Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Creativity in a time of isolation

I've a lot of admiration for people who are using these peculiar times to do creative things --- even more so when they share some of the results to inform or entertain the rest of us. And there's a lot of that going on at YouTube, as well as on other platforms.

One of my favorites is a series of brief videos launched last week by Philip Mould, British art dealer, writer and broadcaster, titled "Art in Isolation."

Mould is a London-based art dealer with a broad fan base in large part because of his longtime role as an evaluator for the British version of Antiques Roadshow and as the principal in an art-related British television series entitled Fake or Fortune. 

He is spending the weeks of isolation at his family's small 17th century Oxfordshire manor house, Duck End, with wife, Catherine, son, Oliver, and family dog, Cedric. Oliver is handling the production end of things.

Perhaps you really do need to be interested in art to enjoy the series which consists largely of Mould moving from room to room in the house and a nearby barn, converted into a dining room, and talking about the artwork from his personal collection that hangs (or is otherwise displayed) there.

But Mould also is a plantsman and plant conservationist, so we also get tantalizing glimpses of the gardens that surround the house. Then there are the interior details of beautifully restored vintage buildings.

Here's the opening program in the series. To find the others, you may follow  Mr. Mould on Twitter by going here or go to the Philip Mould & Co. YouTube site, which is here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Coxey's Army (Kelsey Division) arrives in Chariton

The original contingent of Coxey's Army arrives in Washington, D.C., April 1894.
"General" Kelsey
Back when I was a kid, my mother sometimes would say --- when faced with family reunion fare or the bounty of a community potluck --- "there's enough food here to feed Coxey's Army."

The reference goes all the way back to 1894 when Jacob Coxey, an Ohio millionaire and populist, came up with an idea about how the federal government could help extricate the nation from the hard times that had followed the financial panic of 1893, the worst to date in U.S. history. Unemployment had reached 18 percent; without a safety net of social programs, people were hungry and homeless.

The plan involved a massive nationwide public works road improvement program funded by the sale of interest-free bonds. Workers would be paid in paper currency in order to expand the supply of money. The plan was similar in some ways to New Deal programs introduced 40 years later. Then, and later, it was enough to cause a Republican to faint dead away.

Coxey gathered about him in Ohio an "army" of the unemployed and marched to Washington, D.C., to share his plan with Congress, arriving there in April of 1894. Congress turned the army away; Coxey was arrested for walking on the Capitol grass. The concept was too progressive for the times.

But it was the first great march in U.S. history, setting a precedent for later marches on Washington for civil rights, women's rights, gay rights and more.

And that first march had inspired a movement. As the spring progressed several armies of Coxeyites sprang up and prepared to march east. The most notable to reach the Midwest --- Omaha, Des Moines and Keokuk before sputtering out --- was Kelly's Army, launched in San Francisco, 

It was a Nebraska "army," led by Thomas C. Kelsey, a saddlemaker awarded the honorific title "General," referred to as Kelsey's Army, that passed through Chariton during late May, 1894 as it followed the C.B.&Q. railroad line east to the Mississippi bound for Cincinnati.


Kelsey's Army --- estimates of its size range between 100-200 --- arrived on foot in Chariton on Tuesday, May 29, and received a mixed reception. Keep in mind the army relied upon donations of cash and in kind along the way to survive.

Public gatherings with General Kelsey as the speaker were a way to spread the word about the army's goals --- and to encourage contributions. In Chariton, the army collided with members of Iseminger Post, Grand Army of the Republic, which had just erected a speakers stand and seating on the courthouse lawn for use during a Wednesday Memorial Day program.

When the Army arrived on the square Tuesday evening, a G.A.R. delegation identified as Henry Blous (clerk of district court), Thomas S. Smith, Isaac N. Funk and F.M. Shular, ordered General Kelsey and the crowd he had attracted, to move away from the benches (where the crowd already had seated itself) and speakers stand.

At the time, three newspapers were published in Chariton. The Patriot was staunchly Republican and referred to Kelsey as "an irresponsible mendicant and saloon bum." The Democrat was published by Democrats and more sympathetic. The Herald was somewhere in the middle --- but generally sympathetic. Here's The Herald's report/editorial from its edition of May 31:


Kelsey's army arrived at Chariton Tuesday noon and camped for dinner in the triangular park in the northwest part of town, having marched from Lucas, eight miles west, that morning. The men were fairly well dressed and conducted themselves in an orderly and decorous manner. Their clothes were covered with dust of course, causing them to present a rather dingy and forlorn appearance, which was made the basis of many hateful remarks by those who have not better hearts if they do wear better clothes.

No concerted action was taken by the city or county authorities nor yet by the citizens to furnish the army with provisions. Sheriff Gartin directed them to the vacant lot where they temporarily camped, and by the private charity of a few kindhearted citizens they were provided with barely enough of bread and meat to subsist upon while there. Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Mallory kindly gave them permission to camp over night upon his land in the creek bottom southwest of town, to which point the army took up the line of march about 6 o'clock in the evening, following the stars and stripes, keeping step with the drum and passing down Main street in excellent order.

The camp in the city was visited during the day by large numbers of our citizens, both ladies and gentlemen, some out of a sort of sympathetic interest, but with precious few was their sympathy deep enough to reach their pocketbooks.

General Kelsey spoke in the courthouse park on Tuesday night, Wednesday afternoon and again Wednesday night, to the respectable audiences that gathered to hear him. He is a small man, of unassuming demeanor, with a rather intelligent though somewhat unprepossessing appearance at first that bears acquaintance remarkably well. He is quite well posted upon economical questions and is an entertaining and forcible speaker, carrying conviction to unprejudiced minds of the honesty of his purposes and the truth of his statements.

General Kelsey was a soldier in the Union army and fought for the old flag. Referring to his fact in one of his speeches, he expressed his willingness, crippled as he is, to again take up arms in defense of that dear old emblem of Liberty, should it ever again be assaulted. (Mr. Kelsey served as a civilian scout and guide for Union troops during the war, but was not regular Army.)

In this connection we are pained to have occasion to record one of the saddest commentaries upon the perversion of human nature that presents itself in a lifetime. A speaker's platform and seats for a good sized audience had been arranged by the G.A.R. in one corner of the courthouse park on Tuesday, prepatory to the memorial exercises that were to take place on Wednesday. When it became known that Kelsey was to speak Tuesday night in the park, at the appointed time a goodly crowd of men, women and children had gathered in, and occupied these seats. When General Kelsey came into the park, finding the people comfortably seated and supposing that everything was all right, he attempted to mount the platform when some over-officious gentleman forbid him stepping upon the platform, and pettishyly informed him that said platform was erected for another purpose and that he could not stand on that platform to make a speech.

Mr. Kelsey then begged the poor privilege of getting on the platform just to announce to his audience that he would speak in another corner of the park,, where there were no seats, but this was also refused. So he made the announcement from the ground and his audience followed him and patiently stood and listened to him for nearly an hour.

The very people for whom the seats had been erected were occupying them for the purpose of listening to Kelsey's speech. They wanted Kelsey to occupy the platform for their convenience and comfort. He could have done the platform no possible damage by such occupancy. In view of these facts it seems passing strange that such malicious littleness should be exhibited in a civilized country. Surely Iseminger Post does not endorse an act that stands in such inhuman contrast with the true sentiment of Memorial Day....

Iseminger Post G.A.R. owes it to her good name, owes it to her honorable membership, owes it to humanity to repudiate such action, and let the would-be hero (Thomas S. Smith) enjoy alone the justly merited contempt of all noble hearted people.


Later reports suggest that General Kelsey and his army won quite a few friends during their public appearances in Chariton and enough donations to sustain them before marching east toward Melrose on Thursday morning.

In the days that followed, The Patriot devoted itself to defense of the Iseminger Post decision; The Herald, to publishing many letters --- including those from Sheriff Gartin and quite a number of old soldiers --- accusing post officials of violating free speech rights as they flaunted their patriotism. In terms of public relations, the G.A.R. boys apparently were the losers.

Kelsey's Army got as far as Cincinnati that summer before calling it quits --- and General Kelsey returned to his Nebraska home, making public appearances along the way, via the C.B.&Q., wearing the same clothes and carrying the same cane he'd used on the trek east.

Mr. Kelsey settled in Lincoln where he became an honored labor leader in a generally populist state. He died at the age of 66 in Lincoln during May of 1911.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Farmer Burns wrestles his way into Chariton

Martin "Farmer" Burns (left) and Frank Gotch/Wikipedia Commons photo

Martin "Farmer" Burns (1861-1937) often is cited as the godfather of wrestling in Iowa, a state renowned at times as a high school and collegiate powerhouse. A Cedar County farm boy, he combined intellect, strength and agility to claim the American Heavyweight Championship in 1896 and 1897. He also taught, coached and wrote --- leaving a considerable legacy.

Among other accomplishments, Burns recognized the potential in young Frank Gotch, another Iowa boy he defeated in 1899, and coached him into perhaps the greatest wrestling champion of all time. That's Farmer Burns on the left above, as he would have looked in 1905 when he arrived in Chariton for an exhibition appearance, with Gotch beside him.

Burns began his career as a catch wrestler on the carnival/exposition circuit and traveled widely to cities big and small across Iowa and elsewhere for at least 30 years --- so nearly everyone who wanted to see him in action had an opportunity at one time or another to do so.

He appeared at the Opera House in Humeston during January of 1904 --- and a special car was added to the train at Chariton to transport men who wanted to attend to and from that Wayne County town. A year later, he was back in the area for appearences in Russell on Monday, April 10, and Chariton on Tuesday, April 11, at the Armory, corner of South Main and Armory Avenue.

No self-respecting woman would have considered attending, of course --- but Burns and his fellow performers did not tolerate unruly crowds. Here's how The Humeston Advocate of Jan. 29, 1904, described the atmosphere there during his appearance: "An audience of perhaps 225, all men, witnessed the event and perfect order was maintained throughout --- no boisterous talking or conduct of any kind being permitted. Smoking was barred and aside from the fact that a few boorish individuals persisted in wearing their hats there was nothing to distinguish the audience from that of any other public entertainment. In fact, there was nothing said or done that the most fastidious person, either lady or gentlemen, could have considered offensive."

Most likely the atmosphere in Chariton was similar, although the nature of the crowd was not described in the following report, published in The Chariton Patriot of April 13, 1905:


Farmer Burns, America's best known wrestler and undisputed champion in his class, was in Chariton Tuesday and that evening, in company with Prof. M.A. Simmer, champion strong man, gave an athletic exhibition in the Armory before a fair sized audience.

The entertainment was a good one. Prof Simmer's feats of strength in handling heavy dumb-bells were remarkable. He lifted with apparent ease and put above his head with one hand heavy weights that such men as Tom Hooper, N.G. Lutz and Roy Meadows could only raise to the height of their chins with two hands. He put above his head with one arm a dumb-well weighing 260 pounds, which Messrs. Lutz, Meadows and H.H. Larimer, all lifting together, could not raise higher than their chests. He raised above his head with one arm Mr. Lutz, who weighs 207 pounds, and did other remarkable feats in weight handling. Mr. Simmers is but 27 years of age. He claims to have defeated the most noted strong men in weight lifting.

Farmer Burns, hero of five thousand wrestling matches, is a unique character in the sportsman's world. He is 44 years old but in perfect physical condition with a figure like that of a well developed boy of 20 years. Every muscle in his body is like a steel band when contracted, but elastic and pliable when relaxed. Quick and agile as a cat, this man knows no superior in the knowledge of wrestling, which game he has followed since a boy.

He is careless of dress and ignorant as to the use of correct language and although he has followed the life of a professional athlete, with all its bad influences, he neither drinks intoxicating liquors, uses tobacco nor swears --- doesn't even drink tea or coffee. To his natural way of living he ascribed his perfect health and wonderful physical condition.

Before giving his part of the performance, Mr. Burns gave a short lecture on the value of correct living and indulgence in athletic sports. He showed the extraordinary control he could exercise over his muscles, the most wonderful being those of his neck. He defies any man to choke him. He illustrated different holds and locks of wrestling.

He offered to forfeit $25 to any man in the audience he could not throw in 15 minutes. Only one man was game enough to go against him --- Mr. Hunsucker, a blacksmith in Smoot's shop. Mr. Hunsucker said he had wrestled with Burns once before in response to a like offer. He buckled into the Farmer and the audience witnessed a short but lively exhibition. After mixing up for a minute, Burns permitted the blacksmith to take his old and then threw him easily.

Then Burns and Simmers gave a wrestling exhibition which was well worth seeing and which lasted several minutes. The strong man showed some knowledge of the game, but this together with his superior strength and great weight was of no avail against Farmer's skill and agility and the strong man was thrown as easily as if he had been less heavy and of less strength.

Both Burns and Simmers are Iowa men. Burns is the discoverer and teacher of Frank Gotch of Humboldt, Iowa, who until his last match with Jenkins was the champion heavy-weight wrestler of America.


Martin Burns was called "Farmer," by the way, because he showed up for one of his earliest big-time matches wearing overalls.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Chariton's oldest still functioning church building

I've decided to come out of the closet this morning and identify myself as the author of historical trivia questions and answers that appear every month on "table tents" distributed by Chariton Area Chamber-Main Street. And I'm about to give you the answer to a future question, so pay attention.

"Which Chariton congregation occupies the oldest continuously used church building in the city?"

Answer: "Truth Assembly of God at the intersection of North Grand Street and Auburn Avenue."

Above is a postcard view of the church as it looked soon after a major 1905 remodel. It's since been remodeled many times, almost beyond recognition, but it's still there and still in use. I didn't have the presence of mind to drive by yesterday and take a photo, so will have to add that later.

The original building, embedded in the 1905 version, was a simple rectangle --- built during late 1874 --- a "shoe box" structure similar to those occupied at the time by other Chariton congregations. Additions in 1905 created the current look.

I didn't find a direct reference to its construction in Chariton newspapers, only the following indirect reference in The Chariton Patriot of Jan. 13, 1875: "A subscription is now being circulated to build a Swedish Lutheran Church in Chariton, the building to be begun by the 10th of next June and finished within one year. The building will be frame, after the style of the United Presbyterian church just finished in the north part of town."


The United Presbyterian congregation was organized in Chariton during 1858, the same year the denomination --- the United Presbyterian Church of North America --- was organized in Pittsburgh by the union of the Northern branch of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter and Seceder) with the Associate Presbyterian Church (Seceders).

It offered a home to Presbyterians almost exclusively of Scots-Irish descent who viewed with alarm what was perceived of as a slide toward liberality within the larger Presbyterian Church in the United States of America with which Chariton's First Presbyterian Church was affiliated.

The United Presbyterians and other Presbyterians were theologically similar, but the "Uniteds" had some distinctive characteristics --- Although music was allowed in church, only psalms could be sung; membership in "secret" societies --- Freemasonry for example --- was strictly forbidden; access to communion was severely limited; and although United Presbyterians tended to be more strongly abolitionist than their brethren (and sisters), they also were more anti-Catholic.

Anyhow, the Chariton United Presbyterian congregation never matched First Presbyterian in size or influence, but it remained healthy through the turn of the 20th century when a major remodel of the church building was undertaken, as reported in The Patriot of April 13, 1905:


The United Presbyterian church, located on the corner of Auburn avenue and Grand street, which has recently been remodeled and enlarged, was formally dedicated to the worship of God last Sunday. The weather was warm and pleasant and the attendance at all the services was large. The church had been tastefully decorated with cut flowers and potted plants and special music was rendered by the efficient choir. In the morning, Rev. A.C. Douglass, pastor of the First Church at Des Moines, preached a splendid sermon from the text, "Labor not for the meat with perisheth but labor for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." In the afternoon he preached another able sermon on the theme, "The Glorious Gospel." Rev. Fred B. Palmer of the Baptist church brought greetings from the other churches and the pastor, Rev. M.G. Mann, delivered the dedicatory prayer. The total expenditures in the remodeling of the structure were $2,694. In the afternoon pledges were made to the amount of $610 which reduces the amount unprovided for to about $250.

The structure as it is now stands is almost as good as new. A new brick foundation was placed under the old building which was entirely remodeled on the interior, and an addition was built on the north side. The main room or auditorium will seat about 350 people. New seats have been arranged in the form of a semicircle and the woodwork is all new and of light  oak. There are three large windows of stained glass which have been placed by relatives sacred to the memory of Mrs. Agnes Stalker McDougall, Mr. and Mrs. David Gow, and J.T. Gillespie. A smaller one in the vestibule is to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. William Braden. There is also a large window on the east side of the building whih has been placed in memory of Elias Hunter and Uriah Morris, who were charger members and were two of the first elders of the church.

There is a class room on the east side of the structure and a lecture room on the north side which will be used for prayer meetings and similar services. This room is separated from the main room by sliding doors. The church will be heated by a new furnace. Over the main entrance is a transom of stained glass on which is the name of the church.

The United Presbyterian church was organized in the fall of 1858 with about 17 charter members. The present pastor, Rev. M.G. Munn, has been here for several years and is an indefatigable worker. It is largely through his efforts that the congregation now enjoys this comfortable and pleasant place of worship. The community rejoies with the United Presbyterians over their new church home and trusts that the membership will grow in numbers and strength.


The pastor who had led the United Presbyterians since 1900 departed Chariton for Waterloo in 1908 and that seems to be when the congregation's slide toward extinction began. The end came during 1921 and 1922 when remaining members either joined First Presbyterian or shifted to another denomination.

The building was sold by its trustees during April of 1924 to the Ku Klux Klan, then active in Lucas County and operating for business purposes as the Community Service Corporation, for use as a meeting hall.

The Community Service Corporation retained ownership until 1930, although the Klan itself had crept off beneath its bedsheets and was no longer an active force.

During May of 1930, the building was sold by the corporation to the newly formed Assembly of God congregation, which rededicated it as a place of worship during June.

It needs to be pointed out that the new owners had nothing to do with the previous owners and were merely in the market for a suitable home. The Community Service Corporation disincorporated and vanished when the sale was complete.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

The Rambler visits the old Belinda neighborhood

This is the second of several reports published in The Chariton Herald during late 1894 and early 1895 that were written by a gentleman identified only as "the Rambler" who gathered his information while selling subscriptions for that newspaper. His report from the Derby and Last Chance neighborhood is here.

Reporting during November of 1894, the Rambler began this leg of his enterprise at the H.M. Spiker farm two and a quarter miles due north of the spot (marked by a star) where Williamson would appear 20 years later. From there, he traveled east across the English-Pleasant township line to the pioneer village of Belinda, then north to the Marion County line, then back south through Belinda and into English Township again near what now is Williamson Pond, where my great-grand-parents, the Joseph Cyrus Millers, lived. After visiting my great-great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Miller, he turned south and entered Lincoln Township en route back to Chariton near the home of one of my uncles, some generations removed, Richard Miller Sr.

The maps are taken from the 1894 land ownership atlas of Lucas County and of course the names of people who rented rather than owned land do not in most cases appear. The report was published in The Herald of Nov. 29, 1894, and just begins there without any sort of introduction.


H.M. Spiker occupies the home place on the Spiker ranch and makes a real business like landlord. His stock embraces a large bunch of cattle, hogs and sheep which he is getting ready for the spring market. It takes a good deal of nerve to feed cattle this year, but H.M. intends staying it out. He has a large fodder cutter run by a three-horse power, which he uses in preparing the fodder for the stock. At the time the writer called, the landlord was chief cook, kitchen biddy and fire maid, his better half being at the Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Wm. Carney, the efficient clerk of English township, makes a specialty of keeping his stock and premises looking fine. For two years past he has been farming on Spiker street, but is making preparations to move out on Education avenue one mile west.

Ed. Spiker has charge of another one of the fine Spiker farms near the home place. He carries out the principal of "push" characteristic of the family name. The entire family makes a specialty of fine horses, having that as part of their business. J.F. Spiker & Son being the style of the firm, with headquarters in Chariton.

Perry Brightwell now occupies the old David Ballard place, probably the oldest farm in the county. Twas here the first cabin fire illumined the plain and sent its curling smoke to mingle with the clouds. Last spring, Perry found the ideal of his affections and now he is lord over a happy home. One going onto his premises will find his farm implements all drawn up and cared for like he intends using them another year.

S.H. Brightwell came to this county 23 years ago and set to work to provide a home where he might spend a quiet age. His 120-acre farm does not show up as big as some of the neighbors, but it is taken from the cream of the land. Year after year brought on her treasures; the old straw sheds gave way to a large barn, and the old log house was pushed back where it stands in humble reverence to a costly frame. Where once he poured the slop to the old hazel splitters, a fine bunch of registered Poland Chinas now flourish. Mr. Brightwell had his fodder threshed and put into the barn for winter feeding. He pronounces the corn saved from the machine excellent sheep feed, but regrets that democratic free wool makes sheep-feeding very discouraging.

Erick Anderson was found on his old farm again after a few years' absence at Russell. They raised but one child, a daughter, who married and went to Colorado some time ago, leaving her aged parents to enjoy the sweets of home where cupid brought them by pointing out in each other: "The good, the beautiful and the true."

John Pierschbacher makes no boasts of landed wealth but his farm at Prairie Hill school house furnishes a plenteous support for his family. It failed in potatoes this year, but he was able to draw from other resources and get a load of potatoes from Marion county.

S.M. Pierschbacher is a time-honored resident of English township where he has been a citizen for more than a quarter of a century. As a result of his labors he has a large farm well improved and stocked.

Frank Edwards, a son-in-law of S.M. Pierschbacher, is located close by and is carrying on agricutural pursuits characteristic of a thrifty farmer. He is making his way in the world by his enterprise.

Swan P. Youngren has been on the farm about the usual length of time of his fellow countrymen. About 20 years covers the period it takes to pay for their farms. Mr. Youngren has complied with the above in bringing 120 acres under his "eminent domain." He has done a great deal of service on public works and is now ready to rest at his ease.

Chas. Wasberg was not at home when ye scribe called, but we took a general survey of things and concluded he knew more about farming than the visitor. We learned this fact, when one is well up with his work it is not difficult to take off a visiting day.

Adam  Pierschbacher, the old bachelor, had better get himself a wife. He has the farm, the cottage and the larder all complete, but in the language of the Good Book: One thing he lacketh to make life comfortable and desirable.

The village of Belinda is graphically described by the language of the poet when he said, "Neither miseries, nor crimes, nor the wrongs of ancient times ever came within its walls to degrade or to enthrall."

It consists of a general store and post office owned and managed by N.N. Byers, a blacksmith shop owned and operated by Isaac Paulins, and a steam feed mill the property of F.H. Boggess. Each of the above mentioned villagers are farmers from which occupation they get the most of their support.

James Garrett, though comparatively young, has a farm improved above the average. Mr. G. Was brought up right around where he now lives and was always looking to a home for his old age. He dotes on a bunch of thoroughbread Poland China hogs of which he has reason to be proud. There is much opposition in this day and age of the world to the doctrine preached by the so-called Holiness people. The objections are founded upon the ignorant constructions put upon the doctrine by "Popgun" preachers and not upon what is taught by that sect. Mr. Garrett and his family are living witnesses to the commonly accepted christian doctrine free from the fanaticisms and hobbies which rest in the minds of visionary sections, and nowhere to be found but in the vagaries of inflated

J.M. Rooker came to this county 28 years ago and embarked in farming on the place he now occupies. He married a daughter of Joshua Wilson, Esq., and has maintained the diligence to keep steadily adding to their possessions. He makes a specialty of supplying his own demand from his fields.

G.B. Woods has been farming Col. Dungan's place for the past 14 years and if nothing happens will continue in the same old way. The farm embraces a half section which requires considerable property to be able to  run it. Mr. Woods probably has done better renting than if he had bought a place as the rent is not high and the price of land is "out of sight."

J.B. Wyland has a 195-acre farm lying just east of Brush College. He has presided over that place for the past 15 years and made it real homelike. A great portion of the farm is pasture land which he keeps stocked with cattle.

T.J. Raper and his better half are well matched and their buoyancy of spirits is well calculated to cheer the broken hearted and add new impetus to a weary soul. Their manner is cheerful and  right from the heart. It has frequently been demonstrated that the prosperous man is cheerful while the man who is playing a losing game is always a pessimist. Mr. R's farm bears the marks of attention and his library will compare with any in the county. A great deal of skill was displayed in the variety of apples in his  orchard.

Nathan Kenney has for the past 35 years lived on his present farm. Though at one time the cares of the farm could be shifted to his children, they had to be taken up again as the children married  off and left them.

W.F. Deveny settled near the north side of the county and for the past 35 years has been laboring to make his wilderness of brush a fertile field. His aim is now accomplished and he is ready to sit down in ease and comfort. He has a pleasant home though never cheered by the prattling "Olive Plants" that grace so many firesides. Mr. D. was born in Ohio and brought up near Bethany College where Alexander Campbell attracted his first body of  followers, which has in later times developed into a large church sect. He served in the army as one of Virginia's first volunteers.

Perry Bell has lately started out in the world for himself, but has erected a house that would be an honor to anyone. His farm embraces as fine a tract of land as can be seen anywhere.

Chas. Kenney has purchased the sixty acre farm east of Belinda post office. His family will have the  pleasure of living in town while he attends to rural pursuits, for which he is well equipped.

Belinda has the requirements necessary to make a town --- a store, a blacksmith shop, a mill, and a church.

The merchant, N.N. Byers, has had his hands more than full of late as he  is trying to run his business and also fix up his farm and premises for occupancy after several years' absence.

The miller, F.H. Boggess, if not at the mill can be found on his farm north of the mill.

I.N. Carson, living south of Belinda, has gone through many vicissitudes and at last settled down on his present farm to toil on amid the adversities of life, looking forward to the time when Equal Justice will have uninterrupted dominion, affording mankind a foretaste of Eden of glory.

George Kennedy has a farm of 185 acres in which he takes great delight. His farm embraces a part of that beautiful prairie lying south of Belinda, which is an uninterrupted expanse of rich loam. Mr. Kennedy has been a resident of this farm for 13 years past and has spared neither time nor money in fixing it up to suit his taste. His stock are from among the "high grades" which present a pleasing appearance to the eyes of the visitor.

W.F. Carson has been drawing in from the treasures of the earth and making them to add to his  comfort, remembering the old adage that "labor is the sauce that gives zest to the poor man's bread." Mr. Carson has accumulated as much wealth as anyone in his part of the country and is now well enough fixed that he can rest at ease while nature is still filling his garners with the fat of the land.

Alex Peterson was found confined to his room with a lame back when the Rambler called, but the work on his large farm was still going on through the efforts of his family. Alex has probably worked too hard for his physical good, but he has plenty ahead now so that he can take the world easier.

Elmer Carson found the ideal of his life last spring, and has now settled down to farming on one of his father's farms. Time has not given him an opportunity to prove his success as a farmer. In the united efforts of the family there is strength, and if directed after the pattern of his father, we can safely predict for him a prosperous undertaking.

J.C. (Joseph Cyrus) Miller has extended his limits until now his farm embraces an area of 240 acres, which is well stocked with cattle, sheep, horses and hogs. Farming has its ups and downs, but the old latin motto, "labor omnia vinci" --- labor conquers all --- is the sign board on the road to success. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have raised a large family and are giving them a liberal education.

Frank Carson, living a mile north from the Carson school house, has erected a new house on his farm, which adds much to the appearance of that hill.

John Carson has been a resident of English township for nearly 30 years. During his stay here the country has made a wonderful change from that of unbroken prairie to fertile farms studded with costly dwellings. Mr. Carson did not fail to get his share.

Mrs. Jeremiah Miller was left a  widow last spring when her aged husband was taken hence to reap his rewards. Like the above mentioned, they were time honored residents of this township. They raised a family of six boys, all of whom have been close to the parental home until this winter, when Harvey left for the warmer clime of California.

Mrs. James H. Brown and her son, Frank, and daughter, Daisy, enjoy the fat of the land on the old home place where this distinct Brown family was brought up. They have everything that makes life desirable and use it to the highest cultivation of the social graces. It is thought by some that farm life abridges social attainments, but it is not necessarily so. A person's ambitions can run just as high when on the farm as anywhere else. Prof. Drummonds would have us believe that we are wholly governed by environment. On the farm we have the environment of all nature unrestrained.

Richard Miller is making his mark in the world near the south limits of the township of English where his farm is located. He found his helpmeet in the Howard family of Chariton. They together are prospering nicely as farmers. We  noticed they are not forgetful of their reading while engaged in rural pursuits.

Prof. D.T. Osenbaugh is now on the old Johnson place for the winter. He is at present engaged in school teaching, which profession he has followed for 14 years. he is a graduate of Valpariso, Indiana, also one of our county's teachers' institutes. He intends in going in the spring to the valley of the Solomon river, Kansas.

D.F. Baughman took Miss Houston for his loving compansion and settled on his present farm 11 years ago. Coming, as he did, from England's rocky slopes, he knew how to go  to work to convert his place into productive fields. He has the brush and rock all removed from the fields and a great portion of it down in pasture.

John Patterson was left a widower with a large family to care for alone. The least one was a mere babe, but by the careful attention of his daughters they are getting along as well a any of his neighbors. Being comfortable fixed on his farm, with a large house, they have all the advantages that need be asked for. We wondered at the alacrity with which they did their work until we heard them give expression to the sentiment, "cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee." Then we knew their source of strength.

Frank Foster is a son-in-law to Wm. Parry, of near Oakley. He is at present on the Matt Johnston place and will probably live there next year. We predict that his ambition will place him on a farm of his own ere long.

Chas. Wells has a farm on Cedar Creek where he now resides. A great portion of his cornfields are on the north side of the timber which protected it from the hot winds. He can boast of a good crop when others suffered from the drought.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Magnolias, social distancing, &tc.

I'd expected to have another installment of "the Rambler's" 1894 travels around Lucas County for this morning's post --- but ran out of time (a lot of transcription is involved). So that will come tomorrow and instead here's a weekend photo, already posted to social media, of blossoms on the small Merrill Magnolia located on the Lucas County Historical Society grounds in west Chariton. It burst into bloom over the weekend, a hopeful sign of spring.

I've been mistakenly referring to this as a Star Magnolia for some reason, and do know better. Three varieties of magnolia bloom in Chariton --- Saucer (or Tulip Tree) Magonlia with dramatic waxy pink blossoms the most common, followed by a few Merrill Magnolias and, yes, Star Magnolias --- similar in some ways to Merrill but fuller and with a pinkish tinge.

All are beginning to bloom this week --- so watch for them. The most dramatic of the Merrill Magnolias is located in front of A. Jensen Enterprises on the south side of Court Avenue a half block west of Casey's. Its blossoms were about ready to pop yesterday.


My principal social outlets during this season of plague consist of twice-weekly trips to Hy-Vee, which has been doing an excellent job of keeping us fed and supplied, and brief strolls around the cemetery when I drive out there to take a couple of tombstone snapshots for use here.

Kathleen is handling necessary tasks at the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday although of course we are closed to the public. I generally check in there daily, then work a couple of hours in the office or elsewhere Friday-Monday.

Appropriately distanced volunteers --- Kathleen, Kylie, Jennifer and Trae --- are working gradually to get the museum grounds in shape for spring. The garden fence came down over the weekend, so we're ready for the tiller.

We'll postpone all scheduled April activities, including the annual membership meeting planned for April 21. Whether or not we open to the public as scheduled during early May remains to be seen.


As of yesterday, no one in Lucas County or our neighbor to the south, Wayne, had tested positive for COVID-19 --- which is a positive thing for us.

But yesterday's rogue trotting horse sale/moving auction at the Ura Gingerich farm south of Seymour certainly is a cause for concern. Sponsored locally by jackasses, it drew some 600 other jackasses, both non-Amish and Amish alike, from as many as six states.

Wayne County Public Health tried to prevent the sale, but ran into an exemption for livestock auctions built into the patchwork of COVID-19 regulations (livestock auctions were considered part of the "food chain," although horse is rarely on Midwest menus). Gov. Kim Reynolds tightened auction-related regulations late yesterday --- after the auction was over. Public Health did try to screen arrivals, but of course had no way to detect anyone who might have been infected but remained asymptomatic. Now, we'll wait and see.

In the meantime, stay well, keep your distance and stay tuned for the "Virtual Museum" and such other amusements as I can devise.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Rambling around Derby --- and beyond

It always makes me happy to chance upon one of these Lucas County mini-travelogues while searching for something else in the digitalized files of Chariton newspapers; this one, focused on the county's most southwesterly township, Union. They serve as written "snapshots" of specific times, places and people, all except for a few of the places long gone.

The narrator, who identifies himself only as "Rambler," actually was selling subscriptions to The Chariton Herald during December of 1894 when he started the leg of his journey reported upon here at Goshen Baptist Church, located near the intersection of the Mormon Trail and what now is Highway 14, traveled west to Last Chance, then turned back to Derby on another road. The account was published in The Herald of Dec. 27. You can follow in his tracks on the the map, taken from Lucas County's 1896 land ownership atlas, remembering that not everyone he visited owned land. But you'll have to open the map in a new window and enlarge to read the names.

Reference is made on a couple of occasions to "clubbing." This was the term of the time for selling combination subscriptions --- pay for The Herald and for just a little bit more receive a subscription to a state or national periodical or two.

Here's the Rambler's account, beginning just west of Goshen Church:


Alex Jones is a heavy farmer and sheep raiser west of the Goshen church. The time has passed for a man to make money by his two hands alone. It is necessary to have a bunch of stock to grow up while the landlord sleeps. These times are a little discouraging for sheep raisers.

Wm. Williams was born in England and came to this country when yet a boy. What knowledge he has of his mother country led him to throw off the  shackles that bound him to his birth place and declare his allegiance to American institutions. This has not been a hazardous step for him for he now has one of the most complete homes we have seen in our travels; he makes a specialty of pedigreed hogs which are beauties.

C.H. Williams, a son of the former, is a "chip off the old block." His farm is kept ahead of the average in the county and his stock is right  up to the standard.

Jack Irwin is an old time democrat who has  lived here forty years amid the changes of prosperity and adversities that came to a modern farmer. He still resides on a portion of the strip of land entered by his father, along the Mormon trace.

J.H. Sanders, though a son-in-law to the above mentioned, did not have to agree with the "old man in politics" as he is on the other side. We made no personal inquiries, but infer from his surroundings that things go well with  him.

Joe Mundle can mark the changes in his habitations by the many familiar milestones along the Mormon trace. Being brought up in a land where nature always smiles, he too caught up the inspiration and developed a  heart overflowing with genial hospitality. He has but started on life's  voyage, but when his guiding star will have reached its zenith we predict for him an abundant harvest of wealth and happiness.

John Bevard, his lady and youngest son are left alone on the old home place where many happy days have passed when the family was all at home. Year by year the several members of the family were induced to forsake the old fireside for the environments of their new homes. The senioric family can sit by their cozy fireside at home and recall a pleasant life fraught with the cares of raising a family and starting them out with plenty.

Wright Newsome is a local political leader in the ranks of republicanism along the Mormon trace. He has erected for himself a large house which is an index of prosperity. He is an extensive reader and always takes advantage of what he is pleased to believe are the best clubbing rates, though he sometimes misses the mark.

Hezekiah Pollard is well known in his part of the county as being the largest farmer and stock raiser in the neighborhood. While a boy in his native state, Indiana, he worked for six dollars per month, and as he grew to manhood his wages were advanced to eight dollars per month. On coming to this county 42 years ago, he set to work to provide a home. The writer heard a neighbor make a casual remark that Mr. Pollard pays more money into his community than all the rest of the farms put together. At present he has about 150 each of cattle, sheep and hogs, with horses to run his farm and to sell. His stock is all either high grade or thoroughbred. He has all his fodder cut up and baled to make it more convenient for feeding.

Wm. McKnight is living alone on the old home place, where the zephyrs breathed into his soul's sweet filial affections. The only objection is that it was too filial and not particular enough to centralize on some fair one to share his career. Mr. McKnight has his farm sowed down in grass and makes a specialty of horses and been culture. What a happy home it would make for some woman who would join hands with this young man.

J.S. McKnight is more fortunate than his brother in that he has won the heart of a fair lady to share with him the fruits of a large farm at Last Chance. Mr. McKnight owns the town site and is imperial governor of improving the chance of clubbing rates on subscriptions and makes no mistake when clubbing with the Herald.

J.C. Meredith came to his present place, north of Last Chance, last fall and is living quietly alone in a house of his own. We have advocated taxing the bachelors for the benefit of the widows and old maids, but it comes too near home to say so any more.

Justin Westfall, formerly a merchant of Derby, is now on the old farm. One would think from the way he gets along that he has been on the farm all his life. While he attends to the rural duties, his lady teaches the home school. How encouraging it looks to see each one turn their hands to work while young that when age as furrowed their faces they will be able to sit down to rest in calm content.

J.W. Sprott is one of the foremost farmers in his neighborhood. His large farm is located west of Derby where, after starting out each member of his family with a well fitted farm, he has a large farm stocked to its capacity with high grade and thoroughbred stock. His farm embraces some of the best land in his neighborhood. He has every convenience of modern invention to make his farm handy. A great deal is being said about spiritualism, and much light is being made of the subject. Mr. S. has given this subject a great deal of his time and money to investigate the merits of the science. While he does not practice its teachings he is a hearty believer, being convinced of its merits by personal experience.


'Twas the spring of 1872 when the C.B.&Q. railroad completed its serpentine track from Chariton to Leon, and in the summer of the same year the town of Derby was laid out and began its growth on section 24 of Union township. It is situated on a level plain of rich farming land where the cereals are cultivated in abundance. The cattle and sheep on the large plateau graze in sympathetic silence to the resulting of the leaves in the southern breezes. Unlike the average town of the middle states, Derby is free from the malarial contagions from low marshy roadbeds. It stands conspiciously on the eminence and commands a view for miles in every direction. When the Rambler reached the town, it was towards the setting of the sun. Old Sol was knocking at the gate of his western hermitage while he cast his last rays on the railroad track, which is lined on either side by a row of business houses. On looking over the town, we saw the sign of L. Deusenbury's restaurant where ample accommodations were afforded for the traveling public.

Two Churches grace the town and with their sky-pointing spires direct the public to thoughts of higher things. Right here we might add that the morals of Derby are keeping pace with those of any town in the county. The Epworth League is the literary center of the town and is in a flourishing condition.

The Public School is under the efficient management of Miss Clara Heilman assisted by Miss Mary Johnson. The enrollment is upward of 100. The school building is a two-story frame which is a credit to the town.

The Odd Fellows hold out the eternal brotherhood of man dealing to saint and to sinner their portion in due compensation for their fidelity to the order.

Two doctors wait upon the suffering public with their capsules and decoctions of life reviving powders. Drs. Throckmorton and Moore are both well skilled in therapeutics and have worked up for themselves an excellent practice.

John W. Dunn is one of the oldest businessmen in Derby, coming here with a stock of drugs, paints, oils, etc., while the town was yet in its infancy.

Connor & Pully are the proprietors of a general merchandising store embracing everything in their line. Their room is 24x90 which is packed with what the public needs.

A.G. Johnson, the pioneer boot and shoe maker, has added to his stock a complete line of harness, saddles, whips, etc. This is a good addition to the town and A.G. is doing well.

Westfall & Wyatt have opened up a meat market in the rear of A.G. Johnson's harness shop. They are projecting for the winter. If the trade will justify them in keeping "open shop" they will be found at their post of duty.

Morris Bros. have a three-room store with stocks of dry goods, clothing, etc., which are a credit to the firm as well as to the town and surrounding country.

H.W. Sutton & Co. have a general store of dry goods, clothing, etc., which are a credit to the firm as well as to the town and surrounding country.

Kirk, Canfield Bros. & Co. have a general repair shop in west main street. They can make any ordinary article that is constructed of wood and iron.

G.J. Stewart & Co. are proprietors of the lumber yard, grain elevator, and also are in readiness to buy stock when brought to their market. Their salesman in charge, Mr. W.H. Connor Jr., is a clever, good hearted fellow and has done the firm excellent service in working for them an abundant trade.

Crossing the railroad, we find A.J. Fight at his shop where he has a few wagons, buggies and sleighs of his own make ready for the market.

Grimes & Grimes, "the good old men," not marked with years, but with nine years experience in this county, have a large stock of general merchandise which rumor says is the largest in town. They are both clever gentlemen and deserving of a good trade.

E.M. Blizzard, the hardware man, carries a stock of hardware, stoves, implements, buggies and wagons. He has also a stock of sleighs for the winter trade. The traveling public can find accommodations from Mr. Blizzard for both man and team. They feed the hungry public as well as the hungry beast.

J.T. Irwin, Uncle Sam's genial servant, has the post office newly fitted up and furnishes ample accommodations for the public. He has in connection a line of stationery and confectionary goods. Johnnie is a clever fellow but he and Grover will have to go to Buzzards Bay or some other "sea port town up the creek" in 1896. (Grover Cleveland was president; postmasters at the time held political appointments.)

A.G. Sires, the barber, can be found at his place of business when not with his fine horses. He has some horses which he has good reason to be proud of.

The old creamery has ceased to knock the butter from the cream. There are a great many cows raised in this part of the county but attention has turned to farming instead of milking cows.

John Murray has a little dairy of his own and meets with a ready sale for his goods. He has ten milch cows at present which yield him a good profit. His farm embraces 210 acres of the choicest tract in this section of the country. Being here, as he has, for the last 38 years, he has it in an excellent condition for a profitable income. He has about 100 head of hogs which he has been feeding on corn and wheat shipped from Illinois. Mr. M. cooks the wheat and feeds it warm, thus making the best kind of feed possible. Twas here we found a complete system of water works which supply the entire premises with water. A windmill forces the water into an elevated tank from which it runs through milk boxes into various pipes supplying the house and also outside tanks with water.

D.K.Hastings has a 424 acre farm near "Fork Ridge" where he has resided for the past 21 years. He and his  good wife have lived without  any olive plants  to grace their threshold, as the fruits of their labors they have this large farm in the best of condition. His hogs are choice  Poland-China and cattle are of the  ordinary stock of shorthorns. This is the first winter he has not fed a bunch of cattle.

(Murray and Hastings lived east of Derby, in Warren Township, along the road home to Chariton.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Tombstone Iconography: Chariton's Knights Templar

This battered image had a hard life before it landed in the Lucas County Historical Society archives. One corner and one group member are missing and its mounting card is broken --- but we're happy to have it despite the flaws.

Among the oddities --- look to the far left and the far right and you'll see "ghosts" --- people not wanted in the image, onlookers no doubt, whose faces have been clumsily scratched out on the negative.

These are members of Chariton's Immanuel Commandery No. 50, Knights Templar, probably taken not long after the organization was chartered during November of 1887. I've no idea what the occasion was, but look at the dirt street in the foreground. Had there been a parade? Lucas Countyans needed little excuse to launch a parade back in the day.

Only five of the men are identified --- Smith H. Mallory in the second row, a charter member, with the number "1" written on his plume; Dr. James Eddington Stanton, the commandery's first eminent commander, farther back (number "2"); Frank Crocker (number "5") in the back row; and two Mannings with the numbers "3" and "4" written on their foreheads.

In Freemasonry, most degrees require only a belief in a supreme being for membership. Only Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity are eligible for Knights Templar membership, however. Chariton's commandery was formed during May of 1887 by Lucas County residents who had been members of Osceola's Constantine Commandery.

The charter members were Smith H. Mallory, N.B. Hollinger, A.F. Snyder, V.G. Baker, James E. Stanton, William H. Simpson, W.H. Henderson, Jesse Clark Baker, J.N. McClanahan and William H. Ridgway. When chartered during November, there were 31 members.

Which brings me to this week's example of tombstone iconography --- the Knights Templar seal engraved prominently on the red granite tombstone in the Chariton Cemetery of charter member William H. Simpson, who died at age 87 on June 15, 1916. The Latin translates (somewhat imaginatively) as "In this sign thou shalt conquer."

Mr. Simpson, who arrived in Chariton during the 1850s, launched his business career as a peddler, selling merchandise from a wagon driven from pioneer farm to pioneer farm, then opened a general store and, through prudent management, acquired enough property to become one of the the city's more prominent residents. When he died, he was identified as one of three survivors among those who had introduced Freemasonry to Lucas County during 1855.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The case of Jane Hull and the identical tombstones

Jane Clark Hull, Chariton Cemetery

Annie Hull, Woodland, Des Moines
Some do crossword puzzles to amuse themselves; I do tombstone puzzles --- and this one presented a few challenges yesterday. You can see (above) where it's located in the Chariton Cemetery --- with the shelter house in the distance to the southeast at right.

 Jane Clark Hull has been located here since July of 1869 --- an early burial in a cemetery that wasn't founded until 1864. But the tombstone came along later, probably by about 30 years. It's planted at a slight angle, unusual in a cemetery where most of the stones of this era are aligned north-south with military precision. And if it's a headstone, at least part of poor Jane may be reposing under the driveway.

To add to the confusion, the only existing record of Jane's death is found in the mortality schedule attached to the 1870 census of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania --- half a country away. That's most likely due to a misunderstanding. The census-taker was asked that year to record the names of all who had died in McKeesport Borough, Allegheny County, during the year that ended June 1, 1870. Although Jane died and was buried in Iowa, husband John was living in McKeesport at age 77 along with daughter Mary in the home of their son and brother, James C. Hull. They may have provided the information without specifying exactly where Jane's death had occurred. According to that census record, she died of "congestive fever" --- most likely typhoid.

So what in the world was Jane, age 62 and considerably younger than her spouse, doing in Chariton during the summer of 1869?

The most likely explanation --- and we'll never know for sure --- is that she was visiting her son and daughter-in-law, John Dravo and Annie Hull, who had relocated to Chariton from Pennsylvania during 1868 or 1869 with their two children, Oliver and Frank. It's also possible that the senior Hulls had moved west with the John Dravo Hulls, intending to make Chariton their home. If that were the case, the senior John had returned to Allegheny County after her death.

Whatever the case, Jane has been marooned here all by herself, although with a nice tombstone, ever since. And there's a small story attached to that tombstone --- I discovered its mate in Woodland Cemetery, Des Moines, marking the grave of her daughter-in-law, Annie, who died in Des Moines during 1896. 


John Dravo Hull, born in 1842 and so about 28 when he brought his family to Chariton, was one of those interesting characters who, although he seems always to have landed on his feet, could never settle down and just kept jumping around.

His occupation in the 1870 Chariton census was given as bookkeeper, but soon after that he acquired the Chariton Elevator and by 1875 was buying grain and selling farm equipment. Trained as an attorney, he opened a law office on the square during May of 1877 and during January of 1879 was appointed deputy clerk of court.

During November of 1881, he purchased Dan Baker's majority interest in The Chariton Leader and began a career in journalism as editor and publisher. John rechristened the publication the Democrat-Leader and remained at the helm until May of 1885, when he sold out to Smith H. Mallory, Chariton's major mover and shaker of that era.

Apparently unable to stay away from the newspaper business, he founded The Chariton Herald during September of 1885, bringing to three the number of weeklies publishing in our county seat town.

Little more than a year later, he sold The Herald to John Lee Brown during October of 1886 and purchased controlling interest in The Leon Reporter, moving his family to Decatur County after that. He then bounced to Madison, Wisconsin, then back to Des Moines, where John and Annie were living on Jan. 13, 1896,  when she died at age 50 of a chronic kidney disorder.

John buried Annie in Woodland Cemetery, Des Moines, and purchased a substantial tombstone to mark her grave there. At the same time, apparently, he purchased an identical stone for his mother and had it installed in the Chariton Cemetery. So that's the explanation for these twin tombstones, one here and the other there.

John apparently continued to bounce around after that, from Des Moines to Chicago and finally, when he'd lost his bounce, to Madison, Wisconsin, again where he died at age 85 on Dec. 27, 1926, at the home of a daughter. His remains were returned to Woodland in Des Moines for burial, but his name never was inscribed --- so the gentleman who went to considerable expense to mark graves rests unmarked next to Annie instead.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The life stories of Samuel D. Wheeler

Every tombstone in the Chariton Cemetery is akin to a bookmark, pointing toward a story or stories. Finding the story, of course, is not as easy as opening a book --- but in the case of Samuel Davis Wheeler, plenty of material published and otherwise is available. Mr. Wheeler was both prominent and widely admired.

This fine image of Mr. Wheeler has a story of its own to tell. It was found during 1976 inside the "Centennial Box," a small, heavy iron container sealed soon after July 4, 1876, and reopened as intended on July 4, 1976. Both the box and its contents are in the Lucas County Historical Society collection.

On the back, written in a neat hand, is the following brief biography:

"S.D. Wheeler born Sept. 22d AD 1810 in Loudon County, Va. Removed to Fayett Co. Pa. 1816, from there to Muskingum Co. Ohio in 1829, thence to Perry Co. in 1838, from thence to Lucas Co. Iowa in 1856. Was a member o the 12th general assembly of Iowa which convened Jan. 13th l868. Is at present time a justice of the Peace of Whitebreast TP. By profession a farmer and Atty at Law."

Other than his tombstone in the Chariton Cemetery and this image, the only other physical reminders of Mr. Wheeler in Lucas County are the Wheeler Bridge over White Breast Creek near the original Wheeler claim in Liberty Township at the north end of Swede Hollow and the name "Parr-Wheeler Cemetery," so called because he once owned the land around the cemetery although no members of his family are buried in it.


When Mr. Wheeler died during March of 1897 at the age of 86, detailed obituaries were published in all of the city newspapers --- The Patriot, The Democrat and The Herald. The Patriot and The Democrat chose to publish in full an obituary written by his grandson, George P. Routt.

The Patriot, edited and published by members of the Lewis family, included a preface in its edition of March 18 expressing their admiration of the deceased, as follows:

We publish in another place an obituary notice of the Hon. S.D. Wheeler, written by his grandson, G.P. Routt. The Patriot could add very little to the words of affectionate regard so well expressed therein. We could not, however, leave the occasion pass without bearing personal testimony to the goodness of heart, integrity of principles, and excellent character of our kind friend of 30 years standing. No man has been more usefully or honorably helpful of all that goes to benefit communities than he whose noble life is at once an incentive to better living as well as a cherished memory. He tried to leave the world better from having lived in it. No nobler epitaph could be written above his grave than that he was an honest man, feared God and loved his fellow man.


Here's the entire obituary, as written by George P. Routt:

There died in Chariton, Iowa, on March 11, 1897, Samuel D. Wheeler. Let us speak further of this man's life.

Born in Virginia, the birthplace of presidents and illustrious men. His natal day, September 22, 1810, in the youth of republic. His father, Robert Wheeler, was born in 1749, enlisted in the service, and under General Smallwood he fought through the Revolutionary war, and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. He had a vivid recollection of those stirring scenes and was fond of relating them to his friends in his later days.

In 1816 Robert Wheeler with his family removed to Pennsylvania, where they resided until 1829, when following the spirit of the day, they traveled further west and located in Ohio, where his death occurred in 1843 at the home of his son, whom we now write.

Samuel D. Wheeler was married in 1834 to Elizabeth Mathews, a daughter of George and Amy Matthews of Muskingum Co., Ohio. After attaining mature years, he concluded to study law, and under instruction of judge Hickman, he became a student and was admitted to practice in 1854. In the practice of his profession he sought only to satisfy his own conscience and his fine sense of right to his fellow man. He prided himself on his ability as a counselor, and that ability, coupled with the kindly attributes and high sense of honor made him a valuable man to his community.

The civil law with him was a last resort, after all attempts at arbitration had failed, and many times when employed as a counsel his first step was to get the litigants together and more often then otherwise he was successful in settling the matter without recourse to the courts.

Sturdy and stern when there seemed a possibility of wrong prevailing over right, yet when he had gained the point for which he fought, no man could forgive or forget more readily and with more sincerity then he.

In 1856 he and his wife removed to Lucas county, Iowa, leaving in Ohio four little graves and bringing with them seven children to the then far west. Since coming to Iowa two children have been born to them and four taken away from them. he sent two sons to fight for the preservation of the Union; one returned, the other was buried on the island of St. Louis, a victim of smallpox.

He bought his first land, 280 acres, from the government. He afterwards added more to it, cleared it out, and made it one of the finest farms in the county.

In 1873, in order to be near the county seat and have greater social advantages, he removed to Whitebreast township, where he resided seventeen years.

In 1890 with failing health and his loved ones scattered, he removed to Chariton that he might rid himself of the loneliness of an empty home at some distance from neighbors and friends. For almost seven years he has been a familiar figure on our streets of Chariton, always interested in current events and always an ardent champion of his idea of right.

In 1860, Mr. Wheeler was elected a member of the county board of supervisors, and served in that capacity for eight years. In 1868 he was again elected to serve as a member of the 12th General Assembly, and his stability and prudence are a matter of record in the history of the state. He also served as Justice of the Peace for several years prior to his removal to Chariton.

In his service to his township or county, he acquitted himself with honor to himself and satisfaction of his constituents. Being of liberal education and broad views, he was peculiary fitted to be a leader, and both publicly and privately his best energies where devoted to the welfare of his township, county or state.

A strong defender of his faith, he was with that liberality which was an integrated part of his character, in full sympathy with perfect freedom of thought. He died in full confidence in his heritage in a better world, and of the immorality of the soul.

His aged companion, aged 80, survives him, and she expresses the hope that the parting will not be for long, and they they would be united in a land where sorrow is a stranger. He leaves also 76 descendants of his own blood, and many others have gone before him.

Deceased, with his wife, where consistent members of the M. E. Church for over fifty years. The funeral services where conducted at the M. E. Church by Rev. Roderick. The remains where interred in the family lot in the Chariton Cemetery.

The venerable sire is gone, the old patriarch has passed away, and the valued friend and adviser is no more. Let his descendants so live that their children shall point with pride to their parents' records, as all now do to the example of this noble life. G.P.R.


Other life stories of Samuel D. Wheeler --- of varying length but with similar information --- may be found in Lucas County's 1881 history, the 1896 Memorial and Biographical Record of Iowa and the Iowa Legislature's biographical database.