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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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rich or poor, his word was as good as his bond, and
his bond as good as gold." So he lived and died,
and there were no regretful memories to cloud his
parting hours.

In the home of a son he forgot the world of care
and the battles of life which had furrowed his earlier
years : drawn closely around the hearths of children
and grandchildren, in their loved presence he await-
ed the hour when he should be summoned to meet
his beloved partner in the mansions of rest. The
hour came in peace and quiet, and '' the spirit as-
cended to God who gave it.''

" So fades the summer cloud away.

So sinks the gale when storms are o'er,
So gently shuts the eye of day,
So dies a wave along the shore."



CONSPICUOtJS among Iowa men who have
aided in developing the agricultural, mineral
and other resources of the state through the agency
of railroads, is Mr. C. C. Oilman, projector and
builder of the Central Railroad of Iowa, and its
president and general superintendent during its
construction and operation from 1867 to 1872 in-

Charles Carroll Oilman was born on the 22d of
February, 1833, in the town of Brooks, Waldo county,
Maine, and was named by his parents Charles Car-
roll, after Charles Carroll, of CarroUton, the latest
survivor of the signers of the declaration of inde-
pendence, and who had died a few months before
this son was born. The father of Charles, an emi-
nent physician, was a native of New Hampshire, and
known as belonging to the Newmarket branch of
the family. The mother, Lois P. Oilman nee Webb
was of the Pollard family, from Kennebec county,

C. C. Oilman received an academic education in
Frankfort, now Winterport, Maine, where his parents
resided ten years ; and fitted himself at home for
the sophomore class of Waterville College, now
Colby University, and at the same time completed
two years of study in a medical course with his
father, who was a graduate of Bowdoin. His health

failing, Charles went to work at lumbering, and in
two years gave up study entirely, and entered on
what has proved to be, thus far, a very active busi-
ness life.

In 1853 he started westward, halting three years
in Michigan, conducting a saw-mill in the summers
and devoting the winters to exploring and locating
pine lands owned by government. In 1857 he
pushed further westward to Dubuque, Iowa. En-
gaging in the wholesale lumber trade in that city,
he established retail yards in 1858 and 1859 at
Earlville, Dyersville, Independence, Waterloo, Cedar
Falls, Sand Spring, Anamosa, Monticello and Mari-
on, towns on the Dubuque and Sioux City and
Dubuque Southwestern railroads.

In 1 86 1 he devoted a short time to the enlisting
of soldiers, raising four companies of infantry for
the brigade of Oeneral F. J. Herron, his Dubuque
neighbor and friend.

While the subject of this sketch has, ever since
his residence in Iowa, maintained a large private
business in conjunction with partners, his chief
labors have been expended on what he is pleased to
call outside operations. In 1858 the Dubuque and
Sioux City railroad coming to a halt on the prairie
thirty-eight miles west of Dubuque, he started the
town of Earlville, by building twenty-eight stores



and dwelling-houses in that year and the following.
In i860 and 1861 he built grain elevators at Monti-
cello, Marion and Cedar Falls, and opened a large
farm in Delaware county. About this time he pur-
chased a water-privilege on the Maquoketa river,
north of Cascade, erected a flouring-mill and saw-
mill, and founded a town called Hillside. In 1864,
by a series of able articles in the Dubuque and St.
Louis daily papers, he called the attention of the
public to the necessity of unimpeded navigation of
the Mississippi river as a competing outlet for the
products of the Mississippi valley, which resulted,
after great personal effort on the part of Mr. Gil-
man, in conventions being held at Dubuque and St.
Louis, and finally in appropriations by congress,
which have removed the rapids near Davenport
and Keokuk. Frank Gilbert, now one of the edit-
ors of the " Chicago Evening Journal," and Stilson
Hutchins, present editor of the "St. Louis Times,"
but at the time referred to respectively editors of
the " Times" and " Herald " of Dubuque. General
William Vandever, B. B. Richards, Patrick Robb
and others were his faithful coadjutors in this great

In 1865, in conjunction with other active business
men of Dubuque, he secured the incorporation of
the Dubuque Produce Exchange, an institution which
will long be remembered by the citizens of that
place as inaugurating a new era in Dubuque's rela-
tions to surrounding country tributary to it, the
good effects of which are felt to this day. In 1866
Mr. Gilman made the first soundings of the Missis-
sippi at Dubuque, with the view of erecting a bridge,
and the next year was appointed chairman of a
convention by the Produce Exchange, whose duties
were to call a public meeting for the purpose of
incorporating a company to build it. This was
done ; and although not built by the company thus
formed, the result was the immediate organization of
the Dubuque and Dunleith Bridge Company, which
erected the beautiful structure which now spans the
river at that point.

In this effort Mr. Gilman was ably seconded by
Hon. Piatt Smith, Hon. William B. Allison and
Henry L. Stout.

In 1867 Mr. Gilman originated the construction
of the Eldora Railroad and Coal Company line
from Ackley to Eldora, Hardin county, a distance of
seventeen miles, afterward extended southward of
Eldora twenty-eight miles to Marshalltown. In
1868 he bought out all parties identified with this

enterprise, — Piatt Smith and J. K. Graves, of Du-
buque, George Greene and William Greene, of
Cedar Rapids, and others, — went to New York and
formed a new company, and engaging the services
of W. B. Shattuck as financial agent (the man
who had previously sold the 10-40 government
bonds, as well as the bonds of the Union Pa-
cific railroad), The bonds of the Iowa road were
promptly sold, and the road as promptly built, one
hundred and thirty-two miles of the two hundred
in eight months. The peculiar feature in this trans-
action was the fact that no land grant or subsidy
was attached to the project, and for the first time
in the history of western railroad -enterprises, two
hundred miles of railroad were built on the merits
which a surrounding country alone offered for busi-
ness. The Central Railroad of Iowa, extending from
Albia, Monroe county, to Northwood, in Worth
county, was the first north and south road built in
the state, and bids fair to be the most important.
In 1870, when this line, which was built in sections,
was united in Mahaska county, at North Skunk River
bridge, with loaded freight trains from the north and
south waiting to pass. President Gilman happily
remarked, as he drove the last spi'ke : " To southern
Iowa we have brought the lumber of Minnesota ; to
northern Iowa and Minnesota we introduce the cheap
fuel, the magnificent coal of Mahaska county."

Mr. Gilman resigned the presidency of this rail-
road in 1873, and immediately commenced mining
coal in Mahaska county, in connection with his old
secretary, H. W. McNeill, forming a company for
the purpose, under the name of the Consolidation
Coal Company. These works were increased from
a delivery of one huhdred and ten cars in 187 1 to
twelve thousand seven hundred and eighty in 1875.
In this year he sold his interest to Hon. Ezekiel
Clark, of Iowa City, and immediately began to de-
velop the resources about his new home in Eldora,
to which place he had removed from Dubuque in
1867. This he did by organizing a company for
the manufacture of sewer pipe, drain tile and terra
cotta from the superior fire clays which abound in
this region. The company is known as the Iowa
Terra Cotta and Fire Clay Company, and bids fair
to become one of the most important manufactories
in Iowa. Of this company he is president and
chief owner, as well also of the telegraph company
whose headquarters are at Eldora.

He is a member of no church, but attends the



In politics Mr. Oilman takes no active part. His
first vote for president was cast for John P. Hale ;
his last for Abraham Lincoln.

In August, 1858, he married Miss Abbie Williams,
of Saginaw, Michigan. They have had five children,
only two of whom are living.

Mr. Oilman is a man of indomitable energy, and

great force both of character and intellect. He
is a solid thinker on practical subjects, a ready
writer, a splendid organizer of physical forces, and
uses his hands as well as his brains in carrying
forward a great enterprise to completion. To just
such men the present age owes the glory of its



WESLEY C. HOBBS is a native of Des
Moines county, Iowa, and was born on the
3d of February, 1842, the son of Warren C. Hobbs
and Susanna nee Johnson.

His forefathers, of English descent, settled in
Maryland under Lord Baltimore. Both of his great-
grandfathers were active participants in the revo-
lutionary war.

His great-grandfather, Joshua Hobbs, removed
from Maryland to Kentucky soon after the close of
the war of independence, and in after years was
elected to the general assembly of that state. Here
the father of our subject was born in 1814. In
1835 he settled at Springfield, Illinois, and began
the study of medicine, graduating three years later.
During his residence at Springfield he was in-
timately acquainted with Lincoln and Douglas, and
always held them in high regard.

On the isth of July, 1839, he was married to
Miss Susanna Johnson, a handsome and accom-
plished lady, and soon afterward settled in Des
Moines county, Iowa. In 1849 he removed to New
London, in Henry county, and is residing there at
the present time, 1877.

Our subject was a regular attendant of the public
schools until his sixteenth year. He early disclosed
an excessive fondness for study, and at times pur-
sued his task under adverse circumstances, being for
a long time severely afflicted with the inflammatory

After closing his studies in the public schools he
entered the university at Burlington ; there he made
rapid progress in his studies, and such was his desire
for knowledge that he remained after his means
were exhausted, defraying his expenses by acting as
janitor for the institution, building fires, etc. Find-
ing, however, that such labor required too much of
his time, he returned to New London and engaged

in teaching, and continued that vocation until he
had accumulated money sufficient to enable him to
attend the university another year.

At the opening of the rebellion, in 1861, he left
school and enlisted as a private in company K, 6th
Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He remained
with his regiment about six months, the most of the
time in Missouri, where he participated in Fremont's
campaign against Price, marching through Missouri
and over the Ozark Mountains, driving the rebel
forces into Arkansas. Being rendered unfit for ser-
vice by the return of his old complaint, inflamma-
tory rheumatism, he was discharged in January,
r862, and, returning* home, engaged in teaching.
Three months later, upon the call of President Lin-
coln for three hundred thousand men, he discontin-
ued his school and assisted in raising company K,25th
Iowa Infantry, and was elected second lieutenant of
the same. He was afterward promoted to fill the
vacancy caused by the resignation of his captain.
He commanded his company during the three days'
fight in the rear of Vicksburg, under Gen. Sherman,
in 1862, and also participated in the battle of Ar-
kansas Post on the nth of January, 1863. At both
of these battles his uniform was pierced with balls,
and at the latter his regiment sustained a heavy loss
of men. Among the many killed was Mr. George
W. Wilson, a brother-in-law of Captain Hobbs.

Resigning his commission soon after this, he re-
turned home and began the study of law, and in
November, 1864, was admitted to the bar by the
district court of Henry county, then sitting at
Mount Pleasant, and of which Hon. Francis
Springer was presiding judge.

He soon afterward established himself in practice
at Fort Madison, and in 1870 was elected city attor-
ney without opposition. During the succeeding
two years he was deputy clerk of the courts.



In 1873 he formed a copartnership with Hon.
Judge Casey, with whom he has since continued in
practice, building up an extensive and prosperous
business. Mr. Hobbs was also, during the last-
named year, elected president of the school board,
and in the year following was elected county super-
intendent of public schools. In 1875 he was
elected by a very large majority to the general
assembly of Iowa, and rendered most valuable and
efficient service as a member of that body. In
1876 he was democratic nominee for congress, and,
although he made a brilliant canvass and ran ahead
of his ticket by nearly two thousand votes, he was
defeated. During the campaign, at the urgent re-
quest of the national democratic committee, he
spent ten days in Indiana advocating the cause of
democracy, and, as testified to by the state central
committee of Indiana, contributed largely to the
triumph of " Blue Jeans Williams " at the Octo-
ber elections. Although Mr. Hobbs is a demo-
crat in sentiment, he never allows party prejudice

to bias his better judgment. He has of late been
strongly urged to enter the lecture field, but has de-
clined, except to comply with a few special requests,
preferring to give his attention to his profession.

He united with the Baptist church at the age of
seventeen, and still continues a worthy member of
that body.

He is also a member of the Odd-Fellows and
Masonic fraternities. In 1876 he was district dep-
uty grand master of the former, and at the present
time, 1877, is master of the Masonic lodge at Fort

Mr. Hobbs was married on the 24th of August,

1862, to Miss Sallie Estella Smith, a lady of fine

native abilities and rare accomplishments. Of the

children who have been born to them, a daughter of

.ten and a son of eight years are now living.

As a citizen, Mr. Hobbs is highly esteemed by all
who know him, while his personal and social quali-
ties are such as render him a devoted husband, a
kind and indulgent father, and a true friend.



from the fourth Iowa district, was born in
Denmark, Oxford county, Maine, on the 2d of Sep-
tember, 1827. His father, James Deering, was born
in Saco, Maine, and moved to Denmark with his
parents when fourteen years old.

At the age of twenty-seven he married Elizabeth
Prentiss, of Gorham, Maine, an own aunt of the fa-
mous Mississippi orator, Hon. S. S. Prentiss, and
settled on a farm in Denmark, upon which he re-
sided through life, although his death occurred in
San Francisco, on the 30th of October, 1862, and
his wife's on the loth of January, 1863, while on a
visit to their sons. He amassed a considerable for-
tune, and often filled important positions of public
trust. In 1856 he was elected a representative to
the state legislature, and filled the office with credit
and honor to himself and district. The Deering
family were of Scotch and English descent : the
Prentiss family were English,

Nathaniel C. was the third in a family of seven
sons. He was educated at the common and high
schools in Denmark, and at the North Bridgeton
Academy, teaching school during the winters from

1845 to 1847. He had a strong desire to procure
a liberal education, and to study law, but under an
attack of whooping cough and measles his health
broke down and his lungs became diseased. Warned
by his physician of the danger that would attend
the further prosecution of his studies, in the spring
of 1847 he went to Hampden, Penobscot county,
and accepted a clerkship in a store, serving in that
capacity until January, 1850, when he determined to
join the gold-seekers. The trip was made by way
of Panama, and he arrived at San Francisco on the
14th of the following April. After spending about
two years in this " land of gold," he returned to
Maine with a considerable fortune, and embarked
in the paper manufacturing business, following it
until the autumn of 1856, when he lost his entire
property by fire. In September of the year before
he had been elected a representative to the Maine
legislature, and was reelected in the autumn of 1856,
his father being a member of the same body.

On the 14th of September, 1857, he arrived with
his family at Osage, his present home, where he
engaged in land and lumber operations, with a good
degree of success. In July, 1861, he visited Washing-


ton, District of Columbia, and through the influence
of Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, then vice-president, he
was appointed a clerk in the United States senate,
by its secretary, John W. Forney. This position he
held until the spring of 1865, when he resigned,
and was soon after appointed a special agent of the
post-office department for Iowa, Minnesota and
Nebraska, resigning the position in the spring of
1869. In July, 1872, he was appointed national bank
examiner for the State of Iowa, the duties of which
position he continued to discharge until the 3d of
March, 1877, when he resigned preparatory to taking
the seat in congress, to which he had been elected
the previous November.

From childhood Mr. Deering has held in great
veneration everything of a religious character, and
in the summer of 1875, with his wife and daughter,
he became a member of the Congregational church
at Osage.

As a citizen, he has alwa,ys enjoyed the esteem of

his fellows. "As a pure christian gentleman, he
stands among the first in the land, nowhere more
highly appreciated than by those among whom he
dwells." So writes an Osage neighbor who has
known Mr. Deering from boyhood.

In the spring and summer of 1855 he was active
in organizing the republican pacty in Hampden,
Maine, and with his party he has since affiliated with
the utmost sincerity and cordiality. His services to
the party have been unremitting, appreciated and

Mr. Deering has had two wives. The first was
Miss' Kate D. Bailey, daughter of Charles Bailey,
Esq., of Milford, Maine, married on the 31st of July,
1853, with whom he lived till the nth of April, 1855,
when she died of consumption, leaving one daughter,
Katie B., who died of the same disease on the 28th
of July, 1875. His present wife was Miss Lucretia
W. Bailey, sister of his first wife, married on the 30th
of ."Vpril, 1856.



SAMUEL L. HOWE, a native of Vermont, was
born in the year 1808, When he was ten years
old his parents removed to the then far west, set-
tling at Granville, in Licking county, Ohio. Samuel's
early life was characterized by that ambition, de-
termination and courage which marked his entire
subsequent life, and he early resolved to gain a
liberal education. His parents not having the means
to keep him at school, he defrayed the greater part
of his expenses through Athens University by cut-
ting wood and doing other work about the institution.
He was not ashamed to work, and the discipline and
habits of his school days left an impress upon his
character which marked all his after life.

After completing his literary studies he turned
his attention to the study of law, intending to enter
that profession ; soon, however, he abandoned this
plan, and began teaching, finding this vocation
more in keeping with his tastes. In Ohio he was
very successful in his work, and established a worthy
reputation as an educator; but wishing for a new
field of labor, he, in the autumn of 1841, removed
to Iowa, and settled on a farm three miles east
from Mount Pleasant. During the following winter
he taught school in a log school-house. In 1849

he removed into the village and opened a school
in the old log jail, and afterward taught in the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church building. He also
about this time inaugurated his High School and
Female Seminary in a brick building erected for
the purpose. Of this school he acted as principal
during the remainder of his life, and here, in a great
measure, performed his mission to mankind.

A man of noble, generous impulses, he did what-
ever he undertook with a will, , and inspired with
zeal and enthusiasm all who came under his influ-
ence. He so moulded the habits of his pupils, and
transformed the reckless and vicious that they be-
came energetic and sinceire in their work, and res-
olute as their teacher in elevating themselves, and
bettering others. So successful was he in stimulat-
ing to noble endeavor those under his charge, that
parents from far and near brought to him their sons
to be reclaimed from evil and dissolute habits, and
started in the way of intellectual pursuits.

Feeling the responsibility of his tru^t, he spared
no pains in learning the mental traits and the phys-
ical habits, and all the various idiosyncrasies of
each member of his school ; and with gentle, yet
firm, methods of discipline striving to correct what-



ever was wrong in their natures,- and to cultivate
whatever was promising. He won the hearts of his
pupils by making them feel that their interests were
dear to him, and that his work was a work of love ;
and by the might of a strong spirit and an intense
magnetic power he easily controlled the wills of all
who were under him, and inclined them toward the
good, the true and the beautiful.

At the school which he established at Lancaster,
Ohio, both General and Senator Sherman were
among his pupils ; and during his famous March to
to the Sea in 1864, in a conversation with General
George A. Stone, General Sherman said : "-Pro-
fessor Howe, I consider to be the best teacher in the
United States ;■ nay more," he added with peculiar
emphasis, " I am more indebted to him for my first
start in life than to any other man in America."
This is but one of the many encomiums that have
been voluntarily given ; but recently ex-Governor
Saunders, of Nebraska, wrote to Mr. Howe's son :
" It is to the kindness of your father that I am
indebted for much of my success in life. . It

was that word on his part, or the success that grew
out of it, that laid the foundation of my public life.'

While teaching at Lancaster, Ohio, Mr. Howe
published a treatise on grammar, entitled, " Howe's
Philotaxian Grammar." This manual was reprinted
in Chicago in 187 1, and again in Detroit in 1874.
Its merits have commended it to educators, and it
is now widely adopted in the schools throughout the

Mr. Howe was superintendent of the schools of
Henry county for several terms, and resigned that
office a few weeks prior to his death.

His life, however, was not wholly devoted to edu-
cational interests ; every worthy cause found in him
an ardent support. When the wrongs of the Negro
called for redress, his ear heard the cry, and he
directed his powers toward the relief of the wronged. ■
In 1849 the first anti-slavery paper in Iowa was
established. It was called the " Iowa Freeman,"
edited by David Kelsey, and published by G. L.

Identifying himself with this paper, Mr Howe
soon acquired exclusive control of it, and removing
the office to his own building, changed the name to
" Iowa True Democrat," and for several years issued
it as an anti-slavery sheet. The work of publish-
ing the paper combined with his school rendered
his duties burdensome, but he had a great capacity
for work, and midnight often found him busy at the

desk or the case. His pupils, too, assisted him in
setting type and in printing off the sheet, so that
the paper came out at the appointed time filled with
stirring arguments in favor of freedom to the slaves.

His advocacy of so unpopular a cause brought
down upon him bitter hatred and persecutions, and
at one time he was pursued by an excited mob,
who poured upon him the fiercest revilings, and
ended up by pelting him with rotten eggs. Reach-
ing a place of shelter, he quietly took off his cap
and shook the egg-shells from his hair, with a
mute smile of derision at the outrage, which alone

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 33 of 125)