from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
John D. Byers, who throughout the greater period of his business career has been identified with building operations in Oskaloosa, where he now makes his home, was born in Greenville, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, April 1, 1850. His father, James M. Byers, went with his family to Washington, Iowa, in 1852 and there remained for a year, after which he came to Oskaloasa in 1853. He was a mason and contractor,who built some of the largest buildings in Oskaloosa. including the old city hall and the old jail. He also built the old Presbyterian church, now the Baptist church, which was erected in 1854. He had the contract for the erection of the Benjamin Roop residence, now a famous landmark in Oskaloosa, and he did considerable work all over the county for the farmers and also built the distillery at Beacon. His fidelity to the terms of a contract and the excellent workmanship executed under his direction secured him a liberal patronage. He served as county coroner for several years and was a captain of the Home Guards during the Civil war, doing much to suppress local violence in those stormy days. He died July 24, 1898, and thus the county lost one of its valtied and representative pioneer residents. His widow, who bore the maiden name of Hannah E. McVicker, is still living In Oskaloosa. The sons and daughters of the family are as follows: S. H. Marshall Byers, who for twenty years was United States consul in Switzerland and is now living in Des Moines, is the author of "Sherman's March to the Sea," "Iowa in War Times," "Twenty Years in Europe," "Happy Isles" and other works. James W. Byers is a veteran of the Civil war. Dr. Henry V. Byers is living in Newton, Iowa. Charles H. is a civil engineer near Seattle, Washington, who for twelve years has been in the employe of the Gould Railroad system. Frank S. died in infancy. Sarah B. became the wife of J. B. Adlon, of Oskaloosa, and died in the later '70s. Anna is the wife of Samuel Moreland, of White Rock, Kansas, and died in the fall of 1905. Lydia J. is the wife of John Moore, of Jefferson township, this county. Clara E. is the wife of D. B. Lyon, a real-estate dealer of Los Angeles, California. Arminta B. is the wife of Richard Hull, of Garfield township. Mary E. died in childhood. Alice M. died in infancy. Kate R., who was a professor of scientific cooking, died in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1904. John D. Byers, whose name introduces this record, was educated in the district schools and also pursued a course of study in the commercial department of Oskaloasa College under Professor Givens. He left school when twenty-five years of age and began contracting and building on his own account. He has followed building operations since 1869, in which year he began to learn the trade and he has worked on various public buildings in the county seat. He was a superintendent of the construction of the Central Methodist Episcopal church and also the Carnegie library and many other important buildings are evidences of his skill and ability. His business has reached extensive and profitable proportions and his labors have been an element in the improvement and adornment of the city. Mr. Byers was married on Christmas day of 1878 to Miss Margaret S. Robertson, a daughter of David and Fannie Robertson, of Oskaloosa. Their children are Ernest R., Harry, Edwin, John David, Margaret and Francis Mason. The last named died in infancy and the eldest son is now in Los Angeles, California. The mother departed this life October 4, 1905, and the funeral services were held in the Presbyterian church. Mr. Byers was formerly an Odd Fellow. In politics he is a republican and for twenty-seven years he has been an elder in the First Presbyterian church, of which he is a most devoted and faithful member. His labors in behalf of the church have been of an effective and beneficial nature and his motives have ever been such as would bear close investigation and scrutiny, for he has based his business principles and actions upon the rules which govern strict and unswerving integrity and industry.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy