Biography of Capt. George Phillips
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies

Coming to Brooklyn when its population numbered but one hundred and fifty people, Captain George Phillips has watched it develop into a flourishing village Of fifteen hundred inhabitants, and during the period of his residence here he has occupied a prominent place in the community, his activity in both business and public interests proving a stimulating and potent force toward progress and improvement along various lines.

Born in Onondaga county, New York, on the 13th of August, 1835, he is a son of George and Betsy (Craig) Phillips, natives of Bristol, England, where they were reared and married. Thinking to find better business opportunities in the new world, the father came alone to the United States in 1833, locating in Marcellus, Onondaga county, New York, and a year later was followed by his wife and family, consisting then of a son and daughter. The parents spent their remaining days upon the farm where they had first located, the father passing away when Captain Phillips was very young. He had been a farmer throughout his lifetime and was the first to introduce the growing of teasels into America. After his arrival in this country the family of George Phillips, Sr., was increased to four children, as follows: Eliza, who was the wife of Ralph McKinney and died in Illinois in 1907; Edward, a resident of Wolsey, South Dakota; George, of this review; and A. W., a physician residing in Derby, Connecticut, who is also a member of the senate of that state. The last named served as a soldier in the Union army during the time of the Civil war, enlisting from Onondaga county, New York, in the Twelfth New York Regiment, and later serving as assistant surgeon of the One Hundred and Forty ninth New York Infantry.

Captain George Phillips spent the first twenty years of his life in Onondaga and Cayuga counties, New York, and in 1855 sought the opportunities of the growing west, making his way to Iroquois county, Illinois. After two years there spent he went to Dubuque, Iowa, and thence to Waterloo, where he spent the winter. When a young man of twenty years of age he had learned the carpenter's trade, and followed that occupation in both Illinois and Iowa, assisting in the building of one of the first railroad bridges in the latter state. He also helped to build the first packing house at Ottumwa, Iowa, and was variously engaged at his trade until July, 1860, when he came to Brooklyn, Poweshiek county, and has since been a resident of this place.

At the time of the Civil war he assisted in organizing Company H, Twenty eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and in August, 1862, was mustered in as first lieutenant of his company. Later, on the 3d of August, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of captain of the same company and as such served until the close of the war. His regiment was one of the three Iowa regiments to take part in the operations in the Shenandoah valley under General Sheridan, and he also saw service in thirteen important battles as well as many minor engagements. Captain Phillips participated in every engagement in which his regiment took part with the exception of one, the battle at Sabine Cross Roads, at which time he was in a hospital in New Orleans. At the close of hostilities he was mustered out at Savannah, Georgia, and returned home with a military record that was most honorable and creditable.

When his country no longer needed his services Captain Phillips once more took up civil pursuits, entering business in connection with O. F. Dorrance, under the firm style of Phillips & Dorrance, dealers in general merchandise. He was thus engaged for eight years and then retired from business activities to give his entire attention to the duties of public office, to which he had been elected by his fellow townsmen. He had been most fortunate in his business ventures, winning a success which now ranks him among the substantial and well to do citizens of Poweshiek county. He now owns two hundred and forty acres of rich land six miles south of Brooklyn and three quarters of a section in Minnesota. He is the president of Yellowstone Valley Land Company, Inc., and in this connection was associated with five others in the ownership of fifty thousand acres of land in Dawson County, Montana, which they have since sold.

Captain Phillips connection with the public life of Brooklyn extends over many years and forms a period of continuous and substantial growth in the history of the community. On the 17th of December, 1874, he was appointed to the position of postmaster of Brooklyn, his term of office continuing for thirteen years, or until the election of Grover Cleveland to the presidency. He was then elected mayor of the city, his fellow townsmen thus conferring upon him the highest honor in their power to bestow. For two years he occupied the office of chief executive and during that time gave the city a business like and progressive administration. He next served for four years as clerk of the district court. He was a member of the city council for several years and in that capacity had personal charge of the installation of the water system, and for several years also served on the board of education, during which period the new high school building was erected. In fact few projects having for their object the improvement and betterment of the town have failed to arouse his deep interest or to receive his hearty indorsement and cooperation, and he is numbered among Brooklyn's most representative and valued residents.

On the 1st of January, 1867, Captain Phillips was united in marriage to Miss Nancy Elizabeth Carson, a daughter of Edward R. and Margaret (Campbell) Carson, of Iowa City, who were very early settlers of Iowa. Her parents were both natives of Washington county, East Tennessee, the father born July 11, 1809, and the mother in Leesburg, March 5, 1809. They were married in that county, August 24, 1834. Mrs. Phillips was born near Iowa City on the 28th of May, 1846, and had an elder sister, also born in Johnson county, whose name was Dilla Iowa and who became the wife of Hon. A. J. Wood. With, the passing years the home of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips was blessed by the birth of five children, as follows: Lela, a school teacher residing at home; A. H., of Brooklyn, where he has been engaged in business for forty years, first as a merchant in connection with his father, whom he later succeeded, and now as a real estate operator; Effie V., of Montana, Della I., of Montana, who was formerly a teacher at Grinnell; and Prescott Bryon, who was born on the nth of December, 1873, and died two years later, on October 28, 1875. The daughters in Montana are at present holding adjoining claims at Savage, that state. Mrs. Phillips died August 8, 1902.

Captain Phillips has given his political allegiance to the republican party since age conferred upon him the right of franchise, casting his first vote for Fremont, since which time he has supported every candidate for president on that ticket. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church at the present time, although he was reared in the faith of the Baptist church, of which he was a member until two years ago. There is no church of that denomination in Brooklyn, however, at the present time. In fraternal circles he is a Master Mason, holding membership in Corinthian Lodge, No. 174, of Brooklyn. He is a charter member and commander of John T. Drake Post, No. 321, G. A. R., and was a charter member and first president of Brooklyn Veteran Union, an organization which preceded the Grand Army of the Republic post and erected the soldiers monument at this place.

Few men who have reached a place of independence in the business world today have started out in life with a more discouraging outlook than did he whose name introduces this review. Left fatherless at a very early age, he had never had a suit of clothes that had not been made over from old garments until he was able to earn them for himself., When but a lad of ten years he was thrown upon his own resources to make his way in the world, his first position securing him a salary of twenty dollars for six months. From this humble position he steadily forged ahead and utilized every opportunity for advancement, until he is now able to live retired from business activity, a substantial competence furnishing him with all of the comforts of life without recourse to further labor. He has truly earned the title of self made man and richly deserves the success which is now his to enjoy.

History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911

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