CHARLES H. ONTHANK.
Among the worthy citizens of Poweshiek county who have passed to their reward, leaving behind them memories of
useful labors and kindly acts that cannot be forgotten by the present generation, should be named Charles H. Onthank.
He was born in New York, June 13, 1860, and departed this life December 21, 1908, being then in his forty eighth
year. His parents were George H. and Isabella (Woods) Onthank, both of whom were natives of New York state. At
the time of the Civil war the father enlisted in an Illinois regiment and served as a musician until the close
of the Rebellion. He acquitted himself so creditably that he was placed in charge of a hospital in Tennessee after
the war was over and having discharged this duty came to Iowa with his family in 1869 and for, several years worked
at the blacksmith's trade at Grinnell. Later he became connected with the Iowa Central Railroad at Grinnell as
baggage agent and was also employed in the postoffice at Grinnell. He died June 6, 1908, but his wife is still
living at Grinnell. Politically he gave his support to the republican party and fraternally was a valued member
of the Masonic order and the Grand Army of the Republic. In religious faith he adhered to the Baptist church in
which he took a great interest, serving for a number of years as deacon. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs.
Onthank: Charles H.; and Martha, the wife of George L. Brown, of Grinnell.
Charles H. Onthank came to Grinnell with his father at the age of ten years and received his early education in
the public schools. After reaching manhood he went to South Dakota took up government land, but after spending
three years in that state he returned to Grinnell and worked in the freight house of the Iowa Central Railroad
Company. About 1891 he purchased fifty five acres of land in Grinnell township, later acquiring fifty acres additional.
After cultivating his farm for a while he sold it and purchased two hundred acres in Washington township, which
he improved, greatly adding to its value. This place he also sold and in December, 1899, bought a farm of two hundred
and thirty acres, which is still in possession of the family. He made a specialty of raising hogs and cattle for
the market and became known as one of the prosperous and progressive men of the community.
On the 21st of August, 1889, Mr. Onthank was married to Miss Viola Robinson, who was born July 7, 1870, in McDonough
county, Illinois, and is a daughter of Robert and Mary Jane (Holden) Robinson. The father was born near Louisville,
Kentucky, October 8, 1841, and the mother near Cincinnati, Ohio, July to, 1848. He engaged in farming in Kentucky
and later in McDonough county, Illinois. In the fall of 1872 he came with his family to Poweshiek county and purchased
a farm of eighty acres in Grinnell township. He sold his farm in 1893 and retired with his wife to Grinnell, where
he passed away May 30, 1901. His wife died August 2, 1908. They were both consistent members of the Baptist church.
In politics he was a supporter of the republican party and being an earnest friend of education served very acceptably
as a member of the school board in Grinnell township. Eight children constituted the family of Mr. and Mrs. Onthank:
Florence, who was born October 29, 1891, and is now the wife of William Van Wyk, of Lynnville, Iowa; Lillian M.,
born July 20, 1893, who married Charles P. Kimball and is now living on the old homestead; Charles H. R., born
May 26, 1895; Grace Isabelle, born April 1, x897; Alma Viola, born February 11, 1899; Edward W., born June 26,
1901; Paul L., born June 17, 1903; and George W., born October 26, 1906.
Mr. Onthank was a firm believer in the Christian religion and a sincere member of the Baptist church, as is his
widow. In politics he gave his support to the republican party and served for two terms as school director. Fraternally
he was identified with the Odd Fellows and he had many friends in the order and also in Poweshiek county. Mrs.
Onthank continues to reside on the old homestead and receives from her children and from all who know her the love
and respect which is due to unquestioned worth.
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Poweshiek County, IA
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