biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
THOMAS NEWELL, one of the pioneers of Mahaska County, is a stone-cutter by trade, having his residence in Oskaloosa. He was born in Holmes County, Ohio, Oct. 28, 1816, and when four years of age removed with his parents to Wayne County, where he grew to manhood. His father was a farmer by occupation, and his education was received in the pioneer log cabin, where he attended three months in each year. This structure was 16x16 feet, and finished and furnished after the manner of those days, which has been so often described in this work. The father of our subject, Thomas Newell, was of Irish descent and parentage, and his mother who was Miss Harriet Fleharty, was a native of Maryland. Thomas Newell served as a soldier in the War of 1812, and afterward removed to the Territory of Iowa in 1839. He first located in Louisa County, where he entered a claim, opened up a farm, and was among the earliest settlers of that region. The land sales were then conducted at Burlington. The parents spent the remainder of their lives in Louisa County, where the father had become a prominent citizen, and had distinguished himself in politics as being a stanch Democrat of the pronounced Jackson type. Thomas Newell was married in Wayne County, Ohio, in October, 1838, to Miss Susanna Williams, who was born in that State in 1822. In 1839 our subject removed to Louisa County, Iowa, where he remained for a period of twelve years. In 1851 he came to Oskaloosa, being the first stone-cutter to settle in the town, and received the contracts for most of the fine buildings of the city. During the progress of the late war Mr. Newell enlisted as a private in Co. E, 37th Iowa Vol. Inf., which was known as the old "Graybeard" regiment. After proceeding to St. Louis with his company Mr. Newell was detailed for hospital service, but after a little over two years was discharged for physical disability. He returned home broken down in health and practically unfitted for further hard labor. He has been a resident of Oskaloosa for a period of thirty years, his home being located upon the same spot where he first settled. To our subject and his wife there were born five children, as follows: Mattie became the wife of Maj. J. F. Lacey, a prominent attorney of Oskaloosa; Nancy married W. R. Cowan, loan agent, and Samantha became the wife of P. F. Barr, of New Mexico, Superintendent of the K. & T. R. R.; Mary married E. H. Graffan, a lumber dealer of Warsaw, Wis; R. B. is a painter. In politics our subject is a staunch Republican, and socially belongs to Phil Kearney Post, G. A. R. He has been a member of the I. O. O. F. for thirty-three years, filling many of the high positions of the order. When first coming into Louisa County there was a scarcity of settlers but plenty of Indians, and an abundance of deer and other wild game. The first trip to mill led into Center County about fifty miles, and after reaching his destination he was compelled to turn around and go back home empty-handed, without his grist. After making a second and third trip with the same results, he finally took his wheat to Muscatine and traded it for flour, after traveling 300 miles upon the errand. That, however, was only one of the many trials which were encountered by the old pioneers, and which brought out those sturdy and courageous qualities for which they were so universally noted.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy