Lee Mansion Past
Lee Mansion Present
The Capt. Daniel S. and Fannie L. (Brooks) Lee Mansion and the land directly under it are owned by the Buchanan Co. Historical Society. Renovation continues as funding permits. When completed, it will be furnished with pieces from the Society’s collection and opened as a house museum and meeting facility.
Capt. Lee was a prominent early settler in Independence. He was born on October 16, 1817, in Genesee County, New York. Following the death of his mother, the family was broken up and Capt. Lee was supporting himself by the time he was 16 years old. He worked on area farms during the growing season and attended school in the winter months. He left Genesee County in 1842 with $22 and all his belongings in a small hand satchel.
Lee made his way to Akron, Ohio, by way of Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio. His resources being greatly reduced, he advertised for students and opened a school. For the next four and one half years he also studied the law with the Hon. William C. Dodge. He was admitted to the bar in the Fall of 1846 and opened his own office in Akron, Ohio, in 1847.
He and the former Fannie L. Brooks were married in Northfield, Ohio, in 1850. Fannie Brooks Lee was born on March 12, 1828, in Bethel, Vermont. At the age of 6 years, she moved with her parents, Mr. And Mrs. P.A. Brooks, to Summit County, Ohio, where she lived until her marriage.
In 1851, the Hon. D.S.Lee headed west in search of brighter prospects. He arrived in Dubuque, Iowa, where he stayed for several months teaching school and studying the law. He was admitted to the bar of the Iowa Supreme Court in 1852. He again headed west and arrived in Independence. Due to high water in the Wapsipinicon River, he was delayed for two weeks and during that time, he decided to stay in the young city. He was the first professional lawyer in Independence and also served as land agent for a company based in Dubuque.
Mr. Lee promptly requested his wife join him in their new home. In 1852, he was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney. In 1854, Mrs. Lee’s parents and siblings followed them to Independence. In the middle 1850’s he helped organize the first bank with partners P.E. and E.B. Older. This was a prosperous venture until the Panic of 1857 when the bank was wiped out. In 1858, Lee helped organize the Buchanan County Agricultural Society which was responsible for holding early county fairs. Mr. Lee helped draft the constitution. At the first exhibition produced by this society, Lee won the prizes of $4.00 for the best breeding mares and $5.00 for the best stallion, 5 years and older. Both Lees served on committees which organized the 4th of July celebration in 1860. The purpose of the event was to raise money to purchase a bell for the town of Independence.
With the beginning of the “War of the Rebellion”, Daniel Lee made a rousing patriotic speech at a mass meeting at the county court house in Independence. He ended the speech by becoming the first volunteer from Buchanan County. He helped raise a company of men which eventually became Company E assigned to the 5th Regiment Iowa Volunteers. On June 1, 1861, Lee was elected to the rank of captain. Mrs. Lee was also involved in the effort. On October 25th the same year, she was elected to the office of president of a soldier’s aid society in Independence.
During his three years of service, Capt. Lee proved to be a very capable officer. He served under General Fremont in Missouri, and under Gen. Grant for several battles leading up the siege of Vicksburg. Capt. Lee transferred to the Army of the Gulf and was on the staff of Gen. Charles L. Matthies for eight months before mustering out of the service in August of 1864.
Capt. Lee returned to a newly incorporated Independence and was the first person elected to fill the office of Mayor. He served for one and one half terms before resigning to devote all of his time to personal business pursuits. In 1867, Capt. and Mrs. Lee moved into their new residence constructed on property at the east edge of town. Capt. Lee continued his political career in 1869 when he was elected to the office of Representative to the Iowa State Legislature. He held this office through the 13th Assembly. The Lees continued to be active in the social events of Independence during their later years. In 1877, Capt. Lee became a charter member of the Early Settler’s Association of Buchanan Co., Iowa.
For several years preceding his death in 1878, Capt. Lee suffered steadily declining health. He died at the home of his brother-in-law, Charles Brooks, on May 25th, of a condition described as “softening of the brain”. Capt. Lee was memorialized in the Buchanan County History of 1881 as being of “medium height, straight as an arrow, with a well developed head, and was a strikingly handsome man, easy and graceful in every movement, affable and kind.” Mrs. Lee remained at her brother’s home for several years before returning to her home on First Street East in Independence.
Fannie L. Lee began experiencing declining health early in the new century. By January 1904, Mrs. Lee, her brothers, Charles Brooks and George Brooks, and her sister and brother-in-law, Harriet and A.P. Barber, had entered into an agreement to provide for the management of Mrs. Lee’s affairs. Fannie L. Brooks Lee died at her home in Independence in the fall of 1904. The funeral was conducted several days later at the Lee Home. Mrs. Lee was buried with her husband in Oakwood Cemetery in Independence, Iowa
All text Copied from the independence historical society.
Photos showing the current construction progress will be posted soon.
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