Jacob Rhodes Van Metre
Born: Sept. 27, 1824 - Bartholomew Co.,
Married: Aug. 11, 1844
Married: Mar. 27, 1855
CAPTAIN JACOB RHODES VAN METER is one of Iowa’s pioneers who for many years has been identified with the history of this State. The township and village in Dallas county were named in his honor and he is one of Iowa’s foremost men, a leader in business and agricultural interests. He was born in Bartholomew county, Indiana, September 27, 1824, and is a son of Joseph H. Van Meter, who was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, and in 1820 removed to Indiana, where he located on a tract of wild land. About 1 870 he came to Iowa and spent his last day’s in the home of his son Julius, where he died in 1887, at the age of ninety-five years and thirty days, his birth having occurred in 1792. His wife bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Grundy, and was a Southern lady. She died when our subject was only seven years of age, and of her family of five children the Captain is the eldest and the only survivor. The Van Meters are of Holland Dutch origin, and the name was originally spelled Van Matre.
On the old home farm J. R. Van Meter was reared, remaining with his parents until twenty years of age, when on the 11th of August, 1844, he wedded Mary A. Houser, a native of Indiana, born in 1825. She died in 1849. On the 27th of March, Mr. Van Meter led to the marriage altar Miss Mary Peabody, and they had seven children, of whom one son and three daughters are now living, namely : Ella, wife of S. B. Kenworthy, of Adel; Mary A., who married I. S. Hall and has three children; Carrie, wife of Cole Dack; and Henry C., who now operates the old home farm. He is married and has one daughter.
In 1847 the Captain removed to Kokomo, Indiana, and in connection with farming carried on a store. In the fall of 1850 he arrived in Dallas county, Iowa, locating first near De Soto, where he entered a section of land. Upon this tract he built a log cabin, 16x 16 feet, and developed a fine farm there, transforming the raw prairie into rich and highly cultivated fields. In 1851 he brought his family to his cabin home, but the following year the little dwelling burned down. Later Captain Van Meter sold 6oo acres of his land for $10 per acre and removed to Adel, where he engaged in lending money. Subsequently he spent a year in Kansas, and upon his return to Adel in connection with his brother, H. G. Van Meter, built a mill in 1860, which he operated until 1864, when he sold his interest and in the month of May organized a company for service in the late war, which was mustered in as Company C, Forty-sixth Iowa Infantry. The Governor commissioned him Captain and Mr. Van Meter continued in the service until the expiration of his term.
Upon his return home he formed a partnership with William Ellis and erected the Van Meter mill, of which he became sole proprietor two years later, continuing to successfully operate it until 1884. In a freshet it was washed away, causing a loss of about $35,000. Disappointment is the test of a mans character and Captain Van Meter stood the test. He at once went to work to retrieve his lost possessions, operating a mill in Adel for a time, after which he purchased his present farm of 454 acres. To this he has added until he now owns 320 acres in that place and another tract of 185 acres, which he rents.
Captain Van Meter cast his first presidential vote for Zachary Taylor and was a Whig and Free-soiler in early life. Strongly opposed to slavery, when the Republican party was formed to prevent its further extension, he joined its ranks, voted for John C. Fremont, and has since been one of its stalwart advocates, doing all in his power to promote its growth and insure its success. He has never sought office, preferring to devote his time and attention to his business interests. He and his wife are members of the Christian Church, and are active in all good work. Socially, he is connected with the Masonic fraternity of Adel, was the first Mason in the county and organized the lodge. He is also a member of the Grand Lodge.
Captain Van Meter ranks among the honored pioneers of the county, having for forty-three years been identified with the history of this locality and with its growth and up building. His cabin was the last on the present line of the Rock Island Railroad. He has seen the wild lands transformed into beautiful homes and farms, while churches and schools have been built, manufactories introduced and industries established. He has seen towns and villages spring up and has seen the State crossed and re-crossed by railroad and telegraph lines. In the work of advancement he has ever borne his part, and Dallas county numbers him among its most valued citizens. He possesses excellent business ability and entirely through his own efforts has worked his way upward from an humble position to one of wealth and affluence.
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