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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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At the end of about eighteen months, on the 22d
of March, 1864, he received from President Lincoln
the appointment of assistant quartermaster of volun-
teers, with the rank of captain, and in that capacity
served until the 27th of November, 1865. He had
millions of property pass through his hands, and



settled with a full discharge, without the loss of a
dollar to the government or himself He went into
the service not to enrich himself, but to aid in saving
the country, and left a record as clean as his motives
were pure.

Politically, Captain McCall is a republican, with
free-soil, whig antecedents, and has usually been
quite active. He has attended nearly all the con-
gressional and state conventions of his party since
settling in Nevada; has once been on the state cen-
tral committee, and chairman of the county commit-
tee twice. He is a man of much influence in politics
in the central part of the state.

In Odd-Fellowship he is also prominent, and has
twice been a representative to the Grand Lodge of
the state.

He has been a member of the Presbyterian church
for twenty-four years, and an elder of the Nevada
body the last half of that period. He is a man
whose purity of motives and of life secure him great

Captain McCall has had three wives, the first being
Miss Sarah Garrett, of Polk county; married on the
1st of March, 1849. She had four children, and died
on the 19th of January, 1855. Only one of her chil-
dren, John A. McCall, attorney, of Des Moines, is

now living. His second wife was Miss Mary A.
Boynton, of Marion, Linn county; married on the
28th of October, 1858, and dying on the 4th of
August, 1875, leaving three children, four preceding
her to the land of spirits. His present wife was Miss
Clara Kennedy, of Carrollton, Ohio; married on the
19th of October, 1876. She has one child.

Captain McCall came into Iowa driving an ox
team, with no capital but a resolute will and a small
fund of learning acquired in the home circle, and
by his own application, energies and business taleij^ts
has become one of the wealthiest men in the county.
Two years after he came to Iowa, his father, who was
not in good health, joined his sons, who had provided
him a home in Polk county, where he died, and where
the step-mother of Captain McCall still resides.

The subject of this sketch gave his entire earnings
to the family until after he became of age, all of his
accumulations having been made since he was twen-
ty-three years old. He has a great deal of village
property, and at least twenty-four hundred acres
of land in Story county, fourteen hundred acres of
it under good improvement. He has always been
a fair, straightforward dealer, patient and obliging,
and for integrity, no man's character in the county
stands better.



member of the supreme bench of Iowa, is a
native of Shenandoah county, Virginia, and dates
his birth on the 8th of April, 1822. His grand-
father, Henry Seevers, settled in the State of Penn-
sylvania. James Seevers, the father of William H.,
was born in Virginia, and was a private in the war
of 1812-15. He was a general business man, and
is now, at the age of eighty-five years, living with
his son. The Seevers family have some Huguenot
blood in their veins. The wife of James Seevers
was Rebecca Wilkins, who died in 1875.

The subject of this sketch spent his boyhood near
Winchester, Virginia, farming, attending a common
and select school, and clerking in a country store.
He commenced reading law in his native state in
1843 ; removed to Oskaloosa, Iowa, the next year,
where he finished reading; was admitted to the bar
in 1846, and has since attended steadily to his pro-

fession, except when serving his constituents in some
other capacity.

He was elected district attorney in 1848 and served
one term ; was elected judge of the third judicial dis-
trict in 1852 ; served nearly five years in all, and then
resigned ; was a member of the lower house of the
general assembly at the session in 1858, the first ses-
sion held at Des Moines, and again in the session of
1876, and resigned in February of the latter year to
accept an appointment to the supreme bench, serv-
ing as chief justice the rest of that year. In the
autumn of the same year he was elected by the peo-
ple, and hence is now the junior member of the su-
preme bench. Before he went on the bench he was
regarded as one of the most adroit and best read
practitioners in the state. His knowledge of the
practice of the law is immense. He was the editor
of the code in 1873. His opinions are very high
authority with the bar of Iowa.



Politically, Judge Seevers is a republican, strong
and unwavering. He was formerly a whig. He was
a delegate to the national convention which renom-
inated President Grant in 1872.

His wife was Miss Caroline M. Lee, a native of
Ohio, who was married in Oskaloosa on the 20th of
February, 1849. They have lost one daughter, and
have six children living. Virginia, the eldest daugh-
ter, is the wife of Henry L. Briggs, druggist, of Os-

kaloosa; Carrie is the wife of James C. Fletcher,
merchant at Wall Lake, Wright county, Iowa ; Harry
W. is a student at Cornell College, Mount Vernon : .
Grace is at school in Davenport ; and Nellie and
William H. are at home.

Mrs. Seevers is a christian mother, a member of
the Methodist Episcopal church, where the family
worship, and a woman of strong mental faculties,
and active and benevolent in all good causes.



GEORGE H. MAISH, a native of York county,
Pennsylvania, was born on the 30th of Sep-
tember, 1835, and is the son of David Maish and
Sarah nde Neiman. His paternal ancestors settled
in Chester county, Pennsylvania, about one hundred
and fifty years ago, having emigrated thither from
Bavaria, while his maternal ancestors came from
Germany more than a hundred years ago. His
grandparents were David and Mary Maish, and
George and Mary ntfe Rupert.

Our subject is the eldest of three sons. His
brother, Levi Maish, born on the 22d of November,
1837, received a common-school education, and af-
terward served an apprenticeship of two years un-
der a machinist. During the war of the rebellion
he was lieutenant-colonel, and also colonel of the
130th regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and
was wounded at the battle of Antietam, and also at

After the close of his military service he pursued
a course of study in the law department of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, and in 1864 was admitted
to the bar.

In 1867 he was elected to the general assembly of
Pennsylvania for a term of two years, and in 1872
was appointed by the legislature as one of a com-
mittee to reexamine and reaudit the accounts of cer-
tain public officers of York county, Pennsylvania,
and elected to the forty-fourth congress on the dem-
ocratic ticket in the fall of 1874.

His youngest brother, Lewis Maish, was born on
the 2d of July, 1840. He also served as an appren-
tice and worked as a machinist for several years. At
the opening of the rebellion he enlisted in the 87th
regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, com-
manded by Colonel George Hay, of York, Pennsyl-

vania. He became second lieutenant, and for three
years served as captain of company D. Being taken
prisoner, he was confined in rebel prisons about six
months. He resumed his trade, after the close of
the war, and in 1867 removed to his present home
in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

George had the advantage of a common-school
education, and after closing his studies was for sev-
eral years engaged with his father. At the age of
seventeen he placed himself in the employ of Messrs.
P. A. and S. Small, machinists, of York, Pennsylva-
nia, and after remaining with them a period of nine
years formed a partnership with Mr. John M. Brown,
and during the next four years was engaged in the
coal business with good success.

During that time he became well known as a
thorough and competent business man, and at the
earnest solicitation of the board of directors of the
old York Bank, accepted the position of teller in
that institution. After four and a half years of most
satisfactory service he relinquished his position, and,
removing to Iowa, settled at Des Moines, where,
with his brother-in-law, Charles A. Weaver, under
the firm name of Weaver and Maish, he engaged in
the drug business.

To this business he gave his close attention until
the fall of 1875, when, with other gentlemen, he or-
ganized the Iowa National Bank of Des Moines, and
was elected to his present position of cashier of the

As a business man, Mr. Maish has from the first
been eminently successful. Beginning without cap-
ital, other than his own native abilities, and prompt-
ed by the ambition to become known as an upright,
honorable and influential man, he has by his own
effort gradually risen to his present commanding po-



sition ; and his life -history furnishes a worthy exam-
ple to young men who aspire to dignity and noble-
ness of character.

In political sentiment, Mr. Maish has been identi-
fied with the republican party since the organization
of that body.

In his religious communion, he is associated as a
member of the Evangelical English Lutheran church.

He was married on the ist of October, 1857, to
Charlotte E. Weaver, daughter of Jeremiah Weaver

and Charlotte M. n^e Haugham, both of whom were
of German descent.

Of the seven children who have been born to
them, six are now living. Charles Edward died when
two and a half years old. William Weaver was born
on the 27th of April, 1861; Harriet Jane was born
on the 14th of June, 1866; Albert George was born
on the 13th of October, 1867 ; Mary Martha was born
on the 4th of October, 1870, and Georgia Elizabeth
was born on the 3d of July, 1873.



ONE of the most prominent citizens of Warren
county is Lewis Todhunter, twenty-eight years
a resident of Iowa. He was a son of Jurey and Je-
rusha (Johnson) Todhunter, and was born in Fay-
ette county, Ohio, on the 6th of April, 1817. The
Todhunters were Quakers from Wales, and settled
in Tennessee. This branch of the Johnson family
settled in Campbell county, Virginia, and spread
thence into Ohio and other states.

Lewis had very limited means for school educa-
tion, and was, in fact, mainly self-taught. In early
life he learned the carpenter's trade, worked at it a
few years; subsequently sold goods four or five
years ; then read law, and was admitted to the bar
in Highland county in 1848.

In 1850 Mr. Todhunter came to Iowa, settled on
the Des Moines river, in Polk county, started with
others a village named Lafayette, and there engaged
in farming and sold goods.

In the spring of 1854 Mr. Todhunter moved into
the then small village of Indianola. The river, mean-
time, gradually took possession of the village of La-
fayette, eating into its own banks, carrying off from
• eighty to one hundred rods of "bottom," and not a
house stands there to-day !

Since settling in Indianola Mr. Todhunter has de-
voted himself assiduously to the legal practice and
real estate, success attending him in both branches.
He is president of the Indianola Hotel Company,
which has recently erected the Central House. He
is also vice-president and director of the Warren
County Bank, which company has erected a large
brick block on one corner of the public square.

Mr. Todhunter was elected prosecuting attorney
soon after locating in Indianola, and served two

years. He was county recorder and treasurer one
term, and a member of the constitutional convention
which met at Iowa City in January, 1857, he repre-
senting Warren, Madison, Adair and Cass counties
in that body, and has the honor of assisting in mak-
ing the laws under which the people of Iowa live.

In 1863 he volunteered as a private, but was im-
mediately appointed assistant quartermaster, with
rank of captain. After Lee's surrender he was post-
quartermaster at Richmond, Virginia, serving in that
capacity until September, 1865.

He has seen Indianola expand from its beginning
as a village to a city of three thousand inhabitants,
and for two terms was at the head of its municipal-
ity. He has served the corporation in other capac-
ities, and is one of its most useful as well as most
respected citizens.

He is a member of the Methodist church, and
high in degrees in the Independent Order of Odd-

In politics, Mr. Todhunter was originally a whig,
and when that body disbanded he joined the repub-
licans. He is widest known, however, as a temper-
ance man and earnest worker. He joined the great
army of teetotalers in 1840, or about the time of
the Washingtonian movement, and has been active
in the cause since that epoch in the temperance
reformation. He has been a delegate to two or
three national conventions held in the interests of
this cause ; is now president of the State Temper-
ance Association, and is very active in the State
Temperance Alliance.

On the loth of May, 1842, Miss Elizabeth Hull,
of Highland county, Ohio, became the wife of Mr.
Todhunter, and they have six children, and have lost "



two. Three of them are married : Ann is the wife of
David Johnson, and Amy J. is the wife of Sylvester
Barnes, both living in Indianola ; John Jurey has a
family, and is deputy auditor of Warren county, liv-
ing here at the county seat.

Mr. Todhunter has some few enemies among the

liquor venders and topers, and possibly a few others
who would sacrifice principle for policy, but he fights
right on with the same zeal which he exhibited nearly
forty years ago, spending his well-husbanded strength
in trying to suppress the greatest curse of the nation
since slavery was destroyed.



AMONG those who have been prominently iden-
. tified in the history of Iowa none deserve more
honorable mention than Stephen Hempstead. He
was born at New London, Connecticut, on the ist
of October, 1812, and lived in that state until the
spring of 1828, when his father's family came west
and settled on a farm a few miles from Saint Louis,
Missouri. Here he remained until 1830, when he
entered as clerk in a commission house in Galena,
Illinois, and during the Black Hawk war he was an
officer in an artillery company organized for the
protection of that place.

At the close of the war he entered as a student of
the Illinois College at Jacksonville, remaining about
two years, leaving to commence the study of law,
which he finished under Charles S. Hempstead, Esq.,
then a prominent lawyer at Galena. In 1836 he
was admitted to practice his profession in the courts
of the Territory of Wisconsin, then embracing Iowa,
and in the same year located in Dubuque, being the
first lawyer who practiced in the place. At the or-
ganization of the territorial legislature in 1838 he

was elected to represent the northern portion of the
territory in the legislative council, of which he was
chairman of the committee on judiciary, one of the
important committees of the council. At the second
session of that body he was elected president there-
of; was again elected a member of the council in
1845, which was held in Iowa City, and was again
president of the same. In 1844 he was elected one
of the delegates to the first constitutional conven-
tion of the State of Iowa, and was chairman of the
committee of incorporations. In 1848, in connec-
tion with Hon. Charles Mason and W. G. Woodward,
he was appointed commissioner by the legislature
to levise the laws of the State of Iowa, and which
revision, with a few amendments, was adopted as the
code of Iowa in 185 1. In 1850 he was elected gov-
ernor of the State of Iowa, and served four years in
that office, being second governor of the state. In
1855 was elected county judge of Dubuque county,
and held that office for twelve years ending in 1867,
since which time, on account of impaired health, he
has retired from public life.



JAMES DAVIS, for twelve years sheriff of Clay-
ton county, Iowa, and now a member of the
board of supervisors of Audubon county, is a good
representative of the energetic, enterprising farmers
of the state. He dates his birth in Knox county,
Ohio, on the 6th of October, 1819, his parents being
Nathaniel and Martha Doty Davis. His maternal
grandfather, Peter Doty, was in the battle of Mon-
mouth and other revolutionary contests with the
mother country, serving four years. He died in
Knox county, aged one hundred and two years

Nathaniel Davis, a native of Hardin county, Vir-
ginia, was at the battle of Fort Meigs and with Gen-
eral Hull when he surrendered.

James received only a common-school education ;
after reaching the age of twenty-two he spent three
years as assistant keeper of the Ohio Penitentiary,
Columbus; went to Jefferson City, Missouri, and
ran a lumber yard for Saint Louis parties about two
years; spent the autumn and winter of 1846 in Du-
buque City and Clayton county, Iowa; in the spring
of 1847 went to Moline, Illinois, and run a saw-mill



one season, and in 1848 returned to Clayton county.
There he took up land and improved it, his home
being at Garnavillo, and he also dealt in cattle until
1855, when he became sheriff, holding the office by
reelections four years. After an interim of six years,
during which period he was engaged in various
speculations, he found himself again in the office of
sheriff, holding it four more terms consecutively.
The writer of this sketch knew Mr. Davis in those
days, and has no hesitation in saying that Clayton
county never had a more efficient officer of any
kind during the period when he was acting. As a
detective, he had marked success. He held other
offices while in that county, and was among its most
useful and influential citizens.

In the spring of 1874 Mr. Davis removed to Au-
dubon county, buying and settling on a farm of three

hundred and twenty acres. One third of it is tim-
ber ; the other two thirds are under superb culti-
vation, and well stocked. Being merciful to beast
as well as man, he has one of the best barns in the
county. He is a hard-working, thrifty agriculturist,
and especially useful in the county board of super-

Mr. Davis was a whig in his younger years ; at-
tended the first republican convention ever held in
Clayton county, and has trained in that party since
that date. He is a sincere, conscientious man, be-
lieving he serves his county best while proving true
to his political instincts. He is a third-degree Mason.

On the roth of March, 1853, Mr. Davis married
Miss Elizabeth, McLelland, of Garnavillo, and they
have five children, all living at home, learning the
art of being industrious and useful.



Newark, Ohio, and was born on the 19th of Oc-
tober, 1828; son of David Scott Wilson and Kitty
Ann Bramble ; was educated in the common schools
of Newark, with some additional instruction by a pri-
vate teacher. He learned the trade of a harness-
maker; read law with King and Woods, of Newark;
practiced one year in his native town, and in 1853
moved to Fairfield, which has since been his home,
the law being his profession until recently, although
for a while after locating here he paid some atten-
tion to journalism, editing, with marked ability, the
local republican newspaper.

He was chosen a member of the convention which,
in the winter of 1856-7, drafted the present consti-
tution of Iowa, being one of the youngest members
of that body, and proving a wise and judicious leg-
islator. In 1857 he was appointed assistant commis-
sioner of the Des Moines river improvement.

He was a member of the lower house of the gen-
eral assembly in 1858, and of the senate in i860 and
1861, being president of the senate in the extra ses-
sion of 1861. That year he was elected to fill a
vacancy in the thirty-seventh congress, and was re-
elected three times, serving in the thirty-seventh,
thirty-eighth, thirty-ninth and fortieth congresses. It
was the most important period in the history of the
country since Iowa became a state.

Mr. Wilson was in the house during the period of
the civil war, and while the reconstruction measures
were being matured and becoming a law, and the
amendments to the constitution were under consid-
eration and being passed ; and no member of the
lower house from iQwa took a more prominent part
or held a more honorable position than Mr. Wilson.
He was chairman of the judiciary committee during
the last six years that he was in that body. He in-
troduced the joint resolution for an amendment of
the constitution, abolishing slavery, and on the 19th
of March, 1864, on that subject, made one of his
very ablest and most effective speeches. He also
introduced the joint resolution proposing an amend-
ment to prohibit the payment of any portion of the
rebel debt.

It was he who, in the thirty-ninth congress, re-
ported the bill extending the right of suffrage in the
District of Columbia. In the same congress he was
an earnest advocate of the civil rights bill, and his
speeches made before the veto of that bill were
among the best made in the house. The debate on
this bill, before it went to the President, was closed
by Mr. Wilson, chairman of the judiciary committee.
He took the ground that the federal government,
rather than the United States, is bound to protect
the citizens of the United States in certain rights.

He figured very prominently in the impeachment



trial of President Johnson, a trial under contempla-
tion in the thirty-ninth congress, and referred to the
judiciary committee. At first Mr. Wilson made a
minority report against impeachment, comprising in
his report a succinct review of all important cases of
impeachment in the British parliament, and of every
case brought before the United States senate, with
an elucidation of the law and practice under both
governments. His report forms an exceedingly val-
uable treatise, alike for the historian and the jurist.
Subsequently, when new charges, based upon al-
leged criminal acts of the President, were made
against him, and the subject came again before the
house, Mr. Wilson supported the impeachment of
the President, and was made one of the managers,
appointed by the house, to carry on the trial.

During the last term or two that Mr. Wilson was
in congress he was chairman of the committee on
unfinished business, and he also did important work
on some other committees. He aided, essentially,
in shaping the measures for the reorganization of the
rebel states.

Mr. Wilson was originally an anti-slavery whig ;
has been a republican since the party was formed ;
aided in organizing it, and has wielded great influ-
ence in the politics of the state and the nation. He
was a delegate to the national convention which
nominated Mr. Lincoln in i860, and to the conven-
tion which nominated Mr. Hayes in 1876.

The wife of Mr. Wilson was Miss Mary A. K.
Jewett, of Newark, Ohio; married on the 2Sth of
November, 1852. They have three children.



CYRUS C. CARPENTER is a native of Sus-
quehanna county, Pennsylvania, and was born
on the 24th of November, 1829. His parents were
Asahel and Amanda M. (Thayer) Carpenter, both
of whom died before he was twelve years old. His
grandfather, John Carpenter, was one of nine young
men who, in 1789, left Attleborough, Massachusetts,
for the purpose of finding a home in the " new coun-
try,'' where they hoped to be able to purchase cheap
lands. After various vicissitudes they located upon
the spot which they called Harford, in northeastern
Pennsylvania, the township in which Cyrus was born.
This location a hundred years ago was far from any
other settlement, Wilkesbarre, in Wyoming valley,
near the scene of the celebrated Indian massacre,
being among the nearest, though fifty miles away.
The place where these young Bay State men bought
lands and settled was known for years as the " Nine
Partners' Settlement.'' Here these hardy pioneers
maintained their families and hewed themselves farms

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 123 of 125)