Header Graphic
Articles & Local History > Silas B. Hovey

History of Buchanan County, Iowa, and its people

Vol. II

Silas B. Hovey


Silas B. HOVEY, of Independence, is widely known in Iowa as a builder of gas and electric light plants and at the present time the Jones & Hovey Company, of which he is a partner, owns the gas plant at Independence and the elcetric light plant at Chillicothe, Missouri. For almost a third of a century he has made his home in Independence, where he has a wide and favorable acquaintance. His birth occurred in Orleans county, Vermont, March 29, 1861, his parents being Elijah Adams and Rhoda S. (LYMAN) HOVEY, who were also natives of that county, the former born in 1833 and the latter in 1834. The father spent his early life uon his father’s farm, but because of ill helath abandoned the work of the fields and went on board a fishing ship sialing out of Boston on a cruise which extended for a year and a half. The sea life proved beneficial and upon his return to Boston he became associated with a firm owning manyhouses. He became foreman and in that capacity had oversight over the Boston Commons and the old Park Street church near the commons, a building of historic interes.t


On the 4th of July, 1858, Elijah A. Hovey was one of the contracting parties of a marriage in which three couples were united in wedlock. Immediately afterward he began clerking in a store in Albany, New York, where he remained for about ten years. Just before going to Albany he drove a team of four horses from Vermont to the west, going by way of the lakes to Milwaukee and then driving with a load of merchandises to Buchanan county, Iowa, for a brother who was living on a farm at Littleotn, this county, having entered his land from the government. Elijah A. HOVEY also secured a claim, entering land upon which now stands the town of Jesup. He returned, however, to Albany and engaged in clerking, as previously stated. In 1867 he once came to Iowa and engaged in the business of driving wells with his brother, for whom he had previously made the trip by team. They worked in Buchanan and adjoining counties for seven years and later Elijah A. HOVEY took a trip through southwestern Illinois, digging wells as he went. At length he reached Tampico, Whitesidee county, to which place he removed his family, remaining there for seven years, after which he returned to Independence in 1885, there retiring from active business life. He had no political aspirations and, in fact, was of a retiring disposition. He was an active and loyal member of the Baptist church. To hiim and his wife were born three children: Adalie, who died at the age of eleven years; Silas B.; and Maurice W., who for about twenty years was manager of the Marshalltown Light, Power & Railway Company.


Silas B. HOVEY was a little lad of about six years when the family home was established in Iowa and in the common schools of Independence he purued his education, but later the family home was established in Illinois. When twenty years orf age he began to learn telegraphy in Chicago, but remained therefor only a year and a half. Upon his return to Independence he formed a partnership on the 1st of January, 1882, for the conduct of an insurance business, in which the firm contineud for about nine years. Mr. HOVEY had been in Iowa but two days over six months at the time the question of prohibition came up for settlement at the polls and he cast his vote on the side of tempernce on the 39th of June, 1882. Continuing actively in businesss, he joined C. D. JONES in forming a company known as the Standard Gas & Electric Works Company, although a later reorganization of the business was attended by the adoption of the present firm style of the Jones  Hovey Company. They began building municipal gas and electric light plants and at the same time conducted an insurance agency in Independence. Their operations were on a small scale in the beginning in the building of gas plants, but later as electricity began to be the common source of lighting they exteded their business to include the building of electric light plants. At different times they have been interested in anumber of such enterprises and also were active in the building and operation of the electric railrway at Marshalltown. Today the company owns the gas plant at Independence and  the electric light plant at Chillicothe, Missouri, but they have recently sold all their other holdings. Aside from his connection with the Jones & Hovey Company the junior partner is a stockholder in the First National & Commercial State Bank and he is the owner of over one thousand acres of Buchanan county land, toghether with lands in Canada and North Dakota, his individual holdings aggregating over four thousand acres. His investments have been judiciously made and are bringing to him a gratifying financial return.


In 1883 Mr. HOVEY was united in marriage to Miss May GLASSBURN, who was born in Tampico, Illinois, a daughter of John W. and Olive (Johnson) GLASSBURN, who were natives of Ohio. In early life her father followed farming and was the owner of the land upon which the Burlington built the town of Tampico. Following its establishment he abandoned farming and began buying grain in Tampico, becoming one of the enterprising and energetic citizens of that place. Mr. and Mrs. HOVEY have become parents of three children. Glenn GLASSBURN, who was born in Buchanan county in 1892, is now attending the Iowa State University, in which he is pursuing the electrical engineering course as a member of the class of 1915. Sherman P., born in this county in 1897, is attending high school. Ferne, born in Buchanan county in 1899, is also a high-school pupil.


Mr. HOVEY holds membership with the Knights of Pythias and his religious faith is that of the Baptist church. In his political views he is a standpat republican, having always supported the party since age conferred upon him the right of franchise and seeing no reason to change his policital affiliation at the present time. Much of his life has been passed in Buchannan county and the fact that many of his stanches friends are those who haveknown him through all these years is an indication that his career has been characterized by honorable and upright principles.


TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicoareahistory@gmail.com  We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations are always appreciated!  Sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Thank you!  Visit us on FACEBOOK.