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Below is a family biography included in History of Lee County, Iowa published by Western Historical Company in 1879.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ORTON, PALMER, far., Sec. 26; P. O. Denmark; a son of Elias Orton, who was born in Massachusetts, 1796, and in Colbrook, Mass., married Electa Chapman, also a native of Massachusetts, born in 1799. They had seven children; four sons and one daughter lived to maturity; moved to Livingston Co., N. Y., where the subject of this sketch was born Feb. 15, 1824; lived there until 9 years of age, when the family removed to Jacksonville, Ill., and in 1843, to Wapello Co., Iowa; settled on Des Moines River, two miles from Ottumwa; remained a few months, and in 1844 removed to this county, and settled on what is known as the F. M. Johnson farm in Denmark Tp. In 1851, the father went to California, and remained two years; on the return trip, died on board a vessel near Chagres, Central America, in the 56th year of his age. At the time he left for California, the farm was sold and the family dispersed. Palmer worked for John O. Smith, remained for two years, then purchased ninety-one acres of the land he now occupies. March, 1851, he married Miss Elizabeth M. Kneel. Her father, David Kneel, was a pioneer of Lee Co. from St. Louis in 1836, a native of Massachusetts, born 1796; married Silence Reed, who was born near New Haven, Conn., 1793. He afterward settled in Ohio, came thence to Missouri and engaged in merchandising, thence to Illinois, but that country proving too unhealthy, they removed to the Parish St. Landra, La.; there Mrs. Orton was born May 1, 1832. On coming to Lee Co. in the fall of 1836, they passed the first winter with the family of Curtis Shedd; the spring following, her father purchased the claim, a part of which herself and husband now occupy. The family consisted of four daughters, two are now living; the father died Sept. 15, 1845, the mother May 27, 1851. After his marriage, Mr. Orton continued to improve his farm, until 1853, when, with his wife and only child, a wagon and ox-team, in company with a few neighbors, took the overland route to California; after a prosperous journey of six months, arrived at Mariposa Co., remained for two and a half years; then returned by water. He now owns 156 acres of land, valued at $45 per acre. They have had seven children, five still living — Esther S., born June 8, 1853, in Mariposa Co., Cal.; Lyman, Sept. 15, 1860; Frank, Sept. 19, 1863; Lettie, Jan. 22, 1866; Bertie, July 5, 1869. Democrat; has held the office of Constable, and various school offices.

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This family biography is one of 668 biographies included in The History of Lee County, Iowa published in 1879.  For the complete description, click here: Lee County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Lee County, Iowa family biographies: Lee County, Iowa Biographies

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