Burr Phelps has for a number of years performed a public service of no little value to the community as manager
of the annual Chautauqua held in Knoxville and many other movements which make for civic welfare have benefited
by his advice and labor. He is traveling salesman for the J. Miller Shoe Company of Racine, Wisconsin, and covers
a territory including part of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Mr. Phelps was born in Monroe county, this state, on the 12th of October, 1850, a son of E. H. and Martha (Dow)
Phelps, both natives of Indiana, where their marriage occurred. The paternal grandfather was born in New York.
E. H. Phelps brought his family to Iowa in 1845 and located in Appanoose county. He was a miller by trade and was
one of the first millers in that county. In 1850 he removed to Monroe county and erected a mill upon the site where
the town of Hiteman now stands. Subsequently he came to Marion county, living first at Columbia and later at Attica,
and he owned a mill in both places. He passed away in Attica in 1893 and was survived by his widow until 1898.
They were both members of the Baptist church and he belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Burr Phelps was their youngest child and he and three brothers survive. He attended the academy at Knoxville after
completing a public school course and as a youth also farmed and assisted his father in the mill. In 1880 he entered
the employ of the Cushing & Squire Company of Knoxville and remained with them until Mr. Cushing went into
the wholesale business, becoming a member of the Manning Cushing Company of Ottumwa, Iowa. In 1883 Mr. Phelps became
traveling salesman for that concern and so continued until 1888, when he began to represent the J. Miller Shoe
Company, of Racine, Wisconsin, manufacturers of boots and shoes, for whom he has traveled ever since. He is an
authority upon his line of goods, is also an expert salesman and is one of the most valued men in the employ of
Mr. Phelps was married in 1883 to Miss Lola Cunningham, a daughter of A. C. and Martha (Phillips) Cunningham. Her
father was a native of Virginia and came to Knoxville in pioneer times, entering land upon the present site of
the city. He was one of the first postmasters of Knoxville and in his early life was a physician. For a number
of years he was engaged in the coals business and became a well to do citizen of the town. He has passed away.
To Mr. and Mrs. Phelps were born six children: Dow, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri; Alice, Dean and Helen,
all at home; and Phillip and Cam, who died in childhood.
Mr. Phelps has belonged to the Methodist church since 1889 and contributes generously to its support. In his political
views he is a republican and is stanch in his support of the principles of that party. Fraternally he belongs to
Oriental Lodge, No. 61, A. F. & A. M., of which he has been a member since 1880, and to the Eastern Star. His
wife is also a member of the latter organization. Although much of his time is spent upon the road he has always
considered Knoxville his home and has given much time and effort to the advancement of its welfare. He was one
of the originators of the Knoxville Chautauqua, which was established in 1910, and has had charge of the booking
of the program and the making of arrangements ever since. The success of the Chautauqua is due more largely to
him than to any other one individual in the city and he takes a commendable pride in this achievement. His friends
are many and they hold him in warm regard because of his generosity and kindness of heart and also because of his
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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