Adelphia Woods McDonald Sylvester – Early Citizen of Council Bluffs

Adelphia Woods was born in 1825 in Sangamon County, Illinois. By 1840 she was living in Des Moines, Iowa Territory. In 1845 she married Milton McDonald. Milton was born in 1817 in Kentucky. Shortly after they were married the couple moved to Putnam County, Missouri where they had two children William and Amanda.

Missouri must not have suited the couple as they were back in Iowa by 1851. They settled on a farm in Garner Township. In 1854 they encountered tragedy when their son William passed away. The year also saw the birth of their third child Marshall “Frank”. Milton and Adelphia had one more child in 1858, Mary Francis.

In 1862 Milton McDonald passed away at home after a short illness. He is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

In 1863 Adelphia married John Anderson Sylvester. J.A. Sylvester was born in North Carolina in 1829. In 1850 he was living with his family in Randolph County, Indiana. In 1857 he was making daguerreotypes in Minnesota and in 1859 he was teaching school in St. Joseph, Missouri. He finally came to Council Bluffs in 1861.

Adelphia and J.A. had three children, John Milton, Adelphia “Ada” and Elmer. The family remained on the farm in Garner township.

The Sylvester’s lived a quiet life on the farm and by accounts had a successful apple orchard. In 1878 J.A. grew an apple that was 12 inches in circumference and weighed close to a pound.

Adelphia Sylvester passed away on November 12, 1900 at the age of 75. J.A. passed away 5 years later a the age of 75. They are both buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

In an April 22, 1930 article of the Nonpareil we learn about a clock that Adelphia received from her mother as a wedding present. The clock was made in 1829 in Plymouth, CT and the works were made with walnut cogs and wheels. It survived the overland journeys and was a treasured possession. By 1930 the clock was owned by Adelphia’s son Elmer. The clock had quit keeping time and was put away in an attic. A watchmaker at the Emil H. Leffert Company was able to repair the clock and it once again kept good time.

On July 4th, 1961 an article in the Daily Nonpareil featured an American flag that was made by Adelphia in 1862. In 1961 the flag was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Magarrell. Mrs. Magarrell was the daughter of Elmer Sylvester.