That the life history of James H. Cleverley is a record of success is due to the persistent effort and intelligently directed industry which he has displayed through the years of his connection with agricultural interests of Story county. Born in Allamakee county, Iowa, on the 13th of July, 1871, he is a representative of one of the well known and highly honored families of central Iowa, his parents being Jonathan and Elizabeth J. (Owen) Cleverley, the former a native of London and the latter of Coventry, England. Jonathan Cleverley, whose birth occurred in the world's metropolis on the 12th of April, 1836, is a son of William and Ann (Lovett) Cleverley. The mother passed away in England and later the father brought his family of four children, a son and three daughters, to the United States. He arrived here in 1847 and took up his abode in Herkimer county, New York, where he made his home until 186o, in which year he came to Iowa and remained with his son until his death in 1878 at the age of seventy-five years.
Jonathan Cleverley, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. William Cleverley, was eleven years of age when brought to the United States and the year following his arrival he began working in a lumberyard. Later he was engaged in a mill for a while and then began lumbering in the woods, altogether being connected with the lumber business for seven years. In 1854 he came west to Iowa, locating in Allamakee county, and was there variously occupied for some time, giving his attention principally, however, to farming. In 1859 he purchased a farm of eighty acres, upon which he made his home until 1876, in which year he removed to Jasper county, there investing in one hundred and sixty acres, which tract is still in his possession. This remained his home until 1906, when he withdrew from active work and became a resident of Collins, where he is now living in well earned retirement. That he was ambitious, industrious and persevering and possessed good business ability is indicated by the fact that when he first came to this country he began working for one dollar per week, while his father received seventy-five cents per day, the combined sum going for the support of the family. Today he is numbered among the most substantial and well-to-do men of Collins, having acquired a competency which makes it possible for him to enjoy all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. He is one of the prominent and influential men of the community in which he lives and gives stalwart support to the republican party although he has never sought nor desired public office. He has, however, been a leader in Masonic circles in Maxwell, being considered the best posted Mason in this section of the state. He is also one of the oldest, having joined the order in Winneshiek county forty-three years ago. He assisted in organizing and was a member of Herald Lodge, No. 455, A. F. & A. M., at Maxwell. He is likewise a charter member of Fervent Lodge, No. 513, A. F. & A. M., at Collins, and was its first master, serving in that office for five years. He and his wife both hold membership in the Order of the Eastern Star. Jonathan Cleverley was married on the 27th of July, 1862, to Miss Jane Elizabeth Owen, who was born in Coventry, England, and came with an uncle to the United States when nineteen years of age, settlement being made in Allamakee county, Iowa. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Cleverley were born eight children but only four now survive, namely: Mary, the wife of William Kimberly, a farmer of Jasper county, Iowa; Maria, who wedded William Clapper, of Oklahoma; James H.; and Frank E., operating the old home farm.
James H. Cleverley whose name introduces this review, was reared in his parents' home, no event of special importance coming to vary the routine of life for him during the period of his boyhood and youth. In the public schools he acquired a good education, passing throughout consecutive grades to his graduation from the Collins high school in due course of time. He remained under the parental roof until attaining his majority, when he laid the foundation for a happy home of his own by his marriage, on the 4th of November, 1894, to Miss Orlena A. Crabb, of Collins. She is a daughter of Vincent and Hester (Wells) Crabb, who came to Story county from Indiana in 1877. The father was a veteran of the Civil war and passed away in 1879 as a result of disease contracted during his term of service. The mother still survives and makes her home in Collins.
After his marriage James H. Cleverley started out independently in the business world, engaging in farming in Jasper county as a renter for three years. At the end of that period he purchased a farm of one hundred and twenty acres on section 24, Indian Creek township, known as the old Strickler farm. That remained the scene of his business activity for four years, when he purchased the Andrew J. Marshall place, upon which he now makes his home. When it came into his possession it consisted of one hundred and sixty acres constituting the northwest quarter of section 23, Indian Creek township. He did not dispose of his property on section, 24, however, until three years later. In 1906 he became the owner of eighty acres adjoining his place, so that his farm now consists of two hundred and forty acres. Under his direction it has been greatly developed and improved, for he has made a careful study of agriculture, employs the most modern and progressive methods and, moreover, has a capacity for wise management and sound business ability. He receives a good annual revenue from his farm and is recognized as one of the substantial agriculturists of Indian Creek township.
With the passing of the years the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cleverley has been blessed with seven children: Ruth L., Flossie M., Willard J., Opal B., Wayne H., Alice and Mildred, the family circle remaining untouched by the hand of death.
Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise Mr. Cleverley has been a loyal supporter of republican principles and has been an influential and effective worker in the ranks of that party. He served for four years as assessor of Indian Creek township and is now serving as a member of the township board of trustees. Progressive and public-spirited in his citizenship, he strongly advocates those measures and matters which have for their object the improvement and upbuilding of the community, and his devotion to the general good has ever remained an unquestioned fact. Whether in the discharge of public duties or in the management of private business affairs he has ever been actuated by those qualities which speak for good citizenship and he is held in high regard and esteem by all who have come in contact with him.
from History of Story County, Iowa, 1911