~ BENJAMIN VAN STEENBURGER, b 1 Aug 1839 ~
Related Surnames - STEENBURGER, BRADLEY, WEIR, WAGER
Capt. Benjamin Van Steenburger, one of the leading men of Jackson County, has been a
resident of Van Buren township since the fall of 1858. He was born in Herkime County,
N.Y., Aug. 1, 1839, and received his education from private teachers and in the public
schools of Van Buren Township after coming to the West.
Upon reaching his majority young Steenburger became a student of Bryant &
Stratton's Business College, and in Iowa he, with the other boys of the family,
assisted in opening up the farm. His inclinations, however, were mostly for mechanical
work and architecture, which he would doubtless have followed had it not been for the
injury which he received while in the army. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company H,
24th Iowa Infantry, and left for the Southwest in the latter part of November. He
participated in several engagements, was at Port Gibson and Champion Hills, and at the
latter place was shot first in the right elbow and later in the left arm, which was badly
shattered. He was with the troops in the rear of Sherman's army, and being confined
in the hospital at Champion Hills was captured by the rebels, held four weeks, then
paroled and exchanged. He had, in the meantime, been promoted Commissary Sergeant.
After retiring from the service Capt. Steenburger was, in 1866, elected County Recorder,
which office he held two years. Next he was elected by the members of the Legislature as
Clerk of the Iowa House of Representatives, which position he held sixteen years. He was
married, in 1868, to Miss Sarah Bradley, granddaughter of the first Governor of Iowa, and
a descendent of one of the earliest American families. Of this union ther was born one
son, Benjamin Bradley. The mother of this boy died in 1872, and the Captain was the
second time married to a lady who died in 1876.
The Captain owns a farm adjacent to the village of Preston, and is engaged in the breeding
of Jersey cattle. He has built a neat residence in Preston, and is numbered among its
leading men, where he has many friends. He is a Republican politically, a K. of P., also
an Odd Fellow, and belongs to the G.A.R. at Miles.
The father of our subject was Joseph Steenburger, a machinist and architect. He built the
academy at Fairfield, and owned a large machine shop there, the wheels of which were
turned by the waters of the Mohawk river. The family is of Holland-Dutch ancestry, and in
their native country owned Steenburg castle, which was situated in a forest in Westphalia.
A view of the ruins of this castle decorates the walls of the Captain's home. He
traces his lineage to the person of Nicholas Van Steenburger, who came to New Amsterdam
during the time of Peter Stuyvesant, of New York, in company with two brothers - John and
Benjamin. John went to Mobile, and was the progenitor of the southern branch of the
family, while Benjamin and Nicholas represented it in the North.
The father of our subject lived on a farm in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., seven years, then
removed to Bureau County, Ill., where he operated as a large contractor on public
buildings. During this time his son Benjamin became warmly interested in architecture.
The father purchased a large tract of land about that time in Van Buren Township, this
county, and in the fall of 1858 removed hither with his family. After the death of the
mother, which occurred in the spring of 1886, at the age of seventy-eight years, he made
his home with his daughter, and died Dec. 1, 1888, when eighty-three years old. All of
their six children are living: Frances, Mrs. Weir, resides in Humbolt County, this State;
George is a resident of Van Buren Township, this county; Benjamin, our subject, was the
third child; Lynus is a resident of St. Louis, Mo.; Helen, Mrs. Wager, lives in Van
Buren Township, and Willard lives in Humbolt County.
("Portrait and Biographical Album of Jackson County, Iowa", originally published
in 1889, by the Chapman Brothers, of Chicago, Illinois.)