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AMONG the early settlers of Davenport in the
fx. year 1837, when on the site of the present
large city was but a small village with few inhabit-
ants, may be found the name of John Forrest, now
one of Davenport's affluent citizens, enjoying the
memories of the past, as well as the substantial
results of a successful life, after a long period of
patient toil, firm perseverance, but restless activity
of thought. These, conjoined with prudence and
good management, added to quickness of percep-
tion and promptitude of action, have produced the
usual result — success. There are lives the story of
which are more sensational, but no condition of life
confers greater benefit on society, and deserves
higher encomiums, than that of the successful self-
made man.

John Forrest was born in the town of Russia,
Herkimer county. New York, on the 14th of July,
1807. His parents were natives of Ireland and
were among the first settlers upon what was known
as the "royal grant," where they lived to an
advanced age, dying within a few months of each
other. Young Forrest commenced life as a farm
boy, assisting on his father's farm, and being reared
to habits of economy and industry, which were of
great aid to him in after life. He received a com-
mon school education, and after attaining his major-
ity accepted a situation as clerk in a store, remain-
ing as such two years, then going into the mercan-
tile for himself, which he followed successfully until
1837, when, being drawn by the current then pre-
vailing, he started west. He traveled extensively
through the western states and territories from May
until September of that year, with a view to the
selection of a place preparatory to moving his family
to the west as their future home. After diligent
search he selected Davenport, then in Wisconsin

territory, as being preferable to all others, and mak-
ing an investment in claims returned east for his
family. In October, 1837, he again started for the
west, and after six weeks of hard travel via Erie
canal. Lake Erie, Ohio canal, Ohio and Mississippi
rivers, arrived in Davenport on the 4th of December,
1837. On their way up after arriving at Burlington
they were unceremoniously put ashore, the owner of
the old craft being afraid to venture farther, north,
fearing they might get caught in the ice, but on the
third day another boat took them to Rock Island
and thence home. During the time they were in
Burlington the territorial legislature of Wisconsin
was in session, and the representatives of this county,
without his application or knowledge, had a justice's
commission from Henry Dodge, then governor of
Wisconsin territory, made out, and sent to him soon
after his arrival. Government lands not having
been offered for sale, there was much litigation about
claims which could only be settled in a justice's
court with twelve jurymen. This involved great
costs and much excitement. This office he held by
appointment and election until June, 1845, when he
was appointed postmaster, which office he held four
years. Mr. Forrest has filled many offices of trust.
He was alderman of his ward, and for one term held
the office of mayor in the absence of the mayor
elect. General Sargant.

He was very active in the question of the con-
tested county seat, and it was due perhaps more to
him than any other man that it was conceded to
Davenport. In the election before the last a major-
ity of twenty votes was for Rockingham. He and
his friends succeeded in getting the supervisors of
Dubuque county, to whom the returns were made,
to delay the canvass and entry of record until they
could satisfy them of the fraud on the part of Rock-

t- ■ ^"2^z.^^-,



ingham in conducting the elections. They were
given three days in which to come from Dubuque
and return there again with the testimony. Mr.
Forrest started out through the country, and as he
found a party who had voted against them illegally
he, as a justice, at once took his deposition and
within the time specified succeeded in obtaining the
affidavits of a sufficient number to cast the vote in
favor of Davenport, and the commissioners so re-
corded it.

Mr. Forrest is an active member of the Methodist
church, having joined that faith more than forty
years ago. He is also a staunch member of the

Sons of Temperance, and was one of the originators
of the order in Iowa.

He was educated in the democratic school of
politics, to which party he still adheres, and is an
earnest advocate for reform.

He was married on the 28th of March, 1835, t°
Miss Annie E. McMasters, of Russia, New York, a
lady of high attainments.

Mr. Forrest is a self-made man. Commencing life
in straightened circumstances, he has, by his own
indomitable energy and perseverance, made for him-
self a fortune, meriting and receiving the confidence
and respect of his fellow-citizens.



THE Hildreths belong to an early New England
family, being descendants of Richard Hildreth,
who came to this country with a company of Puri-
tans from the north of England about 1640, and
settled in the colony of Massachusetts Bay. He be-
came a freeman of that colony on the loth of May,
1643, his home then being in Woburn, ten or twelve
miles northwest of Boston. At first he received
grants of land to the amount of a little more than
one hundred acres, and in 1664 additional grants
of one hundred and fifty acres. He died in 1688,
and his remains lie in the old burying-ground in
Chelmsford, — the town from which Lowell, Mas-
sachusetts, was taken about 1823. The descendants
of this Richard Hildreth are scattered over the New
England and middle states, and a very few are
found in 'the western and southern states. Among
them are noted historians and professional men.
Richard Hildreth, author of a history of the United
States, and Dr. Samuel Prescott Hildreth, the an-
tiquarian and historical writer, of Marietta, Ohio,
belong to this family. Eminent physicians in Dra-
cut, Methuen, Marlborough and other towns in
Massachusetts, were of this stock. Many of them
have been graduates of Harvard College. A work
called " Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Moun-
tains," published in 1836, was written by James

Hon. Azro Benjamin Franklin Hildreth, the sub-
ject of this memoir, is a descendant from the original
Richard Hildreth, buried in Chelmsford nearly two
hundred years ago.- He is a son of Daniel Hildreth,

a Vermont farmer, and somewhat noted wool grower
and stock raiser, and Clarissa Tyler, and was born
in Chelsea, Orange county, February 29, i8i6. He
is the eldest child in a family of twelve children,
nine of whom lived to grow up. His maternal grand-
father, Jonathan Tyler, was one of the patriotic sons
of New Hampshire who aided with musket in gain-
ing American independence.

Young Azro seems to have had a natural and
strong love for books; used them freely at a very
early age, and took as much care of them as of
his younger sisters. His name, Benjamin Franklin,
caused him to become a printer and editor. As
early as sixteen years of age, though aiding his
father on the farm during the busy season, he had
fitted himself for a school-teacher, and began that
profession at that early age. He taught several
winters, farming meanwhile during the summers,
and attending some academy, at Bradford or Ran-
dolph, during the autumns.

At nineteen he left his native home and state by
his father's consent, crossed the Green Mountains,
went to New York city, where he worked one season
in a book publishing house, returned the next year
to Chelsea, worked one year in the printing office
of William Hewes, spent another year as a com-
positor in the city of New York, and in 1839 went
to Lowell, Massachusetts, and started the " Literary
Souvenir," a weekly paper which he conducted about
three years, a neat and well edited publication, having
a good circulation, and, as the writer well knows, it
was quite popular, especially among the operatives



in the Lowell mills. The writer was a careful reader
of this publication. During part of this period Mr.
Hildreth also published the " Ladies' Literary Re-
pository," and for a while the " Daily Morning News,"
long enough to lose some money in the venture. In
the autumn of 1842 Mr. Hildreth was persuaded to
return to Vermont, locating at Bradford. There he
published at first the "American Protector," a high-
tariff weekly, advocating the election of Henry Clay
to the Presidency. Not long afterward' he changed
the name to the "Vermont Family Gazette," starting
a monthly at the same time^ called the " Green
Mountain Gem." Both were high-toned publica-
tions, filled with excellent reading for the domestic

At the end of ten years a returned Californian,
with his pockets full of gold, made Mr. Hildreth
a tempting offer. He sold out, went to Holyoke,
Massachusetts, and spent three years operating at
first a book and fancy goods store, and then pub-
lishing and editing the " Holyoke Mirror." In
November, 1855, he sold out, and the next spring
settled in Charles City, Floyd county, Iowa. Here
he found a broad field for the development of his
energetic, go-ahead character.

On the 31st of July, 1856, twenty-one years ago,
he issued the first number of the "Intelligencer," a
seven-column paper, with the names of John C. Fre-
mont and William L. Dayton at the head of the
editorial page, as candidates for President and Vice-
President. It was a novelty to see a large, live
newspaper, damp from the press, so far up the Cedar
valley, and the first copy printed was put up at auc-
tion, and brought twenty dollars. Three thousand
copies of the first number were sold. Mr. Hildreth
conducted the paper about fourteen years, disposing
of it on the ist of October, 1870. During the crash
of 1857, and all the hard times following, it. never
shrunk a particle in size, never abated an iota its
editorial fullness and vigor, was enlarged as the vil-
lage (now city) grew, and was and still is noted for
its excellent moral tone and its strong support of
the republican party. During the rebellion Mr. Hil-
dreth did valiant service for the cause of the Union.

In the spring of 187 1 Mr. Hildreth aided in or-
ganizing the First National Bank of Charles City, of
which he was and is a stockholder and director.
Two years later the Floyd County Savings Bank
was incorporated, and he is its president. For some
years he has been a member of the city school board,
and is president. In that capacity he is doing most

excellent service, his tastes running to educational
matters. This fact was discovered soon after his
settlement in Iowa, and as early as 1858 he was
elected a member of the state board of education,
representing ten counties in the northeastern part of
the state. He proved a very active and serviceable
member of that body during the four years he was
in it, and some portions of the present school laws
of Iowa are the production of his pen. It was
through his influence that the doors of the State
University were thrown open to females as well as
males, he introducing a bill for that end and secur-
ing its passage amid strong opposition. It was one
of the best acts of his life, and he ought to be proud
of it, if he is not. For this act the women of Iowa
will alwayg owe him a debt of gratitude.

In 1863 Mr. Hildreth was elected a member of the
general assembly, serving one term. There he was
chairman of the committee dn schools and state uni-
versity, and was also on the committees on banks
and banking and printing. Here, likewise, he car-
ried through an important measure for his part of
the state, a measure tried more than once before and
failing. He drew up a memorial to congress for a
land grant on or near the forty-third degree of lati-
tude, running from McGregor westward through
Charles City. Through his skillful and untiring
efforts this memorial passed the legislature, was sent
to every member of congress, and cars of the land-
grant road entered Charles City in 1869, opening
northern Iowa to the eastern markets, and giving a
grand impetus to the growth of Mr. Hildreth's
adopted home. He saw the place when it had less
than three hundred inhabitants ; he sees it now with
three thousand, and has the satisfaction of knowing
that his pen has contributed largely to its prosperity.

From what has already been written it may be
correctly inferred that he was originally a whig in
politics, transferring his affections to the republican
party. To the latter he still adheres. He was never
an office-seeker, and never, as he has been heard to
declare, asked for any man's vote.

Mr. Hildreth was an Odd-Fellow in New England,
a member of the Encampment and of the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts at the time of leaving there,
when his connection with the order ceased.

He is a Unitarian in religious sentiment, but there
being no church of that order in Charles City he
attends the Congregational church, of which his wife
is a member; and he is a liberal contributor to
christian and benevolent institutions generally.



His present wife was Miss Liveria A. Knight,
daughter of Josiah Knight, of Fryeburg, Maine, they
being married on the 21st of October, 1844. They
had one child, a bright and promising daughter, who

died in her seventh year. Mrs. Hildreth is a well
educated woman, with sterling good sense and fine
business talents ; is an excellent manager of house-
hold affairs, and her husband's best counselor.



Sheldon, Wyoming county, New York, was
born on the 9th of November, 1843, ^lie son of
Horatio Gates Ward and Mary nee Ladd. His
paternal grandfather, a farmer by occupation, was
a native of New York ; and his grandfather Ladd,
a native of Ohio. His father, in 1851, had charge
of a pastorate at Strykersville, but at that time left
that place and removed with his family to Lyndon,
Whiteside county, Illinois, where he died in 1852.

Charles remained at home until he was fifteen
years old. He first attended school in his native
place, but his mother being in very moderate cir-
cumstances, he was early thrown upon his own re-
sources and earned his own support after his ninth

From his fifteenth to his seventeenth year he
was studying with a view to preparing for college,
but, upon the opening of the civil war in 1861, in-
stead of entering college, enlisted as a private in
company A, 9th regiment Illinois Cavalry. After
about five months he was commissioned hospital
steward in the regular army and assigned to duty
at Columbus, Kentucky, being placed in charge of
the medical stores of the army in the medical pur-
veyor's department. He was admitted to this posi-
tion upon examination and was the youngest person
in the regular army holding the same. At the time
of General Forest's raid the goods of the purveyor's,
commissary's and quartermaster's departments were
conveyed to Memphis, Tennessee, and there Mr.
Ward made his headquarters until the close of the
war. After performing the regular duties of his
office about one year, at the request of General
Grant he opened a small-pox hospital in the sub-
urbs of Memphis, and being unable to obtain other
assistance than that of a negro servant, was him-
self compelled to remain in charge about one year.
He opened the hospital with about one hundred
patients, but before it closed the number had in-
creased to eighteen hundred. During the whole

time he was engaged, daily, preparing prescriptions
from six o'clock in the morning till twelve o'clock at
night. He was afterward sent back to the city to
organize the Washington Hospital, for the accom-
modation of the sick and wounded. Prior to this
time he went on board the Red River, a hospital
steamer, to the siege of Vicksburg. The steamer
was lying above the city, and one day going on
shore, he was captured by bushwhackers. Fortu-
nately he made his escape after being taken about
five miles, and returned to the boat with his clothes
riddled, and a scar on his forehead, which he re-
ceived in the skirmish. In August, 1863, he ob-
tained a furlough of thirty days, and returned in
September with twelve others, armed with revolvers,
on a boat heavily laden with cattle. Just below
Madrid Island No. 10, in the Mississippi river, they
struck a sand-bar, and while driving the cattle on
shore were attacked by about twenty-five guerrillas ;
he at once organized his men and completely routed
them. While in Washington Hospital the steamer
Sultana, chartered by General Canby to return ex-
changed prisoners, exploded, ten miles above Mem-
phis, with twenty-five hundred men on board. Hurry-
ing to the scene, Mr. Ward worked vigorously for
forty-eight hours saving lives ; about seventeen hun-
dred were lost. These are a few of his experiences
during the war, and serve to show something of the
services which he rendered. For six months after
the close of the war he was engaged examining and
correcting stewards' reports, adjusting accounts and
turning goods over to the government.

In the spring of 1866 he returned to his home at
Geneseo, Illinois, but soon afterward, with a capital
of three hundred dollars, opened a drug and book
, store at Altona, Knox county, Illinois. During his
five years' residence there he was variously em-
ployed: he had all the insurance agencies of the
place, was express agent, had charge of the bible
depository, was town clerk, librarian of the Sunday
school, and president and captain of a base-ball



nine. Removing to Des Moines, Iowa, in February,
1871, he there resumed the drug trade. His busi-
ness rapidly increased from the first, and in the
summer of 1875 he erected an elegant store build-
ing one hundred and fifty by twenty feet with six-
teen feet ceiling. His store occupies this building,
and is one of the finest drug stores in the state. He
still owns his store in Illinois, and also owns one
at Carlisle, Iowa.

As a business man, he has been eminently suc-
cessful, his three hundred dollars having in ten
years inclreased to forty thousand. His success is
the result of peculiar business tact, and a strict
adherence to a line of trade for which his abilities
and tastes eminently fit him.

In political sentiment he has always been a
thorough republican. He has never desired polit-
ical distinction, and has never held an ofifice except
that of town clerk, to which he was elected without
his knowledge.

He is a consistent member of the congregational
church, of which denomination both his father and
father-in-law were ministers.

Mr. Ward was married in May, 1866, to Miss
Isabelle C. Miles, a daughter of Rev. M. M. Miles
and Mary n^e Keyes. Of the four children that
have been born to them, the first died unnamed;
the second, Guy, died at three years of age; the
third, Percy, died when one year old ; Minnie, born
on the 20th of December, 1873, is now living.



THE subject of this brief biography is counted
among Des Moines' most honored citizens. A
native of Madison county, New York, he was born
on the 24th of May, 1826, the son of Dr. John Rice.

Mr. Rice comes of a very long-lived family. His
paternal great-grandfather, a native of Worcester,
Massachusetts, was a farmer by occupation, and
fought at the battle of Bennington under General
Stark, having removed thither long previous to the
revolutionary war. His wife's maiden name was
Dunbar. They had three sons: Charles and Ste-
phen, both of whom were army officers in the war of
181 2, and John Rice, the grandfather of our sub-
ject, who died in Allegany county. New York, at
the age of ninety-three years. His maternal grand-
father, Harmanus Van Bleck, was a native of Albany
county. New York, and at an early day settled at
Fenner, in Madison county. He was a prominent
and influential man in his community, and at one
time a member of the state legislature. His family
were among the early immigrants from Holland.
His wife, whose maiden name was Bettis, belonged
to a wealthy family who were tories during the revo-
lution, and removed to Canada.

Dr. John Rice, the father of our subject, was born
at Lansingburg, New York, in 1794. During his
early manhood he was engaged in teaching, but
later turned his attention to. the study of medicine,
and practiced that profession for many years, and is
still living (1877).

Byron received a good common-school and aca-
demical education, and in 1840, being then six-
teen years of age, began teaching, devoting the
winters to this vocation and the summers to the
study of law. Five years later he entered the New
York State Normal School at Albany, and graduated
from the same in 1847. After closing his literary
studies he entered the office of Denison Robinson,
district attorney of the county, and there continued
his legal studies until August, 1849, when he was
admitted to the bar by the supreme court then in
session at Ithaca.

Immediately removing to the west, he settled at
Des Moines, Iowa, and forming a partnership with
Mr. J. E. Jewett, established himself in the practice
of his profession. In August, 1850, he was elected
prosecuting attorney, and in the following year was
elected county judge, and administered the duties of
that office for four years.

Resigning that position in the spring of 1855, he
then, in company with Judge Greene, of the supreme
court, and Mr. John Weaver, of Cedar Rapids,
turned his attention to banking, and continued in
that business until 1859. During that year he was
the democratic candidate for the lower house of the
legislature, but his party being in a hopeless minor-
ity, he was defeated by a small majority.

Judge Rice next formed a partnership with Hon.
D. O. Finch and Mr. George Clark, and again took
up the practice of his profession, and continued the



same with reasonable success until the fall of 1876,
since which time he has not been actively employed
in any regular business.

Although Judge Rice has always acted with the
democratic party, he is conservative in his views,
and during the civil war zealously supported the
Union cause.

His religious training was under Episcopalian
influences, and although he was never a communi-
cant he assisted in organizing St. Paul's church in
Des Moines, and was one of the original vestry.
In 1862 he was received into the Roman Catholic

He was married on the igth of September, 1854,
to Miss Cornelia Calder, a daughter of Joseph Cal-

der, of Cedar Rapids,' Iowa. Of the seven children
who have been born to them, four are now living,
namely, Spencer M., Elizabeth, John E. and Will-
iam B.

Mr. Rice has had four brothers and two sisters,
namely, Rev. Dr. S. M. Rice, of Grace Episcopal
Church, Jersey City; Rev. Delancey G. Rice, of
Providence, Rhode Island ; Dr. Wm. B. Rice, M.D.,
of Niagara Falls, and Charles H. Rice, of the same
place. His sister, Mrs. Rev. D. A. Bonnar, of St.
Clements, ' Rochester, New York, has been twice
married, her first husband having been Rev. J. S.
Townsend, who is buried in St. Peter's Church,
Philadelphia. His other sister, Mrs'. Dr. E. B.
Morse, died in Monroe county, Michigan, in 1843.



on the loth of April, 1835, at Newark, New
Jersey, and is the son of Nicholas Barhydt and
Phoebe H. n^e Gardner. His paternal ancestors
were of Holland-Dutch descent and arnong the first
settlers of New York state, having immigrated from
Europe about 1679. His grandfather, Jerome Bar-
hydt, was a soldier in the revolutionary war and an
officer in the war of 1812. During the former, when
the tories and Indians under Johnson were commit-
ting depre'dations upon the frontier settlers, his
grandmother (then a child of thirteen years) gave
material aid to the soldiers in. molding bullets used
in defense of their homes and lives, being at the
time in Schoharie fort, where all the women and
children were placed. They were of the old Knick-
erbocker families, whose early history was one of
devotion to the cause of liberty. Soon after the
birth of Theodore his family removed to Schenec-
tady, New York (the former home of his father),

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 13 of 125)