A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
J. FRED BESCO, the popular and efficient county treasurer of Taylor County,
has proved his versatility and resourcefulness in various other lines of
endeavor as well, and has so ordered his course as to retain at all times the
confidence and good will of his fellow men. He has been long active and
influential in connection with political affairs in Taylor County, and is known and
valued as a loyal and public-spirited citizen.
Mr. Besco was born in Wapello County, Iowa, August 28, 1870, and is a son of
Joseph E. and Isabelle (Steele) Besco, the former of whom was born near
Portsmouth, Ohio, and the latter at Bridgeport, Iowa, where her parents were
Joseph E. Besco came to Taylor County, Iowa, from Wapello County, in the
spring of 1871. He ranked among the substantial citizens and farmers of the
county many years, and here he and his wife remained until their death. He was a
youth at the time of accompanying his parents to Iowa, in the late '50s, and
both he and his father represented this state as gallant soldiers of the
Union in the Civil war, he having served during virtually the entire period of
conflict and after being captured by the enemy passed ninety days in a
Confederate prison at Milen, Georgia. He was a stalwart in the ranks of the
Republican party and was an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic.
His father, Henry Besco, who had been in the foundry business at Portsmouth, Ohio, came with his family to Iowa in the later '50s and here passed the remainder of his life, his Civil war service having been with the Seventeenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, the old flag of which is now displayed in the rotunda of the state capitol. Scott Steele, maternal grand-father of the subject of this
review, was a native of Scotland and became a pioneer farmer in Iowa, where he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives.
J. Fred Besco was an infant at the time of the family removal to Taylor
County, where he was reared on the home farm and received the advantages of the public schools of the period. He here continued his active association with farm industry until he was about twenty-five years of age, and he supplemented his education by eighteen months of study in a normal school in Des Moines. He made a record of five years of successful service as a teacher in the public schools, and in the period of the Spanish-American war he held the
position of deputy treasurer of Taylor County during an interval of fourteen months. By successive elections he held the office of county auditor from 1903 until 1905, and he was engaged in the dry-goods business at Bedford about four years. He thereafter was employed thirteen years in the Citizens State Bank of this city, in which he won advancement to the position of assistant cashier. In 1926 he was elected county treasurer, and the popular estimate placed upon his administration was significantly shown when he was reelected, with no opposing candidate, in November, 1928. Mr. Besco has long been influential in the Taylor County councils of the Republican party, he is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he and his wife hold membership in the Christian Church in their home city. Mrs. Besco, whose maiden name was Lillie Cooper, was born in Texas and reared in West Virginia, and their
marriage was solemnized in 1927.