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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  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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On the roll of honored Civil war veterans now residing in Union county appears the name of George W. DeLay, who forty-five years ago was a soldier on southern battlefields, wearing the blue uniform and following the old flag as it floated above the northern troops engaged in fiercely contested combat in upholding the supremacy of the Federal government. Today he owns a well improved and valuable farm of three hundred and twenty acres in Sand Creek township near Arispe, where for a long period he carried on general agricultural pursuits but since 1902 has rented his land and makes his home in Afton, where he is today enjoying a well earned rest. He was born in Jackson county, Ohio, September 28, 1843.

His father, Ambrose DeLay, was also a native of Ohio and a son of Rev. Jacob DeLay, a pioneer minister of the Methodist Episcopal church. Ambrose DeLay was reared and married in Ohio, the lady of his choice being Rebecca Whitman, who was born in Virginia but spent her girlhood days in the Buckeye state. Following his marriage Mr. DeLay carried on farming in Jackson county, Ohio, and also conducted other business interests there, being proprietor of a hotel at Berlin. He was a prominent republican of the community when General Morgan made his raid through Ohio and was captured by the Confederate leader because of his Union sympathies and marched several miles. This was probably the cause of his death, which occurred in the spring of 1864. His wife survived him and afterward came to Iowa, spending her last days with a son in Union county.

George W. DeLay was reared to manhood upon his father’s farm in Jackson county, Ohio, and acquired his preliminary education in the common schools, while later he attended the Capital City Business College at Columbus, Ohio. In the meantime, however, he had done valiant service for the Union. He was but eighteen years of age, when in May, 1862, he joined Company H, of the Eighty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry for three months. Going south he joined the Army of the Potomac and was taken prisoner at Harper’s Ferry, after which he was paroled and returned home. He again enlisted in September, 1863, joining the United States navy and served on the United States steamship Great Western. Subsequently he was transferred to the Benton and afterward to the Grampos and in the naval service remained until the close of the war. He assisted in the capture of the last rebel ship Alabama on the Red river. When the war was over he was mustered out and at Cairo, Illinois, was honorably discharged August 1, 1865. He was a young soldier but no greater valor or loyalty was displayed by the veterans of twice his years.

It was subsequent to his return to Ohio that Mr. DeLay continued his education at Columbus. He remained a resident of the Buckeye state until 1871 and carried on farming on the old homestead. As a companion and helpmate for life’s journey he chose Miss Mary A. Wishard, who was born and reared there, their marriage being celebrated on Christmas day of 1870. In 1871 they removed westward to Iowa, coming direct to Afton, and in 1872 located on a farm two miles south of the city. The land was then in its primitive condition but he broke the sod, harrowed the fields and in due course of time gathered rich harvests as a reward for his care and labor. Thus he opened up a farm of forty acres, on which he erected substantial buildings. After two years he sold that place and in Sand Creek township bought eighty acres, of which a small portion had been broken, while a little log house had also been built. He commenced the further improvement and development of the place and bought more land until he owned three hundred and twenty acres. He erected good buildings, added modern equipments and secured the latest improved machinery to facilitate the work of the fields. This place lies partly within the boundaries of Arispe and partly adjoining the corporation limits. Year after year Mr. DeLay was found in the fields from the time of early spring planting until after crops were gathered in the late autumn, and his indefatigable labor brought him goodly prosperity, enabling him in 1902 to put aside business cares and removed to Afton. He then rented the farm to his sons and bought a home in the town, to which he has built additions and made other improvements. While on the farm he engaged quite extensively in raising and feeding stock, having from two to three carloads of cattle and about the same number of hogs each year. He was also a factor in commercial circles in Arispe for eight years, where he dealt in grain and coal. Since coming to Afton he has engaged in the real estate and insurance business, handling Iowa and Texas lands and he and a son now own one thousand acres in Texas in the Panhandle section of the state.

Mr. and Mrs. DeLay have eight living children: Frank, who is married and is a stockman and dealer in horses in Cameron, Missouri; John A., a resident farmer of Grant township, this county; Arthur, who is living on the old homestead farm at Arispe; William R., who is a book keeper in the Afton Savings Bank; Kate, the wife of Harry W. Kamp, a resident farmer of Sand Creek township; Mrs. Emma S. Martin, living at home; Bessie R., the wife of D. W. Stephenson, who is engaged in the life insurance business at Des Moines; and Marian V., who is a teacher in the public schools of Union county. They also lost a daughter, Etta, who was a teacher and died in 1900, when a young lady of nineteen years, her death occurring in Denver, whither she had gone for the benefit of her health. Two children died in infancy.

In his political views Mr. DeLay has been a life-long republican, casting his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln while with the army at Natchez, Mississippi. He has been officially identified with the school for years and the cause of education finds in him a stalwart champion. He and his wife and most of their children are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he is serving as an officer, while in all of the work of the church and Sunday school he is deeply interested, doing all in his power to promote the growth of the church and extend its influence.

He belongs to the Afton Lodge of Odd Fellows, while he and his wife are connected with the Rebekah degree. He is also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and for the last three years has served as a commander of the local post, while his wife is a member of the Relief Corps. Both are held in high esteem throughout the community and have a circle of friends almost coextensive with the circle of their acquaintance. The more important chapters in the life history of Mr. DeLay are such as make his record a most creditable and honorable one. In business he has always been found straightforward, while as a soldier he manifested unfaltering loyalty, and in days of peace has been the champion of uniform progress and improvement.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

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

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