Biography of R. L. Mortland
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies





R. L. MORTLAND.
It has been said that there is no better criterion of a community than its newspapers, which are both makers and mirrors of public opinion. The progressive journal has much to do with shaping thought and action and the editor who closely studies the signs of the times may stand in a position of leadership in relation to many public affairs and projects. This R. L. Mortland has done in editing and publishing the Montezuma Democrat. Mr. Mortland is now in the seventy third year of his age but in spirit and interest seems yet in his prime. He was born in Butler county, Pennsylvania, December 1, 1838, a son of Robert Mortland, descended from Protestant-Irish ancestry. In his native state Robert Mortland was reared and throughout his life followed the occupation of farming. He wedded Margaret Cumberland, also a native of Butler county, Pennsylvania, and to them were born four children.

R. L. Mortland spent his youthful days under the parental roof and as opportunity offered attended the public schools, but spent much of his time in the work of the farm. He afterward engaged in wood chopping and in the manufacture of charcoal at Maple Furnace, where he remained for some time. He afterward devoted his attention to lumbering in the oil regions and to boating on the river, continuing in the east until 1864, when, believing that better opportunities might be obtained in the middle west, he made his way to Mercer county, Illinois. There his attention was devoted to farming and carpentering for four years and in the spring of 1868 he came to Poweshiek county, where he carried on farming for a year. At the end of that time he established his home in Montezuma and followed various pursuits for a time, but later became a contractor for bridges and buildings, giving his attention to that work from 1875 until 1889, during which period he built many bridges in Poweshiek and adjoining counties.

Then came a decided change in his life inasmuch as he put aside industrial interests to turn his attention to journalism. He purchased a half interest in the Democrat in 1889 and on the 1st of August of the same year became sole proprietor of the plant and paper. He conducted that paper until 1894 and in 1895 established the Poweshiek County Palladium, which he has since published with his son, R. A. Mortland as active editor. After a period of ten years R. L. Mortland resumed his active connection, with county work and has erected many wood and concrete bridges. Although he has passed the age of seventy two years he is yet a most active, energetic man and accomplishes today an amount of work from which many a younger man would shrink, thinking the burden too heavy to be borne.

In September, 1864, Mr. Mortland was united in marriage to Miss Ruth Ann Webber, who was born in Venango county, Pennsylvania, on the t6th of June, 1841, and there resided until she came west with her husband. Unto them were born seven children who reached years of maturity, while three died in infancy. The living are: Nettie; Mahala T.; Robert A.; James A., who is living in White Creek, New York, where he is following the profession of civil engineering, having been educated therefor in the state university and in the Chicago University; Inez, who is a graduate of the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia and for the past eight years has been librarian at the Louisiana State University; Mazie; and Ruth. One of the sons, James A., was a soldier in the Spanish-American war, serving with the Third Army Corps.

In his political views R. L. Mortland has been a lifelong democrat and has taken an active and helpful interest in the party work. He stands at all times for that which is progressive in citizenship and in every relation of life he has been found reliable and trustworthy.

From:
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911


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