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The United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume online

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Eminent and Self-made Men.





HISTORY, one of the most interesting and instructive studies of modern
ages, is composed in a large part of biographies of men made great by
their own heroic and noble exertions. Guided by the philosophic principle that
all men are, in a great measure, architects of their own destinies, and that the
laudable example of those who have honorably won their way to success will
ever inspire the struggling mass of humanity to greater effort and nobler aspira-
tions, the publishers of this volunie here present some of the most prominent
facts and incidents in the lives of the leading citizens of Iowa, who have, to a
great extent, made the history of this state.

In selecting names for the Biographical Dictionary, the publishers have
aimed to give a life-like sketch of the representatives of the various interests of
the state: the professional men, the business men, the agriculturists, and indeed
all who have taken part in the intellectual, political and material progress of the
people. All that lavish expense and untiring labor could do in obtaining and
compiling the material has been done. That the work is perfect, the publishers
do not flatter themselves. A few persons, unfamiliar with the importance of the
work, have failed to furnish the requisite information ; others, from vain pride,
have refused ; others, again, who are worthy citizens, have, from a false modesty,
refused to give particulars — all forgetting that in a few years their names, with-
out a record, will be lost in oblivion, and their posterity deprived of the gratifi-
cation and advantage of reference to an honorable ancestry. However, it is
claimed, and justly, too, that this is the best publication of the kind ever offered
to the public. It is durably and elegantly gotten up ; profusely illustrated with por-
traits, in which the accuracy of photographic art is transferred to steel by the
best engravers of England and America ; and withal is a work which, as the
added years go by, will grow in importance and be more highly prized by all who
may fortunately possess it, and especially by the friends and relatives of those
enrolled upon its pages.






AMONG the men whose, personal history is in-
iV separably interwoven with that of the state,
and whose name deserves a foremost rank, is James
Wilson Grimes. He was born in the town of Peer-
ing, Hillsborough county. New Hampshire, on the
20th of October, 1816, and was of Scotch-Irish de-
scent, his ancestors emigrating to this country from
north Ireland, to which place they had previously
emigrated with a colony from Argyleshire, Scotland.
His parents, John Grimes and Elizabeth nee Wilson,
were also natives of Deering, New Hampshire. Of
a family of eight children born to them, James was
the youngest. In early childhood he evinced a taste
for learning, attending the district school and also
studying Latin and Greek under the instruction of
the village pastor. He completed his preparation
for college at Hampton Academy, and entered Dart-
mouth College in August, 1832, in the sixteenth
year of his age. Upon leaving college in February,
1835, he commenced reading law with James Walker,
Esq., in Petersborough, New Hampshire. Being
young and adventurous, and wishing to carve a for-
tune for himself, he left his native home in 1836 for
the far west, landing in Burlington, then a new town
in what was known as the " Black Hawk Purchase."
Here he opened an ofifice and soon established a
reputation as a rising lawyer. In April, 1837, he
was appointed city solicitor, and, entering upon the
duties of that office, assisted in drawing up the first
police laws of the town. In 1838 he was appointed
justice of the peace, and became a law partner of
William W. Chapman, United States district attorney
for Wisconsin Territory. In the early part of the
year 1841 he formed a partnership with Henry W .

Starr, Esq., which continued twelve years. This
firm stood at the head of the legal profession in
Iowa. Mr. Grimes was widely known as a counselor
of superior knowledge of the law, and with a clear
sense of truth and justice. Mr. Grimes was chosen
one of the repiesentatives of Des Moines county in
the first legislative assembly of the TVrritory of Iowa,
which convened at Burlington on the i 2th of Novem-
ber, 1838; in the sixth, at Iowa City, on the 4th of
December, 1843 ; and in the fourth general assembly
of the state, at Iowa City, on the 6th of December,
1852. He early took front rank among the public
men of Iowa. He was chairman of the judiciary
committee in the house of representatives of the first
legislative assembly of tlie Territory of Iowa, and all
laws for the new territory passed through his hands.

Mr. Grimes was married to Miss Elizabeth Sarah
Neally, at Burlington, on the 9th of November, 1846.

He always took an active part in all movements for
the advancement of education and reform.

In February, 1854, Mr. Grimes was nominated by
a convention of the whig party for governor of the
state. It was the largest state convention of that
party ever held in Iowa, and the last. He assumed
the duties of the office in December, 1854. Soon
after his election it was proposed that he should be
sent to the United States senate, but he made it un-
derstood that he should fill the term of office for
which he had been chosen, and he served his full
term to the entire satisfaction and acceptance of all
parties. He was a faithful leader in the political
regeneration of the state. He introduced liberal
measures to develop the resources of the state and
to promote the interests of all educational and hu-


mane establishments.. Up to the time of his election
as governor democracy reigned supreme in the terri-
/tory. The representatives in congress were allies of
the slave power. He, after being elected, gave his
whole soul to the work, and it may truly be said that
Governor Grimes made Iowa republican and allied
it with the loyal states. On the 14th of January,
1858, hq laid down his office only to be placed in
another and greater one. On the 25 th of January
of the same year he was nominated by the republican
caucus for United States senator. He took his seat
in the senate on the 4th of March, 1859, and was
placed upon the committee on naval affairs on the
24th of January, 1861, on which he remained during
the rest of his senatorial career, serving as chairman
from December, 1864, and giving close attention to
all matters referred to this body. He was early
known as an active, earnest and able working mem-
ber of the senate. He was a close observer of every
military and naval movement, and a fine judge of the
official capacity and skill of the different command-
ers. Knowing the resolution and determination of
the southern leaders in the rebellion, he advocated
the prompt and vigorous prosecution of the war.
The navy was his favorite arm of service, he con-
sidering it the stronghold of public defense.

Mr Grimes voted for the Pacific Railroad bill on
the 20th of June, 1862, and for establishing the gauge
of the road, from the Missouri river to the Pacific
ocean, at four feet eight and a half inches, on the
18th of February, 1863.

On the i6th of January Mr. Grimes was again
chosen United States senator from Iowa for six years
from March, 1865, receiving the votes of all the
members of the general assembly, in joint conven-
tion, but six; one hundred and twenty-eight out of
one hundred and thirty-four. His counsel was often
sought in matters of great moment and in cases of
peculiar difficulty. Always ready to promote the

welfare of the state, he gave, unsolicited, land worth
six thousand dollars to the Congregational College
at Grinnell. It constitutes the " Grimes Founda-
tion," and is " to be applied to the establishment and
maintenance in Iowa College, forever, of four scholar-
ships, to be awarded by the trustees, on the recom-
mendation of the faculty, to the best scholars, and
the most promising, in any department, who may
need and seek such aid, and without any regard to
the religious tenets or opinions entertained by any
person seeking either of said scholarships." These
terms were imposed by Mr. Grimes and assumed on
the 20th of July, 1865, by the trustees. He received
the honorary degree of LL.D., in 1865, from Dart-
mouth College, and also frorn Iowa College. He
also aided in founding a public library in Burlington,
donating five thousand dollars, which was expended
in the purchase of costly books, and subsequently
sent from Europe two hundred and fifty-six volumes
in the German language, and also contributed six
hundred volumes of public documents.

In January, 1869, he made a donation of five
thousand dollars to Dartmouth College, and one
thousand dollars to the " Social Friend," a literary
society of which he was a member when in college.

His health failing, Mr. Grimes sailed for Europe
on the 14th of April, 1869, remaining abroad two
years, reaching home on the 22d of September, 187 1,
apparently in improved health and spirits. In No-
vember he celebrated his silver wedding, and spent
the closing months of his life with his family. He
voted at the city election on the 5th of February,
andupon the evening of the 7th of February, 187 2, was
suddenly attacked with severe pains in the region of
the heart, and died after a few short hours of intense
suffering. A post-mortem examination revealed or-
ganic disease of the heart. He was mourned by
many as a man of ability, integrity and public spirit,
who fearlessly fulfilled whatever he deemed his duty.



HENRY J. B. CUMMINGS, member of con-
gress from the seventh Iowa district, was born
in Newton, Sussex county. New Jersey, on the 21st
of May, 183 1. His father. Colonel Heman L. Cum-
mings, was a native of Litchfield county, Connecti-
cut, and a man of moderate means. His mother's

maiden name was Ann Garton Johnson. Henry was
the eldest child. He had a brother, Louis Jerome,
three years younger, who died in Winterset on the
ist of August, 1856, of disease contracted by expos-
ure, while with General James Lane, in efforts to
make Kansas a free state. He was a young man of


3'? S:Sals. JS^Artlay Si NT


patriotic and npble impulses, of considerable culture
and ability.

The subject of this sketch is great-great-grandson
of General Daniel Brodhead, who was one of the
generals in the revolutionary war, the friend and
confidant of General Washington, by whom he was
assigned to the command of Fort Pitt, now Pitts-
burgh. General Brodhead was enabled to maintain
peace with the Indians in western Pennsylvania and
Ohio, in great part by the confidence they had in
him. They made him one of their chiefs, and gave
him the name of Great Moon. In the family is pre-
served a Masonic apron worn by General Brodhead
in the lodge of which Washington was at the time
master, and several letters written to him by Wash-

In 1840 Heman L. Cummirigs moved with his
family from New Jersey to Muncy, Lycoming county,
Pennsylvania, and Henry received his education in
the common schools of that state, supplementing it
with a year's study in a private school. He then
spent a year or two in the pineries of Lycoming
county, most of the time making a hand in a saw-
mill. Like many young men who have subsequently
gone to congress, he felt called upon to teach a pub-
lic school ; but two months' experience convinced
him that he could not excel as a pedagogue, and
that ended his services as a teacher.

In 1848 he comiTienced the study of law, reading
a year and a half, when, having a natural taste for
printing, he went, in 1849, 'o Schuylkill county,
Pennsylvania, where he made an agreement to learn
the trade in the office of the "Schuylkill Haven
Map," he to commence as "devil," and to serve
three years, but his name was to appear as associate
editor. After about a year his uncle, Henry Johnson,
a lawyer of large practice and great reputation, a
prominent state senator in Pennsylvania during the
civil war, and now practicing in Des Moines, Iowa,
purchased the office, and the paper was edited and
managed exclusively by his nephew, assisted by
his brother, who here joined him. This arrange-
ment continued until the autumn of 1852, when
Henry returned to Muncy and finished his law
studies in the office of his uncle just mentioned,
being admitted to the bar early in 1854.

Late in the next year Mr. Cummings started for
Iowa, crossing the Mississippi river on the ice on
the I St of January, 1856. He went directly to Win-
terset, Madison county, and immediately opened an
office. The anti-Nebraska party had carried Iowa

in the autumn before, and early in the spring of
1856 the republican party was being organized in
the state. Mr. Cummings joined with others in call-
ing a public meeting to organize the county. The
meeting was largely attended, but only eight persons
would assist in the organization. Mr. Cummings
also aided in organizing Adair and Cass counties,
and, with others, thoroughly canvassed these coun-
ties before the election. He was nominated by the
republicans of Madison county that year for prose-
cuting' attorney, and was elected, holding the office
two years and three months, at the end of which
time it was abolished by the new constitution of the
state. He held the office of mayor of Winterset for
two terms.

On the 4th of March, 1857, at Muncy, Pennsyl-
vania, Mr. Cummings was married to Miss Annie
Webster Robb, youngest daughter of William F. and
Mary Robb, of the last named place. They have
one daughter, Laura Justina, who was married in
November, 1876, to James W. Miller, at present one
of the editors of the Winterset " Madisonian."

Mr. Cummings continued the practice of the law
until the breaking out of the rebellion, when, after the
firing on Fort Sumter, a company of home guards
was organized at Winterset, and he was elected cap-
tain. Governor Kirkwood having notified him that
it was desired that Madison county should furnish*
a company of men for the United States military
service. Captain Cummings immediately reorgan-
ized his company, and in July, 1861, acting under
orders from the governor, he took his company to
Council Bluffs, where it became company F of the
4th Iowa Infantry, Colonel G. M. Dodge, commander
of the regiment. While in camp there, at a meeting
of the officers of the regiment. Captain Cummings
was recommended to be commissioned major, but
as the two field officers already appointed were re-
publicans, the governor concluded it would be better
to take a democrat for the third office, and on that
ground declined to appoint Captain Cummings. He
continued with his company until, as part of General
Samuel R. Curtis' army, it reached Helena, Arkansas,
in 1862. After the battle of Pea Ridge, Missouri,
in March of that year, his superiors in rank having
been wounded or being absent, he fell into command
as ranking captain of the regiment, and command-
ed it on its march through southern Missouri and
northern Arkansas to Batesville. Captain Cummings
readily acquainted himself thoroughly with the mili-
tary rules and regulations, and this fact was recog-


nized in his appointment several times as judge ad-
vocate of important courts-martial. He was a strict
disciplinarian, considerate of his men, and one of
the best drill-officers in the service. A good trait
of his character in the field was that he was always
strictly temperate and never profane.

On reaching Helena, Captain Cummings returned
to Iowa on sick leave, but bearing a letter from Gen-
eral Curtis to Governor Kirkwood, asking the latter
to advance the captain in one of the new regiments
then forming. The governor commissioned Irim col-
onel of the 39th Infantry. The regiment rendez-
voused first at Des Moines, and then at Davenport.
In November, 1862, Colonel Cummings was Ordered
to report at Corinth, Mississippi, where he was as-
signed to the command of that post. There he had
charge of three regiments, the white refugees com-
ing into the federal lines, and the contrabands, the
last being employed in running a cotton plantation.
When he took the post it was considerably in debt,
but he soon paid off that indebtedness, and when he
was relieved there were several thousand dollars in
its treasury. The colonel was regarded as pecu-
liarly fitted for post duty, and had several important
commands of that nature, among them at Culleoka,
Tennessee; Athens, Alabama; Rome, Georgia, and,
as above stated, at Corinth, Mississippi.
' His regiment joined the army advancing on At-
lanta, at Chattanooga, and was the first that went
through the Snake Creek Gap in the movement
flanking Dalton. When the army reached Kingston
the brigade to which his regiment belonged was
stationed at Rome, Georgia, and remained there on
the flank during the entire siege of Atlanta. It also
was part of Sherman's array that marched to the sea.

Having served three and a half years, Colonel
Cummings mustered out on the ist of January, 1865,
and returned to Winterset. In 1869 he purchased
the Winterset " Madisonian," and has been connect-
ed with it ever since. As a journalist, he has been
a success, making the Winterset "Madisonian" rank
among the ablest country papers in the state, popu-
larizing it at home by making home news a specialty,
and giving the agricultural interest of the county
due prominence. He seems to know by intuition
what the needs of his readers are, and has the ability
to meet theirwants to their satisfaction. As a writer,
his style is not ornate, but simple, clear and forcible.

In November, 1876, he was elected to congress in
one of the strongest republican districts, carrying
every one of the ten counties in liis district, and hav-

ing a majority of nearly eight thousand votes over
his democratic competitor, Samuel J. Gilpin, Esq.,
with whom he held nearly forty joint discussions.
As a public speaker, he is more logical than fluent.
He makes no claim to being an orator, yet has good
command of language. Whatever is necessary he
can say on any occasion, and say it well and forcibly.
His manner is dignified and impressive,' his words
are always well chosen, and his ideas are expressed
on the rostrum as clearly and forcibly as in his edi-
torials. He has the air of frankness and truth, and
so impresses his hearers. In the joint canvass spo-
ken of his friends were more than satisfied,

He is a member of the committee on claims, one
of the most important and responsible committees
of the house. The following extract from an edi-
torial letter to the Des Moines "Daily Register" is
given to show his standing as a congressman :

Our own member, Colonel Cummings, is making a good
name for himself quietly and not slowly. He is a close
student of the house and its rules, and is alwa^ s in his seat.
No one keeps a better run of the business in the house, or
has a clearer head in regard to anything that is going on.
He looks after details industriously, and in all the depart-
ments has already formed a popular acquaintance with the
powers that be, — which is one of the wisest things that a
congressman anxious to serve his district can do. I predici
that in caring for the interests of the district, and in serving
promptly and well all his constituents who have affairs here
to attend to, Colonel Cummings will be found the equal of
any man that the former fighting, but now Quaker, district
of Iowa has ever had. In the house, too, he will be equally
faithful and vigilant, and guard with jealous eye and intel-
ligent zeal the public good. The colonel and his amiable
and entertaining wife have cozy quarters at the Ebbitt house,
where Iowa people will always find a cordial welcome, and
seventh district folks meet the unaffected cheer and hospi-
tality of home.

On the ist of April, 1878, he made his first speech
in the house; it was in opposition to the payment of
southern war claims. The speech was widely copied
and highly commended by the press of the state.

As a citizen. Colonel Cummings stands well. He
is always ready to take a part in every enterprise for
the benefit of the public. He has been active and
prominent in all measures for the public good ; his
special forte, in fact, is in his executive ability.

He is a prominent member of the Masonic order,
and has been for years active in the grand lodge
of the state, being at one time chairman of the com-
mittee on foreign correspondence. He was selected
by that body to prepare a Masonic digest for the
state; has served many years as master of his lodge,
and has attained to the rank of Knight Templar.

Prior to the organization of the republican party
he was a whig. For a long time he has been one of


the leaders of his party in Madison county. He and
his wife are members of the Presbyterian church.

The colonel has a high reputation for integrity,
his word being a sure guarantee of performance. By
careful and prudent management he has placed him-
self in very comfortable circumstances.

Colonel Cummings is five feet and nine and a half
inches tall, and weighs 217 pounds. His hair, which
was light when a young man, is almost white; his
complexion is fair, and his disposition cheerful and
social. He can enjoy a joke,— the best when not on



JOHN YOUNG STONE, speaker of the house
J in the seventeenth general assembly, and one of
the leading republicans of the younger class in the-
State of Iowa, is a native of Sangamon county, Illi-
nois, and was born on the 23d of April, 1843. His
parents were William L. and Mary Ann (McLemore)
Stone, members of nature's nobility, the agricultural
class. The branch of the Stone family from which
our subject sprang eaily settled in Virginia and
spread into Kentucky and Illinois. In 1856 Will-
iam L. Stone moved into the southwestern part of
Iowa, settling on a farm in Mills county, where the
son not only gained a thorough knowledge of agri-
culture, but of the condition, rights and wants of
the agriculturist — knowledge which has since led
him to heartily sympathize with this class of the
community, and to advocate their claims in public
life with an earnestness as eloquent as it was sin-
cere, as effective as it was timely. A writer in the
"Iowa State Register" of the 22d of January, 1878,
thus spoke of speaker Stone on this point:

No man, old or young, knows better the whole Iowa peo-
ple, their real character, worth and virtues, than John Y.
Stone. For he has sprung from their own ranks, and is
prouder of his origin than ever royal heir was of family
pedigree or inherited title. He thus gained in early life
that complete acquaintance with the people and their true
interests, which is of more value to a public man and
statesman than the graces of college or the polish of the
arts. It is this nearness to the masses, and the true heart
and ready hand he has ever borne in their interest, which
have made him so strong in their defense, and so popular
as a leader in their cause. It was a good tutelage, his life
on the farm. It cultivated his breadth and liberality of
character, his strength of will, his honesty and intrepidity
of purpose.

Six months after the civil war broke out, in Octo-
ber, 1861, young Stone enlisted as a private in com-
pany F, isth Iowa Infantry; was promoted to sec-
ond lieutenant near the close of the next year, and
was in all the battles in which General Crocker's
famous Iowa brigade participated, and was with it
in Sherman's great march to the sea. Those who

served with him and knew him best give him credit
for great courage on the battle-field. On the 21st
and 22d of July, 1864, in the great battles before
Atlanta, Georgia, when a staff officer, he had three
horses killed under him. He was in the hottest of

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 1 of 125)