Saturday, April 17, 2021

The scattered remains of Isaac & Lethenia Leffler

I wrote yesterday about David I. Leffler, a 23-year-old soldier from Lucas County who died during 1864 while trying to make it home to Chariton after his disability discharge and was buried in Burlington's Aspen Grove Cemetery during early August of that year.

David had arrived in Chariton during the fall of 1852 at the age of 11 with his parents, Isaac and Lethenia Leffler, and five siblings, when Isaac was appointed receiver of public funds at the new Chariton Land Office.

Two years after David's death, on March 8, 1866, Isaac died at Chariton at the age of 77 and his remains were taken to Burlington to be buried in Aspen Grove with David and another son, Isaac Jr., who had died at age 18 during 1855. He rests near a tumbled tombstone there.

Lethenia died 13 years later, age 76, during late January of 1879 in Chariton after a fall and was buried in the Chariton Cemetery, next to an infant grandchild. That's her tombstone above. Soon thereafter, the last of her children moved west of the Missouri so no one was left to visit her grave on a regular basis.


Isaac Leffler was a very distinguished Iowa pioneer, one of few Lucas Countyans to merit his own biography in the repository of all useful information, Wikipedia. It would be reinventing the wheel to paraphrase, so here's the article in full. It dates from 2007 when it was automatically generated from a federal database, "Biographical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress," but has been amended several times since:

Isaac Leffler (November 7, 1788 – March 8, 1866), sometimes spelled Lefler or Loeffler, was an American lawyer and Iowa pioneer who represented Virginia's 18th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives for one term in the 1820s. He served in the legislatures of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Wisconsin and Iowa Territories.

He was the older brother of Shepherd Leffler, who was one of Iowa's first congressmen after achieving statehood.

Born on his grandfather's plantation, "Sylvia's Plain," in Washington County, Pennsylvania, near Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), Leffler attended the public schools and was graduated from Jefferson College, (now Washington & Jefferson College), in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Wheeling. He served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1817 to 1819, 1823 to 1827, 1832, and 1833. He served as a member of the Virginia Board of Public Works in 1827.

In 1826, Leffler was elected as an Adams Party candidate to the Twentieth Congress, defeating incumbent Jacksonian Joseph Johnson. When running for re-election in 1828, he was beaten (along with President John Quincy Adams). Although Andrew Jackson defeated Adams, Leffler was defeated by Anti-Jacksonian Party candidate Philip Doddridge. In all, Leffler served in the U.S. House from March 4, 1827, to March 3, 1829.

In 1835, Leffler moved to that portion of Michigan Territory that is now Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa, in Iowa's southeastern corner. At the time, Iowa and the other regions of the Michigan Territory west of the Mississippi River were broadly divided between Des Moines County, in the south, and Dubuque County in the north.

Leffler was admitted to the Des Moines County bar on April 15, 1835, and practiced law. While under Michigan's regional governance, he was named as the chief justice of the first judicial tribunal of Des Moines County on April 11, 1836. After the creation of Wisconsin Territory on April 20, 1836, he served in the first legislature of the new Territory from 1836 through 1838, and served as Speaker of the House during the 2nd session of the Assembly, in the winter of 1837-38. After Iowa Territory was created from areas of Wisconsin Territory west of the Mississippi River—previously referred to as the Iowa District—in 1838, he served as a member of the Iowa Territory house of representatives in 1841.

President John Tyler appointed Leffler as United States marshal for the district of Iowa on December 18, 1843. He served until removed by President James K. Polk on December 29, 1845, when he resumed the practice of law in Burlington. He declined the appointment of the register of the land office at Stillwater (in what was then Minnesota Territory) in 1849. He was appointed by President Millard Fillmore as receiver of public sums of money for the Chariton land district of Iowa on August 30, 1852, and served on that position until removed by President Franklin Pierce on March 29, 1853.

He died in Chariton, Iowa, on March 8, 1866. He was interred in Aspen Grove Cemetery, in Burlington.


The Leffler family in Chariton actually was Isaac's second. He had married Rebecca Foreman during 1818 in Virginia and they had seven children before her death during 1830.

During 1832, Isaac married Lethenia Mitchell, daughter of Hugh and Susanna (Bounds) Mitchell, in Belmont County, Ohio, and they became the parents of six children, including the aforementioned David and Alex Jr.

The survivors included Margaret, who married Oliver L. Palmer on Aug. 23, 1852, in Burlington. They were among Chariton's earliest merchant families, building what now is the oldest structure still standing on the Chariton square. They moved to Nebraska after 1880.

Lethenia married a young Lucas County farmer named Daniel Baum on Aug. 9, 1854, and they moved west to Lincoln, Nebraska, as he prospered as a railroad bridge contractor. He eventually founded the Baum Iron Co. in Omaha and the family rose to prominence there.

Daughter Sallie married a young attorney named Eugene Edwards on May 1, 1863. They eventually settled in Los Angeles.

The fourth survivor was a son named Alexander who never managed to settle down. He found refuge in later years in homes set aside for Civil War veterans, dividing his time in old age between the Iowa Soldiers Home in Marshalltown and a National Soldiers Home in California, where he died during the 1920s.


Here's the notice of Lethenia's death as published in The Chariton Leader of Feb. 2, 1879. The article suggests that the family may have planned to take her remains to Burlington for burial, but obviously those plans were not carried out:

Mrs. Leffler, whom we mentioned last week as having met with a severe accident by falling, died from her injuries at the residence of O.L. Palmer on Friday morning of this week, age 76 years. She, with her husband, came to Iowa when it was a territory and settled in Burlington. Her husband, Mr. Isaac Leffler, died in this city (Chariton) 13 years ago and was buried in Burlington, where we learn that the remains of Mrs. Leffler will be taken for interment. Deceased left three married daughters, they being Mrs. O.L. Palmer and Mrs. E.E. Edwards (of Chariton) and Mrs. Dan Baum of Lincoln, Neb; also an unmarried son, Mr. Alex Leffler, who has for a number of years resided west of the Missouri River.

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