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William M. Byerly
Born 31 March 1854


Some men are personally popular enough to rise above party lines and ties and to carry all before them. They possess the characteristics needed in public men and these are recognized and appreciated by those in whose hands lies the voting privilege. The Hon. William M. Byerly of Jackson township, present member of the lower house of the general assembly from his district, is a man whose popularity is remarkable and whose public life is without blemish. He was born in this township, March 31, 1854 and belongs to one of the best known families of Jones county, being a son of the pioneers Michael and Elizabeth (Jefferies) Byerly.
Michael Byerly was born in Fairfield county, Ohio, July 10, 1818, while his wife was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, May 6, 1815, but she was taken to Fairfield county by her parents and was there married November 1, 1940. Six years later they came to Jones county, Iowa, locating in Jackson township, which ever afterward was their home. The father died here July 10, 1896, and the mother passed away December 22, 1900. Michael Byerly entered the land now owned by his son William M., fifty-six acres being in timber and forty in prairie. He also bought other claims until he owned one hundred and sixty-six acres. This land has never been out of the family or been incumbered in any way. In politics he was a strong democrat and held various township offices. He was also active in religious work and was one of the founders of the Antioch Christian church as well as one of the trustees. He and his wife had the following family: Alvin R., who lives at Freedonia, Kansas; Milton J. and John W. who live in Jackson township; Malinda, who married R. B. Johnson, of Jackson township; William M., of this review; Elizabeth, who died at the age of eighteen years; and three children who died in infancy. The eldest, Alvin R. enlisted in 1862 in Company K, Sixth Iowa Cavalry and served three years in the Civil war, or until 1865.
William M. Byerly has spent his live in Jones county with the exception of three years from 1880 to 1883, when he was in Barton county, Kansas. He was educated in the common schools of Jackson township and at Lennox College, Hopkinton, Iowa. Following this he taught school twelve terms during the winter in the country. During the summer months he farmed and eventually became the owner of five hundred acres in three farms adjoining each other. For some years he has made a specialty of feeding Duroc Jersey hogs, having three hundred and fifty head. He also feeds horses and about three carloads of steers annually, and he milks about twenty-five cows selling his product to the creamery. This farm, for it is conducted as one, is a thoroughly modern one and Mr. Byerly prides himself upon his superb equipment and methods. In addition to other interests, he is a stockholder and has been director from its organization of the Miles & Waters Savings Bank of Anamosa. He is also a director of the Anamosa District Fair Association.
One of the strongest democrats in the county, he has held many of the township offices and was assessor for twelve years and a school director for eighteen years. In 1906 he was elected a member of the board of supervisors by a majority of six hundred and nineteen and was serving as chairman of the board when elected to the legislature in the fall of 1908, receiving at that time a majority of one hundred and thirty-six in a county normally republican by a thousand majority. Mr. Byerly is a member of the democratic county central committee and has often been sent as delegate to state conventions. His work in the house was marked by a broad-gauged policy, which, while defending and protecting the interests of his people, did not swerve from the straight path of moral rectitude. He was reared in the Christian church but is not a member of any religious denomination.
On March 17, 1878, occurred the marriage of Mr. Byerly and Eliza Waggoner. She was born in Jackson township, December 22, 1857, a daughter of Barnhart and Barbara (Emert) Waggoner, the former born in Alsace, Germany, (then a part of France) August 26, 1803, and the latter in Somerset county, Pennsylvania. the mother's death occurred in March, 1859, when she was but thirty-eight. Barnhart Waggoner came from his native land to New York City February 23, 1827, and to Ohio in 1833. There he was married in 1840 and in 1852 he came to Jones county, where he lived until his death, which occurred February 6, 1898. By his first marriage he had eight children that grew to maturity, four boys and four girls, and one son by a second marriage.
Mr. and Mrs. Byerly have had eleven children as follows: Claud, who is in the employ of the Illinois Central railroad at Waterloo; Jay, who is at home; Floy, who is the wife of Rev. J. C. Tourtellott, a Presbyterian preacher of Fairbury, Nebraska; Blanche, who married Roy Russell of Jackson township; Jennie, who died at the age of ten years; and Guy, Grace, Lee, Beulah, Lillian and Mildred, who are at home.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p 176.

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Last updated on Tuesday, 30-Jul-2013 17:05:35 MST