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
JOHN H. JENKS, president of the Avoca State Bank in the attractive little
City of Avoca, judicial center of Pottawattamie County, has been a resident of
Iowa fully half a century, has continuously maintained his home at Avoca,
where he has stood exponent of loyal and progressive citizenship and constructive business activities, and he is a former representative of this county in the State Legislature.
Mr. Jenks was born on the parental home farm near Springfield, Massachusetts, September 25, 1855, and in the same year his parents moved to Illinois and established the family home in La Salle County. Mr. Jenks is a son of Simeon L. and Sarah (Thomas) Jenks, both likewise natives of Massachusetts and both representatives of families that were there founded in the Colonial era, the Jenks family having given patriot soldiers to the War of the Revolution. Simeon L. Jenks became a prosperous farmer in Illinois, and there he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives. The subject of this review is the elder of their two surviving children, and the younger, Idelet, widow of E. M. Currier, resides at Aurora, Illinois. Simeon L. Jenks was a son of Jeremiah Jenks, who was a farmer in Massachusetts until the time of his death, the original American representatives of the Jenks family having come from their native Wales.
John H. Jenks was reared to the sturdy discipline of the old home farm in
Illinois and after profiting by the advantages of the public schools of the
period he was a student two years in the old Chicago University, which was the
nucleus of the present great University of Chicago. When he was twenty-two
years of age he came to Iowa, in 1878, and established his residence in Avoca.
Here he was engaged in the buying and shipping of live stock during a term of
years as vice president of this institution and December 16, 1901, was
advanced to the presidency, the executive office of which he has since continued
the incumbent. The careful administrative policies of Mr. Jenks have been a
potent influence in upbuilding the business of this bank, which is one of the
substantial and influential financial institutions of this section of the state and which receives a representative support. Mr. Jenks has made wise investment in Iowa land and is the owner of valuable farm properties in
Mr. Jenks is a nephew of Jeremiah Jenks, who became one of the early settlers of Iowa, where he established his home at Osceola, Clarke County, and served as a pioneer county judge.
Mr. Jenks gives his political allegiance to the Republican party, and while
he has no ambition for political preferment he gave characteristically loyal
and effective service as representative of Pottawattamie County in the Lower
House of the Iowa Legislature during the period of 1898-1900, even as he did
during his several years of service as a member of the board of education of
his home city. He is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and represented
his lodge in the Iowa Grand Lodge of the order. He attends and supports the
Avoca Presbyterian Church, of which his wife is a zealous member.
At Mendota, Illinois, in the year 1881, Mr. Jenks was united in marriage to
Miss Anne E. Heslet, who was born and reared in that state and who is a
daughter of the late Samuel M. Heslet. Mr. Heslet was a successful teacher in the
public schools of Illinois and held positions as principal of schools at
Mendota, Clinton and Earlville. He was a gallant soldier of the Union in the
Civil war. Florence M., only child of Mr. and Mrs. Jenks, is the wife of
William M. Knutson, who resides in Hinsdale, Illinois, and who is Iowa field
manager for the Continental Illinois Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, Illinois,
besides having served as a state bank examiner for Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Knutson
have a winsome daughter, Mary Katherine, who celebrates in 1930 her fifth
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