Monday, December 17, 2018

"I Will Light Candles This Christmas ...."


A little music seems called for as solstice, then Christmas, approach.

So here's a setting for Howard Thurman's "I Will Light Candles This Christmas" by Kim Andre Arnesen, premiered by the St. Olaf College Choir and Orchestra (Northfield, Minn.) during last year's holiday concert.

Now get out there and light a few candles yourself this morning!
   

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sol Dawson apparently wasn't eaten by Alferd Packer

Vintage image of the Cannibal Plateau gravesite/Denver Public Library
Brenda Custer Randall/Find a Grave
It's unlikely we'll ever know what became of Solomon Simpson Dawson, a young man from Chariton who vanished somewhere in the West --- perhaps Colorado --- sometime during the 1870s.

Sol is a footnote to Lucas County history for a couple of reasons. One is his vanishing act. The other is the part he and another young man, Thomas Martin,  played in capturing Hiram Wilson, the Missouri horse thief who fatally shot Sheriff Gaylord Lyman on the morning of July 6, 1870.

Here's an abbreviated account of the capture from The Chariton Democrat of July 12, 1870: "About four o'clock (on July 6), however, organization was secured, and the company (of about 300 men) started through the brush (east of Chariton) from south to north, in regular picket line, men being also stationed at regular distances to watch for the game. Mr.Copeland, the banker, was the first man to discover him, and while he started to find assistance and direct others how to proceed, two young men --- mere boys --- named Thomas Martin and Solomon Dawson, came upon him --- neither party seeing the other until they had come within five or six feet of each other. The thief and murderer was coming toward them in a stooping attitude, with his pistol pointed at Martin, and demanded of him in a sharp whisper to 'keep still.' Martin made for him, and when the man saw there could be no escape without a fight, he fired at Martin, the shot passing over his shoulder. With that, Martin struck him over the head with his gun, partially stunning him and almost knocking him down. He then sprang upon the desperado, threw him down, and in a moment more assistance had come, when the villain surrendered."

Wilson was lynched that night for his crime; Dawson and Larson split a $300 reward offered by the Lucas County Board of Supervisors (the reward was supposed to be $500, but the supervisors cheaped out when a resolution to pay was introduced at their Sept. 7, 1870, meeting and cut it by $200).

+++

Born about 1847,  Sol was an Indiana native who arrived in Lucas County with his parents, Thomas Simpson and Elizabeth (Prickett) Dawson, during 1855. They were living on a farm west of Chariton during 1860, but by 1870 had moved into town and both father, Thomas, and son, Solomon, age 22, were working as laborers when the 1870 census was taken. There were 10 Dawson children total, but four apparently died young. The survivors all were boys: Zadock, William, Solomon, John, Henry and Austin.

Sol was just a little too young to have served in the Civil War although his father and elder brother, Zadock, did, both in Company K, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

Not long after 1870, Sol headed west --- probably in search of gold or silver, perhaps using the reward money as his stake. We know that he remained in touch with his family because on the 9th of October, 1872, the following item was published in The Patriot:

"A letter from Sol Dawson, now in Colorado, to his father in this place, relates an incident wherein he narrowly escaped losing his scalp. It appears that Sol and another fellow were out hunting, and were set upon by a party of a dozen Indians, who fired upon them. They returned the fire, and brought down two redskins, but in the melee Sol's friend was dangerously wounded but succeeded in getting to the camp where he died a short time after." 

At some point after that, perhaps about 1874, communication ceased. The final report about Sol --- for many years at least --- appeared in The Leader of June 21, 1879, when Dan Baker wrote, "It is reported in town that Sol Dawson has been killed by Indians in Idaho, but the report needs confirmation."

There were no follow-ups to this item, but the phrasing of a report published 40 years later in newspapers across the country, including The Herald-Patriot of Dec. 13, 1928, suggest that nothing further had been heard from Sol and his whereabouts had remained a mystery. Here's the report:


PECULIAR CASE REVIVED IN WEST
Brother of Chariton Man Believed to Have Been One of the Victims

Alferd Packer
The following from the Ottumwa Courier is of interest to this community as Solomon Simpson Dawson was a brother to Wm. Dawson of this city and resided here before he started on his ill fated trip:

Denver, Dec. 10 (AP) --- Colorado's famous "cannibalism case" of 1874 has come into the limelight again with the arrival here of Henry R. Dawson of Ottumwa, Iowa, seeking evidence that his long-lost brother, Solomon Simpson Dawson, was a victim in the episode.

Musty newspaper files and old court records have failed to bear out his belief that his brother may have been a victim of Alferd Packer, prospector-guide who was convicted of killing a party of five prospectors in 1874, and now Dawson plans to visit the party's graves in Dead Man's gulch, near Gold Hill, and study headstone inscriptions.

Packer was the guide of a party of prospectors which left Bingham Canyon, Utah, in the fall of 1873 for the San Juan country in Colorado. Following months of privation, Packer returned to civilization with a long tale of privations encountered, and confessed he had eaten the bodies of his companions to prevent starvation.

The remains of the bodies later were found and authorities were led to believe Packer had slain his hunger-weakened companions. He was convicted of manslaughter and served a sentence at Canon City. Packer died in 1906.

+++

There were no further reports, so it seems likely that Henry Dawson's mission was unsuccessful. There were no headstones in "Dead Man's gulch" to examine, only a plaque on a memorial rock at the gravesite on what now is known sometimes as Cannibal Plateau. But it would be interesting to know if more than the possible disappearance of Sol at about the time the incident near Lake City occurred explained Henry's trip to Colorado.

The Cannibal Plateau remains were exhumed during 1989 and examined, but the identifications attributed to the victims at the time their deaths occurred --- Israel Swan, George Noon, Frank Miller, James Humphreys and Wilson Bell --- were not challenged.

And Solomon Simpson Dawson's disappearance remains a mystery.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Shopping at Piper's more than a century later ...


I stopped by Piper's (Meat, Groceries, Candy) on the northeast corner of the Chariton square yesterday afternoon to see how the crew was holding up in the Christmas rush --- homemade candy is shipped worldwide from here during the holiday season from an old-fashioned store that its first tenant, Fred Stanley, still would recognize. He opened his grocery store here during the summer of 1894 when the building was brand new.


Owner Jill Kerns seemed to be holding up well.


Her mother, Anne, was seated nearby wrapping the homemade mints that are served as after-meal treats at the Hy-Vee Market Grille, just across the street east in the Hotel Charitone.


Elsewhere, the store crew was busy filling orders for candy, meat and groceries while the candy kitchen crew worked to keep up with demand in the rear of the building.


Joe L. Piper bought what now is Piper's from Fred Stanley during December of 1908, greeting customers in his new business for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Many years later, his son, Bob, sold the business and building to the Kerns. It's not often that you find a retail business operating under the same name in the same place for 110 years with only two families of owners.

Here's the story from The Chariton Herald of Thursday, Dec. 10, 1908, announcing the sale under the headline, "New Chariton Grocerman" ---

"A deal was consummated Monday of this week whereby J. L. Piper purchased the Fred C. Stanley grocery stock, fixtures and good will and he is now in possession of the establishment. Mr. Piper is not new in the grocery business, having conducted a store at Oakley for six years in connection with his brother, R.D. Piper, and for two years after his brother came to Chariton. The new proprietor of the Stanley store has lived in Chariton almost five years and is quite well known by most citizens of this town. He has been in the railway mail service for some time and is glad to get back into the business he is so well acquainted with and likes. Until he can be relieved of his duties in the mail service the establishment will be in charge of Mr. Stanley and all customers and friends of the retiring proprietor will be as kindly treated in the future as they have in the past. The advertisement of the new proprietor will be found in the Herald this week. Drop in and get in touch with him."

+++

Elsewhere on the front page of The Herald was a paragraph about Fred Stanley's plans: "Mr. Fred C. Stanley, who sold his grocery establishment to J.L. Piper the fore part of this week, expects to go on the road for Tone Bros. of Des Moines along about January 1st. His territory will be northern Iowa, and it is quite likely he will move his family to some point that will be nearer his field."

And here's the advertisement inside The Herald of Dec. 10, also announcing the change in ownership.


Anyhow, I visited with Jill and Anne for a while yesterday and then picked up my order and headed home --- two half-pound packages, one of sliced ham and the other of turkey; a jar of Amish Wedding sweet garlic dill pickles; and a half pound each of homemade toffee and double milk-chocolate dipped homemade toffee.


There's not much of the chocolate-dipped toffee left.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Methodist choir receives a scathing review

Chariton's First Methodist Church as modified in 1879. This building served the congregation until 1899.

As Christmas approached during 1888, Chariton Methodists were preparing to host the fourth quarterly meeting of the Chariton Conference of the Des Moines District of the Iowa Methodist Episcopal Church. At the time, the Chariton Conference consisted of 26 congregations in a four-county area and the Rev. W.C. Martin, presiding elder, had lived in Chariton since his appointment. He also edited The Gospel Vidette, the conference newspaper, printed in Chariton.

These quarterly meetings were high points of the year for Iowa Methodists as they moved from host congregation to host congregation, one of the warmer-weather meetings generally coinciding with a camp meeting. And a high point of each meeting was the closing worship service, in this case scheduled for Sunday evening, Dec. 15, in the old brick church (above). 

The chorister, who directed both the choir and congregational singing, was an important part of these services and seems to have faced major challenges when organizing music for the December service in Chariton. Unfortunately for the Methodists, the editor of The Chariton Herald was in attendance during that service and saw fit to write a scathing review of the result, damning with faint praise if you will, in his edition of December. 20:

+++

Last Sunday evening, the regular quarterly meeting services were held at the M.E. church, the pulpit being filled by the Presiding Elder, Rev. W.C. Martin. The choir was composed of two bass voices and one alto, Bro. Pepper, the chorister, being compelled to furnish the soprano, although there were a number of good soprano voices down in the audience where some of the members of the choir seemed to have taken refuge as disinterested observers.

Where there is such an abundance of musical talent as there is in the M.E. church it is a positive shame that the chorister should be placed in such embarrassing circumstances. But Bro. Pepper proved himself equal to the occasion, and if the music was not made up of the most exquisitely soothing tones, what it lacked in this regard was more than compensated for by the life and strength imparted and, under the circumstances, we don't see how it could have been done any better.

Mrs. Nellie Clow presided at the organ with becoming grace, proving herself to be master of the situation, though the rapidly succeeding cadences at times seemed to betray an anxiety to be done with a disagreeable task at the earliest possible moment, indicating that she, too, was not wholly oblivious to the surrounding embarrassments.

Such treatment of chorister and organist on the occasion of the most important public services of the church, to say the least, is not very flattering to the sense of obligation of the musical talent of the church who refuse to join the choir and assist in the worship of song.

Ouch!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"We're from Baxoje, Baxoje, state of all the land ....


I had a good time over the noon hour yesterday talking about Lucas County's Native American past with Chariton Community School third-graders, all of whom are extraordinarily bright and attentive. Many in this group of 100 or so visited the museum as second-graders during May of 2017, so there were familiar faces in the crowd.

I'm by no means an expert on Native American history, but had the big advantage of being available; therefore, the invitation.

I put together a double-sided hand-out that summarizes some of the things I think every Lucas Countyan in good standing should know about her or his home county and thought I'd post it here this morning.


One of the items I find interesting, under "Stuff to Remember," is that although Iowa is named for the Ioway tribe, the Ioway know themselves as "Baxoje" (pronounced BAH-ko-jay). Thing of it is, "Baxoje" would work almost as well as "Ioway" in the Iowa Corn Song, but I'm not suggesting we modify our state's name at this late date.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Anderson Mason and the right to vote

Berrier, G. Galin, "The Negro Suffrage Issue in Iowa - 1865-1868," The Annals of Iowa, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Spring 1968), Page 259.

I wrote a little yesterday about Anderson Mason, the Chariton barber who in December of 1868 became the first black Lucas Countyan to cast a vote.

There's at least one more story to tell about Mr. Mason, related to an event earlier that year, that suggests he was no one to be trifled with. And that may be why he infuriated John V. Faith, the racist copperhead who had founded The Chariton Democrat during the previous year.

The bone of contention was Chariton's road tax. At the time, there were no road or street crews in Lucas County. Instead, a road tax was levied against property owners who then had options --- either pay the tax in cash or work it off building and maintaining streets and roads. Many selected the work option and that was how things got done.

But when the tax collector approached Mason during the summer of 1868 --- he refused to pay. And he also refused to work on the roads. He was not, he said, entitled to vote --- a right he did not gain until after that year's Nov. 3 general election --- and therefore, he was not about to pay the road tax either. The matter went to trial, and Faith reported upon it in The Democrat of July 25, 1868, as follows:

+++

Legal Intelligence --- A rather interesting case came up before Justice Woodward last week, in which G.W. Dungan, road supervisor of district No. 4, was plaintiff and Anderson Mason (colored) was defendant.

Dungan had warned him out to work on the road as required by law, but Mason, entertaining high constitutional opinions upon the law, declined upon the grounds that he was not a voter of the State and, therefore, not compelled to work. Suit was instituted before the Justice, to recover the amount due for poll tax.

It was agreed between the parties that the case should be tried by a jury composed of two Democrats, two radicals (this translates as Republican in John-V.-Faith-ese) and two darkeys, all of whom were summoned, but one of the Democrats, not having the fear of God before his eyes nor a very strong inclination to officiate as a member of the aforesaid jury, refused to come, he having got wind of the disgusting proceeding. He was arrested on a writ of attachment for contempt, but was excused by the court.

The court adjourned for dinner before the panel was full. On resuming the trial, the other Democratic juryman failed to come to time, though the niggers and the other two radicals were present. After calling at the door for the delinquent juryman, the justice concluded that the panel had better be filled from among the bystanders.

In the meantime the two white radicals began to grow nervous under the practical operation of social and political equality, and after contemplating their unenviable situation for a few minutes they declined serving and retreated in huge disgust. The darkeys, however, feeling a sense of their importance and being desirous of laying aside all form prejudices against their white allies, maintained their seats with stoical fortitude, till the justice, seeing the impracticability of getting a jury composed of two political extremes, discharged them and ordered a new jury to be impaneled of white men, which was accordingly done.

The evidence was heard and the jury found for the defendant.

+++

In other words, the jury agreed with Anderson Mason --- Because he could not vote, he was not required to pay the road tax.

The provision limiting suffrage to white males had been included in Iowa's 1857 Constitution and the Union's Civil War victory had not changed that. Until ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1870, suffrage remained in the hands of the states.

An amendment to the Iowa Constitution striking the word "white" finally passed the Iowa Legislature, thanks in large part to the work of Davenport Republican Edward Russell. The Legislature endorsed the amendment for the second time on March 31, 1868, and scheduled a statewide vote on it for Nov. 3.

Public opinion on the amendment was split --- in Lucas County, it would appear, about 50-50 --- and there was no guarantee it would pass.

That was the situation Anderson Mason and those jurors faced during the summer of 1868 when the issue of taxation without representation played out locally.

In the end, the amendment did pass on Nov. 3 with a 56.5 majority, although 20 counties --- including Lucas --- failed to endorse it. As the table above, lifted from a 1968 "Annals of Iowa" article by G. Galen Berrier, shows, 49.2 percent of Lucas County voters favored the amendment --- not quite enough. Among Lucas County's neighbors, the amendment passed in Clarke County (62.8%), Warren (61.6%), Monroe (55.9%) and Wayne (51.7%) but failed in Marion (46.7%), Appanoose (49.2%) and Decatur (42.9%).

So as of November 1868, Anderson's right as a black Iowan to vote was established --- and during December, he exercised it during city elections. Thereafter, presumably, he paid the road tax.

+++

Anderson was an Ohio native, born there about 1837, among the youngest of 13 children of Joseph and Sarah Mason, and so was in his early 30s while a resident of Chariton. He married Nancy Ann Davis on Jan. 10, 1854, in Miami County, Ohio.

Before 1860, Anderson and Nancy and their eldest son, also Joseph, moved west to Henry County, Iowa, with several of his siblings and their widowed mother, who died in Mount Pleasant during February of 1876 at the age of 97. He was working as a barber in Mount Pleasant during 1859-60.

Anderson served during the Civil War in Co. C, 114th U.S. Colored Troops --- an infantry unit. And not long after the war ended, the family relocated to Chariton where his shop was located in the vicinity of the Hatcher House hotel on the southwest corner of the square.

The family left Chariton for Creston during 1877, but by 1880 Anderson had opened a shop in Council Bluffs, then moved it across the Missouri River into Omaha by 1885. The remainder of his life was spent in Omaha, where he died During January of 1914, age about 77.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Lucas County's first black voter: Anderson Mason

I love a good footnote and thanks to John V. Faith, the vagabond copperhead editor who arrived in Chariton during 1867 to found The Democrat, we know who Lucas County's first black voter was --- Anderson Mason, a barber whose shop was on the south side of the square, during December of 1868.

Faith and his Democrat were obsessed with race and he had been fit to be tied earlier in the year when Iowa voters (all of them white males) went to the polls and approved an amendment to the state constitution eliminating the world "white" from voting requirements.

So when Chariton city elections rolled around during mid-December of that year, there were five or six eligible black electors in Lucas County, but Mr. Mason was the only one who chose to vote, according to Faith. Equally interesting, though, was the fact that in addition to Republican and Democrat nominees there were five write-in candidates --- four of them black --- for the three offices.

Here's Faith's report of the election from The Democrat of Dec. 24, 1868, published under the headline, "The City Election." 

+++

The election last Saturday to choose a Mayor, Recorder, and Marshal, passed off without creating much interest. The Repblicans nominated a regular ticket while the Democrats had only one candidate in the field --- W.J. Hall, for Marshal. There were only 97 (sic) votes cast, with the following result.

For Mayor
E.B. Woodward, 87
Anderson Mason (colored), 8
George Scott (do), 8

For Marshal
W.J. Hall (White), 79
George Todd (colored), 5
S.D. Hickman (Black and tan), 13

For Recorder
D.T. Henderson (Black and tan), 70
Rufus Allen (colored), 8

One "colored" vote was cast --- that of Anderson Mason Esq., the barber, who can now rest upon the consciousness of having polled the first black vote ever cast in Lucas County. The other colored persons, with more good sense, stayed away from the polls.

+++

A couple of things to note in the report. Emmet B. Woodward, successful mayoral candidate, was the only man in the field whose race or political sympathies was not indicated. Woodward was a Civil War hero, reportedly the first Lucas Countyan to respond to President Lincoln's call to arms. Even John Faith would not mess with Emmet Woodward.

Faith identified the Democrat candidate for marshal, W.J. Hall, as "white," four of the five write-in candidates as "colored" and D.T. Henderson, Republican candidate for recorder, and Stephen D. Hickman, write-in candidate for marshal, as "black and tan." Black and tan was thought by Democrats of the day as a derogatory designation for those who supported racial equality at the polls.

+++

I checked the 1870 federal census of Lucas County to see how many black citizens Lucas County actually had during that year --- and the answer is approximately 30. The county had no black residents in either 1850 or 1860 and only one --- a child brought to what now is the Derby area from Pennsylvania by the Throckmorton family --- during 1856.

Census enumerators identified about 20 of the 1870 total as "black" and 10, as "mulatto."

Anderson Mason, his wife, Nancy, and their five children were identified as mulatto. Both senior Masons were Ohio natives who had moved to Lucas County from Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, during the 1860s. The family owned a house valued at $500 and had personal property valued at $300 --- almost exactly the same resources attributed to their next-door neighbors --- my widowed aunt, Eliza Boswell, and her six children who had moved into Chariton from northern Wayne County after the Civil War.

Another of the "colored" write-in candidates also was a next-door neighbor of my aunt --- Rufus Allen, 51, a day laborer born in Virginia, who was enumerated with his son, Daniel, 18, born in Missouri. They were renters rather than property owners.

George Scott, age 30, his wife, Susan, age 34, and their four children also were identified as mulatto. His occupation was not given, but they owned a house and personal property of comparable value to the Masons and the Boswells. George Todd, 49, his wife, Elvira, and their two children owned a house valued at $800 and had $480 in personal property. His occupation was not given. He was a Missouri native, Elvira was born in Kentucky.

I ran out of time while attempting to find out what happened to these 1870 Chariton residents, so this report is only partial. Stephen D. Hickman, the "black and tan," was a law student at the time of his write-in candidacy. He went on to become one of Chariton's most influential --- and affluent --- citizens known until the end for his liberality both in religion (he was Universalist) and social causes.

Anderson Mason, the barber, moved his family to Creston during 1877, then to Council Bluffs and finally to Omaha, where he died during 1914. George Todd and his family moved west into Kansas during the 1870s.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Requiem for a dead horse: Alas, Old Harry

It's unlikely that Old Harry ever set hoof on Chariton's streets, but this noble steed's death in Des Moines during 1883 was top news in The (Chariton) Democrat-Leader of Wednesday, March 7, as Iowans looked back to the day when transportation across much of the state was by stagecoach. Thanks to the miracles of modern databases, I was able to track the story to its origin --- The Des Moines Register of Tuesday, March 6.

Even the headline was lifted verbatim from The Register: "A Noted Horse Dead: Death of 'Old Harry,' the Last of the Stage Horses in Central Iowa." Here's the text:

"Another old settler is gone. Yesterday morning occurred the death of "Old Harry," the time honored old butter colored stage and war horse, of late years in the service of A.T. Johnson & Co.'s bus line. "Old Harry" was familiarly known over the city and in portions of the State. He was a stage horse before the war, between Newton and Grinnell, afterwards from Newton to Des Moines, and in 1867 between Council Bluffs and Sioux City. He was purchased by Mr. Johnson in 1868, and has since figured principally in the bus and baggage line service of this city.

"Old Harry" was probably the last of the pioneer stage horses in Central Iowa. He died of ripe old age, but evinced his characteristic grit by living through this severest of winters. Doubtless if he could have spoken, he would have acknowledged that this January eclipsed the weather of 1856-57. Two years ago "Old Harry" played "possum" in his stall, and was given up for dead, when he returned to life and tarried until yesterday. He was gentle and noble, and widely respected, and his demise creates a void in this community that time and another horse as good alone can fill."

The Democrat-Leader did neglect to include a bit of doggerel that had concluded The Register piece, however. Here it is:

For thirty-two years, dear, 
Burdened old fellow,
He has drawn our old citizens,
Ragged "Old Yellow."


Sunday, December 09, 2018

Nathan W. Kendall and the 1863 Battle of Springfield


Russell's Nathan W. Kendall had just turned 78 and was reaching back in memory 57 years when he sat down during March of 1920 to write a brief, evocative and powerful account of his first Civil War battlefield experience --- at Springfield, Missouri, on Jan. 8, 1863. It was in the form of a letter to the editor of The Chariton Leader and was published on March 18.

Nathan and his older brother, Elijah, were members --- along with dozens of other Lucas County men --- of Company C, 18th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, mustered at Camp Kirkwood, Clinton, during late July 1862. Although reasonably well trained and equipped, the men of the 18th were inexperienced when dispatched to Springfield, in southwest Missouri, during November 1862 to help guard that state from further Confederate invasion and to protect the Union supply depot there.

Both the Kendall boys were fifers --- Elijah eventually would be appointed regimental fife major. Every Union infantry unit had fifers and drummers who, in peaceful interludes, formed the regimental band and at all times helped facilitate camp morale, order and discipline. When their units were in combat, the men picked up guns and fought, served as stretcher-bearers or filled other support positions.

That's Nathan at center above, with his fife, flanked by regimental drummers Owen Kinsman and Albert J. Phillips, during a 1921 reunion of the 18th Iowa held in Chariton. They're standing near one of the courthouse cannons, scrapped during World War II. The photo is from the Lucas County Historical Society collection. We also have Elijah's fife and tintype images of both Nathan and Elijah in uniform in the collection. Here is Nathan's account:

+++

Russell, Iowa --- Editor, Chariton Leader: Please allow me space in your paper to give a short sketch of the first battle that our regiment, the 18th Iowa Infantry, engaged in, which was on the 8th day of January, 1863, at Springfield, Mo.

Springfield at that time was about three times as large as Russell is now and there was about 2,500 troops there --- the 18th Iowa and (Missouri) state militia, and about four companies of the Second Kansas Cavalry and the Second Indiana Battery of six 12-pound brass pieces, known as Capt. Rab's battery.

Our regiment was camped in Fort No. 1 about one-fourth of a mile west of the city, and General B. Gratz Brown was in command of the entire force at that time, and on the morning of that fateful day the sun arose with all its splendor and the blue sky was cloudless; the air was cool and crisp, and all things were lovely till about 1 o'clock p.m., when a scout dashed into the city from the south, his horse dripping with sweat. He notified General Brown that Rebel General Marmaduke with about 6,000 troops was marching on the city.

In a short time all was confusion, the bugles were calling, the fifes and drums were playing, and the battle cry was "to arms, to arms." In a short time there came an order for a detail of 50 men out of each company to go to the front. I was not on the first detail, the but two McKinley boys, older brothers of Alonzo and S.C. McKinley, of Russell, were, and George Gilbert and Stanley Prindle were in the first detail.

Now here allow me to digress and speak of what sounded like a presentiment. There were two men in our company (Company C) by the name of Sams, Simon and Daniel. Simon was the older, ad he was the most devout man that I ever saw. He prayed every morning and evening aloud, irrespective of his surroundings, and when his name was called he calmly and silently gathered up all his trinkets, such as books, letters and pictures, and put them in his knapsack and handed it to his brother, Daniel, who was on the sick list, with instructions to send them to his wife and say to her that his last message to her was that he died in defense of his country.

The first detail was now rushed to the front and the battle was on. They had commenced to shell the city. Our first line of battle was drawn about one-fourth of a mile south of the city. The battle had been raging about forty minutes when Stanley came back to the fort. I do not know what impelled him to come back, whether it was a yellow streak, and he told me the two McKinley boys and George Gilbert and Simon Sams were all killed.

Oh what a shock that was to me. I can never forget the gloom that it cast over me. Gilbert and the McKinley boys and I were school mates together in our boyhood days.

Pretty soon there came an order for every man to go to the front; we were not long getting ready, and when we got to the front sure enough Simons Sams was killed, shot through the head, and Geo Gilbert was  mortally wounded and died, I think the next day, but the two McKinley boys were very much alive, loading and firing, fighting like demons. I do not think that in all my life I ever was half so glad to see those boys.

The battle was now in all its fury; they were slowly but surely driving us back; we had such great odds against us; but we were hotly contesting every foot; our battery was doing splendid execution; we had a stockade at the south edge of the city which held about 100 rebel prisoners and about 5 p.m. they made a desperate charge on us and drove us back till they got possession of the stockade; they smashed the door down and released the prisoners and charged our battery and took one section, two guns, but Lieutenant Landis, who was in command, spiked the guns and got away.

We were driven now to our last inner forts, and as the shades of darkness settled over the city the firing ceased, and they retreated under the cover of darkness. The prisoners that we had taken said that General Marmaduke thought that we were expecting large reinforcements the next day, but we were not whipped.

Our ambulances during the battle had taken all of our dead and wounded to the rear to a place of safety; the rebels took their wounded to the rear, but they left the dead lay just where they had fallen. That night there came a shift of snow, about enough to track a rabbit. The next morning, after daylight, some of us boys went over the battlefield and it sure was the most gruesome sight that I had ever seen up to that time. There they lay, scattered around thick, dead stiff and covered with snow. I well remember one man who had been shot in the forehead; he had his index finger up to his head in the wound.

About 10 o'clock that day there came an order for a detail of about 25 men with pick and shovel to go down on the battlefield and dig a trench about 75 feet long and 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Then we placed blankets in the bottom and laid the Johnnies in this trench, side by side, crossways, then spread blankets over them and filled the trench up and so far as I know them poor fellows are sleeping their last long sleep there to this day.

Our regiment lost about 65 killed and wounded. Our captain, W.R. Blue, was mortally wounded and died a few days later, and our lieutenant, A.B. Conaway, was severely wounded. And so ends the battle of Springfield, Mo., January 8, 1863.

Yours very truly,

N.W. Kendall

+++

Thus ended what generally is known as the Second Battle of Springfield, a victory for the North because Confederate forces although superior in numbers failed to breech Union defenses, then withdrew. The supply depot was secure and the Union supply lines were uninterrupted.

Capt. W.R. Blue was William R. Blue, age 30, of LaGrange, who had been promoted rapidly from third sergeant when mustered to second sergeant and on Nov. 19, 1862, to captain. His remains now rest in Springfield National Cemetery along with those of George Gilbert, also of LaGrange, and 18 when he was mortally wounded; and Simon Sams, age 28.

A.B. Conaway was Asbury B. Conaway, a young Chariton attorney who returned to his practice after the war, served a term in the Iowa Legislature, then high-tailed it for Wyoming where he was serving as chief justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court at the time of his death during 1897.

Daniel Sams was discharged for disability during February of 1863 and made it home to Lucas County, where he recovered. He then re-enlisted and continued to serve. A third brother, George Sams, also was lost to the war, dying of disease at St. Louis during late 1863.

The McKinley boys, John W. and Wallace D., fought on and were mustered out together at Little Rock on July 20, 1865, with the remainder of their regiment. Nathan and Elijah Kendall were mustered out on that date at Little Rock, too, and returned to Lucas County to live long and productive lives.

Elijah Kendall's son, Nathan E. Kendall, named for his uncle, became one of Iowa's great progressive governors, serving two consecutive terms from 1921-25. 

Nathan W. Kendal was very near his 83rd birthday when he died at Russell on Jan. 13, 1925. He is buried in the Russell Cemetery.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

A December sleighjacking at Lucas


I've been trying to figure out why Frank Troutman was carrying $400 in cash when sleighjacked just west of Lucas on a stormy December night back in 1898. Was he headed for Farmers & Miners Bank, which of course would have been open that evening for customers in town to do their trading? It's unlikely we'll ever know.

One thing's sure, however --- had Frank been at the wheel of an F-150 rather than behind a sleigh, its horsepower would not have delivered him safely to a livery stable in town.

Here's the story, as published on the front page of The Chariton Patriot of Dec. 8, 1898, under the headline, "Beaten and Robbed: Frank Troutman is Assaulted and Relieved of $400."

"Frank Troutman, who lives on the Granville West farm, southwest of Lucas, near Last Chance, was assaulted and robbed of about four hundred dollars last Saturday night.

"He was on his way to Lucas in a sleigh, when, as he reached the east end of the iron bridge over Whitebreast, he received a blow on the head which rendered him unconscious. The night was cold and stormy, and having his head and face well wrapped up, he was not aware of the presence of anyone near him. When he regained consciousness, he was in Lucas, his horses having gone to the livery barn, where he was discovered in the sleigh with the lines wrapped around him. He had a bad welt on his head and was shy about four hundred dollars which he had been carrying."

There's no indication that the robbers ever were apprehended, although there were additional reports that Sheriff Manning was pursuing clues.

Frank Troutman was Francis Lucian Troutman, who continued to live in Lucas and adjoining Clarke counties until 1930, when ill health caused him to move with wife, Minerva, to Kansas City to live with a daughter. He died there on May 2, 1931, age 73, and his remains were returned to Lucas County for funeral services at the Last Chance Christian Church and burial in Last Chance Cemetery.