K. A. Newsom



This name is recognized as belonging to one of the most prominent men of Council Hill Township, and one of the most useful members of his community. He is public-spirited and liberal, very active in church affairs, and may uniformly be found encouraging the enterprises calculated to advance the people socially, morally, and financially. He carries on farming and mining combined, devoting most of his energies to the latter. He has a well-regulated homestead on section 34, where he has gathered around himself and his family all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.

Our subject traces his ancestry to England. His father, the Rev. John Newsom, was a native of West Riding, in Yorkshire, and born Sept. 6, 1796. He married Miss Sarah Jowett, a maiden of his own shire. The paternal grandfather, John Newsom, Sr. was a cloth manufacturer by trade, and carried on an establishment of his own. He was a devoted member of the Episcopal Church, and was gathered to his fathers in 1832, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. On the mother's side grandfather Jowett, was a cloth-weaver, and died in England in 1828.

The father of our subject in his younger years also engaged in the manufacture of cloth, while he devoted what time he could spare to the preaching of the Gospel. He emigrated to America in 1841, and located in Edwards County, Ill., where he was a local preacher for a period of six years. Thence he came to this county, and preached in the primitive Methodist Church until 1850, when he turned his attention to farming, having purchased 200 acres of land in Council Hill Township. This he improved and occupied until his death, July 1, 1858, at the age of sixty-two years. In the meantime he also preached as opportunity offered. The mother had died in Albion, Ill., in 1844, at the age of forty-seven years. Father Newsom was a strong abolitionist, and a member of the Republican party. The parental household included six children, the eldest of whom, a daughter, Ann, is a resident of Toledo, Iowa; Absalom died in England; James E. and John D. died at the homestead in Council Hill Township, this county; K. A., our subject, was the fifth child; Rachel died in California.

The subject of this biography was born in Rawden, Yorkshire, England, June 8, 1827, and reared in the city of Leeds. He attended school in the latter city, and later was occupied as an office and messenger boy until 1841. In June of that year, when a lad of fourteen he set out for America with his father. They embarked on a sailing-vessel, the "Kensington", at Liverpool, which, a little over five weeks later, landed them safely in New York City. Thence they emigrated to Edwards County, Ill., where K. A. was employed on a farm, and also served at shoemaking. In the summer of 1847, he came to this county, and first was employed as a teamster, hauling lead ore. Later he commenced prospecting for himself, which he followed successfully, and in 1850 purchased in company with his brother and father, 200 acres of land. This they improved while at the same time our subject was engaged in smelting, operating most of the time in the vicinity of Council Hill. Father and son engaged in farming until 1858, when K. A. assumed the entire charge of the land. In 1870 he rented it and removed to the vicinity of Sheffield, Iowa, where he purchased eighty acres of prairie land, which he broke and built thereon a house, also effecting other improvements. He occupied it until 1874, then returned with his family to Council Hill, and operated the old homestead until 1877. He then purchased 163 acres of his present farm. He put up a house and other buildings, and gradually gathered around him all the appliances of a modern homestead. The Fever River crosses one corner of the farm, and fifty acres are timber. It is largely devoted to stock-raising, including high grade Short-horn cattle and Norman horses. He also feeds and ships numbers of cattle, together with swine. Two teams are required to conduct the operations of the farm. During the winter season Mr. Newsom gives his attention almost exclusively to mining.

The 2d of October, 1851, marked one of the most interesting epochs in the life of our subject, as on that day he was married to Miss Martha Wilde, at the bride's home in Dubuque, Iowa. This lady is a daughter of John and Mary (Matthews) Wilde, natives of Yorkshire, England, born in the town of Wakefield. The paternal grandfather, James Wilde, also of English birth and ancestry, was a weaver by trade, which he followed in England. He was drowned in a flood in 1864, at the age of eighty years. The great-grandfather, John Matthews, was a blacksmith by trade, and owned a small estate which he rented. He died at the age of ninety, in 1849, in the faith of the Episcopal Church.

The father of Mrs. Newsom was a carpenter and wheelwright by trade, which he pursued in his native England until 1830. During that year he emigrated to America with his family, and located in Pottsville, Pa., where he employed himself as a carpenter. Thence he removed to St. Clair, where he lived until 1835, then came overland by wagon to this county. Shortly afterward he established himself in Dubuque, and built the first frame store in Mineral Point. He operated as a carpenter a number of years, then retired from active labor to his little farm of forty acres adjoining Dubuque, where his death took place in 1853, at the age of sixty-two years. The mother's death took place in 1852, at the age of fifty-three. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which the father officiated as Class-Leader. Their family consisted of eleven children, of whom the three elder sons, John, James, and George are deceased; Sarah is a resident of Galena; Joseph was killed in California; William died in Iowa; Elizabeth is a resident of California; Martha, (Mrs. Newsom) was the eighth child; Richard is a resident of Sheffield, Iowa; Morritt lives in Nebraska, and Maria in Sheffield, Iowa; Richard, during the Civil War served first with the three months' men in a cavalry regiment, then re-enlisted, serving three years; Morritt was in an Iowa regiment, and served from 1863 until the close of the war in the Army of the Tennessee.

Mrs. Newsom was born in St. Clair, Pa., July 2, 1833. She was two years old when she came with her parents to this county; and attended the public schools in Dubuque. She is now the mother of five children, viz : Mary, John, Richard, Carrie, and Mattie. The latter is attending the German-English College in Galena; Carrie was graduated from that institution, and follows the profession of a teacher; the others are at home with their parents. Mr. Newsom has been a member of the School Board for many years. In religious matters he belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he officiates as Steward and Trustee, and has been Superintendent of the Sunday-school. He assisted in the organization of the Republican party in this section, and adheres to the principles which he then espoused. He has served at different times on the Grand and Petit Juries.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)