred and sixty
acres of any unoccupied government land district and with the money he had saved from his pay as a soldier he bought
another land warrant. Coming to Iowa, he located his two claims on the 16th of May, 1848, thus becoming the owner
of three hundred and twenty acres on English creek, in Marion county, two and one half miles south of the little
frontier village of Knoxville, which at that time contained but three stores, a blacksmith shop and seventeen log
After locating his claim Mr. Jenkins returned to Indiana and there made further arrangements for having a home
of his own by his marriage on the 28th of December, 1848, to Miss Cerene Elder. Early in the following year they
started for the Marion county farm, arriving in this county in May. Mr. Jenkins at once began building a little
log cabin which they occupied for five years. In 1855 he erected a more modern residence, which continued to be
his home throughout his remaining days. As the years passed on eleven children were added to the family circle,
of whom two died in infancy, while three passed away after reaching adult age and left families. Mrs. Jenkins'
death occurred on the 7th of November, 1882, and a daughter and five sons survive the father. These are: Mrs. J.
B. Clark, of Knoxville township; Thomas J., of Holliday, Missouri; Stephen, also of Knoxville township; William,
living in the city of Knoxville; Jarrett, whose home is north of Knoxville; and Charles, who for more than twenty
years prior to his father's death managed the farm. There were also fifteen grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren
and three great great grandchildren at the time of Mr. Jenkins' death.
From the time that he brought his bride to Iowa Mr. Jenkins continuously resided upon his farm in this county,
remaining thereon for sixty five years and occupying the same bedroom for fifty nine years. He never had a mortgage
upon his farm. He won his success by honorable, straightforward methods and was never known to take advantage of
the necessities of a fellowman in any business transaction. He worked hard, carefully managed the cultivation of
his fields and even up to the time that he was ninety years of age it was no unusual thing to see him planting
his crops, felling trees, sawing logs or caring for his stock. He raised large numbers of cattle, sheep and hogs
and from the sale of his stock derived a gratifying annual income.
Mr. Jenkins never belonged to any church yet gave generously to the support of the cause of religion and in his
life ever endeavored to follow the Golden Rule. He held friendship inviolable and was always loyal to those to
whom he gave his regard. He was a good neighbor, an upright, honorable man, and his death was deeply regretted
by many friends. As the day with its morning of hope and promise, its noontide of activity, its evening of completed
and successful effort, ending in the grateful rest and quiet of the night, so was the life of this man.
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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