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In the period which marked the pioneer development of Page county and witnessed the laying of the foundation upon which has been built its present prosperity and progress, Jacob Holland Powers was a prominent factor in the district. He came here in the early days and for many years figured prominently in connection with its agricultural interests and also as the owner of a large amount of real estate. He is well remembered, too, as a man of kindly spirit and generous civility as manifested in his liberal aid to those who needed assistance.
He was born near Morgantown in what was then Virginia but is now West Virginia, September 24, 1807, and his life record covered the intervening years to the 14th of February, 1884, when he passed away. His father, Nehemiah Powers, who married Cassandra Holland, was descended from an old family represented in the American army in the war of the Revolution. He was a planter and slave owner but freed his bondsmen before his death. In 1819 he removed to Wayne county, Indiana, becoming one of the pioneer residents of that state, which only three years before had been admitted to the Union. Subsequently 11e removed to Henry county, where his death occurred. He was a member of the Baptist church and his life was an upright and honorable one, in consistent harmony with his professions. In his family were twelve children.
Jacob H. Powers spent his youthful days in his parents’ home, receiving; his education in private schools. He was a lad of twelve years when his parents removed from Virginia to Indiana, arriving in that state only two or three years after its admission to the Union. Many evidences of pioneer life were still to be seen there and Jacob H. Powers, who was reared as a farm boy, early became familiar with all the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist as he converts wild land into productive fields that annually bring forth rich crops. Not desiring to give his entire attention, however, to the tilling of the soil, he entered mercantile circles in Indiana and for some time conducted a tannery. In 1853, however, he sold his business in Indiana and made a visit to Page county. He then returned to his old home and the following year removed from Muncie, Indiana, to Clarinda, driving the entire distance across the country. In the year of his arrival he established a general mercantile store in Clarinda and he also purchased considerable property, including both city real estate and farm lands. He thus became an active factor in the development, upbuilding and improvement of this part of the state. He was one of the pioneer merchants of the town and conducted stores on both the west and north sides of the square. In his mercantile ventures he was successful, carrying such lines of goods as the public demanded, while his reasonable prices and honorable dealing won him a continually increasing trade. His lands were adjacent to the city and with the growth and development of the county increased rapidly in value. Later he made investment in lands in Missouri, Texas, Florida and Kansas. As the years passed he conducted important business negotiations, prospering in his undertakings.
On the 15th of January 1835, Mr. Powers was united in marriage to Miss Gilla Scott Tomlinson, who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, January 15, 1816, and was of English lineage. In early life she held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and afterward became a member of the Presbyterian church. She died May 10, 1845, at the age of twenty-nine years, leaving four children: Amanda Tomlinson, now the wife of Harvey White, a contractor and builder residing in California; Sarah Emeline, who is the widow of Charles Linderman, mentioned elsewhere in this work; Mary Holland, now deceased; and Naomi Olive, who is now making her home with her sister, Mrs. Linderman.
Mr. Powers was again married in August 1851, his second union being with Eliza B. Silvers, who was born in Kentucky and died March 17, 1896, in her eightieth year. She lived a consistent Christian life, in harmony with her professions as a member of the Baptist church. By that marriage there were five children, but two of the number died in infancy. Myra Ella, born in Muncie, Indiana, died in Clarinda in February 1863, at the age of eleven years. Martha Ida, born in Clarinda, died December 7, 1879, in her twenty-fifth year. Dr. T. E. Powers, the youngest, is represented elsewhere in this volume.
Jacob H. Powers not only became a successful businessman and a large land owner of the county but was also prominent in other ways. He was a charter member of the Masonic lodge and also took the degrees of the Royal Arch chapter and the Knights Templar Commandery. In his political views he was originally an old line Whig and eventually, on the dissolution of that party, became a republican, continuing in the latter organization until his death. He had no aspirations for office, preferring that others should seek and enjoy the benefits of office holding. He was a very generous man and his benefaction are mentioned in the article devoted to the history of Nodaway lodge. During his later years he spent half of his time in Florida and the remainder in Clarinda. He was regarded as one of the city’s best and foremost residents, staunchly supporting every cause for the public good and giving liberally where aid was needed. While he conducted important and extensive business affairs, he was ever reliable in his transactions, his negotiations being in harmony with the strictest business ethics. He died February 14, 1884, when in his seventy-seventh year, and because of the prominent place which he occupied in the community no history of this county would be complete without extended mention of him.