pub American Biographical Publishing Company.

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

. (page 110 of 125)
Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 110 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

state were married ; Addie was the wife of John M.
Clark, of Des Moines ; John, junior, who died in Bos-
ton in November, 1877, was buried in Des Moines.
Of the three living, Mary is the wife of George B.
Okell, of Chicago, Robert lives at home and George
Dulty is a merchant at Crete, Nebraska.



JOHN HAMILTON DRAKE, for many years a
J merchant in .Iowa, and now a banker in Albia,
received in early life a good business education ;
commenced merchandising at eighteen, and has been
very successful in his business operations. This is
owing, no doubt, in part to his innate shrewdness,
and in part to the care and assiduity with which he
attended to his business, its minutest details receiving
his closest attention.

Mr. Drake is the son of John A. Drake, one of the
oldest merchants in Iowa, and now a banker at Cen-
terville, Appanoose county. The Drakes were origi-
nally from England, this branch of the family settling
in North Carolina, where John Hamilton was born
on the 5th of July, 1828. The maiden name of his
.mother was Harriet J. O'Neal, who was of Irish de-
scent. A great many members of the Drake family
were merchants and physicians, and the present gen-
eration still follow these pursuits.

John A. Drake moved with his family to Rushville,
Schuyler county, Illinois, in 1830, and seven years
later to Fort Madison, Lee county, Iowa. There the
subject of this brief sketch remained until 1846, at-

tending to his education in the graded school at that
place. At this date his father removed to Davis
county ; started the town of Drakeville, and assisted
his son in trade. The latter merchandized there
until 1867, when he removed to Albia; continued in
trade until 1870, when, in company with B. F. Elbert,
he organized a private bank. The next year they
and others started the First National Bank of Albia,
of which Mr. Drake is president, and Mr. Elbert
cashier. It is a stable and prosperous institution.
Banking is the exclusive business of Mr. Drake, and
he gives to it the same care and oversight that he did
to his former business. Though a strong politician,
a firm republican, he never lets politics have the pre-
cedence over his legitimate calling. He is a Blue
Lodge Mason, a member of the Christian church,
and a man of the highest integrity of character. In
benevolent movements he is one of the foremost cit-
izens of Albia.

His wife was Miss Caroline Lockman, of Drake-
ville, Iowa; married on the 29th of August, 1850.
Like her husband, she is active in all religious and
charitable organizations.



AMONG the many men in Iowa educated in a
L printing office, and who are prominent in the
politics of the state, is James Hayes Knox, postmas-
ter at Indianola. He is a native of Baltimore, Mary-
land, dating his birth on the nth of August, 1821.
His father, James Knox, was born in the north of
Ireland, and was brought to this country by his par-
ents when three years old, following, when grown to

manhood, the trade of a chairmaker. He was in the
war of 1812-15. The wife of James Knox was Sarah
Hayes. The family moved from Baltimore to Cadiz,
Ohio, when James H. was four years old. There the
son entered a printing office at the early age of four-
teen years, and such an office, as already intimated,
proved to be his intellectual training school.

In his nineteenth year he removed to Knox coun-



ty, in the same state, settling near Mount Vernon,
alternating between farming and printing for a few
years. In 1852 he published a paper in Mount Ver-
non in company with E. A. Higgins, but returned to
the farm again in less than two years.

In November, 1854, Mr. Knox came to Iowa, and
halted a short time in Jasper county; in January fol-
lowing he became a partner of the late Lieutenant-
Governor Needham in the Oskaloosa " Herald "; re-
moved, early in 1857, to Indianola, and on the 2d of
April of that year published the first number of the
" Weekly Iowa Visitor,'' conducting it until some
time after the civil war had commenced.

In 1 86 1 he was appointed postmaster, and resigned
the office in August, 1862, to go into the service. He
raised a company and went south as captain of com-
pany D, 34th Infantry, and at the end of eight months
was obliged to resign on account of ill health.

During the campaign of 1864 Mr. Knox was a
writer on the Burlington " Hawkeye," and the two
following winters he held a clerkship in the city of

In 1866 Mr. Knox repurchased the Indianola
" Banner," a new name for the old " Visitor," changed
it to the original name and conducted it until 1868,

when he went out of journalism for four or five years.
In 1873 he repurchased a half interest in the paper,
now called the "Herald," in company with A. J.
Graham, the senior publisher, a neatly printed and
ably edited weekly, (jevoted to the interests of War-
ren county and the republican party.

On the 27th of April, 1875, Mr. Knox became
postmaster once more. He was a whig in early life
and for twenty years has been a very active worker
in the interests of the republican party, being a
leader in the county organization and prominent in
the state conventions. He adheres to his political
sentiments with the same sincerity that he does his
religious. He is a communicant in the Baptist
church, is generous-hearted and liberal and an ar-
dent well-wisher to the human race.

The wife of Mr. Knox was Miss Harriett M. Mil-
ler, of Miller township, Knox county, Ohio, a town
named for her father, who was a pioneer in that part
of the state. They were joined in wedlock on the
17th of May, 1847, and have had four children. Only
two of them, Ella Augusta and James Miller, are liv-
ing. The former is the wife of Lorenzo W. Billingsley,
an attorney of Lincoln, Nebraska; the latter is a stu-
dent in the Iowa State University.



CLAIBORN LEA, one of the early enterers of
Iowa land, and a highly successful business
man, was a native of Campbell county, Virginia, and
was born on the 4th of May, 1799. He was of Eng-
lish descent, the pioneer in this country settling in
Virginia. The Leas there have been a family of
planters. The father of Claiborn was Gideon Lea,
his mother, Ann Cavel, a Quakeress preacher, and a
woman of strong intellectual power and great chris-
tian zeal, who died in her eighty-fourth year.

Claiborn Lea moved from Virginia to Highland
county, Ohio, about 1820, where he worked indus-
triously at cabinet-making, and subsequently became
a merchant. About 1838 he visited the Territory of
Iowa, entered lands as soon as they came into mar-
ket, mainly in Van Buren, Clark and Polk counties ;
continued to visit this country once in two or three
years, increasing his lands here and looking after
them, until 1855, when he brought his family to Fair-
field, Jefferson county. The next year he made a

permanent settlement in Keosauqua, dying in No-
vember, 1 87 1.

The latter years of Mr. Lea's life were spent en-
tirely in looking after his lands and in making pro-
vision for his family. He was fortunate in all his
business operations, leaving his widow and children,
financially speaking, in independent circumstances.
He was an able financier, and a man of fine natural
abilities. He educated himself, and became con-
versant with the mathematics and several branches
of the physical sciences. He was a critical thinker,
a great bible student, and a firm adherent to the
church of his mother. He was strongly anti-slavery,
like the Quakers generally, and had no patience
with the apologist of oppression, he being a humani-
tarian in the broadest sense of the term. A man of
purer character it would be difficult to find in the
De Moines valley. The citizens of Keosauqua hold
him in tender remembrance.

Mr. Lea held some offices in Ohio, but none in



Iowa. He led a quiet, private, yet busy life. He
was the widow's friend, and a prompt almoner where
occasion required.

His widow was Sarah H. Roads, of Ohio ; married
on the 8th of December, 1829. The Roads were
from Rockbridge county, Virginia. Mrs. Lea has
had seven children, five are living and all of them
married : Mary Ann is the wife of E. G. Wilson, of
Van Buren county, Iowa; Amy E., of A. J. Wright,

of Bellefontaine, Ohio; Henrietta S., of R. S. Beck,
of Carlisle, Kentucky, and Helena F., of J. B. Bleak-
more, of Keosauqua. Rutledge, the only son living,
is a leading attorney at the Van Buren county bar,
his residence being at Keosauqua. The widow of
Mr. Lea, now in her sixty-ninth year, is quite active
and in the enjoyment of good health. She is a com-
municant in the Congregational church, and a highly
exemplary christian mother.



THE Thickstuns are traced back to the days of
the English Commonwealth, two centuries and
a quarter ago. The first man of that name was a gen-
eral in Cromwell's army, and was a trusted and firm
adherent to the interests of the great Protector. On
the accession of Charles II to the throne his generals
were obliged to flee the country to save their lives.
The ancestor of the family came to this country,
changing his name to Thickstun. What his name was
originally no one of the descendants knows. Thomas
Freeman Thickstun is the son of William and Rachel
Freeman Thickstun, and was born in Cussewago,
Crawford county, Pennsylvania, on the 3d of July,
1824. His grandfather moved from New Jersey into
northwestern Pennsylvania in 1802, while William
was in infancy, and settled there when the country
was an unbroken wilderness. The Freeman family
followed a few years later. They were all christian
people, and tried to be governed by the scriptures in
rearing their children.

Thomas F. was educated in the common schools
of his native county and at the Kingsville Academy,
Ohio ; his studies, in addition to the ordinary English
branches, being Greek, Latin, logic, chemistry, philos-
ophy and the higher mathematics. Several branches
he mastered outside of a school-room and without
any assistance. In early youth, for a short time his
favorite compositions were metrical, but the rhyming
fever abated before he had fairly ripened into man-

At one period of his life he intended to be a phy-
sician ; read medicine with Dr. Hiram Boyd, of Craw-
ford county, and attended one course of medical
lectures at Cleveland, but afterward concluded to be
a school-teacher instead of a medical practitioner.
He entered that noble profession with characteristic

earnestness, and pursued it vigorously for twenty-
three years, the schools in which he taught being the
Kingsville Academy, the Geauga Seminary, both in
Ohio, the Meadville, Pennsylvania, Academy, and
the Baptist institution at Hastings, Minnesota. He
was seven years at the head of the Meadville Acad-
emy, and a good share of that time had two hundred
and fifty pupils, one hundred and sixty of them in
the normal department General Garfield was one
of his pupils at Geauga. He was an enthusiast in
that calling, and very popular. His period of teach-
ing ended with four years as principal of the Minne-
sota school.

Mr. Thickstun was licensed to preach at Kings-
ville, Ohio, in 1851, ordained in 1861, and com-
menced his first pastorate at Waverly, Bremer county,
Iowa, in 1865. He remained there three years, build-
ing a fine house of worship during that time, and then
removed to Council Bluffs ; became the pastor of the
newly organized Baptist Church, and from a very
small beginning, in a hard field for his denomination,
he has built up a church of fair strength, having an
elegant house of worship erected very largely through
his untiring efforts. Since coming to Council Bluffs
he has acted for two years as secretary and agent
of the Iowa Baptist state convention, a work into
which he flung great energy, and which was attended
with a marked degree of success. Mr. Thickstun
was originally a Presbyterian, being introduced into
that church at the age of fifteen, by the Rev. Dr.
Nathaniel. West, but embraced the sentiments of the
Baptists after careful examination, in 1849.

He joined a temperance or total-abstinence society
when only fourteen years old, kept his pledge in
boyhood "like a man," and has long been a cham-
pion of the good cause. He had no money in youth



to waste on liquor or tobacco ; put all his earnings
to better use, every dollar ever expended in education
being the fruit of his own industry. What God did
not do for him he has done for himself, being a self-
made man in the usual understanding of the term,
and possessed of great vigor and elasticity both of
body and mind. There is wonderful power in his
gesture as well as his rhetoric. It seems to be no
hard task for him to obey the scriptural injunction
to do with his might whatever his hands find to do.
On the 7th of April, 1852, Miss Sophronia M.
Lyon, of Cassadaga, Chautauqua county. New York,
became the wife of Mr. Thickstun, and they have

three children living, and have lost two. Hattie E.
is the wife of Professor O. M. De Kay, of Council
Bluffs. Carrie L. M. is seventeen, and William L.
J. is ten years of age. The former is now about to
graduate from the high school of Council Bluffs.

Mrs. Thickstun is a niece of the late Mary Lyon,
founder of the celebrated seminary at Holyoke, Mas-
sachusetts, and like her aunt is a zealous, energetic,
self-sacrificing worker in more than one good cause.
On her mother's side she is a direct descendant
from John Alden, of the Mayflower. The best chris-
ian blood flows in her veins, and is not likely to
stagnate from inactivity.



I'^HE subject of this sketch is a descendant of a».
English Quaker family which made an early
settlement in Pennsylvania. With their peculiar
views of war, none of them participated in the strug-
gle for independence or in the second war with the
mother country. The father of Milo, Samuel W.
Smith, was a carpenter by trade, which calling he
pursued in early life, and later was a farmer. In
1822 he accompanied the Rev. J. B. Finley to the
Wyandot mission, in northwestern Ohio, and built a
mission church. His wife was Elizabeth Bair, a
native of Ohio, and of German ancestry.

Milo was born in Delaware county, Ohio, on the
i6th of July, 1836. The family moved to Washing-
ton county, in the same state, when the son was
three years old, and there he spent his childhood.
He was the sixth child in a family of eleven chil-
dren, and his father being in moderate circumstances
Milo worked out by the month, sometimes on a
farm, sometimes in a tobacco house, but always
ready for any kind of work required of him. Until
he reached the age of sixteen years he had, on an
average, about three months' schooling annually.
He then spent a couple of terms at academies in
Athens county; taught school during the winter of
1854-5 ; started with the family the following spring
for Iowa; drove a two-horse wagon all the way, two
brothers driving two other teams ; crossed the Mis-
sissippi river at Davenport on the 9th of June, and
settled on a farm eight miles east of Marion, Linn

For two or three seasons Milo aided in opening

and improving the farm, teaching school meanwhile
during the winters, and thus assisting to pay for the
land and stock the farm. In the autumn of 1858 he
entered Cornell College, at Mount Vernon, in the
same county; taught school the following winter;
pushed on with his college studies and graduated in
the class of 1861.

During the next twelve months he read law a
short time with Hon. William Smyth, of Marion ; as-
sisted his father on the farm, and taught the graded
school in the village of Tipton, Cedar county. On
the i6th of August, 1862, he enlisted as a private in
the 31st Iowa Infantry, Colonel Smyth, commander;
was immediately made sergeant-major of the regi-
ment ; subsequently became second lieutenant of
company C; was promoted to captain, serving in
the latter position until after the capture of Atlanta,
Georgia, all the while with General Sherman in the
fifteenth army corps. His father's declining health
now compelled him to resign and hasten northward,
but his father died before the captain reached home.
In a few days he went to Ann Arbor, Michigan,
matriculated in the law department of the State
University, and graduated in March, 1866, spending
the previous summer in the law office of Colonel
Smyth, at Marion. From Ann Arbor Captain Smith
came directly to Marengo, possessed of a respectable
suit of clothes and a few law books, and one dollar in
his pocket. Here he was in general and successful
practice until January, 1875, when he became dis-
trict attorney for the eighth judicial district, which
office he holds at the present time.



Captain Smith has a great amount of corporeity ;
is five feet nine and a half inches tall, weighs two
hundred and forty-five pounds, and ordinarily moves
with moderate pace only, but when he gets thor-
oughly aroused he exhibits great intellectual strength
and power. He is a good judge of law: has much
practical sagacity ; he is wary, watchful and keen-
sighted, and is usually very successful with a jury.
He has been city recorder and school director of
Marengo, and works nobly for the interests of the

He is a Master Mason, and an earnest worker in
the ranks of the great party of freedom. He was
early taught to hate slavery and every form of op-

pression. When he was a lad his father, who lived
only fifteen miles from the Ohio river, the boundary
line between freedom and slavery, kept a depot on
the "underground railway,'' and as soon as he was
old enough to ride a horse Milo aided in running
off the negroes. The writer once heard him state
that on one occasion over fifty fugitives spent the
night in his father's house, their pursuers passing by
not half a mile away. Just before daylight the ne-
groes were secreted in a wood, and all were saved
from the clutches of the heartless hunters.

On the i6th of November, 1866, Captain Smith
was united in marriage with Miss Mildred E. Hall,
of Tipton, Iowa, and they have three children.



AMONG the very few Hungarian journalists in
L the great northwest is Joseph Eiboeck, who
was educated in English in a printing-office, and is
an accurate, strong and accomplished writer. He
dates his birth at Szelskut (Breitenbrunn), on the
2 2d of February, 1838. His father was killed in a
duel when the son was quite young. At six years of
age Joseph was taken to Vienna and educated in
German. After the revolution there of 1848-9, his
step-father, Paul Kiene, who participated in it, was
compelled to leave Vienna, and he came to this
country in 1849, settling in Dubuque, Iowa. Joseph
was soon put in the office of the " Miners' Express,"
now the " Herald," as an apprentice, and since that
time, with the exception of two years when engaged
in teaching, he has been in the printing business.
Thirteen years he was editor and proprietor of the
Elkader, Clayton county, " Journal," and nearly four
years he has been in the same position on the Ger-
man " Staats Anzeiger,'' and the " Herald of Liber-
ty," the latter printed in the English language, and
both published at Des Moines. While a resident of
Clayton county he was also the founder and for a
short time conductor of the Elkader "Nord-Iowa
Herold," a German weekly.

Mr. Eiboeck was never in a school-house in the
United States until he went in as a teacher, all his
acquirements for that office having been secured
while printer and editor, he devoting his spare hours
and fragments of hours to the different branches
necessary to be taught.

While teaching he wrote a series of lectures, the
principal ones being on "Hungary," "Rise and
Progress of Literature," and "Benjamin Franklin."
These he delivered many times in Iowa and Wiscon-
sin. Since that time, partly for health, and partly
to see the country and enlarge his stock of knowl-
edge, he has traveled through nearly all the states
and territories, spending a good deal of time in Cal-
ifornia, Oregon and Washington territory.

In 1873 Mr. Eiboeck was sent by Governor Car-
penter as a commissioner to the World's Fair at
Vienna, after which he made a tour of the conti-
nent, visiting most of the principal cities of Europe.
Upon his return from these various travels he de-
livered in many Iowa towns very instructive lectures,
largely the fruits of his observation.

In 187 1 Mr. Eiboeck founded at Elkader a se-
cret organization, with the name of the "August
Order of Ethologists," with a ritual similar to the
Masonic, with scenic initiations. One of its tenets
was the abolition of the pernicious custom of " treat-
ing,'' so fruitful a source of intemperance in the
United States.

In 1872, after disposing of the "Clayton County
Journal," he completed the history of that county, a
work on which he had been engaged for some years.
It was on his return from Europe that he located at
Des Moines, and on establishing his two papers here
he infused into them much of the tenets and spirit
of personal liberty, he being a very prominent ex-
ponent, if not th« leader, of that cause in this part



of the country. At the democratic state conven-
tion in August, 1877, Mr. Eiboeck was tendered the
nomination for lieutenant-governor, to represent the
German element, but he declined, one of his doc-
trines being that newspaper conductors should not
run for office. He was a republican until 1872 ;
since then he has acted with the opposition.

He belongs to more than a dozen societies, in-
cluding the Masonic up to the commandery and the

He was born of Catholic parents, but is liberal in
his religious views, having no connection with any

Mr. Eiboeck married his wife at Cedar Falls,
Iowa: Miss Fannie, daughter of E. R. Garrison,
formerly of Detroit. They were united on the 15th
of September, 1863, and have one child.

Mr. Eiboeck is a short, compactly built man, with
dark complexion and robust appearance. He has
had a little sickness at times, but his health is now
perfect and his endurance very great. He has good
business talent and untiring application, and evi-
dently believes that work is no very severe affliction.
Few men apply themselves so closely as he does.
Financially, like most printers, he has had some re-
verses, but industry in his- case is finally winning.



seven years an attorney in Davis county,
Iowa, is a native of Putnam county, Indiana; is a
son of Benjamin and Esther (Alexander) Jones, and
was born in a farm-house one and one-half miles
from Greencastle, on the 7th of January, 1828. The
grandfather of Benjamin Jones, whose name was
also Benjamin Jones, came from Wales, and settled
on the eastern shore of Maryland, and some of his
sons participated in the struggle for independence.
The Alexanders were from Scotland, the branch from
which Esther Alexander sprung having settled in
Rockbridge county, Virginia.

After he was old enough to work, the subject of
this sketch farmed, being master of his own situa-
tion after he was sixteen years old. When he had
earned a little money he spent two years in the pre-
paratory department of Asbury University, Green-
castle; then taught and studied by himself for a
year or two ; at twenty-two commenced reading law
with Delaney R. Eckles, of Greencastle, and finished'
with Judge Kenny, of Terre Haute, where he was
admitted to practice in March, 185 1.

Anticipating the advice of Horace Greeley, Mr.
Jones came immediately west, reaching the young
village of Bloomfield in the month of March, 185 1,
with six dollars in money in his pocket, his law
library in his carpet sack, and a small silver watch
which began to run about the time that Jackson did
for the Presidency. Here Mr. Jones has been in
steady practice since he pitched his tent in Davis
county, enlarging his library from time to time, de-

termined to know the law, and to know it well and
thoroughly. He has never dealt in real estate, ex-
cept to purchase and hold it for his own use ; has
been the loser once or twice by meddling with rail-
road stock, and with the exception of serving one

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 110 of 125)