From the memories & writings of Anita Randolph Willey, grandaughter of

Thomas Barlow & Rebecca Story
England - Pennsylvania - Iowa

Anita Randolph Willey, granddaughter of Thomas Barlow.
Married Elery P. Willey, Sr. in 1925.

Thomas Barlow was born in England and came to the United States at 14 years of age. The family lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he grew to manhood. On May 26, 1838, he married to Rebecca Story, a young Quaker girl. They had a family of 11 children. In 1854 in New York City, he heard Horace Greeley give a lecture and say, "Go West, young man, Go West." With nine sons, Thomas Barlow decided he should follow this advice. So he sold his Philadelphia business (Barlow knives) to Disston and came to Iowa in the summer of 1854.

In the Otter Creek Township west of Chelsea, he bought one thousand acres of land, paying the government a dollar and a quarter an acre. He not only farmed but he bought and sold cattle. During those days people depended on horses for transportation. When night came, they stopped at a farm, had their horses fed, and asked for meals and lodging for themselves. Mrs. Barlow often baked two and three barrels of bread a week to feed her family and the unexpected guests. Many times the living room floor served as a sleeping place for travelers.

In the winter when the weather became cold enough many hogs were butchered and frozen. They were hauled to Iowa City in wagons or sled, where they were sold to housewives. The railroad didn't come any farther than Iowa City, so on the return trip the wagons were loaded with needed supplies. On one such trip a man living west of Irving had a load of supplies in which there were two barrels of salt. There was no bridge over the creek, so near Irving, he forded the creek. When about half way across, the horses jumped and jerked the wagon. One of the barrels of salt toppled into the water and Salt Creek got its name.

Rebecca Barlow was the youngest of the children and the only one born on the farm in Otter Creek Township. In 1882 she was married to Leander Randolph. Seven children were born to them, two dying in infancy. The surviving children were Elizabeth, Florence, Gail, Anita, and Leon. In 1925, Anita W. Randolph was married to Elery P. Willey. One son, Elery P. Willey, Jr. was born to them. The son with his wife and three children lived on the Willey home place near Chelsea.

Contributed by Vernon L. Barlow


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