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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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He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity
for a number of years.

He was married on the 12th of September, i860,
to Miss Lucy C. Robinson, of Salem, Massachusetts.

From boyhood Mr. Graves' life has been marked
by strict integrity, independent action and close

attention to business. Conscientious, benevolent,
and warm hearted in his affections, he has endeared
himself to a large circle of friends and acquaint-
ances. Beginning as he did, and relying wholly on
his own exertions, he has attained a success of
which he justly may be proud.



TO a self-made man who has battled his way to
success, and through his own unaided ability
gained an honored and responsible position in so-
ciety, much should be accredited. George B. Burch
is the architect of his own fortune. Aside from
a fair education gained by his own effort, his rise in
the world must be attributed solely to his business
tact and persevering energy. He came to the west
a young man with a determined will and hopeful
heart, and to-day is an esteemed citizen with a large
and prosperous business. He was born at Lyons,
Wayne county. New York, on the 22d of March, 1836.
His parents were James H. Burch and Ruhama nh
Dunn, both natives of New York. His early educa-
tion was gained at the common schools, and his
father being in moderate circumstances could not
lend him assistance, and at the age of fourteen he
commenced life for himself by entering as a clerk in
a drug store. Later he served in several clerical
positions, and in February, 1855, removed to the
west and settled at Portage, Wisconsin, where, in
1859, he formed a partnership in the drug business
under the firm name of Burch and Lewis. This
partnership had continued but a short time when he
sold his interest, and removing to the lumber dis-
trict, was employed for nearly a year as a book-

keeper. In 1861 he purchased a mill at Necedah,
Wisconsin, and engaged in the manufacture of lum-
ber. He removed to Dubuque in August, 1869,
where he resumed the lumber business in connec-
tion with his mill in Wisconsin, in which he has been
eminently successful, having built up an extensive
and constantly growing trade.

In politics, Mr. Burch is liberal, and supports for
office the best man in his judgment, irrespective of
party. Since his residence in Dubuque he has taken
a lively interest in the development of its various
enterprises, and in the spring of 1876 was, by the
unanimous vote of both parties, elected mayor of the
city. He is a director of the First National Bank,
also of the Northwestern Fair Association and of
the Art Association. In 1859 he joined the Masonic
fraternity, of which he is now a prominent member
and a Knight Templar. He is not a member of any
church organization, but attends the Congregational
service, his wife being a member of that body.

He was married on the 27th of February, i860, to
Miss Ellen H. Merrill, daughter of Hon. Samuel D.
Merrill, of Vermont. Personally, Mr. Burch has
rare qualities, and by his upright course of life, his
manly deportment and independence of character,
has made for himself an honorable reputation.



JOHN MARTIN BRAYTON was born in New-
J port, Herkimer county. New York, on the isth
of September, 1831; and is the son of Smith Bray-
ton, a farmer by occupation, and Candace n^e Mar-
tin. He received the ordinary common-school privi-
leges until fourteen years of age, at which time he
went to Whitestown Seminary, Oneida county. At

the age of eighteen he entered the sophomore class,
of Hamilton College, from which he graduated in
1853- While pursuing his college course he began
the study of law under Professor T. W. Dwight, then
of Hamilton, now of Columbia College.

In 1854 he was admitted to the bar of the supreme
court of New York, and in that same year moved



to Delhi, Delaware county, Iowa. During the next
year he formed a law partnership with A. E. House,
which continued three years, when George Watson
was admitted to the firm. From 1861 to 1864 the
firm was Brayton and Watson. All of these firms
did a lucrative business, few lawyers in the judicial
district having more cases at the several terms of
court. Since 1864 Judge Brayton has been alone
in the profession, and no lawyer in the county has
been more successful or risen to greater eminence
at the bar.

In 1863 he was elected to the state senate for a
term of four years. During this term he served on
some of the most important committees, and proved
himself a valuable member. But having a much
greater liking for the law than for politics, he was
glad to retire at the end of the four years. In 1870
he was elected judge of the ninth judicial district,
serving until July, 1872; he then resigned. He wore

the ermine with credit, and his withdrawal caused
regret on the part of the legal fraternity. Of late
years he has been largely engaged in railroad liti-
gation, and is prominent in the enforcement of
mechanic's liens, and by reason of his skill is well
known in all parts of the state. By his honest, up-
right course he has accumulated a liberal fortune.

Judge Brayton is a member of no church, but by
preference attends the Congregational.

In politics, he has always been a republican.

On the 4th of May, 1859, he married Helen M.
Martin, a resident of Schoharie county, New York,
and by her has had two children, one still living.

Judge Brayton is small in stature but large in
intellect, he has a fair complexion and nervous tem-
perament, mild, keen eyes, and a decidedly bookish
air. He loves the law with his whole heart, but a
stranger would seat him in a clerical or college chair,
rather than on the bench or in a law office.



AMONG the early representatives of the legal
profession in Winneshiek county, Iowa, is
Ezekiel E. Cooley, a native of New York. He was
born in Victory, Cayuga county, on the 12 th of Jan-
uary, 1827, and has consequently reached his fiftieth
year. His parents were Ira A. Cooley and Lydia
Chittenden Cooley. His father was a clergyman of
the Baptist denomination, who held pastorates,
after the son was born, at Hermon, St. Lawrence
county, Denmark, Lewis county, and Brownsville,
Jefferson county. He died at the last named place
in June, 1846. At sixteen years of age the son en-
tered the Black River Literary and Religious Insti-
tute, Watertown, and at his father's demise was
about to enter Hamilton College, but this bereave-
ment thwarted all his plans. Two years prior to
this date, while fitting for college, he commenced
teaching, and in the summer of 1847 went to Cyn-
thiana, Kentucky, to pursue this calling, arriving there
with seven dollars in his pocket. Up to this date he
had had a hard struggle in procuring the knowl-
edge which he then possessed, and which struggle
was not ended ; but he continued to persevere, hav-
ing the legal profession in view, and continued
teaching with a view to supply himself with funds.
Soon after reaching Kentucky he commenced study-

ing law with Judge Trimble ; was admitted to the
bar in 1849, and in August of the same year re-
turned to New York and took charge of a public
school in Ogdensburg. Not satisfied with his legal
attainments, simultaneously with his commencing to
teach, he read law with Hon. A. B. James, now a
member of the New York congressional delegation,
and was admitted to the bar of that state on the 2d
of September, 1850. He commenced practice at
Hermon ; two years later he removed to Ogdens-
burg, forming a partnership with George Morris
under the firm name of Morris and Cooley, and
continued this connection until October, 1854, when
he immigrated to Decorah, the seat of justice of
Winneshiek county. At that date there were less
than thirty families in the place, but Mr. Cooley
had the wisdom to see that it was a town of much
promise and a good opening for an ambitious young
attorney, with a broad foundation of legal knowl-
edge on which to build.

In 185s Mr. Cooley formed a partnership with W.
L. Easton and L. Standring for the purpose of car-
rying on the business of banking and real estate.
This banking-house proved eventually to be the
seed-corn of the First National Bank of Decorah.

No movement calculated to benefit Decorah or



the county has failed to receive the hearty support
of Mr. Cooley. As early as 1856 he was one of the
prominent men in organizing a railroad company
called the Northwestern, of which he was made the
attorney. The financial depression delayed this
enterprise, "but after repeated trials the road, under
another name, reached Decorah in September, 1869.
Upon the celebration of its completion Mr. Cooley
was very appropriately made the orator for the oc-
casion. Two years after he settled in Decorah an
effort was made to remove the county seat to Free-
port, three miles eastward, and but for the adroit
efforts of Mr. Cooley and a few other persons the
project would probably have succeeded.

Mr. Cooley came to Decorah to practice law and
to make it his business for life. He has carried
out his intentions almost to the letter, and has at-
tained eminence in his profession. The few offices
which he has held were urged upon him by the par-
tiality of friends. In the spring of 1855 he was
elected prosecuting attorney for the county, serving
two years. When, in 1857, Decorah was incorpo-
rated he was chosen president of its board of trus-
tees ; and in October of the same year he was
elected to the lower branch of the general assem-
bly, the seventh, which was the first under the new
constitution. Young as he was, and wholly inexpe-
rienced in legislative matters, he was placed at the
head of the committee on federal relations. He
was "also on other important committees, such as
the judiciary and township and county organiza-
tions, doing valuable work on all of them, as well as
on several select committees.

In 186 1 Mr. Cooley was appointed postmaster of
Decorah, but resigned at the end of two years. In
September, 1864, President Lincoln appointed him
commissary of subsistence in the volunteer service,
with the rank of captain of cavalry. He held this
position until October, 1865, when he was breveted
major for meritorious services, and received his dis-
charge the following month.

Twice his republican friends in Winneshiek county
have presented his name before district conventions
for congressional nomination, but in both instances
competing candidates bore off the palm, and he
magnanimously took the stump and aided in their

Mr. Cooley has profound respect for the bible ; is
familiar with its teachings, and has aimed to live a
blameless life. He has no church connection.

On the i8th of March, 1856, he was united in
marriage with Miss Jane M. Rhodes, of Dubuque, a
lady of very fine talent as an amateur artist in oil
colors. They have two sons, both students in the
literary department of Michigan University. Both,
it is understood, have the law profession in view.

Mr. Cooley, like his sons, is a student, — such, at
least, he regards himself. He loves the practice of
law much better than politics, and still pursues its
study with the relish and eagerness of youthful man-
hood. Though standing high at the bar, he has a
loftier altitude simply as an attorney, to which he
honorably aspires. Office has lost its charms for
him, if it ever had any. Through his success at the
bar he has obtained a competency, and has one of
the most elegant and costly residences in Decorah.



of Massachusetts, was born in Spencer, Wor-
cester county, on the 13th of October, 1826, and is
the son of Eleazer and Susan (Hartwell) Bemis.
His great-grandfather, Edmund Bemis, commanded
a company in the expedition against Crown Point,
in 1755-56. His father moved with his family to
Alabama, Genesee county, New York, in 1837, and
there resumed his occupation of farming; George,
an only son, remaining at home until he was of age.
After closing his studies in the common school, he at-
tended about four terms at the Carysville Collegiate

Seminary, in Oakfield, near Alabama. He after-
ward taught school in the latter town and in Wis-
consin four winters, employing the summers of that
time on the farm.

In 1854 he removed to Independence, Iowa, where
he has since resided. The first three or four years
after his arrival he devoted mainly to surveying and
to real-estate operations, and during most of the time
for seventeen years he has acted in some capacity,
either as a county, legislative or government officer.

The year after settling in Independence he was
appointed surveyor of Buchanan county, and served



in that capacity for two years. He was a member
of the eighth general assembly in 1859-60, and of
the extra war session of 1861. He acted in the
capacity of postal clerk on the Dubuque and Sioux
City railroad about seven years, and from 1871 to
1875 was a member of the state -senate. He was a
commissioner, and secretary and treasurer of the
commissioners, of the Hospital for the Insane, at
Independence, when elected senator, and resigned
to fill the latter office. In April, 1872, he was reap-
pointed a commissioner, and at present (1877) holds
that position. Being the only resident commissioner,
his responsibilities are very great, but he has never
failed to discharge them with the utmost fidelity.
In the summer of 1876 he was nominated on the

republican ticket for treasurer of state. He has
always voted with that party.

In every position which Mr. Bemis has occupied
he has discharged his duties faithfully and satis-
factorily. As a legislator, he was a constant worker
and wise counselor. He was chairman of more than
one important committee, and at the close of every
session stood higher in the esteem of the people,
whose confidence in him is shown in their placing
the treasury of the state in his hands. Every nomi-
nation which he has received has been unsought.

On the nth of April, 1855, he was married to
Miss Narcissa T. Roszell, of Independence, a lady of
fine accomplishments and of most excellent family
They have three children.



colonel 17th Iowa Infantry, is a native of Jef-
ferson county, Indiana, and was born on the 24th of
July, 1825. He is a son of David Hillis, who was
quite a distinguished whig politician, and at one
time lieutenant-governor of Indiana. His ancestors
were from the north of Ireland, and of the Protest-
ant faith. His grandfather Hillis was a soldier in
the revolutionary wa.r.

General Hillis was educated at the University of
South Hanover, Indiana, and studied medicine at
Madison, Indiana, with the then distinguished Dr.
William Davidson, a graduate of Edinburgh, Scot-
land. He graduated at St. Louis, Missouri, and at
the age of twenty-one commenced the practice of
his profession in Jackson county, Indiana. For
eleven years he gave to his profession his undivided
attention, and at the end of that time had attained
a high standing among the members of his fraterni-
ty. In 1858 he abandoned his profession to engage
in mercantile pursuits. Moving west, he located in
Bloomfield, Davis county, Iowa, where he continued
in business till the summer of i860, when he re-
moved to Keokuk, Iowa, and there, in partnership
with his brother-in-law, Oscar Kiser, established
himself in the dry-goods trade. In August, 1861,
he was appointed an aid-de-camp to Governor Kirk-
Wood. This position he held till the 14th of March,
1862, when he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel
of the 17th Infantry. Hon. John W. Rankin, a

distinguished lawyer, was the colonel. In August,
1862, Colonel Rankin tendered his resignation, and
on its acceptance Lieutenant-Colonel Hillis was pro-
moted to the colonelcy of his regiment. Having,
with his regiment, been, engaged in many skirmishes
and severely contested battles under General Grant,
in the campaign -against Vicksburg, through central
Mississippi, the Yazoo Pass, and afterward down
the Mississippi river to the " flanking " of Vicksburg,
and having particularly distinguished himself at the
battles of Champion's Hill, Jackson, and the siege
of Vicksburg, he was at last, by reason of business
requirements, impelled to resign, leaving the service
with much credit, carrying with him the love and
regrets of his men, and for his gallantry a brevet-
brigadier-general's commission, and an expensive
and handsome sword, suitably inscribed, a testimo-
nial from the officers of his regiment, with whom he
had participated in so many pleasures and dangers.
In June, 1863, General M. M. Crocker, writing to
President Lincoln, says : " I had the honor to com-
mand Colonel Hillis in the late campaign of General
Grant in Mississippi, from Port Gibson until after
the battle of Champion Hills. In the march and
on the battle field he exhibited all the highest qual-
ities of a soldier, and an unusual capacity for com-
mand. At Jackson his regiment held the position
most exposed, and with undaunted courage drove
everything before them. At Champion Hills, where
the fight was most desperate and the situation of



our left most critical, the 17 th Iowa, led by Colonel
Hillis, charged, through a storm of bullets, the ene-
my's line, driving the rebels before them, capturing
the regimental flag of the 31st Alabama and a four-
gun battery."

General Quimby, writing about the same date,
says : " It gives me great pleasure to state that Col-
onel Hillis was under my command for nearly six
months preceding his resignation, and that under
all the various and trying circumstances under
which he was placed, he proved himself a most
zealous and efficient officer, and exhibited the true
qualities of a commander."

Later, General Crocker writes : " From my per-
sonal knowledge and observation in the laborious
and brilliant campaign in the rear of Vicksburg, he
won and demands a hero's laurels."

In May, 1848, he married Miss Laura Kiser,
eldest daughter of Dr. Wm. P. Kiser, in Rockford,
Indiana. To this good and amiable woman he at-
tributes much of whatever success has attended him,
such has been her admirable counsels and example.

In religion. General Hillis is an associate Presby-

In politics, he was a whig until the demise of that
party. Having always been anti-slavery, in 1856 he
became an active republican, and took an earnest
part in the Fremont campaign. In i860 and in
1864 he engaged earnestly on the " stump " in favor
of Mr. Lincoln's first and second election to the

In 1868 he resumed the practice of his profession
in Keokuk, Iowa, where he still continues. Occu-
pying high rank among the first physicians of his
state, having been honored for four years with the
position of president of the board of health of Keo-
kuk, and once as representative of the Iowa State
Medical Association to the annual meeting of the
American Medical Association, of which he is now
a member. A writer in the " Iowa Colonels and
Regiments " thus describes him : " In personal ap-
pearance, Colonel Hillis is attractive. He is not a
large man, but is strongly and compactly built, and
steps promptly and firmly. His complexion and
hair are dark; eyes blue, full and lustrous. On
first acquaintance one would think him a little
haughty and aristocratic, but his sociableness and
congeniality soon remove this impression."



MORE than three-fourths of the men who have
risen to distinction in Iowa were the sons of
farmers, and acquired their habits of industry by
cultivating the soil. Among this class is the subject
of this sketch. His father owned a farm and a saw-
mill, and in both the son had an opportunity early
to develop his muscle, and those steady habits and
sturdy virtues which have helped him on to emi-
nence in the legal profession and in the state.

Enoch Worthen Eastman was born in Deerfield,
New Hampshire, on the isth of April, 1810; his
parents were John and Mary James Eastman. His
father was a lieutenant in the war of 1812, and his
grandfather was on his way to Boston with gun on
his shoulder when the battle of Bunker Hill occurred.
For some unknown reason he did not participate in
the struggle for independence.

Enoch worked in the saw-mill and in farming for
his father and the neighbors until he was of age,
attending the district school usually a few of the
colder weeks each year. One season he worked for

a farmer seven months at ten dollars a month, and
at the end of the time handed his father sixty-seven
dollars of the earnings. Ten dollars a month, among
New England farmers, was regarded as good wages
forty and fifty years ago.

Mr. Eastman was educated at Pembroke, New
Hampton and Pittsfield academies, all flourishing
institutions from 1830 to 1840, and some of them
still showing no signs of decay. While pursuing his
academic studies he supported himself by teaching
district and singing schools, and working in a saw-
mill in Massachusetts. At the age of twenty-eight
he began to read law with Hon. Moses Norris, of
Pittsfield, New Hampshire, afterward member of
congress, and was admitted to the bar by the su-
preme court of New Hampshire, after reading five
years, — the customary time then allotted for reading
to law students.

Mr. Eastman practiced in Pittsfield until 1844,
when he immigrated to the territory of Iowa and
settled in Burlington, practicing three years there ;

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then removing to Oskaloosa, Mahaska county, and
practicing steadily for ten years. In 1857 we find
him in Eldora, Hardin county, his present home.
He has a wide practice, extending into a dozen

In 1863 Mr. Eastman was elected lieutenant-
governor of the state for two years, receiving the
largest majority which, up to that time, had ever
been given to a candidate for any state office. He
made an able presiding officer. He took the gavel
in hand while the rebellion was progressing, when the
patriotism of the Union men of the north was at its
heat ; and some idea of the boldness of the n?an and
of the spirit of the times may be formed by short
extracts from his speech made on taking the chair,
and which we find on page sixty-five of the journal
of the senate, January 15, 1844. He referred to
the " perilous times " in which the people were then
living, to the fact that there were disloyal men in
Iowa, and of the possibility of there being some
member of the state senate whose devotion to the
Union had ceased to exist, and then added :

If, unfortunately, such a one is here, my heart's desire
and prayer to God is that his tongue may be paralyzed and
cleave to the roof of his mouth whenever he attempts to
utter the intent of his heart. For the honor of the state I
do hope that the patriotic men of Iowa, who have taken
their lives in their hands and gone to the tented field, will
not receive a shot in the rear from any member of this
honorable senate.

In the same speech Mr. Eastman took advanced
ground on the question of the right of speech. He
declared that " no man has the legal, moral or polit-
ical right to begin to do that which the law will
punish him for consummating." He added :

Believing, therefore, as I do, that the ax should be laid
at the root of the tree, I hold it unparliamentary for any one
to talk treason, or advocate the cause of secession or any
dismemberment of our Union, or in any way give aid and
comfort to the rebellion, by pleading the cause of traitors,
or denouncing or disparaging the government in this senate
while I preside over it. The right of free speech in a leg-
islative assembly does not extend beyond the bounds of

Mr. Eastman was a Presidential elector on the

republican ticket in 1868, and made more than fifty
speeches during the canvass. He is an effective
platform orator, mixing with solid argument just
enough of Yankee shrewdness and drollery to make
his speeches spicy.

Mr. Eastman was a democrat until 1857, since
whi'ch time he has been a strong republican. He
has long aspired to be a statesman rather than a
politician, and studies political economy more that

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 10 of 125)