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