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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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The plan was to secure for the line west of Cedar
Rapids a land grant of about one million acres, then
claimed by the Iowa Central Air Line Railroad
Company, which had failed to comply with the con-
ditions of the grant. Mr. Walker started westward
with fifteen dollars in his pocket, all he could raise,
to hold meetings, present this project to the people,
and secure the appointment of delegates to a con-
vention, which was held in Cedar Rapids the fol-
lowing July. At that time the Cedar Rapids and
Missouri River Railway Company was organized,
and Mr. Walker was appointed its secretary. In
December of that year he went to Des Moines to
aid in securing the necessary legislation for the
transfer of the land grant. The contest was severe,
and is memorable in the history of Iowa legislation
in behalf of railroads. Mr. Walker went to the
seat of war, expecting to be absent about three
weeks ; he was gone just three months. His com-
pany won, and in May, i860, he was appointed its .
chief engineer. That position he held until the
road, two hundred and seventy-one miles long, was
completed to Council Bluffs, in February, 1867. The
last one hundred and fifty miles were built in about
ten months, in order to give the Union Pacific rail-



way an eastern connection. During the year 1866
Mr. Walker had more than six thousand men sent
to the work from Chicago alone. The road was a
splendid piece of engineering in a double sense.
For a number of years, up to 1871, he was vice-
president, chief engineer, secretary and assistant
treasurer and land commissioner of that company
at the same time. During the years 1867 to 1869
he aided in building the Sioux City and Pacific rail-
way from Sioux City to Fremont, Nebraska, a dis-
tance of one hundred and fifty miles, and was chief
engineer, vice-president, general superintendent, sec-
retary and assistant treasurer for about five years.
From 1B69 to 1871 he was chief engineer of the
Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railway Company, and
built that line between those points, a distance of
one hundred and eighty-four miles. The road is
now a part of the Iowa line of the Illinois Central
road. During the same time Mr. Walker also built
the Fremont and Elkhorn Valley railway, fifty miles
long, in Nebraska, he acting as chief engineer of the

In 1872 he dissolved his connection with these
several corporations, and spent most of his time for
eighteen or twenty months in Brooklyn, New York,
where his children were attending school. During
the year 1874 and part of 1875 he was chief engi-
neer and general superintendent of the Burlington,
Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railway Company.

Though long and largely identified with railroads,
Mr. Walker has devoted some time to other impor-
tant enterprises. In 1864 .he was one of the organ-
izers of the First National Bank of Cedar Rapids,
and was its president for seven years. He is now
president of the Cedar Rapids Water Company, and
of the Cedar Rapids Building and Loan Association.
His heart is thoroughly enlisted in every enterprise
which will advance the interests of Cedar Rapids or
the great northwest.

Mr. Walker was educated a Presbyterian, and sees
no reason why he should change his religious senti-

He is a strong republican, and has gone two hun-
dred and fifty miles simply to vote, returning by the
next train.

On the 15th of October, 1857, he married' Miss
Mary A. Hitchcock, of Homer, New York. She
had three children, and two are living; she died in
April, 1862. On the 7 th of September, 1864, he
married Miss Laura Weare, daughter of John Weare,
of Cedar Rapids.

Although in making his frontier surveys years ago
Mr. Walker had much experience in roughing it, he
has retained all his early polish both of manners
and mind, and his fine culture and good conversa-
tional powers make him a very agreeable member
of society. His mind is fertile in projects, always
feasible for the good of the public.



THE subject of this brief memoir is of New-
England ancestry, both parents being natives
of Connecticut. He inherited the best traits of the
New-England character, and early laid the founda-
tion of an eminently useful life on the solid virtues,
industry, integrity and perseverance, in an upward

John Gates House was born at Cazenovia, New
York, on the 2Sth of April, 18 16. His father was
John House; his mother, Sally Fuller House. The
former died near Independence two years ago, in his
ninety-first year, always having lived a temperate
and for many of his later years a strictly christian
life. In 1824 he moved with his family to a farm
near Springville, Erie county, New York, and the
son remained at home until he was sixteen, attend-

ing school part of the time each year, but having
in those early days only very ordinary school advan-
tages. About 1833 he entered Springville Academy,
an excellent institution, which elevated the moral as
well as literary tone of Springville society. Spend-
ing nearly four years at that academy. Dr. House
gratified, to a liberal extent, his strong love of

At the age of twenty-one years he commenced
the study of medicine with Dr. Carlos Emmons, of
Springville, and spent one year in his office. He
then studied two years with Dr. Austin Flint, the
eminent medical author, then residing in Buffalo.
He attended one course of lectures at Jefferson
Medical College, Philadelphia, and another at Co-
lumbian College, Washington, District of Columbia,



whence he graduated in 1841. He practiced medi-
cine about eighteen years in Clarence, Springville and
Buffalo, all in Erie county. Directly after leaving
Springville, and before going to Buffalo, he passed
eighteen months in St. Louis, Missouri, for the ben-
efit of his family, not intending to settle there.

On the ist of May, 1861, Dr. House removed to
Independence, Iowa, where he has followed his pro-
fession with great diligence, building up in northern
Iowa, as in western New York, an enviable reputa-
tion as a medical practitioner and an honorable citi-
zen. Some men excel in the practice of medicine,
others in surgery; Dr. House excels in both. His
rides are very extensive, — too extensive for a man
who has seen his sixtieth winter, — but the people
of Buchanan county are reluctant to relinquish his
valuable services.

Dr. House is a member of the Iowa Medical
Society, and presided at its meeting in 1875. He
was offered the presidency of the society for the
next year, but declined to accept it. He has been
a trustee of the Hospital for the Insane at Inde-
pendence, and secretary of the board since 1872, and
at times has rendered valuable services in this con-
nection as medical adviser. He has been examining
surgeon for pensions since 1863.

Dr. House has been a member of the Baptist
church nearly forty years.

On the 6th of July, 1841, he was married to Miss
Julia A. Pratt, of Buffalo, New York, a daughter of
Pascal Pratt, an early settler in that city ; she died
in 1863, leaving four children, two of them now liv-
ing. In November, 1864, he married Miss Rachel C.
Freeman, of Independence ; has one child by her.



AMONG a number of citizens of Cedar Rapids,
. whose efforts in the interest of the city have
left a deep impress, is Dr. John Fellows Ely. He
has been a resident of the place nearly thirty years,
and during that time no plan for its improvement
has failed to enlist his warm support.

Dr. Ely was born in Rochester, New York, on
the 25th of June, 182 1, his parents being Elisha
and Hannah Dickinson Ely. His grandfather and
other ancestral relatives shared in the perils of the
first war with England. The mother of young Ely
died of cholera in 1832, and he was sent to a rela-
tive at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He had been
kept at school from an early age, and having been
fitted for college, though only eleven years of age,
he never entered. After residing in Massachusetts
three years, he accompanied his father to Allegan,
Michigan, spending four or five years there in study
and manual labor.

In 1841 he returned to Rochester, and devoted
two years or more to studies under Professor
Dewey, mainly the physical sciences. Returning
to Michigan he commenced the study of medicine
with Dr. L. B. Coates, of Allegan; went to New
York city, and continued his studies for three years
with Dr. Willard Parker; attended lectures at the
College of Physicians and Surgeons, and graduated
in the spring of 1848.

In October of the same year we find Dr. Ely at
Cedar Rapids, where his brother, A. L. Ely, had
recently died. The young town was full of promise
because of its excellent water privileges, and was
gradually being reinforced with men of unusual en-
terprise. Dr. Ely opened a medical office, but from
the start paid some attention to milling, real estate
and the development of the water-power. He con-
tinued the general practice of medicine for five or
six years, and after that period did little more than
consultation practice.

The real-estate business he made a specialty for
several years, being successful in his operations,
and continuing them until the south rebelled
against the Union.

In 1862 Dr. Ely was appointed surgeon of the
24th regiment Iowa Infantry; served until June,
1863, and then resigned on account of disability.
Much of the time while in the service he was med-
ical director of the divisions under Generals C. B.
Fisk and A. P. Hovey, and his excellent medical
skill, his cool judgment and great executive abili-
ties were called into requisition, and with deep
regret General Hovey signed his papers of dis-

Dr. Ely has never fully recovered from the effects
of his military service. Of late years he has spent
more or less time in travels. When at home he



gives his time largely to the furtherance of local
enterprises. His magnetic influence has been felt
by every railroad which has found its way into
Cedar Rapids. Religious and educational interests
have always found in him a true friend. He has
freely given time and money to aid in founding and
building up literary institutions.

Dr. Ely is a Presbyterian, and has been an elder
in the first church of the city for many years. He
is a liberal contributor, not only to religious enter-

prises, but to many other benevolent and charitable

Dr. Ely was a warm friend and ardent admirer of
Stephen A. Douglas, and a democrat until 1861,
since then he has voted with the republican party.

In January, 1853, he was united in marriage with
Mrs. Mary A. Ely, of Cedar Rapids. They have
had three children ; two are living. Mrs. Ely is a
woman of noble impulses, an inspiration to her hus-
band in every line of duty.

S. p. POND,


SP. POND was born at Wrentham, Massachu-
• setts, on the i6th of March, 1830, his parents
being A. A. and Henrietta (Cobb) Pond. His father
was a farmer, and the son's opportunities for educa-
tion were limited to the common schools of the
state, which he attended only during the winters, his
summers being devoted to assisting his father on
the farm. At the age of twenty years he removed to
Troy, New York, where he engaged in the grocery
business, which he continued very successfully for
about three years, when he sold out his stock and
went to Detroit, Michigan. Here he opened a hotel
known as the Garrison House, which at that time
was one of the best and most popular houses in the
place. He remained in the business in Detroit
until 1857, when he removed to Keokuk, Iowa, and
again engaged in the grocery trade, but only con-
ducted it for one year, when he commenced the
business in which he now remains, and in which he
has met with such marked success. Few people are
aware that Keokuk is one of the largest depots for

the shipment of eggs in the United States, and that
its preeminence in this respect has been gained
almost entirely through the business sagacity and
untiring energy of Mr. Pond. When he commenced
this business in 1858 he did all his own packing and
shipping; now he employs fifty men in his estab-
lishment in Keokuk ;• has branch houses at both
Burlington, Iowa, 'and Quincy, Illinois, and eggs
packed in his establishments always bring from one
to two cents per dozen more than other brands.
His present yearly shipments are about six hundred
car loads, each car load being ten thousand dozens,
in all about six million dozens per year.

Mr. Pond is an active member of the Baptist
church, having been connected with it for a number
of years.

He is a republican in politics, and has served as
alderman for four years. He is also a director in
the Keokuk National Bank.

He was married on the 22d of October, 1853, to
Miss Lydia A. Rickards, of Troy, New York.


AMONG the best business men and successful
bankers of eastern Iowa is Lewis Brigham
Dunham, a native of Connecticut. He was born
on the 6th of October, 181 2, his parents being Lewis
Dunham, merchant, and Mary Brigham. His ma-
ternal grandfather was in the revolutionary army.
The Dunhams were from England, and the Brig-
hams from Massachusetts, Lewis spent his earlier


years in procuring an education, preparing for col-
lege at Monson, Massachusetts, under the instruc-
tion of Rev. Simeon Colton ; was graduated from
Union College in 1829. He read law at Utica,
New York, with Judge Beardsley; traveled through
most of the states of the Union and Canada, and
was admitted to the bar in Brookfield, Jefferson
county, Pennsylvania, in 1836.



Mr. Dunham practiced at Brookfield, the county
seat, twelve years, and during four years of that
time, when David R. Porter was in the gubernatorial
chair, was deputy state's attorney. In 1845 he came
as far west as Rock Island, Illinois, and spent two
years in prospecting. Returning to Pennsylvania,
he practiced in Jefferson county until the spring of
1856, when he returned to the west, this time cross-
ing the Mississippi river and settling at Maquoketa,
Iowa. Here, in company with O. Von Schrader,
■ he started a private bank, which was subsequently
merged into the State Bank of Iowa, and still later
into the First National Bank of Maquoketa.

In 1872 Mr. Dunham sold his interest in this in-
stitution, and started a bank of his own, the Ex-
change Bank of Maquoketa, of which he is vice-
president, D. M. Habbell president, and his son, L.
H. Dunham, cashier. It is a prosperous institution.

While a resident of Pennsylvania in 1842 and
1843 Mr. Dunham was a member of the state legis-
lature, representing Jefferson, Warren and McKean
counties. He was in the senate of Iowa in the ses-
sions of 1868 and 1870, he being on the committees
on banking and constitutional amendments. He is

a thoroughly practical business man, and his mature
judgment and solid common sense made him a highly
serviceable member of the Iowa general assembly.

Mr. Dunham was reared in the Jeffersonian school
of politics ; was a Jackson boy and a Van Buren
man, casting his first presidential vote in 1836, and
never voting any but the democratic ticket.

He has a third wife: was first married in 1831 to
Miss Mary Stewart, of Hartford, Connecticut, she
dying in 1842. His second wife was Miss Techla
Von Schrader, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania; married
in 1844, and died in 1846. His present wife was
Miss Mary B. Sloane, of Wooster, Ohio ; they were
married in 1856. Mr. Dunham has two sons now
living, both by his first wife, both married and both
first-class business men. Frederic Stewart, the elder,
is a merchant in Monticello, Iowa, and Lewis Hamil-
ton, as has already been intimated, is a banker.

Mr. Dunham has been a ge-nerous encourager of
the railroads which connect Maquoketa with the
metropolitan cities of the northwest ; lends a prompt
and liberal hand in local enterprises generally, and
takes great pride in the growth and prosperity of his
adopted home.



TAMES C. PARROTT, a native of Easton, Talbot
■J county, Maryland, was born on the 21st of May,

181 1, and is the fifth child of Thomas Parrott and
Elizabeth nee Corner. His father was a commis-
sioned officer under General Perry Benson during
the war of 181 2.

James attended the public schools of his native
place till he was twelve years of age, and then
pursued a course of study in Easton Academy. His
fondness for study developed at an early age, and
he always took the highest stand in his classes. He
left school i.i his fourteenth year, and served an
apprenticeship, learning the mercantile business, and
at its expiration accepted a clerkship in the well-
known shipping and commission house of James
Corner and Sons, of Baltimore, where he remained
till he attained his twentieth year. Having resolved
to remove to the west, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio,
in the fall of 1831, but finding navigation closed,
returned to Wheeling, Virginia, and spent a short
time with an uncle. Soon after he enlisted as a

private in the ist regiment of United States Dra-
goons ; was afterward made first sergeant, and in
this capacity served during three years, declining
several offers of commissions. His time of service
was spent mostly on the frontier under Colonel
Dodge and Stephen W. Keaney, afterward governor
of Wisconsin. At the close of his term of enlistment,
in the spring of 1837, he formed a partnership
with Captain Jessie B. Brown, and engaged in the
mercantile trade at Fort Madison, Iowa, then a
promising town of one hundred and fifty inhabitants.
He conducted a successful business there for six-
teen years, and during that time served as county
treasurer, and also as mayor of the city. In 1853
he removed to Keokuk, and engaged in business
with the large firm of Wolcott and Co., and after
two years formed a partnership with Arthur Wolcott,
under the firm name of J. C. Parrott and Co. The
financial crisis that swept over the country in 1857
caused them to suspend payment, but having native
energy and a determination to succeed, Mr. Parrott



bravely met liis misfortune, and in 1859 was again
doing a successful dry-goods business. At the
opening of the war, under a commission from Gover-
nor Kirkwood, he raised a company of volunteers
for the 7th regiment Iowa Infantry, and entered
the service. In November of that year he was pro-
moted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of his. regi-
ment. At the battle of Belmont he was severely
wounded, and while in the hospital at Cairo received
the following special order :

Headquaktees Dist. S. E. Mo.

Cairo, November 9, 1861.
Special Order No. — -. Leave of absence is hereby
granted Capt. J. C. Parrott, 7th Iowa Volunteers, to repair
to his hontie until he has recovered from severe wounds
received whilst gallantly leading his company in the engage-
ment of the 7th at Belmont, Mo. °
U. S. Grant, Brig.-Gen. Com.

He recovered to participate in all of the noted
battles of the army of the Tennessee, including
Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Resaca, Shiloh and
Corinth ; and although again severely wounded, he
joined in General Sherman's " March to the Sea,"
and only after the grand review of the troops in
Washington, at the close of the war, returning to
his home rejoiced, in the face of all his hardships
and trials, that it had been his lot to engage in the
struggle for freedom and equal rights. In honor of
his gallant service, by a special act of congress

Colonel Parrott was promoted to the rank of brig-

In early life he was a whig in his political views,
but has been identified with the republican party
since its organization.

Aside from his active business relations. General
Parrott has been honored with many positions of
public trust. In 1867 he was appointed postmaster
by President Johnson, a position which he still (1876)
holds. He was also at one time division commander
of the Grand Army of the Republic.

He was married on the 4th of September, 1838,
to Miss Henrietta Buchhalter, of Fort Madison, to
whom much of his success is due, .she being a lady
of fine native endowments, a devoted wife and fond
mother. They have three sons and two daughters,'
the eldest son being now a successful business man
of Varner, Ark.

During his entire career General Parrott has been
marked as a man of broad views, firm adherence
to avowed principles, quick perception and sound
judgment, which combined with his excellent busi-
ness tact has given to him an influence and success
well worthy of emulation. Generous and genial,
prompt and energetic, possessed of a commanding
presence and dignified bearing, he has endeared
himself to a host of warm friends.



SMITH GREEN BLYTHE, son of Rev. Joseph
W. and Ellen- H. (Green) Blythe, was born in
Middlesex county. New Jersey, on the 6th of No-
vember, 1841. His father was a Presbyterian min-
ister, and was a chaplain in the general hospitals
at Jeffersonville and Madison, Indiana, during the
late civil war. His mother was a sister of ex-
Chancellor Green, of New Jersey, whose grand-
father served in the revolutionary army. His pa-
ternal grandfather, like his father, was a Presby-
terian clergyman, and one of the pioneer ministers
in Kentucky.

The subject of this sketch was educated at Lafay-
ette College, Easton, Northampton county, Pennsyl-
vania, graduating in i860. He read medicine in New
Jersey, and attended a course of lectures at Jefferson
College, Philadelphia ; he was intending to pursue
his medical studies without intermission, but, the

civil war breaking out, he threw aside his med-
ical books and enlisted as a private in the ist New
Jersey regiment of Volunteers. He was appointed
commissary sergeant before the regiment left the
state, and in 1862 he was promoted to second lieu-
tenant, then to first lieutenant in November of that
year, and to captain during the same month. His
regiment was in the army of th-e Potomac, and
Captain Blythe was with the army from the first Bull
Run battle to the battle of the Wilderness, in which
he received a severe wound in the thigh, his fourth
wound in the service. On the 23d of June, 1864,
he was mustered out on account of disability from
this wound ; went to Hopewell, Indiana, to which
state his father had moved, and there taught a clas-
sical school, resuming his medical studies at the same
time. He attended lectures at the Ohio Medical
College, Cincinnati, in "the winter of 1866-67. In

-^S'hj R.I)u,i5USIIlS,TJ^-

2 74


able for his fine physical framework, and for his
vigor of intellect even to old age; up to the time of
his last Illness he had enjoyed remarkable immunity
from sickness. A citizen of Muscatine for almost
forty years, his cheei-y disposition and hearty greet-
ing rendered him as popular as his person was well
known. He was a consistent member of the Bap-
tist church ; beloved as a father, venerated as a
patriarch, and esteemed as a citizen and neighbor.

His estimable wife, who preceded him to the
hither shore some eleven months, was born on the
3d of May, 1795, in Madison county, Kentucky, of
Scotch-Irish parents, and was a near relative of
Colonel Anderson, of Washington's staff, and of
General Anderson, of Fort Sumter celebrity. She
was married on the 7th of February, 1814, and was
the mother of five sons and three daughters. In
early life she gave her heart to God, and was bap-
tized into the communion of the Baptist church,
and her whole after life was a beautiful illustration
of the faith which she professed. She was a
" mother in Israel " in the fullest sense of the term,
universally esteemed, and the friend of all who
knew her. She died on the 4th of January, 1874.
Four generations, numbering over fifty relatives,
comprising all of her descendants save five grand-
children, were present at her funeral. How much
they owe to God for such a mother! Faithful and
true in every relation of life, her holy example is a
legacy of priceless value to them.


Having devoted so much space to the parents, we
will now take up the history of the sons, "The
Chambers Brothers," as they are popularly termed,
who have perhaps contributed more to the material

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 40 of 125)