Harvey J. Skiff was one of the early lawyers of Jasper County. He was born in Alleghany County, New York, in 1821, and died at Newton, Iowa, in 1904, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857, and took a prominent part in its proceedings, and was the last surviving member of that body, with the exception of Aylette R. Cotton, formerly a prominent lawyer of Clinton County, who afterward removed to California, where he lived to a great age,and died only a year or two ago.
Mr. Skiff was highly educated, a graduate of Amhurst College, and studied law with Millard Fillmore, afterwards President of the United States. He came West in 1849, stopping at Oskaloosa until 1851, when he removed to and engaged in the practice at Newton. He was a lawyer of marked ability and established a successful practice, in which he continued until the commencement of the Civil War, when he enlisted and was made Captain of Company "B," in Col. M. M. Crocker's Regiment, the 13th Iowa Infantry. During the more than three years' military service he had the misfortune to partially lose his hearing, which prevented his resumption of the practice after his return from the army. He had decided literary taste, was a wide reader and may be properly said to have been an accomplished scholar, as well as an able lawyer. His latter years were spent in study and quiet retirement. I can personally testify that he was a noble and most interesting man. He was for a time a partner of J. G. Meek, who subsequently removed to Ottumwa, leaving the practice to engage in mercantile business.
"Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa" by Edward Holcomb Stiles, 1916