A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
EDWIN RICHARD LAY. For more than thirty years the New England Store has
been one of the best known mercantile establishments of Marshalltown, and for
all but five years of this period has been owned and directed by Edwin Richard
Lay, a recognized leader among the business men of the city. Mr. Lay has
also been one of the prominent factors in the development and progress of the
city, where his interests are centered and where he has established an enviable
reputation for integrity and fair dealing.
Mr. Lay was born at Kewanee, Illinois, December 23, 1864, and is a son of
Nelson and Mariette (Towsley) Lay. Nelson Lay was born at Saybrook,
Connecticut, in January, 1812, and was a youth of twenty-two years when he left the
comforts of an eastern home to strike out for the then unknown West in search of
fortune. He arrived at Kenosha, Wisconsin, then know as Pike Creek, in
1834, and established himself in a mercantile business in a modest way. He
continued to reside there for twenty years, during which time he developed a
prosperous business, but in 1854 moved to Kewanee, Illinois, of which city he
became one of the founders and foremost citizen. After establishing himself
thoroughly as a reliable and substantial merchant he also went into banking and
the grain business, and in the latter connection became the forty-third member
of the Chicago Board of Trade, and lived successively at Kewanee and Geneva,
Illinois, until finally moving to Chicago, where his death occurred in 1891,
interment being made at Kewanee. Mr. Lay was always prominent in public
life, and during the administration of the war governor of Illinois, Hon.
Richard Yates, served in the State Legislature. He was a personal friend of the
governor and named his son, Edwin Richard, after him. In 1836 Mr. Lay was
united in marriage with Miss Mariette Towsley, who was born April 1, 1818, at
Hannibal, New York, and came with her parents to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1835.
This was the first marriage consummated between a white couple in
Wisconsin, south of Milwaukee, and it was necessary for Mr. lay to travel on foot from
Kenosha to Milwaukee to secure an appointment from the governor of the state
for a justice of the peace to perform the ceremony. Mr. and Mrs. lay lived
happily together for sixty-one years, her death occurring at Chicago,
December 18, 1898,and burial also being made at Kewanee.
The youngest of the family of eight children, all of the others of whom are
deceased, Edwin Richard Lay resided at Chicago from 1865 until 1871, in which
year he went to Geneva, Illinois, where he secured a high school education.
In 1881 he secured a position in the wholesale department of the great
mercantile firm of Marshall Field & Company, at Chicago, which he later served as
a traveling salesman, and during the seventeen years that he was identified
with this monumental enterprise gained experience that was to prove of
incalculable value to him when he embarked upon a business of his own. On September
1, 1898, with John Bannatyne as partner, Mr. Lay came to Marshalltown and
established a modest mercantile establishment known as the New England Store,
which occupied the first floor of his present location, with a stock of dry
goods and floor coverings. Five years later the partnership was mutually
dissolved, Mr. Lay becoming the sole owner, and from then to the present the
business has grown steadily and consistently, the modern establishment, at 131 East
Main Street, now occupying three floors and being up-to-date in every
respect. Mr. Lay carries a complete line of the most desirable goods and his
patrons have come to place implicit trust in his integrity. Mr. Lay is a Mason
and a Shriner, and his religious faith is that of the Congregational Church.
He is a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Theological Seminary
and of the directorate of the Young Men's Christian Association at
Marshalltown, and belongs to the Elmwood Country Club and the Chamber of Commerce of
Mr. Lay married Miss Alice Hinchliff, daughter of William Hinchliff,
formerly a builder and contractor of Chicago, and to this union there has been born
a daughter, Clemewell, a graduate of Wellseley College, and with the Master's
degree from Columbia University, and now an instructor in the Scripps
College, Claremont, California.
Posted at this site with Debbie's permission.
*Check your facts, do not know how accurate.
June 12, 1860
Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois
Line 33 531 571
Nelson Lay, 48, merchant, Connecticut
Mariette Lay, 42, wife, New York
Hiram Lay, 21, Wisconsin
Fanny Lay, 19, Wisconsin
Jane Lay, 17, Wisconsin, at school
Helen Lay, 15, Wisconsin, at school
Chas. Lay, 12, Wisconsin, at school
June 22, 1870
10-WD Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Line 9 381 478
Nelson Lay, 58, real estate dealer, Connecticut
Mariette Lay, 52, keeping house, New York
Nellie Lay, 25, at home, Wisconsin
Charles Lay, 21, clerk in store, Wisconsin
Richard E. Lay, 5, at home, Illinois