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Mr. Bever is a member of the Protestant Episco-
pal church, has been senior warden for many years.
He was one of the delegates and elected secretary
of the convention that organized the diocese of
Iowa in 1854, has been a standing lay deputy to the
annual diocesan convention ever since, and was
several times elected a deputy from this diocese to
the general convention of the .Protestant Episcopal
Church of the United States.

'On the 8th of August, 1833, he was married to
Miss Mary Blythe, daughter of John Blythe, Esq.,

of Fayette county, Pennsylvania. She is a lady of
true womanly virtues, and in her he has found a true
helpmeet for more than forty years. They have
had eight children, six of whom are living. The
sons are among the best business men, of a younger
class, in Cedar Rapids. They have had a father's
excellent training and example in all the best habits
in life. One of their daughters is the wife of A. H.
Spangler, who is also connected with the City Na-
tional Bank, and the other is the wife of Upton C.
Blake, Esq., an attorney-at-law in Cedar Rapids.

Mr. Bever has always had a great aversion to
going into debt. Since first embarking, whenever
he has made an investment he has had at his com-
mand the means of payment. He has lost money
by signing for others, but of late years has been more
cautious, choosing to relieve necessity rather than
become security. The poor have no better friend,
no prompter helper, than Sampson C. Bever. He is
warm-hearted, and kind to everybody. A neighbor,
who has known him since 1852, remarked of him,
" Mr. Bever is one of the best men that ever lived."



j AMES M. ROBERTSON, one of the oldest med-
•J ical practitioners in the state, was born in Wash-
ington county, Pennsylvania, on the 14th of October,
r8o4. His father, Peter Robertson, was a native of
Scotland, but emigrated to Pennsylvania in his youth
and died when our subject was but six years old.
His mother, Jane Moore, was a native of the United
States, of English ancestry. The settlement of his
father's estate was attended with some embarrass-
ment, and the proceeds found to be small, so that
but little provision remained for the education or
maintenance of the son. The early years of James
M. were passed under the careful, devoted christian
watchfulness of his excellent mother, who survived
her husband some ten years and died ere he had
attained his sixteenth year. Thus left orphaned
and destitute he was led to realize in a remarkable
manner the divine promise: ''When my father and
mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up."
Kind friends were raised up to assist him with
means to complete his education. Among others.
Dr. William Stephenson, of Cannonsburg, Pennsyl-
vania (whose name the only son of our subject per-

petuates), became his 'generous and unwavering
friend and patron, directed his studies and treated
him in all regards as a son or brother. He pursued
his literary education at Jefferson College, Cannons-
burg, Pennsylvania, and received his medical edu-
cation at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia,
from which he was graduated with distinction in
1827. Hopeful, ardent and overflowing with grat-
itude to the kind friends who had thus far helped
him on his way, and whose generosity he hoped to
be able soon to repay, he entered upon his life work
in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in March, 1827.
Here he remained some six years with moderate
success. Liduced by the larger possibilities and
greater need of professional men in what was then
considered " The West," in the spring of 1833 he re-
moved to Franklin county, Ohio, where he practiced
for some five years. Realizing, however, that Ohio
was no longer "The West," and that if he would
obey the injunction of the distinguished journalist,
he must pitch his tent at least beyond the " Father
of Waters," he immigrated with his family, in the
spring of 1838, to Burlington, Iowa. Here he



opened a drug store, — one of the first in that city,
which he carried on successfully in connection with
his practice for several years, which soon became
both large and lucrative. He began to accumulate
property and to feel satisfied with his surroundirigs,
when, in an evil day, he formed a partnership with
a designing and covetous man, who found means of
robbing him of his hard-earned property and leaving
him almost penniless to start anew in the journey
of life. He still owned some uncultivated lands in
Louisa county, Iowa. These he intended to dispose
of and return to Ohio or Pennsylvania, but- fresh
disappointments awaited him. In that county he
found more land than money, more work than pay,
and realized that for the time being at least he had
an elephant on his hands. Thus circumscribed he
was again obliged to don the toga of professional
warfare, and "fight it out on that line." Accord-
ingly, resolved to look his disasters fairly in the face,
and, if possible, to regain his losses, he resumed his
practice in Columbus City, where he remained for
twenty-six years, not only repairing all his pecuniary
losses, but attaining to an eminence in his profession,
which formed the best test of his skill and industry.
The removal of his son, Dr. Wra. S. Robertson,
elsewhere sketched in this volume, to Muscatine in
1869 induced him to follow in 1-870 and locate in
the same city, where he continued his professional
work till 1874, when he retired from the practice,
having been actively engaged as a physician for a
period of almost half a century.

In politics, the doctor was for many years an old-
line whig, and being strongly opposed to slavery he
was among the first to adopt the principles of the
free-soil party, and naturally drifted into the great
republican party. During the slaveholders' rebel-
lion he was an ardent supporter of the government,
and employed all the influence which God had
given him in church and state in favor of liber-
ty and union. He was also an earnest helper of
the sanitary commission, and did everything in his
power to aid them and to supply the needs of the
families, of the gallant men who risked their lives
in their country's defense. In 1865 he was elected
state senator from Louisa county, Iowa, for a period
of four years.

He was a member of the Ohio State Medical So-
ciety ; also of the medical societies of Louisa and
Muscatine counties, Iowa, and of the Iowa State
Medical Society, of which he held the office of vice-
president and treasurer, each one term. He was

also a pioneer in the cause of temperance in the
west, and lectured extensively in this cause through
central Ohio at an early day, and did much to ex-
tend the principles of total abstinence there and in
Iowa, both by precept and example.

He united with a branch of the Presbyterian
church at the age of fourteen years, and has con-
tinued in connection ever since. He has been an
elder in the congregation for many years, and among
the most generous contributors to religious and be-
nevolent institutions of the community.

On the 15th of March, 1829, he married Miss
Maria Armstrong, of Lancaster county, Pennsylva-
nia, by whom he has an oijly son. Dr. Wm. S.
Robertson. Her habits are domestic, making her
house a home of love, purity and good cheer.
Benevolent, charitable, a true wife, a fond mother,
a most excellent neighbor, she is loved and re-
spected by all who know her.

The doctor, although past the "threescore years
and ten " usually allotted to man's existence, still
possesses much of the physical elasticity of his ear-
lier years, and nearly all the vivacity and vigor of
youth. At his prime he was tall, graceful and
handsome ; a man of great perseverance and un-
tiring energy. In the development of his section
of Iowa he was one of the most active, enterprising
and influential men of the day. He was shrewd
and far-seeing.

His advice was generally sought by his neighbors
on all subjects pertaining to their material interests;
and usually adopted. He had a large practice and
traveled mainly on horseback, shortening distances
by ignoring the prescribed highways and going by
direct lines across the prairies. At his home he was
noted for his kindness and hospitality, his house was
always open to his friends or any one who chanced
to avail themselves of his generosity. His hand was
ever ready to bestow good gifts to the poor and
needy. He was always a man of piety of character
and of honesty of purpose. Himself honest and un-
suspecting, he was not unfrequently made the victim
of avarice and design, and, as intimated above, on
one occasion, by trusting to the advice of one whom
he supposed to be his friend, he was reduced from
easy and comfortable circumstances to almost utter
destitution. Yet his confidence in men as a class
remained unshaken. He could not consent to the
doctrine that " all men are to be treated as knaves
till proved to be honest." He acted upon the con-
trary principle.

I 12


A pioneer in the temperance cause, a life-long
advocate of total abstinence, he labored therein
earnestly and incessantly, yet without ostentation.

His generous nature revolted at the thought of
man's holding property in his fellow-man, and from
his earliest manhood was known as an abolitionist,
who dared to denounce the wickedness of slavery,
and to proclaim the right of universal liberty.

Socially of a retiring disposition, he cared little
for large crowds, but enjoyed the company of a few

known friends, and was never more happy than
when thus surrounded, discussing some topic of re-
ligion or reform.

He has always been a believer in the christian
religion, and an unswerving observer of the christian
virtues, a great student of the bible, and of all works
designed to elucidate its sacred teachings, and now
in his declining years he spends the greater portion
of his time in the study of subjects pertaining to the
eternal world.



SAMUEL SINNETT, farmer and economist,
was born in the city of Dublin, Ireland, on
the 17th of March, 1817, and is the second son of
John T. Sinnett and Mary Susan nee Abbott. His
father was for many years a silk manufacturer at
No. 8 Merchants' Quay, in the Irish capital, and
was descended from an old Huguenot family, driv-
en from the neighborhood of Lyons, France, on
the revocation of the celebrated edict of Nantes
by Louis XIV in 1685. By this barbarous act all
the Protestant churches of France were destroyed,
their ministers banished, and every individual out-
lawed or compelled to renounce his religion. They
were hunted like wild beasts and great numbers put
to death, and not less than five hundred thousand
of the most useful and industrious citizens were
driven into exile, and carried the arts and manu-
factures of France, in which the Protestants greatly
excelled, into the various countries in which they
found an asylum. The Sinnetts carried their in-
dustry with them to Dublin, where for several gen-
erations they were among the most prosperous and
useful citizens of that metropolis.

One of the most serious evils, however, resulting
from the legislative union of Ireland with Great
Britain was the prostration of the silk interests,
the manufacture of which has since entirely ceased
in Ireland. This circumstance led to the expatri-
ation of our subject. He left Ireland in 1835, in
the eighteenth year of his age, in company with his
only brother, John T. Sinnett, an artist by profes-
sion, and now a resident of Middletown, New York.

Our subject received a first-class English and
classical education in the city of his nativity — one
of the most renowned seats of learning in Europe.

On arriving in the United States he settled down
as a pioneer farmer in Park county, Indiana, where
he remained some five years, and in 1840 removed
to Muscatine county, Iowa, where he purchased a
farm of three hundred and twenty acres, on which
he has since resided. His home is located some
two miles north of Muscatine, and is among the
most beautiful and ornate suburban villas in the
county, where a hospitality peculiarly Irish is dis-
pensed, and a cordial welcome greets every exile
hailing from the Emerald Isle. As a farmer, Mr.
Sinnett has been eminently successful, and has ac-
cumulated a competence. He is also interested in
every movement, organization or enterprise for the
benefit of his fellow-husbandmen or the community
at large. He was one of the original organizers of
the "Patrons of Husbandry'' in 1872 — -the only se-
cret society with which he was ever connected —
and has since continued one of its leading mem-
bers. He has also been for many years a steady
contributor to the agricultural and political press
both in America and the old world. He has been
a special correspondent of the " Irish Farmer's Ga-
zette," and has rendered important service to the
material interests of his adopted country by calling
the attention of the Irish pork and beef packers to
America as a source of supply, in consequence of
which many Irish packers have located in the north-
west, and are the most extensive operators in that
line in the country.

He has visited Europe several times during his
residence in Muscatine, and has traveled over Ire-
land, Great Britain, Belgium, France and other
countries, and made himself familiar not only with
the manners and customs of these various peo-



pies, but also with their industries, and is, perhaps,
among the most intellectual and best informed men
of the period.

He was originally a member of the democratic
party, but is at present associated with the inde-
pendent or greenback party.

He is an attendant of the Presbyterian church,
and a generous supporter of religious and chari-
table enterprises generally, and is recognized as
one of the most useful and valuable citizens in
the community in which he resides.

He has been twice married : in September, 1840,
to Miss Susan L. Higley, daughter of Ozias Higley,
of New York. She died on the 14th of July, 1844,
leaving one child, Susan A., now the wife of P. C.
Donaldson, Esq., a retired merchant of Iowa City.
On the 31st of October, 1847, he married Miss
Sarah A. Knox, daughter of Factor Knox, of Har-
dinsburg, Indiana, who survives. By her he has
had seven children, namely, Sarah Jane, Georgiana,
Isabella, William Abbott (died in infancy), Samuel
Townsend, Charles Eugene, John Harris. Georgi-
ana is the wife of Russell B. George, Esq., druggist,
at Arlington, Illinois. The girls are all graduates
of high literary institutions, and the sons are being
educated with a view to professions.

In personal appearance Mr. Sinnett is rather
above the medium height, of strong, m.uscular
framework, ruddy complexion, light hair and gray
eyes ; a clear and pleasant voice strongly tinctured
with the Dublin accent, a large head and distinctly
marked features, which at once strike the eye of
a stranger as belonging to a man of no ordinary
caliber.'" His manners, which partake largely of the
western mold, are, perhaps, not as highly polished
as those of some, but he has a hearty, whole-souled,
breezy way that wins the good-will of strangers at
once, and a broad, sunny smile that begets con-
fidence without further question. His large and
liberal culture make him an entertaining and in-
structive conversationalist and public speaker, while
his ready wit and genuine Irish humor always ren-
der him a welcome guest in society. He could
hardly be called an eloquent public speaker, but
the stern logic of the bristling array of facts and
figures with which he fortifies his positions is hard
to overcome. Owing, however, to an occasional
hesitancy in his speech, he is less successful as an
orator than as a writer. With him, as with Horace
Greeley, it is the pen rather than the tongue which
is his strongest weapon. Being well posted upon

the current literature of the day, and devoting
much time and thought to the political and social
questions which concern society, he is a frequent
and valued contributor to many of the leading
newspapers and periodicals both of this country
and of Great Britain. By nature a democrat, he
is always found on the side of the people against
their oppressors ; of the weak against the strong ;
of labor as against capital and monopolies. Strong
in his convictions and fearless in their expression
he is often found on the side of the few and against
the many, advocating what he believes to be right,
not for the sake of popularity but from principle.
Of indomitable energy, and perseverance which
knows no flagging, he attacks and pursues a wrong
or an abuse, no matter at what cost to himself. As
illustrating this characteristic, it is related of him
that upon one occasion, when a large meeting was
held in one of the city halls to consider the pro-
priety of voting a five per cent tax in aid of a
certain railroad, Mr. Sinnett strenuously opposed
the proposition, upon the principle that no one
has a right to vote money out of his neighbor's
pocket for the benefit of a private company. Al-
though nearly every man of the four or five hun-
dred who were present was in favor of the project,
and almost to a man voted for it, yet Samuel Sin-
nett alone voted " no ! " amid the jeers and ridicule
of the crowd. He is to-day one of the few men
who is proud of his vote on that occasion. As a
farmer, he has done much to better the condition
of the class to which he belongs, and to obtain
for it just treatment and fair play at the hands
of corporations. Hence he has been one of the
earliest and strongest opponents of railroad mo-
nopolies, and through .his speeches and writings
contributed very materially toward the public sen-
timent which resulted in legislative enactments
regulating railroad tariffs in Iowa. He has also
devoted much attention to the currency question,
and believes it to be the duty of the government
to. issue a sufficient volume of paper (greenbacks)
to meet all the demands of commerce, and he holds
that this paper should be a legal tender for all
debts, public and private, and should be received
by the government for all dues and taxes of what-
ever kind. He also favors the abolition of the
national banks, and maintains that the government
should do the banking of the country, issuing to
its depositors bonds bearing a low rate of interest,
and making these bonds convertible into green-



backs upon presentation. He would likewise have
the government loan money to all its citizens at
a low rate of interest upon any sufficient security,
believing that such a course would render money
abundant and would stimulate industry and enter-
prise and enhance the value of the prosperity of
our country and fully develop its resources.

The question of labor and capital has occupied
his attention largely of late years, and he has often
predicted that the grinding process pursued by
railroad and other moneyed corporations of Amer-
ica upon their employes and the large number of
unemployed men, if unmitigated, would some day
eventuate in the most desperate collision between
the interests named ever witnessed in modern times,
and the great railroad strike which is at this junc-

ture paralyzing business and threatening to sub-
vert all law and order, even defying government,
seems to lend a large degree of probability to the
correctness of his views on this subject. But what-
ever view we may take of Mr. Sinnett's opinions
upon this or any other subject, we can rest assured
of the integrity of his motives and the honesty of
his convictions.

He has never sought nor held an oflice, nor is
a candidate for popularity or public fame. He is
a plain, unassuming farmer, social and obliging as
a neighbor, kind and warm-hearted as a friend,
law-abiding as a citizen, hospitable and generous
to all': a citizen of whom his adopted country may
well be proud. Let us have many more such Irish-




THE rapid development of the northwestern
states in the last fifty years opens a wider field
of enterprise for the learned professions and for
the progress of the benevolent orders than was ever
before known in the history of our race. Among
the orders designed to ameliorate the social, moral
and intellectual condition, and advance the inter-
ests of humanity, no one is more ancient, honor-
able or useful than that of Masonry. It is within
a period known as a generation, about thirty years,
that the first masonic lodge was organized in what
is now Iowa. The state has a population of one
million and a half, and there are now over fifteen
thousand members of the "Mystic Tie." Among
the zealous, earnest and faithful men, from year
to year, has been Dr. E. A. Guilbert, distinguished
alike in his medical profession, as a correct Mason,
an exemplary citizen and a christian gentleman.

Edward Augustus Guilbert was born in Water-
town, Jefferson county. New York, on the 12 th ©f
June, 1826. At the age of four or five his educa-
tion was commenced in what were called in that
day the " infant classes." He subsequently at-
tended public schools. In some departments of
learning he received, before the age of twelve, the
benefit of instruction in the Black River Institute,
at Watertown, where boys were prepared to enter
college ; but he did not receive a collegiate educa-
tion. In 1837 his father's family moved to Chicago.

Naturally of studious habits and quick perception,
and being very industrious, it is said that he made
more progress in his studies, often under disadvan-
tages, than most other youths of his age did under
the most favorable circumstances. He began early
the practice of composition, and at the age of eigh-
teen he was a ready, rapid and correct writer, even
for the press. His professional studies were com-
menced in 1843, and after a four years' course he
graduated at Rush Medical College, Chicago. For
several years he was the confidential student in the
office of the late eminent Prbfessor Daniel Brainard.

In 1847 he married Miss Kathleen Somers, a
young lady of education and refinement, having had
the benefit of a course of study in the famous acad-
emy of Mrs. Emma Willard, of Troy, New York.
Nine children have been born to .them, six of whom

The practice of his profession and other life work,
and his labor in the promotion of Masonry, are so
blended that, for a part of the time, it is proper to
consider the topics in connection. He practiced
medicine and surgery first at Ottawa, and after-
ward at Waukegan, Illinois. In that time, 1847 to
1852, he still pursued medical studies and investi-
gations with all the interest of an enthusiastic stu-
dent. In 1 85 1, at the age of twenty-five, he be-
gan a new line of study and research, by becom-
ing a Master Mason in Union Lodge, at Waukegan.

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About that time Dr. Guilbert resolved to practice
medicine upon a different system — that of Hahne-
mann, and since known as homoeopathy. He soon
afterward removed to Elgin, Illinois, and com-
menced his changed practice, having thoroughly
studied the literature and theory of that school of
medicine. On removing to Dubuque, Iowa, he was
elected master of Dubuque Lodge No. 3, in 1857,
and reelected five or six times since. It will be
remembered by all who have been Masons twenty
years, that much confusion existed in almost every
state jurisdiction as to " Work," and that fraternal
controversies on the subject were usually conducted
with a very kindly spirit, yet it required about five
years' consultation to bring about the desired uni-
formity and reach the success which now distin-
guishes the lodges in Iowa. Being a delegate to
the Grand Lodge in 1858, Dr. Guilbert was elected
junior grand warden, and reelected in 1859. In
those years he was active, faithful and earnest on
the question of the "Work," and in the latter year
he was made one of the " custodians " on that sub-
ject. His associates were Hon. John Scott and
William B. Langridge. The reformed " Work " was
adopted by the Grand Lodge in i860. In 1861
Dr. Guilbert was elected senior grand warden, and
in 1862 was appointed deputy grand master. In
October in the latter year he became acting grand
master on the occasion of his superior officer, Gen-

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 17 of 125)