Biography of Charles K. Needham
Washington County, IA Biographies





Charles K. Needham, whose success is due to ready adaptability and thorough understanding of the business in which he embarked as a young tradesman, is now editor and proprietor of the Washington County Press, published in the city of Washington. His birth occurred in Oskaloosa; Iowa, January 13, 1868, his parents being William H. and Olive Ann (Knowlton) Needham both of whom were natives of Ohio. The paternal grandfather, David Needham, was a native of Pennsylvania and became an early settler of Guernsey county, Ohio. Subsequently he cast in his lot with the pioneer settlers of Oskaloosa, Iowa, and built the first hotel there, while with the work of general progress and improvement he was closely associated for many years. While in Ohio he at one time served as sheriff of Guernsey county. He lived to be eighty eight years of age, while his wife died at the age of fifty five years. They were the parents of seven or eight children, including William H. Needham, well known throughout Iowa as a prominent representative of journalism. He has been a printer and newspaper man for over a half century. Coming fro Ohio to Iowa in 1852 he located in Oskaloosa, where he lived for several years and published the Oskaloosa Herald. He was also postmaster there for seven years under the administration of President Grant. In 1878 he came to Sigourney, where he still makes his home and he and his sons now publish the Keokuk

County News at that place. He has also been postmaster there for the past ten years, giving a prompt and efficient administration, but whether in office or out of it he is always loyal to the best interests of the community at large, local progress and national advancement both being causes dear to his heart. At the time of the Civil war he gave substantial proof of his patriotism in active service at the front, becoming first lieutenant of Company D, Twenty second Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served for four and a half years, took part in the entire siege of Vicksburg and was the first man to plant the Union flag on the fort there. He likewise participated in the battle of Cedar Creek and in other important engagements which contributed to the final victory, which crowned the Union arms. Both he and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist church. In early manhood he wedded Olive Ann Knowlton, a daughter of Samuel Knowlton, a native of Maine, who lived for many years in Cincinnati. He devoted much of his life to farming and on leaving Ohio became one of the early settlers of Mahaska county, Iowa, where he owned an extensive tract of land of six hundred acres. He died in New Sharon, Iowa, at the age of seventy eight years while his first wife, Mrs. Julia (Hadley) Knowlton, the grandmother of our subject, passed away at the age of fifty five years. For his second wife he chose Mrs. Harriet Ellis. By the first marriage there were twelve children including Mrs. Olive A. Needham, who by her marriage became the mother of nine children, seven of whom are yet living, namely: Charles K.; John R., publisher of the Centerville Iowegian; Edna P., the wife of J. M. Beck, of Centerville, Iowa; Erma J., the wife of William Minteer, of Sigourney, Iowa; Sherman W., editor of the News of Sigourney; Anna Belle, and William H.; also residents of Sigourney.

Charles K. Needham remained in his native city to the age of ten years when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Sigourney, where they remained for twenty six years. He attended the public schools there until he became a high school student and was afterward a pupil in Penn College, a Quaker institution at Oskaloosa. When sixteen years of age he began learning the printer's trade and has followed it practically throughout his entire life. In July, 1906, he arrived in Washington and purchased the Washington County Press, the oldest paper of the county and the only one published in magazine form in the state. It is republican in politics and is a well edited journal devoted to the dissemination of local and general news and at all times championing those measures and movements which are calculated to promote the best interests of the city and of the county at large. He also conducts a profitable job printing business, and both departments are meeting with a gratifying patronage. He is also interested in the Sigourney News, Montezuma Republican and the Centerville Iowegian.

On the 15th of September, 1900, Mr. Needham was married to Miss Nell D. Laffer, a daughter of Henry and Georgia (Grist)" Laffer. Mrs. Needham was born on a farm near Sigourney and is a lady of culture and broad education, possessing as well good business qualities, and for the past seven years has served as court reporter in the sixth judicial district of Iowa.

Mr. Needham belongs to Webb Lodge, No. 28x, A. F. & A. M., of Sigourney; Joppa Chapter, No. 4o, R. A. M.; Bethlehem Commander, K. T. of Washington; and Kaaba Temple of the Mystic Shrine, at Davenport. He also holds membership with the Sigourney Lodge of Odd Fellows and with the encampment at Washington and with the Knights of Pythias at Washington. His business ability, enterprise and laudable ambition in the line of his chosen life have carried him into important relations with the journalistic interests of the state and he holds a high place in the regard of his fellow members of the newspaper craft.

From:
History of Washington County, Iowa
From the First White Settlement to 1908
Vol II
BY: Howard A. Burrell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1909


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