Biography of Seth Way
Marion County, IA Biographies





SETH WAY.
The student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the records of Marion county without recognizing the fact that the name of Way figures prominently in connection with the development and substantial progress of the district, especially along agricultural lines. It was Joshua Way, father of Seth Way, who with two others, at midnight on the 1st of May, 1843, staked off the first claims entered in this county, and from that time to the present he and others of the family have borne an active part in advancing the material, political and social interests of the district. He was born in Wayne county, Indiana, in 1822, a son of Seth Way, who in the year 1837 came to Iowa with his family and settled at Keosauqua. In the same year Joshua Way visited Marion county and six years later, on the 1st of May, 1843, he and two others staked off their claims by lantern light, their quarter sections being the first ones entered from the government in this county. He immediately took up his residence upon his claim and continued to reside there until his death. The others who staked off claims the same night were Horace Lyman and Colonel Stanford Dowd, while Mr. Jones and Mr. Durham arrived but a short time afterward. The men built cabins and those who were married went to Keosauqua on foot to bring their families to their new homes, while Mr. Way, who was then a young man of twenty one years and single, took care of the claims until the others returned.

It was in 1854 that Joshua Way was united in marriage to Miss Ruth Ridlen, a native of Shelby county, Indiana, and a daughter of Timothy and Sarah Ridlen, who were likewise natives of the Hoosier state, whence they came to Marion county in 1849, the father purchasing government land not far from the home of Mr. Way. Seven children were born of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Way: Seth; Charles Owen, who died in 1902; Walter, who is a farmer and resides in Bussey, Iowa; William, who follows farming in this county; Parker, who owns and cultivates a tract of land near Bussey; and Mary and Sarah, who died in childhood. The father passed away on the 19th of May, 1895, and the mother's death occurred in September, 1901.

In the demise of Joshua Way the county was deprived of a representative farmer and good citizen, while his close friends and relatives suffered an irreparable loss in his passing. As one of the earliest white settlers in this part of the state he experienced the privations that must always characterize real pioneer life, but the consciousness that he was assisting in the development of a splendid section of country more than compensated for the hardships endured. Moreover, in the improvement of his opportunities he won a very substantial and gratifying measure of success and at the time of his death was the owner of twenty five hundred acres of valuable land, all in Marion and Mahaska counties. He was regarded as one of the best business men in his section of the state and his prosperity was attributable entirely to his own labors and sound judgment. His educational opportunities were very limited and without capital he came to Marion county in early manhood, working his way steadily upward until he was numbered among the most prosperous and highly esteemed citizens. He was widely known for his kindly interest in young men who were desirous of gaining a start in the business world. He never hesitated to loan wagons or other farm equipments and was also most generous in his financial assistance. He believed in the goodness and honor of those with whom he had business dealings and seldom, if ever, was his confidence betrayed, for the trust which he displayed awakened the better nature of many with whom he came in contact. His hand was constantly outreaching to assist another. 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, as well as by what he acquired along material lines, Joshua Way was a most successful man. His memory is cherished by all who knew him and his example is indeed one worthy of emulation.

His eldest son, Seth Way, was born in 1856, on the old homestead farm which his father had entered from the government, and at the usual age he became a public school pupil. His training in the work of the fields began early and as his strength increased he aided more and more in the operation of the farm until, while still a youth in years, he was doing all the work that fell to the lot of one of adult age upon a farm in the middle west. After attaining man's estate he continued to follow agricultural pursuits for a number of years and he brought his fields to a high state of cultivation and added thereto all modern equipments and accessories. In 1888 he rented his land and removed to Knoxville, where the following year he entered into partnership with C. K. Davis in forming the firm of Davis & Way, dealers in grain, hay, coal, wood and lumber. This firm was very successful during this period and in 1910, at the death of Mr. Davis, the firm became Seth Way & Company and so continues to the present time. They ceased to deal in lumber some years ago and confine their attention to hay, coal and wood. The business has grown along substantial lines and is today one of the important concerns of the kind in the county, Mr. Way giving his entire attention thereto. He likewise has extensive agricultural interests, owning in Liberty township nine hundred and forty seven acres, which he operates in connection with his son. He raises high grade stock of all kinds and is accounted one of the most successful farmers of Marion county. His enterprising methods have been the source of the growth and development of his business and at every point in his career he seems to have realized the possibility for successful accomplishment at that point.

Mr. Way was united in marriage in 1877 to Miss Arminta Johnson, of this county, a daughter of Joseph and Nancy (Beal) Johnson, who came to Marion county from Ohio in 1868. Her father devoted his life to farming. To Mr. and Mrs. Way have been born two children: Charles J., who is operating his father's farm; and Nora, the wife of A. J. Vandermeulen, an agriculturist. Mr. Way is a republican in his political allegiance and fraternally is a member of the subordinate lodge and encampment of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Red Men. Both he and his wife hold membership in the Rebekahs. They fully merit the general esteem with which they are regarded by their fellowmen. Capability has brought Mr. Way to the front and through the wise utilization of the opportunities which have been his he has gained a place among the representative business men and foremost citizens of Knoxville.

From:
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915


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