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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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own characteristics. He has recently identified him-
self with the manufacturing interests of Dubuque,
by establishing in that city a plow factory in which
he owns an important interest, and to which he is
now giving his chief personal attention.

Mr. Chamberlain has quite a taste for inventing,
arid has taken out several patents. He has deemed
it wise to restain in a measure the propensity in this
direction, usually devoting his skill only to the
modifying and improving of articles connected with
his trade. One article of his manufacture has be-
come a household word, and is sold literally from
ocean to ocean, and even in foreign countries.

Mr. Chamberlain was united in marriage with
Miss Harriet A. Palmer, a native of Utica, New

York, on the 27th of August, 1857. Her father
was one of the early citizens and leading business
men of that city. She has four children living, and
has lost one child. Mrs. Chamberlain possesses
many eminent social qualities, and is known among
her acquaintances as a woman of rare attainments,
and as a faithful wife and mother.

Mr. Chamberlain has taken great interest in the
progress of the state and city, and was one of the
foremost men in several important local enterprises.
The present very efficient board of trade was sug-
gested by him, and of which he is an officer and an
energetic and influential member.

Mr. Chamberlain is one of the most active mem-
bers of the Congregational church, and has been
superintendent of its Sunday school for thirteen
years. He is intimately associated with the relig-
ious enterprises of the state, and a cordial, untiring
worker in them. He has lived a faithful life accord-
ing to his idea of man's mission, and while energeti-
cally carrying on a business endless in its details and
exacting in its requirements, he has paid much atten-
tion to'mental culture, and has never lost sight of the
interests of his country and of his fellow-men.



THE subject of this sketch, a native of Fair- \
field county, Connecticut, was born on the 9th
of June, 1822, the son of Abel Reynolds and Anna
nh Mead.

He is descended from a sturdy, vigorous and
long-lived family of Scotch origin ; his grandfather,
Timothy Reynolds, was a native Scotchman, and at
an early age became a soldier in the British army.

Being ordered to America, he took an active part
in the French and Indian wars, and being captured
by the Indians, was kept a prisoner for three years.
Upon gaining his freedom he settled in Fairfield
county, Connecticut. Here Abel Reynolds, the
father of our subject, was born. He was married in
the year 1800, and was a prominent man in his
community, and three times elected to the general
assembly of Connecticut.

James H. is the youngest of a family of six sons
and six daughters, all of whom lived to be over fifty
years of age.

He received a fair education in the public schools

of his native place, but by reason of ill health was
prevented from fitting himself for a profession, as his
parents had intended.

Going to New York city in 1843, he entered the
wholesale flour house of Herrick Brothers, and for
several years continued there, acting in the capacity
of shipping clerk. By the practice of industry and
economy, to which he had been trained in his early
life, he accumulated a small capital, and in 1853,
forming a copartnership with Mr. T. L. Wing, opened
and conducted an extensive flour and feed establish-
ment in the upper part of New York.

Three years later he removed to the west and
settled at Fort Madison, Iowa, intending to turn his
attention to farming. His plans, however, were
changed; being off"ered the position of deputy war-
den in the Iowa State Penitentiary, he accepted the
same, and proved himself so peculiarly fitted for
that position that he has been continuously reap-
pointed, and has acted as deputy under four diff'er-
ent wardens. He resigned in 1869, but was reap-



pointed by S. H. Craig in 1872, and retains that
position at the present time (1877). During the
seventeen years in which he has filled this office
he has performed his duties in a manner most
creditable and satisfactory; and it is but due to him
to say that as a criminal officer he has no superior.

Mr. Reynolds has always been interested in educa-
tional matters, and as a member of the school board
of Fort Madison, has labored earnestly and zeal-
ously in the interests of the public schools.

In politics, he was formerly a whig, and cast his
first ballot for Henry Clay in 1844. After the or-
ganization of the republican party he became iden-
tified with it, and although not a politician, he has
firmly supported its principles.

Mr. Reynolds has taken a prominent stand as
an Odd-Fellow, having been a member of that or-

der for a period of more than thirty years, and has
been honored with many offices by the craft.

He was at one time noble-grand of Continental
Lodge, New York, and has several times filled that
office in Empire and Fort Madison Lodges. He
is now an active member of the encampment, and
a member of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

In his religious views, he inclines strongly toward
the belief of the Universalists, though he has never
been identified with any religious organization.

He is a man of great energy and pleasing address,
and is gifted with rare social qualities ; upright and
fair in his dealing, he enjo5's universal confidence.

He was married on the 20th of April, 1848, to Miss
Catharine T. Bates, a lady of fine talents and ac-
complishments. Of the nine children who have
been born to them, six daughters are now living.



postmaster at Fayette, is a native of New Jer-
sey, and was born in Morris county, on the isth of
December, 1817, his parents being David and Con-
tent (Wilkinson) Scobey. During the war of 18 12
his father was an officer in the Troy ''Invincibles."
He died when Zephaniah was nine years old, and
the orphan son lived with an uncle until he was of
age, with but limited opportunities for education.
He had, however, a strong desire for knowledge,
especially after he was eighteen, at which time he
was converted at a camp meeting. From twenty-
one to twenty-seven years of age he taught just
enough to supply him with the means for attending
school, going, most of the time, to the Amenia Sem-
inary, Dutchess county. New York, and devoting the
last year to especial preparation for the ministry.
Prior to this he had paid considerable attention to
" the classics."

In 1845 he entered the New York conference of
the Methodist Episcopal church, and preached reg-
ularly for ten years, his appointments being West
Point, Glenham, Durham, and one or two other
places in New York, and Falls Village, Connecticut.
He was a zealous advocate of his Master's cause, and
perhaps too earnestly, for, at the end of this period,
he had to leave the circuit on account of the heart
disease, with which he has been troubled since 1855.

He still holds his connection with the New York
conference. He taught school more or less until
1859, when he immigrated to Iowa, settling on a
farm near Sand Spring, Delaware county, hoping to
improve his health.

In i860 Mr. Scobey was elected a member of the
board of supervisors, and was made its chairman,
and the next year was elected treasurer and recorder
of the county. This office he held four years, and
at the expiration of that time he was appointed
assistant state agent of the American Bible Society,
his field being thirty-five counties in the northwest-
ern and least settled part of Iowa. His was largely
frontier and truly hard work, but he loved it and
prosecuted it faithfully, though the labors were some-
what trying on his constitution. At the close of this
agency, in 1869, he became the financial agent of
the Upper Iowa University, located at Fayette, con-
tinuing to hold this position for three years, and
doing good service. For nine years he was a trus-
tee of this institution.

During the four years that Mr. Scobey was treas-
urer and recorder of Delaware county he read law,
continuing his studies at intervals subsequently. In
1870 he was admitted to the bar, and has since had
quite an extensive practice, mainly in cases of real-
estate tax titles, in which he has been quite success-
ful. He assumed the duties of postmaster on the



nth of January, 1873, and is prompt and careful
in this, as he has been in every other office which he
has accepted.

Prior to the organization of the repubhcan party
he was a whig, always holding his political, as he
did his religious principles, with a strong conviction
of their rectitude. Sincerity and candor mark his
whole career.

On the roth of May, 1848, he married Miss
Eleanor E. Anderson, of Glenham, New York, a
most estimable woman, who died on the 19th of
January, 1875. On her tomb-stone, placed there
by order of her bereaved husband, is the truthful
inscription : " Most loved where best known." She
had five children, all of whom survive her. Three
of them are graduates of the Upper Iowa Univer-

sity. The eldest daughter, Sarah B., is the wife of
Mr. A. J. Duncan, a real-estate agent, in Fayette;
the eldest son, George P., is a merchant here; the
second son, John O'Brien, is editor of the Adams
county "Union," Corning, Iowa; the third, Charles
R. A., is route agent on the Davenport and North-
western railroad; and Carrie, the youngest child, a
faithful daughter, is living at home, assuming the
household duties of her departed mother.

Considering the state of his health during the last
twenty years or more, the amount of work which
Mr. Scobey has done is astonishing. Idleness is no
part of his composition. He likes the old adage :
"Better to wear out than to rust. out," and is never
more happy than when at work in the plain line of



THE subject of this biography, a native of
Haddonfield, New Jersey, was born on the
20th of November, 1824, the son of D. C. Eldridge
and Rachael nde Brown. His great-grandfather was
a native of Edinburgh, Scotland. His great-grand-
mother, a Quaker preacher, was born in Haddon-
field, New Jersey, of which place his grandmother
also was a native. His grandfather, Josiah Eldridge,
was born at Woodbury, New Jersey, in 1777, and
there also his father was born in 1801. His father's
family consisted of four children by his first wife,
all of whom, except our subject, together with the
mother, died before he was four years old. After
the death of his mother Jacob was taken to live with
his grandfather, Daniel Brown, who had been a sol-
dier in the revolutionary war. and his father went to
Cincinnati, Ohio, where he married a second wife.
His grandfather dying when he was thirteen years
old, he soon afterward began life for himself by
driving a team for six dollars per month. He fol-
lowed this vocation during nine months of the year,
and during the remaining three months attended
school. At the age of seventeen he purchased a
team of his own, and continued teaming about two
years. He was next engaged in clerking in a store,
which he soon afterward purchased, and conducted
a successful trade until he attained his twenty-first
year, when he sold out and removed to the west.
At that time there were very few railroads, and

after a long, tedious and somewhat perilous journey
by stage he arrived safely in Davenport, Iowa, on
the 23d of December, 1846. There were then about
six hundred inhabitants in the town, and with that
foresight which has characterized all his dealings,
Mr. Eldridge decided to make it his home. Accord-
ingly he entered a tract of land three miles north-
east from the town, upon which he lived until 1868,
when he moved into the city. In 187 1 he sold his
farm for one hundred and twenty-five dollars per
acre, being one dollar for every cent of the original
cost of the land. Having a natural propensity for
trading, Mr. Eldridge, about 1853, established a
land agency, and since that time has been actively
and extensively engaged in real-estate operations,
probably having been the largest dealer in the state.
In 187 1 he was elected president of the board of
real-estate agents, and during that and the following
year handled over one hundred thousand acres of
land for himself and others.

Mr. Eldridge is a man of much public spirit, and
at the building of the Davenport and St. Paul rail-
road he purchased the Quinn farm, at the juncture
of the Maquoketa branch and the main road, and
laid out a town, naming it Eldridge. He at once
had a post-office established there, and during the
first year himself built twenty dwellings. The shops
of the road were located there, and from the first
the town has been a growing and thriving place.



Mr. Eldridge has taken an active part in tem-
perance movements. He was one of the charter
members of Scott Division, No i, Sons of Temper-
ance, established in October, 1847. He joined the
division in the following November, and has never
severed his connection or broken his pledge, and
is now the oldest member of the Sons of Temper-
ance except Hon. Hiram Price in the State of Iowa.
He was a delegate to the National Division which
met at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, in 1876.

In January, 1846, he united with the Christian
church, of Davenport, Iowa, and since that time has
continued a worthy member of the same.

In political sentiments, Mr. Eldridge is a repub-
lican. He voted for General Cass in 1848 for the
presidency, and in 1855 was a delegate to the con-
vention which met at Iowa City to organize the
republican party. He is not, however, a politician,
and seldom takes any part more than to perform his

duties as a citizen. In 1872 he was a delegate to
the Cincinnati convention that nominated Horace
Greeley for the presidency.

Mr. Eldridge has been twice married : first, in
1848, to Miss Mary L. Woodward, who lived only
eighteen months thereafter. His second marriage
was in June, 1851, to Mary H. Williams. They
have had eight children, six of whom are living and
two married.

A leading characteristic of Mr. Eldridge has
always been his propensity for trading. He has
been known to go into a store, and in less than ten
minutes trade the proprietor out of his entire stock.
He is a man of wonderful self-control, and by his
frankness, cordiality and fair dealing has made him-
self universally esteemed and respected. He lives
now in the enjoyment of a liberal competency, sur-
rounded by the comforts of a happy home, and well
deserves a place among Iowa's self-made men.



THE oldest journalist in Jackson county, Iowa,
is. William Christian Swigart, who has been for
twenty-three years the conductor of the Maquoketa
"Sentinel." He is a son of George Swigart, an
Ohio farmer, and Mary Gantz, both parents being
of German descent, and was born at Newark, Lick-
ing county, Ohio, on the 12th of December, 1824.
William spent most of his early years in educational
pursuits, supplementing common-school privileges
with two or three years' discipline at Granxille,
graduating from the academic department of Gran-
ville College, now Dennison University, in 1844.
On leaving that institution, he spent a bttle more
than a year in a store at Sandusky City, and then
made up his mind to be a journalist. Returning to
Newark, he entered the office of B. Briggs, publisher
of the Newark "Advocate,"' a democratic paper, and
began as a solicitor, after a short time writing more
or less for the paper. Thence, about 1852, he re-
paired to Bucyrus, in the same state, and assisted in
editing the "Forum" until 1854, in April of which
year he removed to Maquoketa, Iowa, where he is
still found. A younger brother, Stephen H., a prac-
tical printer, came with him, aided him in starting
the "Sentinel," and remained with him until his
demise in 1856. From that time Mr. Swigart was

alone in the publication of the paper until 1872,
when James T. Sargent became his partner, the firm
now being Swigart and Sargent. At first it was a
seven-column folio, assuming the quarto, its present
form, in 4872. It is the official paper of the city
and county, the organ of the democratic party, and
is a neat looking, well conducted sheet.

Mr. Swigart was postmaster at Maquoketa six
years during the administrations of Franklin Pierce
and James Buchanan. He has always advocated
the tenets of the democratic party, and is one of its
leaders in Jackson county.

He was married on the 6th of November, 1849, to
Miss Martha P. Gage, of Findley, Ohio, and they
have had nine children, two of whom they have
lost. The eldest sons, Philemon 1). and Josiah, are
married. The former is the publisher of the Wyo-
ming, Jones county, "Journal," the latter is foreman
in the " Sentinel " office.

Mr. Swigart is a shrewtl and sharp writer; attends
faithfully to his editorial duties, and makes a first-
class country newspaper. He has spent thirty years
in the editorial chair, and knows what will please
the public.

Physically, he is about the average height, arid
weighs two hundred and thirty pounds, His com-



plexion is dark, inclining to ruddy ; he has a robust,
healthy appearance ; is social and pleasant, a good
converser, and a perfect gentleman.

It may not be out of place to here state that his
present partner, Mr. Sargent, is an old Iowa printer.
He learned the trade in Greensburg, Pennsylvania,
and came to Iowa in 1856, taking the place of
Stephen H. Swigart, who died in that year. In 1859

Mr. Sargent went to Iowa county, started the Iowa
Valley " Democrat," and conducted it until the
rebelHon broke out. In 1862 he went into the army
as first lieutenant of a company in the 28th Infantry ;
served two years, and returned to Iowa. He has
been a printer twenty-five years, and is at the head
of the mechanical department of a fine office. He
has a wife and one child.



THE subject of this sketch is an illustrious ex-
ample of that class of men who, by the em-
ployment of brain and energy, have risen from
obscurity to a high and honored position. He was
born at Cedarville, Cumberland county, New Jersey,
on the 15th of January, 1817, and is the son of
Josiah and Lydia (Harris) Parvin, and is of Scotch-
Irish descent. His father participated in the war of
1812, and is still (1876) living at the home of his
son, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. His
mother died in 1875, aged seventy-five. She was a
lifelong member of the Presbyterian church, of
which her father was an elder. Owing to his lame-
ness (caused by an attack of rheumatism when five
years of age), Theodore was in boyhood thrown
much in his mother's society, and to the earnest
counsels and examples of that christian woman he
owes much.

In 1829 his father removed to Cincinnati, where
he spent two years in the public schools, and took a
full classical course in the Woodward and Cincinnati
colleges. After graduating he entered the law school
at Cincinnati, and graduated from it in 1837. He
read law in the office of Judges John C. Wright, of
the supreme bench, and Timothy Walker, of the city
courts, the latter of whom was chairman of the
board of examiners of the senior class at college,
and who induced him to study for the legal profes-
sion. After graduating from the law school he trav-
eled extensively through the east during 1837, visit-
ing the public schools and studying the system of
the eastern states, being sent by Samuel Lewis,
president of the board of trustees of Woodward
College, who had just been elected superintendent
of public schools of Ohio. Upon returning, wrote
in Mr. Lewis' office and assisted him in editing the
"Common School Journal," started by him to facil-

itate the introduction of a new organization of the
school system in Ohio.

Early in the summer of 1838 he was appointed by
Robert Lucas (former governor of Ohio, " and who
had just been appointed governor of the new Terri-
tory of Iowa,") his private secretary, and accom-
panied him to Iowa, arriving at Burlington on the
15th of August, 1838. In the following year he
removed to Bloomington (now Muscatine) and en-
gaged in the practice of his profession, and resided
there until the fall of i860, when he removed to
Iowa City and engaged in teaching, as professor of
natural science, in the State University. In 1870
he retired and devoted all his time to the secretarial
duties of the Grand Lodge of Iowa of Free and
Accepted Masons, editing and pubHshing its "An-
nals," of which six octavo volumes have been issued.
In April, 1839, ^^ "^^^ appointed by Governor Lucas
first territorial librarian, which he resigned to accept
the appointment of prosecuting attorney for the
second of the three districts of the territory. In
1 84 1 he was elected judge of the probate court of
Muscatine county, and reelected (save one year) till
the close of the territorial government in 1846. Dur-
ing that year, upon the adoption of the state consti-
tution and introduction of United States courts, he
was appointed clerk of the courts by Judge Dyer, and
held under Judge Love until 1857, when he resigned
upon being elected register of the state land office.
He was nominated for state auditor in i860, but be-
ing a democrat, and the state overwhelmingly repub-
lican, he was defeated, though receiving twelve. hun-
dred votes more than any man on his ticket. He has
since been nominated for secretary of state and su-
perintendent of public instruction, but declined each.
Mr. Parvin has been from the commencement of the
territorial government an active mover in all public

â– SWSamth.ri"'''



enterprises for general good, and was for many years
a director in the State Agricultural Society, a curator
in the State Historical Society, and was its corre-
sponding secretary and editor of its "Annals " for a
few years. He was the first, and several years later
again elected, president of the State Teachers' Asso-
ciation, and for twenty-five years superintendent of
sabbath schools, twelve of which in Iowa City ; was
for a number of years president of the school board
of Muscatine City, and later of Iowa City, and supeV-
intendent of schools in Johnson county, Iowa.

He was raised in the old Jefferson-Jackson school
of politics, casting his first vote in Iowa in 1838, and
ever since has been an able and earnest advocate of
its principles.

He became a Mason in March, 1838, and has held
the chief offices in all the state bodies subordinate
and grand. He has held the position of grand sec-
retary of the grand lodge from the organization of
this body, January 1844, save in 1852, when he was
grand master, until the present time. In 1859 he
was elected active sovereign grand inspector general
of the A. and A. rite for Iowa ; holds, and has held
for a number of years, the office of grand repre-
sentative of the supreme council of England and
Wales, and in 187 1 was elected grand recorder of
the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the
United States, and still (1876) holds that office by a
succession of reelections.

He has traveled extensively over the States and
Canadas, partially for pleasure, but mostly on scien-

tific and Masonic business, and has attended all the
great gatherings of Masonic national bodies since
1855. In religious views, he is a Presbyterian "of
the old school of the prophets," being brought up
as such from youth.

He was married on the 7th of May, 1843, to Miss
Agnes McCully, of Muscatine, Iowa. She is of
Scotch descent, and a: native of Pennsylvania. They
have six children, all living ; the eldest and young-
est are daughters, and four sons.

Mr. Parvin's works -are numerous, to enumerate
a list of the titles of which, literary, scientific and
Masonic, would far exceed our space. His lectures
and writings have been quoted in the journals and
works of this country, as well as in Europe, and
have thus brought his name prominently to the no-
tice of the world. Sufficient has been said to show
that he occupies a very distinguished position ; that
his life has been spent in a career of usefulness, and
that knowledge and honor have been more highly

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 46 of 125)