CHARLES OWEN WAY.
No name is more highly honored and no record more worthy of commendation than that of Charles Owen Way, who for
many years made his homed in Marion county, his life being crowned with success and at the same time fraught with
good deeds to others. He passed away December 31, 1902, and his memory is cherished by all who knew him. He made
his home near Bussey and was one of the largest landowners and stock raisers of his section of the state, his holdings
embracing twelve hundred acres. His success came to him as the result of unfaltering energy, keen sagacity and
sound business judgment, resulting in judicious investment and the wise management of his affairs.
Mr. Way was one of Iowa's native sons, his birth having occurred in Mahaska county, near the Marion county line,
in June, 1858, his parents being Joshua and Ruth (Ridlen) Way, the former a native of Wayne county, Indiana, and
the latter of Shelby county, that state. The father was a son of Seth Way, who in 1839 came to Iowa with his family
and settled in Keosauqua. In the same year Joshua Way took up his abode in Marion county, becoming one of its early
settlers, and in 1843 he and two others staked off their claims by lantern light, theirs being the first claims
entered within the present borders of the county. Not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made upon the
property but with characteristic energy Joshua Way began to break the sod and develop the farm, his labors soon
bringing about a marked transformation in the appearance of his land, which in the course of a few years was yielding
abundant harvests. In the year 1854 he married Miss Ruth Ridlen, a daughter of Timothy and Sarah Ridlen, who came
to Marion county in 1849. To Mr. and Mrs. Way were born seven children: Seth, of Knoxville, who is mentioned elsewhere
in this volume; Charles Owen, of this review; Walter, a farmer living at Bussey, Iowa; William, also a farmer of
this county; Parker, who follows farming in Mahaska county; and two daughters who died in childhood.
Charles O. Way spent his youthful days under the parental roof and acquired his education in the district and public
schools of the county. He was married in 1879, when a young man of twenty one years, after which he settled in
Marion county, making his home here until his death, or for a period of twenty three years. He always devoted his
active life to farming and was notably successful, becoming one of the best known agriculturists of Marion county.
He readily recognized the opportunities for judicious investment and by adding to his holdings from time to time
became the owner of about twelve hundred acres, still in the possession of his widow. His farm work was conducted
along progressive lines. He studied the soil and its possibilities, practiced the rotation of crops and employed
modern methods in the development of his fields, which in the course of years brought to him substantial profits.
He made excellent improvements upon his land and through the erection of substantial buildings afforded ample shelter
for grain and stock. In addition to cultivating the cereals best adapted to climatic conditions he also engaged
quite extensively in stock raising and did considerable to improve the grade of stock handled in this section of
In 1879 Mr. Way married Miss Mary L. Doughtman, who was born in Iowa, a daughter of E. G. and Hannah M. (Hughes)
Doughtman, who settled near Bellefontaine, Iowa, nearly sixty years ago. Her father came to this state from Indiana
and was married in this county. He lived for about three years at Knoxville and passed away a quarter of a century
ago. He was a democrat and quite active in local affairs, holding several offices. He was also a Mason. To Mr.
and Mrs. Way was born a son, Merle E., who is attending the State Agricultural College at Ames in preparation for
the scientific operation of the land which he and his mother own. He is a thirty second degree Mason and well known
in local fraternal circles. A daughter died about twenty five years ago, when nine years old. Mrs. Way removed
to Knoxville in 1903 and purchased the fine residence at No. 1304 Montgomery street which is now her home. She
is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She has resided in this county for more than a third of a century
and has witnessed much of its development and progress.
Mr. Way was a prominent factor in the agricultural life of the county and was not only highly respected by the
general public but held in warm regard by many close personal friends. Few if any of the citizens of Marion county
have been held in higher esteem. He possessed a genial, joyous nature, always looked upon the bright side of things,
and made friends wherever he went. He possessed a wonderful personality that attracted to him all with whom he
came in contact. While he became a wealthy man he never boasted of his worldly goods and was charitable to a fault.
No worthy person ever appealed to him for aid in vain and he had a hand constantly outreaching to help the poor
and needy. His many acts of kindness extended into the broad field of common brotherhood and his sympathies into
an ever widening circle. He was a man honored and loved by all. Few tributes will sink deeper into the human heart
than one offered by an untutored farmer, a tenant on one of Mr. Way's farms for more than seven years, who, when
he heard of the death of his friend and benefactor said: "The Almighty made few men equal to Owen Way."
In manner he was quiet and unassuming and when not occupied with business devoted the greater part of his time
to his family. He enjoyed the social gatherings of his friends and was happy in extending the hospitality of his
home to them. Mr. Way was prominent in Masonic circles, being a member of the blue lodge at Tracy, the chapter
at Knoxville, the commandery at Oskaloosa and the Mystic Shrine at Des Moines. He leaves a name and reputation
that are above reproach, for in all of his manifold business activities he was never known to take advantage of
the necessities of another but conducted his business along strictly honorable lines and won the high respect of
all with whom he came in contact. He judged men not by wealth but by worth, and true worth could ever win his regard.
The poor did not prize more highly his benefactions than did his associates his cheery smile and kindly greeting.
His was one of those natures that shed around them much of the sunshine of life. A modern philosopher has said:
"Not the good that comes to us but the good that comes to the world through us is the measure of our success,"
and judged by this standard alone Charles Owen Way was a most successful 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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