Friday, April 16, 2021

David Leffler, Chariton and Burlington's Aspen Grove

This is the tombstone in Burlington's Aspen Grove Cemetery of a young man from Chariton named David Leffler, 23, who died Aug. 1, 1864. He is one of more than 150 young men from Lucas County who died while in service to their country during the Civil War and the only one I've come across whose death was reported in a timely manner in a newspaper issue that has survived.

The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye of Aug. 6, 1864, picking up and republishing an item from its Aug. 2 daily edition, reported that "David Leffler, a son of Col. Leffler, of Chariton, a member of Company H, First Cavalry, Iowa, died on the cars yesterday between Monmouth (Illinois) and this city. He was sick and on is way home."

Then, republished from its edition of Aug. 3, "David I. Leffler (of whom we spoke yesterday) was buried yesterday in Aspen Grove Cemetery."


David was 19 and a resident of rural Chariton when he enlisted in Company H at Albia on June 13, 1862.  Mustered at Burlington Aug. 3, 1862, he seems to have excelled in the military and was promoted from private to 6th sergeant Sept. 1, 1862, to 5th sergeant Nov. 5, 1862, to 4th sergeant Jan. 1, 1863 and to 3rd sergeant on March 1, 1863.

He became ill with chronic dysentery/diarrhea during 1864 while stationed in Arkansas and was in a "dying condition" when discharged on July 13 at Little Rock in the hope he could make it home to Chariton. He died, however, aboard a train travelling between Monmouth, Illinois, and Burlington on 1 August 1864. His remains were carried onward to Burlington and buried in Aspen Grove.

David, son of Isaac and Lethenia (Mitchell) Leffler, actually was native to Burlington, born there ca. 1841, but had come west to Chariton in 1852 when he was 11 and his father, an attorney, was appointed receiver of public funds at the new Chariton Land Office.

Isaac Leffler's new job was a political appointment, however, and when administrations changed he was replaced. In his late 60s at the time, he remained in Lucas County with his family, retiring to a farm near Chariton where he became increasingly disabled. David was in charge of the family farm when he enlisted.

So David was no stranger to Burlington when buried there. His grandfather, Jacob Leffler, had been buried in Aspen Grove during 1844 and a married sister as well as various uncles and cousins and their families still lived there.

Isaac Leffler died at Chariton two years later, on March 6, 1866, age 77, and at his request his remains were returned to Burlington for burial beside David in Aspen Grove.

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