Hobart Publishing Company (Chicago).

Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. online

. (page 2 of 85)
Online LibraryHobart Publishing Company (Chicago)Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. → online text (page 2 of 85)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ant and the surrounding districts. He
came here at a day when the practice of
medicine was frought with many personal
hardships and difficulties, necessitating,
long rides with sparsely settled districts
over poor roads. He was born in Colum-
biana county, Pennsylvania, in 1817. His
paternal grandfather was a soldier of the
Revolutionary war. William Bird, the fa-
ther, was a resident of Columbiana coun-
ty, Pennsylvania, and there followed the
blacksmith's trade for many years but in
old age he and his wife came to the west
and died at the home of their son. Dr.
Bird, in Mount Pleasant.

In the county of his nativity Dr. Bird
began his education. His father desired



tliat he should learn and follow the
blacksmith's trade but this did not prove
congenial and giving- up the work he en-
tered a store. While thus employed he
devoted every leisure moment to reading
and studying. His employer noticing this
asked his purpose, and finding that he
wished to become a physician, said that
he would give him the necessary assist-
ance, and did so, sending him to Jefferson
Medical College, at Philadelphia, from
which institution he was g"raduated about
1840. He then located for practice at
Fredericktown, Ohio, and his capability
in accordance with the standard of med-
ical practice at that time brought him a
good patronage. He was married to Miss
Thornton, of Columbiana county, Penn-
sylvania, and they began their domestic
life at Fredericktown, where they resided
for a brief period, after which they came
to Mount Pleasant, arriving here in the
year 1849. He was the first regularly
educated physician to enter upon practice
here, and for many years he continued as
a follower of his chosen calling, devoting
his time and energies to the active work
of the profession until within a few years
of his death. As is usual in a frontier
community he had a large country prac-
tice which called him to the four corners
of the county, occasioning him to make
long drives through the hot summer sun
or the winter's cold. He regarded no per-
sonal discomfort or sacrifice on his part
too great if it would enable him to alle-
viate human suffering or restore health
and through his scientific interest in the
profession and his desire to gam a com-
petence through years of practice he dis-
played broad humanitarian principles and

deep sympathy. At the time of the Civil
war he became assistant surgeon in the
Fourth Iowa Cavalry but later resigned
on account of his age.

Dr. Bird was one of the organizers of
the Forest Home cemetery, securing the
plans for this and personally superintend-
ing their adoption and in the practical
work of laying out the cemetery, which is
still in use. At that time it was owned by
a corporate concern but now belongs to
the city. Dr. Bird was also one of the
active trustees of the Iowa Wesleyan Uni-
versity and acted in that capacity when it
needed the helpful co-operation of its
board in order to place it upon a paying
basis. Both he and his wife held member-
ship in the Methodist Episcopal church
and he Avas also one of its officers and a
liberal contributor toward its first house
of worship. His life was indeed filled
with good deeds and worthy actions and
was characterized by high and manly
principles. His wife, who was born in
1818, passed away August 13, 1895, at
the age of seventy-seven years, while he
survived until August, 1897, having
reached the age of eighty years when
called to his final rest. His memory, how-
ever, is enshrined in the hearts of many
who knew him and who benefited by his
professional services or his charity and en-
joyed his companionship and friendship.

A. M., Ph. D. Lit. D.

Rev. Wesley J. Spaulding. for many
years president of the Iowa Wesleyan


University, was born in Newark, New degree of Doctor of Philosophy was con-
York, April 18, 1828, a son of Thomas J. f erred upon him. Following his gradua-
and Sabra (Proctor) Spaulding. His tion he joined the Indiana Methodist
parents were descended from early colo- Episcopal conference and spent a year
nial families of the country. The father and a half in the active work of the minis-
was born in Vermont and the mother try, on the expiration of which period he
spent her girlhood days in the Green was elected professor of Greek at Iowa
Mountain state, although her birth oc- \\>sleyan University and came to Mount
curred in New Hampshire. They were Pleasant in the fall of 1855. The chair of
married in Ludlow, Vermont, and soon Latin was merged with Greek and he
afterward removed to Newark, New therefore acted as instructor in both de-
York, where the father engaged in mer- partments. In i860 he was assigned to
chandising and also conducted a success- the pastorate of the Methodist Episcopal
ful business as a manufacturer of patent church at Ottumwa, Iowa, but after a
medicines. At a later date he removed to year retired and in the fall of 1861 re-
LaGrange county, Indiana, where he was turned to the university as vice president
the founder of one bank and was con- and acting president. At a later date he
nected with several others. He took an was transferred to the Indiana conference
important part in the early affairs of that and accepted the pastorate of the church
county and contributed in substantial at Mount Vernon, Indiana, but later was
measure to its material improvement, unable to engage in any active ministerial
upbuilding and progress. At one time he service for a number of years on account
served as probate judge of LaGrange of ill health. During that time he was su-
county. His death occurred there May perintendent of the Union schools of
22, 1874, when he was in his seventy-third Sturgis, Michigan, for two years and sub-
year, for his birth had occurred on the 6th sequently he was again transferred to the
of September, 1801. His wife, who was Iowa conference and stationed at Burling-
born in 1800, died when about ninety ton. Keosauqua, Washington and Fair-
years of age. She was a devoted mem- field successively. Having acted as pastor
ber of the Methodist Episcopal church, of these various churches he afterward re-
Dr. Spaulding was the youngest son in turned to the Iowa Wesleyan University
a family of five children and as a youth of and was once more elected vice president
eight years became a student in the com- and acting president, which position he
mon schools, wherein he continued his held for a year. He was then elected
studies until he entered Asbury Univer- president and remained at the head
sity now known as De Pauw University of the institution for eight years, dur-
at Green Castle, Indiana. Completing the ing which period he also filled the
literary course there, he was graduated in chair of j^hilosophy which he had held
the class of 1854 with the degree of during his incumbency in war times.
Bachelor of Arts and subsequently won the Since 1884 he has not been active-
Master of Arts degree, while the honorary Iv connected with the school. lie has,



however, kept up his historical investiga-
tion and reseaches, his studious habits and
scholarly tastes yet remaining strong and
salient features in his character. Dr.
Spaulding has also been interested in
banking in connection with the bank at
Sturgis, Michigan, of which his father
was one of the founders. He was likewise
interested in the First National Bank of
Mount Pleasant.

Dr. Spaulding was married to Miss
Martha Berry, a daughter of Rev. L. W.
Berry, at one time connected with the
low^a Wesleyan University, Asbury Uni-
versity, but then stationed at New Al-
bany, Indiana. Four children were born
of this marriage. Cora is the widow of
John McKibben, who was auditor of the
Santa Fe Railroad and she makes her
home in Topeka, Kansas. Ida is the wife
of Greeley W. Whitford, an attorney and
one of the leading politicians of Denver,
Colorado. Wilbur Berry Spaulding, LL.
B., who for some years has been claims
attorney for the San Francisco Railroad
Company, and Stella, who is now Mrs.
Hoffman and secretary for Dr. Lutz, an
eminent surgeon of St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Spaulding was at one time a mem-
ber of Mount Pleasant Lodge, No. 8,
Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, from
which he is demitted. He was raised in
Sturgis Lodge in Michigan and was a
member of Keosauqua Chapter. Royal
Arch Masons, but demitted to Henry
Chapter, No. 7. He likewise became
a member of Jerusalem Commandery,
Knghts Templar, and was a memb.er of
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows,
but has also withdrawn from active asso-
ciation with that fraternity.

Perhaps no better summary of the life
work of Dr. Spaulding can be given than
in the words of one of his students, who
said : "Dr. Spaulding's work in and in
connection wath the Iowa Wesleyan Uni-
^'ersity was unique, original and unusual.
To understand his connection with and
his influence upon the school we must
ascertain, if we can, something of the
contents and quality of his mind and its
especial adaptation to the rare and exalted
art and attributes of the teacher. His
strength did not lie especially along ex-
ecutive lines, although in him there was
no weakness of discipline or hesitating-
leadership but his especial powder and his
unusual qualifications were in the class
room in contact and personal intercourse
with liis students. There and there chiefly
were illustrated his rare gifts as expositor
and teacher. The atmosphere of the class
room was his native air. There he became
radiant and glowed with a natural and
contagious enthusiasm that no one can
fully appreciate who has not come within
the charm of his class room influence.
However excellent his platform and pub-
lic work, they furnished no adequate nor
at all accurate measure of his especial
capabilities. These were alone made mani-
fest in the class room. Few teachers were
less dependent on text-books or cared so
little for their arbitrary lines and limita-
tions. He supplied text-book and topic
alike, suggesting the one and illustrating
the other with a skill and adaptation as
rare as it was agreeable. In teaching his
aim and his application were always per-
sonal. Education, as understood by him,
was not an arbitrary prescription doled
out to the intellectually ailing as a remedy


used for each and all alike. His intel- the individual need. This personal con-
lectual diagnosis was always personal and cern, this making a pupil acquainted with
he did not adopt the common educational himself, this mental photograph, as it
error and thereby escaped the common were, of each student, which he took and
educational crime of prescribing first and studied and by reason of which he was
diagnosing afterward. He studied his enabled lovingly and helpfully to lead
pupils with quite as much care, yes with him to a knowledge of himself, the high-
far deeper concern, than he studied his est education possible to give or receive,
text-books. He made the quality and kind this was Dr. Spaulding's chief and his
of soil in which the seed was to be sown unusual gift as a teacher,
his first and his chief concern. This fairly "This brief sketch would be grossly in-
ascertained, he could proceed with some- adequate if it failed to note the effort of
thing of scientific certainty and with a Dr. Spaulding to accomplish the unifica-
reasonable hope of a natural and definite tion of the several Methodist Episcopal
intellectual fruitage. He always recog- colleges of Iowa. In the early years of
nized the difficult and sought to avoid the the decade of 1880 his heart was set upon
embarrassment of trying to fit a square this plan of consolidation and unification,
peg in a round hole. Difference in en- believing that only in this way could the
dowment both in quality and in degree, adequate financing of the several Metho-
he recognized as necessary and funda- dis colleges be accomplished. His address
mental and held that its discovery and the before the Iowa Methodist State Con-
wise use of it made by the teacher was his vention in Jnne. 1881. was an able and
highest claim of fitness for his sacred earnest plea for the work of centralizing
trust. He so skillfully applied the plum- and conserving the educational aim and
met and took the mental soundness of his effort of Methodism in Iowa. In this
pupils as not to discourage by contrast nor view he was supported ably and enthusi-
humilate by comparisons. His only ob- astically by Senator Harlan. Dr. Coxe.
ject was to hold, as it were, the mirror up Dr. ^^'heeler and other leading Metho-
to nature, thus enabling the student to dists of the state. In his personal cjuality
see his own image and. recognizing it. to he is the best exemplification of high and
plan his course along lines of least resis- pure ideals, of deep sympathy, of loyal
tance in the struggle of life. How is this and loving devotion to his friends, of wide
boy or girl to be most benefited by me as benevolence of mind and heart and ex-
their teacher in the work before them in alted views of mind and destiny. I can
life? This was his constant concern and not better conclude this imperfect sketch
daily study of each and all who came than by quoting the refined and discrimi-
within the circle of his influence as a nating words of Dr. W. H. Thomas, of
teacher. His first efforts were to discover Chicago, a lifelong friend, who in a letter
the special faculties and determine the now in my possession, said. 'His special
contents of the pupil's own mind that he field in which he excels as a thinker and
might intelligently adapt the training to teacher is metaphysics. He not only has



a peculiar power of seizing and holding
the most subtle proposition until its exact
contents is perceived and its value and re-
lations fixed, but he also has the rare gift
of seeing just how the same thing is per-
ceived by others or whether they can see
it at all and. if not, where the difficulty
lies. In this way he is far removed from
the ordinary drillmaster and is in the
highest sense an educator. No one passes
from under his care without some impress
of this almost matchless master of the
human mind.' "


jNIajor Coniehus F. Spearman, who has
passed the seventy-fifth milestone on life's
journey, has had in many respects a most
interesting life record, for he is numbered
among those who sought ^\■ealth in the
gold-fields of California in early days
and was a soldier of the C\y\\ war, and has
been identified with the pioneer interests
of Iowa. He is now identified with the
agricultural interests of Jacksom township,
Henrs'- countv, where he owns a valuable
farm of three hundred acres. His birth
occurred in Morgan county, Illinois, Feb-
ruar\' 3, 1831, and is a son of James D.
and Cynthia (Frogg) Spearman, the for-
mer a native of North Carolina, and the
latter of Kentucky. The parternal grand-
father, James D. Spearman, was also born
in the Old North state. The parents were
married in Kentucky and in 1830 removed
to Alorgan county, Illinois, where James

D. Spearman purchased a farm which he
cultivated until 1835, when he sold that
property and came to Iowa, settling near
Middletown, Des Moines county, where
he purchased one hundred and sixty acres
of land. In 1840 he again disposed of
his farm and came to Center township near
Pleasant Hill, Heni-y county, where he in-
vested in three hundred and twenty acres
of land, upon which was a small cabin,
while only a few acres had been broken.
It was part prairie and part timber land,
and he broke the sod on the prairie and in
course of time placed his fields under a
high state of cultivation. His place,
known as the Speannan farm, became
noted for the fine horses which he raised
and he also -devoted considerable atten-
tion to raising cattle, sheep and hogs. He
was one of the early and progressive agri-
culturists of this part of the state and died
upon the old homestead in the fall of 1846.
His widow resided there until her death,
which occurred in the fall of 1870.

Cornelius F. Speamian acquired his
elementaiy education in the common
schools and afterward attended Howe's
Academy at Mount Pleasant. He made
his home with his parents until the spring
of 1852. when, at tlie age of twenty-one
years, he accompanied his two brothers
and a brother-in-law to California. They
traveled westward across the long, hot,
sandv plains and over the mountains with
an ox team, being three months on the
wa}-. At length they reached a town near
Ne\"ada City. California, where they were
engaged in prospecting in mining for two
and a half years. Mr. Spearman of this
review became the owner of a placer mine,
^^•hich he sold and then started by steam-



boat to return to Iowa, but the vessel
struck a rock off Point Conception, on the
coast of Lower Cahfornia. The boat sank,
while the passengers \\ere taken off by a
mail steamer and landed at Santiago, in
Lower California. Two weeks later a boat
came for them and took them back to San
Francisco. There ]Mr. Spearman and
other passengers embarked on another
steamer for Nicaragua, traveled across
that country on ponies, proceeding by lake
and river to Greytown, where they took
steamer for New York. They then came
by rail to Burlington and by stage to
Mount Pleasant.

Cornelius F. Spearman remained at
home for a brief period and in 1855 re-
moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where he ^^'as
engag'ed in the liveiy business for a time
l)ut on selling out there went to Mount
Pleasant, where he conducted a li\'ery busi-
ness for a year. In the fall of 1857 he
again sold out and returned to hiis father's
place, devoting his energies to farming
until September, 1861, when he enlisted
as a member of Company D, Fourth Iowa
Cavalry, which he raised. He was elected
its captain and in the Avinter of 1863 was
promoted to the rank of major.

The regiment was assigned to the West-
ern Anny and the troops proceeded to
Springfield, Missouri, by way of St.
Louis. They then went on to Batesville,
Arkansas, and to Helena, Arkansas, where
they remained for six months engaged in
scout dutv'. Subsequently the>- proceeded
to Vicksburg, where they were attached
to the army commanded by General Sher-
man. After the fall of Vicksburg they
went to Memphis, Tennessee, where they
remained until the fall of i86j, wlien Ma-

jor Spearman's term expired and he re-
turned to Mount Pleasant, having served
for three years as a faithful defender of
the Union cause.

On again reaching Henrv^ county. Ma-
jor Spearman purchased a farm on section
I, Jackson township, comprising three
hundred acres of land, which was im-
proved with a log house and barn. About
one hundred and sixty acres of land had
been cleared and he began its further de-
velopment and cultivation. In 1868 he
erected a frame resdence of eight rooms
and also a basement barn, fort\'-two by
sixty feet. He now has the place all fenced
with wire fencing, and there are two hun- .
dred and twenty acres of tillable land at
the present time, from which he harvests
rich crops. His business interests have
been very carefully conducted and he is
recognized as a man of executive force,
keen discrimination and unfaltering dili-
gence — f[ualities which have resulted in
gaining for him a prominent place in agri-
cultural circles in the community.

On the 15th of November, i860, ]^Ir.
Spearman A\as united in marriage to Miss
Julia A. Coiner, who was bom in Ross
county, Ohio, a daughter of Christian and
Elizabeth (Teter) Coiner, who were na-
tives of Ohio. About 1850 they went to
Des Moines county, settling on a fanu
there and a few years later they sold that
property and bought a farm in Center
to\Anship, Henr\' county, where they con-
tinued to reside until called to their final
rest. In '[^'■j^ Captain Spearman was called
upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who
died on the 17th of June, of tliat year, her
remains being interred in the Pleasant Hill
cemeterv, in Center township. The chil-



dren of that marriage were : Attie, who
is the wife of George H. Smith and resides
with her father; Paul, who died at the age
of twenty-seven years; Frank C, of New
London, Iowa; Myrte, who died at the
age of three years; May, who ched at the
age of seventeen years; Juha Leota, who
passed away at the age of eighteen years ;
and twins, who died in infancy.

Major Spearman is a member of Mc-
Farland Post, No. 20, Grand Amiy of
tlie Repiibhc, at Mount Pleasant, and thus
maintains cordial relations with his old
army comrades. In politics he is a stalwart
republican, having always supported the
party, which was the champion of the
Unicm cause in the Civil war, and has al-
ways stood for reform and progress. He
has ser\ed for two terms as county super-
visor and has represented his district in
the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth general
assemblies of Iowa. His course as a legis-
lator was marked by unfaltering fidelity
to dut}' and an earnest desire to promote
tlie welfare of the commonwealth and
o\-er the record of his public career and
private life there falls no shadow of wrong
or suspicion of evil. The varied expe-
riences which have come to him, the hard-
ships of pioneer life on the coast, the dan-
gers of war and the daily performance of
the duties of a work-a-day existence have
also served to develop in him a character
that makes him one of the respected and
honored citizens of his community. His
days are more than the Psalmist's span of
three score years and ten, and his life has
Ijeen one of activity and usefulness, re-
sulting not only in the acquirement of
success but also in good for his fellow men,
having done much for their elevation

along mental, moral and social lines
and without invidious distinction he may
be classed with the foremost citizens of
Plenrv county.


John Howard Whiting, whose record
as a banker and financier entitles him to
representation among the honored dead
of Mount Pleasant, and whose life, in its
kindly purposes and upright conduct, won
him the respect and honor of all with
whom he was associated, was born in Ty-
rone, New York, December 6. 1834, his
parents being Timothy and Sarah Ann
(McCall) Whiting. The first ancestors
of the family in America came from Eng-
land to this country and settled in Massa-
chusetts, being among the prominent co-
lonial representatives in the new world.

The Whitings come of a family of very
ancient lineage in England. The branch
from which John \\niiting was descended
came from the city of Boston, Lincoln-
shire, England, which had been the chief
place of their residence from 13 13, or the
sixth year in the reign of King Edward
III. The name was variously spelled
and we take up the line at a point where
there is no question as to the authenticity
of the line of descent.

John Whiting, who was born at Bos-
ton, England, was a member of the com-
mon council of that city in 1590, was
mayor in 1600, vice-admiral of Lincoln-
shire in 1602, and was buried October 20,


« t



1 61 7. His son, Samuel Whiting, born in
Boston, England, November 20, 1597, won
the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Mas-
ter of Arts and Doctor of Divinity from
Emanuel College of Cambridge. He re-
ceived the orders in the church, but com-
plaint being made of his nonconformity,
he joined the Puritan colony in America,
sacrificing large property interests in Eng-
land in order to come to the United States,
where he might worship God according to
the dictates of his conscience. He arrived
in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 26th of
May, 1636, and in the following Novem-
ber removed to Lynn, Massachusetts, then
called Saugust, but as a compliment to
Mr. Whiting, who had been pastor at
Lynn Regis, England, the name of the
town was changed to Lynn. There he
officiated as a Puritan minister until his
death. He was also an overseer at Har-
vard College, and held other prominent
positions that made him a distinguished
man in early colonial times. For his sec-
ond W'ife he chose Elizabeth St. John, a
daughter of Right Oliver St. John. The
death of Rev. Wliiting occurred at Lynn.
Massachusetts, December 11, 1679. His
son, Samuel Whiting, born in England.
March 25, 1633, \vas graduated from
Harvard College in 1653, and the degree
of Master of Arts was conferred upon him
in 1656. He married Dorcas Chester,

Online LibraryHobart Publishing Company (Chicago)Biographical review of Henry County, Iowa, containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of to-day and also of the past .. → online text (page 2 of 85)