Downer, Noble (History 1852)


Janet Schwarze





----Source: 1891 History of Clark & Jackson Co., Wis. compiled by Franklin Curtiss-Wedge, pages 238 and 239

NOBLE DOWNER, a prosperous citizen of York Township, of which he is one of the oldest continuous residents, if not the oldest, was born in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., August 7, 1852, son of Joel and Eliza Ann (Nichols) Downer. Joel was a native of Vermont and a farmer, and he and his wife were married in New York, which was her native state. They came to Clark County, Wis., in 1864, being accompanied by four children: Noble, Homer, Carrie L. And Cora L. The family drove in from Sparta by hired team, their journey terminating at Neillsville, where Mrs. Downer had a brother, Hill Nichols, who had located there a year or two previously, and was starting a farm near Granton, where the L. Lee farm is now. With him they took up their residence for a time, until more permanent arrangements could be made. That winter Mr. Downer went to the woods, his family living on Pleasant Ridge, while Noble attended the old log schoolhouse in the Reed district. The next spring they removed to York Township. Joel Downer getting a tract of forty acres of wild land in Section 36, there being a trail past the place. On this land he erected a log building of two rooms and attic, 16 by 24 feet in size, and began the work of improvement with nothing but his hands.


He and his wife and son Noble often walked to and from Neillsville, carrying supplies. After residing on his land three years, Joel got an ox team, with which he made faster progress. In the winter he worked in the lumber camps. In time he got his farm into good condition, the land well cleared and a frame residence built. He died at the age of 70 years. Noble Downer grew to manhood in York Township, and for some thirty winters followed lumbering in the woods, beginning at the age of 14. As he became more experienced he was given the charge of crews. as soon as he had save $100 he invested it in eighty acres of land in Section 36, York Township, it being a wild tract, and on this he built a log house, 16 by 20 feet in size.


He was married Sept. 20, 1871, to Levina Johnson, who was born at Northampton, Pa., Jan 19, 1854, daughter of Josiah and Susannah (Schulk) Johnson, the parents being of New England ancestry. He and his wife lived in the log house for about ten years, his wife remaining at home while he was away in the woods. They had one cow when they began domestic life, and later got an ox team. Mr. Downer, in time, cleared all the land and has since owned several tracts. A frame house that he built in early days burned down some twenty years ago, but he subsequently- a few years later, replaced it by a brick house of nine rooms. He is now proprietor of a good farm, and is enjoying the reward of his early industry in a comfortable prosperity.


Mr. Downer has held office on the township sideboard and as treasurer of the school district. He was a member of the first creamery association organized in the township, and is at present a stockholder in the State Bank of Granton, and in the Wausau packing plant. He is a charter member of the Modern Woodmen lodge of Granton. On his farm he raises Durham cattle with profitable results.

He and his wife are the parents of seven children: Albion, Joel, Richard. Frank, Gertie, Niel and Bessie. Albion, who married Laura McKerche, resides in Granton, and has one child, Alva. Joel married Attie Osgood and has five children: Harold, Leona, Helen, Wilfred and Lelah. Richard, of Fremont married Alice Chapel, and has twelve children: Clarence, Holley, Mernice, Mabel, Daniel, daisy, Seth, Ralph, Josephine and the others are deceased. Frank married Flora Pierlie, and has three children: Eugene, Victor and Catherine. Gertie is the wife of James Baker and has one child, Donald. Niel, who married Anna McLove, has two children, Ross and Aletha. Bessie is the wife of Roy Wright, of Ladysmith. All Mr. Downer's children, except Albion, are located in York Township, not far from the old home, having had no desire to wander far from it, and are, therefore, united in bods of intimate association enjoyable to all and their parents.



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