from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
Rev. Jay Wilbur Somerville, pastor of the Central Methodist Episcopal church in Oskaloosa, was born in Johnsburg, Warren county, New York, October 12, 1860. He is descended from Irish ancestry, the family having been founded in America by Samuel Somerville, the grandfather, who left Ireland at the time of the rebellion of 1793 and came to the United States, locating in Warren county, New York, where he purchased a tract of land. Upon that farm he continued to make his home for seventy-eight years and there died in his one-hundredth year. It was upon that same farm that Samuel Somerville, Jr., father of Rev. J. W. Somerville, was born, and there he, too, passed away after reaching the very venerable age of eighty-six years, his entire life being spent upon the old home property. Both he and his father were farming people and the former was a squire or country lawyer. The farm is still in possession of the Somerville family. Both the Somerville and the Noble families trace their ancestry back to the time of William the Conqueror, at which time their ancestors removed from Normandy to the north of Ireland. Samuel Somerville, Jr., was a man of affairs and his opinions carried weight in matters of local importance. In politics he was a whig and later a republican. He was called to fill various county offices and he also represented his district in the general assembly of New York, being the first man sent to the state legislature by the republican party. This was in 1857. The Somervilles were of the Methodist faith and the wife of the first Samuel Somerville was Sally Noble, who was converted under the teachings of John Wesley. Her father, David Noble, was a local preacher in America, being contemporary with Philip Embry. the first local Methodist minister in the United States. Samuel Somerville, Jr., was a member of the Methodist church for seventy- five years, took a most active and helpful interest in its work, long served in official positions therein and was a local minister. He married Miss Mary Elizabeth Waddle, who was born in Warren county, New York, and represented one of the first five families settling there. Her ancestors having come from England to the new world. She was a descendant of the celebrated Rexford family of England. She held membership in the Methodist church and her earnest Christian character won her the esteem and love of those with whom she came in contact. Unto Samuel and Mary E. Somerville were born six children, namely: Jay Wilbur; Robert, who is game warden of northern New York; Mary Ella, the wife of Simeon Herrick, a resident farmer of Weavertown, New York; Jennie, who is living in North Creek, New York; Earl, a farmer residing on the old homestead in Warren county; New York; and Lee, a physician and surgeon living in the old Dr. Durant mansion, one of the handsome homes of North Creek, New York. Rev. J. W. Somerville supplemented his early educational privileges by preparation for college in Troy Conference Academy at Poultney, Vermont, and after four years study was graduated in the class of 1886. He then entered Syracuse University and was graduated in 1890 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and two years later the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him. Going to Hutchinson, Kansas, he accepted the pastorate of the First Methodist Episcopal church there and remained for five years. He was ordained deacon in 1891 by Bishop Merrill and ordained elder in 1893 by Bishop Hurst. On the expiration of the five years spent in Hutchinson he accepted a call from the First Methodist Episcopal church in Lawrence, Kansas, and while there he was graduated in law from the State University and was admitted to practice in the supreme court of Kansas. In 1899 he came to Oskaloosa as pastor of the Central Methodist Episcopal church and for seven years has labored among the people of this city, the church under his guidance enjoying a period of substantial and healthful growth and proving a beneficial influence in the community. On the 29th of April, 1890, the Rev. Somerville was married to Miss Jessie Burdick, who was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1867 and is a daughter of the Rev. Chester F. Burdick, of the Troy (New York) conference. Three children bless this union: Earl, born in October, 1895; Mary, September 13, 1899: and Ralph, December 6, 1905. Like her husband, Mrs. Somerville is earnest and zealous in behalf of the work of the church and has been a most able assistant to him in his pastoral duties. In his political views Rev. Somerville is a republican, keeping informed upon the questions of the day because he regards it the duty as well as the privilege of every American to understand the government of his country and to support the men who seem best qualified to uphold it. His labors, however, have been directed most largely to his church work in its various departments. He is peculiarly gifted with the powers of organization and has therefore been especially successful in evangelistic work. He has great ability in raising money and has thus been enabled to clear a number of churches from large indebtedness. During his residence in Oskaloosa he has raised $6o,ooo and it is his intention in 1906 to wipe out the entire debt of the church. The house of worship is one of the most substantial church edifices of the state and is of beautiful architectural design. It was erected at a cost of about $40,000. The membership of the church is about 900 and the various societies of the church are now in excellent working condition and are accomplishing great good. Regarded from the standpoint of length of residence here Rev. Somerville is the oldest pastor in the city. He has been president of the Associated Charities of Oskaloosa for the past two years and has been very active in all movements in the city tending toward its best welfare. Those interests which are a matter of civic pride receive his endorsement and he co-operates earnestly, willingly and effectively in temperance work and in all charitable and benevolent movements which are kindred interests of the church.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy