biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
SYLVESTER PHELPS, now deceased, and one of the pioneers of 1848, was a native of Connecticut, and was born May 4, 1786. In his youth he learned the trade of woolcarding, and while yet a young man migrated to Ohio, taking with him a carding-machine, hauling it all the way with a team. For many years be represented a manufactory of these machines, and was engaged in their sale throughout the State of Ohio. Mr. Phelps was united in marriage with Maria Lathrop, June 24, 1818, at Milford, Ohio. Mrs. P. was born in Windham, Coun., Dec. 19, 1797, but went with her parents, Benjamin F. and Elizabeth Lathrop, to Ohio, when nineteen years of age. They came to Iowa in the fall of 1849, and lived near Granville until their decease. Mr. and Mrs. Phelps became the parents of six children: Julia was the wife of Rev. Sanford Ilaines, and died at the age of thirty-one years; Sophronia is the widow of Thompson Baldwin, and lives in this township; Albert died in 1866, at the age of forty-three; Daniel died in 1855, aged twenty-eight years; Charles resides in Richland Township; Horan died in 1851, aged seventeen years. Sylvester Phelps was the owner of some land in Champaign County, Ohio, to the improvement of which he gave a portion of his time. In the year 1845 a neighbor by the name of Lundy removed to Iowa, and, his letters gave such a glowing description of the country, that in 1847 two of the children of Mr. Phelps came to this State, followed in 1848 by their father with the remainder of the family. They came by the ordinary mode of conveyance, the covered wagon of that day, and arrived in this county after a pleasant journey, of sixteen days. So well pleased was Mr. Phelps that he returned immediately to Ohio, disposed of his property there, and returned to pass the remainder of his days in the beautiful land. His first business venture in this section was the building of a sawmill on Elk Creek, but the foundation proving to be sand, the mill was a failure. He intended erecting a carding-machine, but eventually abandoned this idea, and soon after disposed of his mill property in a trade for some land. While engaged in some repairs upon his mill-dam, he contracted the disease which eventually caused his death, May 13, 1851. His wife survived him many years, her death taking place in April, 1880. Politically Mr. Phelps was a Whig, and in an early day was elected and served as member of the Board of Commissioners for this county. Socially he belonged to the Masonic fraternity. Life with him had been more than a fair success, and he was one of the pioneers who secured a competency through his resolution, industry and wise management.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy