pub American Biographical Publishing Company.

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

. (page 116 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 116 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Colonel Merritt has a fine physique. He stands
firmly on his feet ; has a slightly military step and
bearing; is five feet and eight and a half inches tall,
and weighs two hundred and ten pounds. His eyes
are blue, his complexion is light, and his face has
the smoothness of the hither side of fifty. He is a
man of pure habits; has taken superb care of him-
self, and no stranger would imagine he was nearing
his threescore years.



T UDGE PERKINS, the title by which he is best
J known in Dallas county, is a native of North
Carolina, and was born in Wayne county, near
Goldsboro, on the 7th of January, 1816. His father,
who had the same name, was a millwright by trade
and a mill owner, whose father came from England.
The maiden name of Judge Perkins' mother was
Susannah Tyson, but at the time of her marriage
with Mr. Perkins she was the widow Loving. She
became a widow the second time on the 20th of
March, 1823. About 1830 she moved northward
into Wayne county, Indiana, where the subject of
this notice, after obtaining what knowledge he could
in a country school, learned the carpenter and cab-
inet-maker's trade, and worked at it much of the

time for ten or eleven years, leaving Wayne for La
Porte county in 1833. He early imbibed a taste for
legal studies, and for some time gave his leisure
moments in the busy season and his entire winters
to such mental pursuits, and was admitted to prac-
tice at La Porte about 1850.

In 1854 Mr. Perkins came to Iowa, and after tar-
rying a while at Newton, Jasper county, located at
Adel in June, 1855, '""^re continuing his profession
until the present time. In 1863 he was admitted at
Des Moines to practice in the United States circuit
court. As an attorney, he has done well. Latterly
he has given a good deal of attention to the abstract
business, making it, in fact, a specialty. He has an
abstract of all lands and town lots in the county.



In 185s he was appointed prosecuting attorney,
and the next year was elected by the people ; was
county judge for nine consecutive years, commenc-
ing on the I St of January, 1861; during the same
period was county recorder four years, and after
going out of the latter office was county auditor
three years. Few men in Dallas county have held
more offices than Judge Perkins, and none have dis-
charged their duties better or to the more complete
satisfaction of their constituents.

The judge was originally a whig, imbibing anti-
slavery sentiments from his father, who was a Quaker.
Naturally, on the demise of the whig party, he joined
the republican. He has been the recipient of all his
official honors at the hands of the latter party, but
the vote he received was not always limited to his
party. He is very much respected in the county.

The religious views of the judge are liberal. He
is a Royal Arch Mason.

His wife, who was Miss Eliza Kennedy, a native
of Richmond, Indiana, became such on the 4th of
February, 1841. She died on the 6th of April, 1876,
leaving seven children, and five had preceded her
into the other world. Mary Lorette is the wife of
Dr. Lee Kenworthy, a dentist, of Saint Helena, Cali-
fornia; Jeremiah A. has a family, and lives in Fre-
mont, Nebraska. The others are single.

Judge Perkins has a commanding appearance.
He stands six feet in his stockings, and weighs two
hundred and forty pounds. He has brow^ hazel
eyes, a florid complexion, easy and graceful man-
ners, a cordial address, a cheerful disposition, and
good social qualities. He has, in every respect, the
polish of a gentleman.



WE claim for this biography the careful perusal
of every young man into whose hands this
volume may fall. In the career of Mr. Moore may
be learned as great a lesson in energy, tact and dis-
crimination as has, perhaps, fallen to the lot of any
of the many self-made men whose biographies we
have published. He was born on the 7th of Sep-
tember, 1832, at London, Madison county, Ohio.
His father's name was Stephen Moore, who was born
in Virginia and settled in London in 1808 with his
brother John, and Stephen built and opened the first
storehouse in Madison county, so that he was, indeed,
an original settler in that part of Ohio.

He married Miss Hester Dungan, who was born
in Pennsylvania, but moved with her parents to Ohio
at a very early day.

Mr. Stephen Moore continued in commercial busf-
ness most of the time he resided in Ohio, during
which time he filled the office of sheriff and county

Napoleon Bonaparte Moore, from the age of eight
years, was brought up in his father's dry-goods store
until he was fourteen years of age, when he went to
school at the Wesleyan University at Delaware, Ohio,
where he remained till he was eighteen, when his
health began to fail him, and he went upon a farm
near London, where he became interested in stock
raising, and remained till about twenty-one.

When nineteen years old he married Miss B. W.
Webster, daughter of a prominent Methodist minis-
ter of the Cincinnati conference.

Partially restored to health, he left the farm and
went into mercantile pursuits at Charleston, Ohio,
where he remained in business until the fall of 1855.
Here he had prospered in business, but through
financial aid extended to others he became greatly
involved, to an extent of at least ten thousand dol-
lars; so again failing in health and ruined in finances
he came to Iowa and settled at Eddyville, on the
Des Moines river, where he and his wife taught the
district school, and he began the study of law, and in
two years was admitted to the bar, when he left Ed-
dyville and settled at Bedford, Taylor county, Iowa.

Teaching school at Eddyville simply produced
enough of an income to supply a most frugal subsist-
ence for himself and family, so that when he had
determined to remove to Bedford he prospected the
place before removal of his family. He owned no
horse, could get no conveyance and had to walk the
three hundred miles there and back. Having deter-
mined upon the removal, a wagon was obtained, into
which he put all his worldly effects, including his
wife and one child, and commending himself to the
care of an all-wise Providence, he commenced the
journey of one hundred and fifty miles. The little
girl of four years was ailing when they started, and



died when they were seven days out, but the mother
kept it until they reached Bedford, where Mr. Moore
and his father dug a grave and gave it burial.

He remained in Bedford, practicing law, until Sep-
tember, i860, with great success, commencing life
as it were anew. He had two dollars and a half in
money and owed ten thousand dollars.

Our subject removed to Clarinda in i860, continu-
ing the practice of law. In the fall of 1861 he was
elected county judge, which office he filled for four
years. In the fall of 1865 he established the first
banking house in southwestern Iowa. In 1866 he
was elected state. senator, and while serving on the
judiciary committee framed the bill relative to the
present circuit court system, and was among the
most earnest supporters of the plan for the erection
of the present state capitol building at Des Moines,
which justly ranks among the grandest architectural
piles on this continent. In 1871 he established the
First National Bank of Clarinda. In 1867 he com-
pleted the payment of the ten thousand dollars in-
debtedness imposed upon him in Ohio. In 1872 he
established the banking house of Moore and Web-
ster, at Shenandoah, which is now known as the First
National Bank of that place, and also established
the banking house of Crum, Moore and Van Fleet,
at Bedford, in January, 1873, now succeeded by the
Bedford Bank.

In 1867, his health again failing him, the result of
too close confinement to sedentary labor, he sought
relaxation in a diversion of body and mind, and con-
ceived the idea of a stock farm in lieu of stock banks,
and he bought a farm of one thousand acres situated
ten miles south of Clarinda. This farm seems to
have been a favorite matter of concern to him, for

he has continuously developed it, feeding from one
to three hundred cattle annually thereon. From
1865 to 1870 he bought cheap lands in southern
Iowa, and owns now about nine thousand acres, two
thousand of which are improved.

Amid all this busy business life Mr. Moore has
ever been a strong devotee to his church. Since
1862 he has had charge of the Sabbath school, ex-
cepting only two years of absence. He has to-day
one hundred and twenty-eight young men and women
in his class. He was a member of the general con-
ference of the Methodist church which met at Balti-
more in May, 1876.

He has been an active Mason ; has taken thirty-
two degrees since 1859, and is now prelate to the
commandery here.

Since the age of nineteen he has had the aid and
solace of an intelligent and devoted wife, self-sacrific-
ing in the extreme in their hours of deepest trouble,
and worthily wearing the mantle of her husband's
ultimate financial prosperity. A devoted christian
woman, she has lived a life of benevolence, of service
to her church and to humanity. Mrs. Moore, too,
has taken deep interest in the cause of temperance,
and is at present president of the Woman's Church
Temperance Association of Iowa. The lady, at her
personal expense, employed the famous temperance
orator, Francis Murphy, for a three months' cam-
paign in Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Moore have had born
to them two boys and four girls. The two boys and
two of the girls have been taken away.

Mr. N. B. Moore may be summed up in all truth-
fulness as a thorovigh business man, governed in his
every action toward his fellow-men by all the graces
of a practical christian gentleman.



HARVEY POTTER, a native of Lewis county,
New York, was born at Turin on the 17th of
July, 1834. His father, Chester Potter, was a stone-
mason in early life, and a farmer in his later years.
His mother was Dinah Miller, of English and Irish
pedigree. The Potters were wholly English. The
paternal grandfather of Harvey was in the first war
with the mother country ; his father in the second.

Chester Potter moved with his family to Illinois
when Harvey was four years old, settling on a farm

near Somonauk, De Kalb county, where the son as-
sisted his father until twenty years of age. He then
repaired to Wheaton, twenty-five miles west of Chi-
cago ; spent six years in preparing for and going
through the college at that place, graduating on the
4th of July, i860. He attended the law department
of the University of Chicago, and graduated in 1862
with the degree of LL.B. In 1864 he received the
degree of A.M. from his Alma Mater.

When Mr. Potter graduated from the law school



the civil war was at its height, and the year 1862
was a critical period in the history of the country.
He felt that he owed his first duty to her, and be-
fore entering bn legal practice, in August of the year
just mentioned, he enlisted as a private in company
H, 105th Illinois Volunteer Infantry; was promoted
from time to time, finally to first lieutenant in 1863 ;
commanded company F in the same regiment, part
of the time in the Atlanta campaign, that being the
company which captured the colors of the 12th Lou-
isiana in the battle of Peach Tree creek; was struck
with a piece of shell at Resaca, the only time hit in
two years' service, and left the army in August, 1864,
on account of the dangerous illness of his wife.

Returning from the south. Lieutenant Potter taught
select schools the following autumn and winter, and
in May, 1865, settled in Jefferson. Here he entered
on the duties of his profession, and the law has since
been his main work. He practices in the United
States courts of Iowa, as well as in the district and

circuit courts of the state. He served as United
States assistant assessor of Greene, Calhoun and Sac
counties in 1866 and 1867, and was county judge in
1868 and 1869, being also ex-ofiicio auditor the lat-
ter year.

He has always acted with the republican party.
He belongs to the Blue Lodge in the Masonic order.

The religious connection of Judge Potter is with
the Methodists, and has been an official member of
the Jefferson church since taking up his abode here.
He is president of the Greene county Sunday School

His wife, who was Miss Mary L. Price, of Sand-
wich, Illinois, married on the ■22A of August, 1862,
is a well-educated woman, with an excellent mind
and a warm christian heart, and, like her husband,
thoroughly devoted to Sunday-school and other re-
ligious work. Both graduated from the so-called
Chautauqua Sunday School Assembly, held at Clear
Lake, Iowa, in the summer of 1877.



GEORGE HENRY PARKER, attorney-at-law,
was born at Paris, Oneida county. New York,
on the 14th of May, 1830, and is the son of Calvin
Parker and Rhoda n^e Curtis. His father, when but
a youth, served in the war of 1812, where he acquired
a great fondness for military tactics, and afterward
rose to the rank of colonel in a militia regiment re-
cruited mainly by himself He was also a promi-
nent Freemason in his neighborhood, and throughout
his whole life was a man of high standing and con-
siderable influence. In 1834 he moved to Syracuse,
New York, where he remained two years. In 1836 he
immigrated to Huron county, Ohio, and resided in
Fitchville during the remainder of his life. He died
in 1839. His widow survived until 1872, when she
died at Genese'o, Illinois, in the eightieth year of
her age. The Parker family is of Puritan origin,
and for several generations sojourned in the New
England states.

The father of George H. Parker was what is termed
a good liver, social in his manners and somewhat
extravagant in his habits, so that his death left his
family but poorly provided for. Our subject was
therefore early thrown upon his own resources, and
his youth was passed under difficulties. Up to the

age of sixteen he attended the proverbial log school-
house during three months of winter, while the bal-
ance of the year was passed as a farm hand and at
such other work as could be procured. Having
attained a fair knowledge of the common English
branches and of mathematics, he entered, in the
summer of 1846, a printing office at Lower Sandusky,
now Fremont, Ohio, where he remained but a short
time ; moved thence to Tiffin, Ohio, and entered the
office of the " Seneca Advertiser," where he remained
till the age of twenty, reading law meantime under
the direction of the Hon. Cooper K. Watson, now
judge of one of the courts of Sandusky, Ohio.

At the age of twenty-one years he married Miss
Margaret Doran, of Ashland, Ohio, and settled at
that place, where he was admitted to the bar in 1852.
Here he continued the practice of his profession with
moderate success for two years; but in 1854 he was
induced to remove to Davenport, Iowa, which has
since been his home, and where he has long since
taken a high social and professional rank. During
the first years of his practice in Davenport he was
associated with John Johns, Esq., son of the late
Bishop Johns, of Virginia, and afterward with Alfred
Edwards, Esq., now a resident of New York city.



From an early period in his history he took a deep
interest in political affairs, acting with the democratic
party, his political creed having descended to him in
a direct line from his ancestors, who were always
strenuously opposed to the doctrines of federalism.
His ability as an orator and his skill as an organizer
and leader soon gained recognition from his party,
and he was advanced to the first rank in the organiza-
tion, and received the highest compliments which his
political friends could confer. In 1857 he received
the democratic nomination for the state legislature,
but was not elected. In i860 he was one of the
Breckenridge Presidential electors for the State of
Iowa, and made a very earnest effort to bring about
a fusion of the Breckenridge and Douglas wings of
the party, failing in which he made an able campaign
against Douglas. In 1864 he was the candidate of
his party for congress in the second district of Iowa,
against Hon. Hiram Price, but was defeated. In 1866
he was a delegate to the national union (or peace)
convention, at Philadelphia, and was the Iowa mem-
ber of the executive committee of the same. In 1867
he was tendered the nomination of his party in con-
vention for the position of governor of his state, but
declined the compliment. In the same year he was
one of the organizers of the people's party, the prin-
ciples of which were, opposition to protective tariffs
and prohibitory liquor laws, and favoring free trade
and espousing the cause of labor as against capital,
which for two years succeeded in carrying Davenport
and Scott counties.

From an early period in the administration of
President Johnson, Mr. Parker was a most cordial
supporter of his policy, and was on the most inti-
mate terms with the administration. In 1867 he was
appointed by the President to the position of revenue
agent for the northwest, and in less than two weeks
after assuming the duties the internal revenue from
taxation was quadrupled in his district. ' He was also
instrumental in securing the appointment of General
John M. Corse as collecter of Chicago. After an
incumbency of four months he resigned, for reasons
satisfactory to the administration and honorable to

In 1868 he was a delegate-at-large to the national
democratic convention held at New York, which
nominated Seymour and Blair for president and
vice-president. In this convention Mr. Parker was
a zealous advocate of the claims of President John-
son to the nomination, and supported his candidacy
with great earnestness and persistency. Pending the

nomination he received the following telegram from
Mr. Johnson, which, on account of its historic im-
portance, we submit entire :
To Geo. H. Parker, Esq. Washington, July 8, 1868.

Dear Sir: The will of the people, if truly reflected, would
not be doubtful. I have experienced ingratitude so often
that any result will not surprise me now. I thank you
most sincerely for the voluntary part you have taken in my
behalf. It is appreciated the higher because unsolicited.

You have no doubt read in this morning's newspapers
Stephens's articles of impeachment, together with his speech
thereon, in which he states that the "block" must be brought
out and the axe sharpened, and that the only resource from
intolerable tyranny is Brutus's dagger — which, however, he
hopes may not be used.

How is it possible for me to maintain my position against
a vindictive and powerful majority, if abandoned by those
who profess to agree in principles with, and to be support-
ers of, the policy of the administration.' Such an abandon-
ment at this moment, when the heaviest assaults are being
made, would seem an admission that the administration was
wrong in its opposition to the series of despotic measures
which have been, and are proposed to be, forced upon the
country. Yours, etc., Andrew Johnson.

During the winter of 1868-9 Mr. Parker was nom-
inated for the position of United States Minister to
Ecuador, and was recommended for confirmation by
the senate committee on foreign affairs, of which
Messrs. Sumner and Harlan were members; but the
session coming to an abrupt termination, the case
was not acted upon, hence he did not proceed to his
post of duty.

In 187 1 Mr. Parker was one of the originators, if
not the prime mover, in organizing the so-called
liberal party, which nominated Horace Greeley for
the Presidency in 1872. The movement referred to
was inaugurated by the following letter from Mr.
Parker, addressed to the public in general, the object
being to draw upon the moderate element of both
parties and form a new organization on the basis of
conciliation and mutual concession :

Editors of Democrat:

Having faithfully served as a member of the democratic
organization for over twenty years, and still having the full-
est confidence in the cardinal principles of that party, I am
impelled to declare my conviction that the organization has
outlived its usefulness, and that it is the duty of democrats
to openly acknowledge that the democratic party is dead.
All eftbrts at departure., or to galvanize it into life, have
proved a failure. The prestige of its general policy, or,
rather, the lack of policy during the late war will cling to
it, and prevent success, no matter how much we may be-
come purified by change of heart. The results of the recent
elections are sufficient proof of this fact. We can reorgan-
ize by forming some integral part of a new party, and prob-
ably resurrect our principles, but the body must be buried
and the stench of its putrid remains removed from the pub-
lic nostrils. The present is the proper emergency to test
the patriotism of members of the democratic party.

If we love our country better than we do our party,
abandon the organization and unite with patriots, disregard-
ing political antecedents, and we may reasonably hope for a
change of administration, in 1S72, that will protect and
guarantee equal rights to all sections of our common coun-



try. Centralized power will vanish, the war will soon be
forgotten, and our country again be peaceful, prosperous
and happy. Geo. H. Parker.

Davenport, Iowa, November 27, 1871.

The sensation which this letter produced tlirough-
out the nation was of the most intense character;
and while it received the indorsement and counte-
nance of such papers as the New York " Herald,"
the Chicago "Times," and a number of other lead-
ing journals, it was denounced as traitorous and dis-
loyal by all the extreme publicists of the democratic
party. For many weeks it constituted the chief topic
of discussion in the newspapers and of conversation
in political circles generally, until George H. Parker
became one of the most familiar names in the nation.
The movement, for a time, seemed popular, and con-
tinued to gain strength until it was adopted and swal-
lowed up by the democratic national convention at
Baltimore, when the republicans who had formerly
favored it withdrew and adhered to their own organ-
ization. It is still the opinion of many that if the
democratic party, as an organization, had declined
to take action on that occasion, and tacitly united
with the " liberal movement," it would have been
successful in 1872. But, as Mr. Parker truly pre-
dicted, the odium of its war policy clung to it and
swamped the ship in which it took refuge, which
might otherwise have weathered the storm and got
safely into port.

Mr. Parker was an earnest and active supporter
of Mr. Tilden's candidacy for the Presidency, but is
at the present time in accord with the policy of the
Hayes administration on questions of reconciliation
and civil service reform.

In 1854 he was one of the projectors of what is
now the prosperous city of Clinton, of which he was
also one of the original proprietors. He was one of
the original directors of the Iowa Central railroad.

In 1866 he procured the charter of the Citizens' Na-
tional Bank of Davenport, of which he continued a
director until 1875. In 1870 he was one of the or-
ganizers of the Davenport Central (city) Railroad
Company, of which he is still a member. He was
also for several years a director of the Davenport
and Saint Paul Railroad Company.

In 1877 he formed a copartnership for the prac-
tice of law with Wm. H. Gabbert, Esq., which still

Mr. Parker is a firm believer in the christian re-
ligion according to the Protestant forms of it, but is
not in union with any congregation.

He is a distinguished member of the Masonic fra-
ternity, and a Knight Templar of St. Cyrene Com-
mandery, of Davenport.

In 1873 he made a six months' trip through Europe
with his family, visiting the principal cities and coun-
tries of that most distinguished quarter of the globe,
and returned with recruited health and a vastly in-
creased store of knowledge.

Mr. Parker is eminently a self-made man; his
large accumulation of knowledge and superior men-
tal culture are the result of his incessant study of
books, men and things. As a lawyer, he is one 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 116 of 125)