biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
J. M. BYERS, who is numbered among the early settlers of Oskaloosa, was born in Mercer County, Pa., Feb. 12, 1814. His father, William Byers, located in Mercer County in 1797, being one of the Commissioners to organize the county in 1801, and was the first Sheriff of that county. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and also in the War of 1812. He was married in Allegheny County, Pa., near Pittsburgh, to Anne Larimer, a cousin of Gen. Larimer, and a native of Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Byers became the parents of nine children, three of whom are living: Mary is the widow of Andrew Morrison, and resides in Unionville, Appanoose Co., Iowa; J. M. is the subject of this sketch; E. Wiley is a resident; of Mercer County, Pa. Mr. Byers was an old-line Whig and a great admirer of Henry Clay. He died in 1844, and his wife in 1847, both in the seventy-seventh year of their age. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm in Mercer County, Pa., receiving his early education in the proverbial log cabin of that day. In his early days Mr. Byers learned the trade of stonemason and plasterer, which business he followed for forty-five years. In 1842 he came west with the intention of locating on the New Purchase in Mahaska County, and while en route was taken sick with fever, which illness continued for three months, and after his recovery he returned to Pennsylvania. Our subject was first married in Mobile, Ala., to Parmela H. Marshal, a grand-daughter of Chief Justice Marshal. After a happy married life of two years she died, leaving one child, S. H. M. Byers. In 1839 he was again married, to Miss Eliza Birch, of Crawford County, Pa., by whom he had three children, two living: Anna, wife of S. E. Moreland, a merchant at White Rock, Kan., and James, a blacksmith at Nassau, Iowa. Mrs. Byers died in 1846, and in 1848 he was married to his present wife, Anna E. McVickers, of Ashtabula County, Ohio. By this marriage there are the following-named children: Henry V., a graduate of King Medical College at Cincinnati, now a physician at Hedrick, Iowa; John D., a carpenter at Oaksloosa; Lydia J., the wife of John Moore, a farmer in Jefferson Township, this county; Carrie, a teacher in the High School at Grinnell, Iowa; Nettie B., wife of Richard Hull, a farmer of Mahaska County, Iowa; Charles H., a civil engineer, and a graduate of Oskaloosa College, now in the employ of the C. M. & St. R. R. Mr. Byers came to Iowa in 1851 and settled in Washington County, where be purchased a farm, disposing of the same and removing in 1853 to Oskaloosa, where he has since resided. Nearly or quite all the earlier brick structures of this city are monuments of his skill as a master builder. In 1849 he went to Cheyenne, W. T., and built a number of the principal buildings of that city. In early life he was a Whig, but became a Republican when that party was formed, and by its suffrages has held several offices of local trust and importance. It was his pleasure to vote for Henry Clay three different times. Mr. and Mrs. Byers have been for many years acceptable members of the Presbyterian Church. Two of his sons served during the War of the Rebellion, Maj. S. H. M. Byers and James. Mr. Byers has been identified with Oskaloosa and its interests for the past thirty-three years, and has observed its growth from an insignificant village to a prosperous city of nearly 7,000 people. As a husband and father none have been more kind, indulgent and loving than he. As a citizen alive to everything that has tended to the prosperity of his city his word and his vote have on all occasions been upon the side of right. He is now enjoying, in his old age, the comforts and luxuries of life in the midst of and surrounded by his children.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy