Sunday, March 4, 2012

Backward Glance - William Dudley Ament

Horse drawn farm wagon from The Powerhouse Museum
W.D. Ament manufactured wagons similar to this one
William Dudley Ament was born into an early-American family with German roots. His grandfather, Gabriel Ament, was born in Germany, but married and died in Kentucky. He was a Methodist minister of some renown in the area. William was the son of George Henry and Judith Dudley (Pettus) Ament. He was born on September 22, 1822, in Green County, Kentucky. His brothers and sisters were Gabriel (b. abt. 1820), Joseph P. (b. 1823), Judith A. (b. abt. 1829) and George H. Jr. (b. 1831).

The family removed to Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, before Joseph was born. William was apprenticed at an early age and learned the tinning business. In 1849, his father apparently left for the California gold mines and was never heard of again.

In November of 1845, William moved to Muscatine County, Iowa. He in Bloomington, the name of which was changed to Muscatine in 1849. There, he was very active in the community. In 1855, he established a manufacturing business, making carriages, buggies, and farm spring wagons. His company made over 100 farm wagons and 100 carriages yearly and employed and average of 25 men. I find him mentioned many times as having invented things relevant to buggies and farming. This is an example.

Court House and soldier's moument in Muscatine, Iowa, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views
Court House and soldier's monument in Muscatine, Iowa. ca. 1870
William was married to Amelia M. Robbins on September 8, 1847, in Muscatine County, Iowa. She was the daughter of Joshua Newcomb and Sarah (White) Robbins. Amelia was born on December 8, 1829, in Troy, Lincoln County, Missouri. She and William had seven children: Joseph P. Jr., Mary C., Sarah J., William D. Jr., Julia A., Ella and Amelia M. Ella died in 1871, with Amelia following in 1873. William was left with six children.

On April 2, 1879, William married Mrs. Lucinda (McColm) Watkins. They were married at her mother's home in Muscatine. William and Lucinda continued to reside in Muscatine. 

William seems to have suffered from the effects of diabetes. One obituary recorded: "For some time past he had been confined to his bed, although he had been in feeble health for over a year or more, able at times to come down town and attend to his business, and then again confined to his room. Diabetes, with a general breaking down of the constitution, was the cause of his death." He died on January 21, 1890, at home.

A final tribute to him was published in another obituary. "He was naturally of a warm and hospitable nature and greatly enjoyed the association of his intimate friends. He was a kind and faithful husband and an affectionate father. He was graciously spared severe suffering in his last illness, and while he desired to live he was resigned to the will of his Heavenly Father, ... " He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Muscatine, Muscatine County, Iowa.

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