Julius Jackson Van Meter

JULIUS JACKSON VAN METER, deceased. —As the traveler by rail approaches the town of De Soto, Iowa, the first place that attracts his attention is a magnificent rural home located on an elevation overlooking the town and surrounding country; and as the train speeds on, leaving De Soto behind, this residence is the last object to be seen. Here was the home of the late J. J. Van Meter, who was for nearly thirty years a prominent citizen of Dallas County. Few men in this vicinity were better known than he, and none were held in higher esteem.

Julius Jackson Van Meter was a native of Indiana, born October 12, 1829. At the age of twenty-two years he rented a farm in his native county, and on the 7th of August of that same year, 1851, he was united in marriage to Miss Amanda Katherine Pence, who was of German descent and, like himself, a native of Indiana. On this farm they lived one year. The next year Mr. Van Meter rented of his father-in-law a farm near Columbus, Indiana, where he continued to reside until 1860, at which time he moved to Columbus and started a hominy mill. This mill be ran from 1860 to 1865 and did a prosperous business, a large amount of his product being sold to the Government for the soldiers. At the close of the war he sold his mill and all his interests in Columbus and moved to Iowa, locating in Dallas County. That was in 1865. Here he bought a half interest in the flour mill of his brother, H. G. Van Meter, which mill was at that time the only one in the State west of Des Moines. In 1868 they purchased a large tract of land in partnership, and some years later J. J. exchanged his interest in the mill for his brother’s share in the land, and on acquiring title to the whole of the tract made permanent settlement on it. This now magnificent farm comprises 1,080 acres, is adjacent to the town of De Soto, and is occupied by Mrs. Van Meter and her two sons, Mr. Van Meter having passed to his home above July 22, 1894.

Mr. Van Meter was a man of large stature and was exceptionally fine looking, and in his make-up were those sterling qualities which distinguish the gentleman at any time or place. His integrity was of the strictest and staunchest kind and was never questioned for a minute. He was a friend to the poor, but in his giving he was quiet and never boasted, and few even of his most intimate friends knew to what extent his charity was annually bestowed. Devoted to his wife and children, he found his chief pleasure in their society. But he was more than an honorable and upright citizen, one who loved his family and was generous in his gifts to the poor: he was a Christian. He took the Bible for his guide and he lived up to its principles as well as he could. Indeed, few ever followed the "Golden Rule” more closely than he. For five years he was a Deacon and for fifteen years an Elder in the Christian Church. While he left to his family a fine estate and a most beautiful home, the memory of his Christian character and untarnished life is an heritage to be treasured far above riches.

As above stated, Mrs. Van Meter and her sons reside at the old home place. The elder son, Edgar Haycroft Van Meter, was born September 22, 1852  and the younger, Alfonso, more familiarly known as “Fon,” November 17, 1856. The latter has charge of the whole estate, gives his chief attention to stock raising, and is carrying on the business much in the same way as did his honored father. In their political view’s both gentlemen, like their father, are Republicans and are enthusiastic in their support of the party, but, like him also, do not aspire to official preferment. Reared with the best of home influence and religious and educational advantages, they are fitted to occupy, as they do, prominent positions among the leading men of the community.

“Fon” Van Meter was married January 1,  1882, to Miss Jennie Devine, who was born in Wisconsin and reared in Iowa. They have three children, viz.: Fletcher Jackson, born September 26, 1883; Doris May, June 24, 1885; and Julius Neil, November 15, 1887.

From: A Memorial and Biographical Record of Iowa Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1896. Page 274, 275.


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