pub American Biographical Publishing Company.

The United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume online

. (page 50 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to his first contribution to the press, which appeared
in the columns of the Iowa "True Democrat,"
an anti-slavery paper then published at Mount
Pleasant, Iowa, after which he was a frequent con-
tributor to the " National Era," the anti-slavery
paper of Washington, District of Columbia. Mean-
while he labored at his trade by day, studying and
writing at night. In 1856 he- began to write for the
Davenport " Gazette," first as correspondent, then
as contributor of political articles, both over the
nom de plume of "Agricola." In 1859 and i860 he
began and continued to be an occasional contribu-
tor of editorial political articles for the same paper.
In the fall of 1858, on urgent request of friends, he
assumed his first editorial position as editor of the
Le Claire " Express," which was soon changed to Le
Claire "Republic." This he left in 1859, on finding
that the enterprise did not pay, and returned to his
trade. In November, 1859, he removed to Daven-
port, and took a position as clerk in the office of the
county recorder, remaining till the ist of May, 1861,
when he was appointed assistant postmaster at Dav-
enport, which office he resigned in September, 1862,
and became editor and one of the proprietors of the
Davenport daily and weekly "Gazette." In August,
1871, by advice of his physician, and in consequence
of nervous prostration and threatened congestion of
the brain resulting from excessive labor, he sold his
interest in the " Gazette," and retired from the edi-
torship, but resumed this relation on the 4th of
November, 1875, by repurchase of his former inter-
est in the "Gazette." He held the position of assist-
ant postmaster from the ist of May, 1861, till the
31st of August, 1862; was appointed postmaster and
entered upon the duties of the oifice on the ist of
May, 1864, from which position he was removed by



President Johnson, for political offenses, in October,
1865. He was the first official in the United States
removed by Johnson on political grounds. The
reason of his removal was that he had gained prom-
inence as a radical republican, by early taking
ground against Johnson's reconstruction policy, the
"Gazette" being the first paper in the west to do so,
and by introducing into and carrying through the
Iowa republican convention of 1865 what was known
as the negro-suffrage amendment to the fourth reso-
lution of the platform. This occasioned much dis-
cussion in the party at the time. He was appointed
postmaster by General Grant, taking the office on
the ist of May, 1869, and was again appointed four
years thereafter. He is secretary of the county re-
publican organization, formed through his efforts in
the years i860 and 1861.

He is an earnest worker in the Sabbath-school
cause, and was president of the Sunday School Union
from 1865 to 1871, as also president of Scott County
Sunday School Association in 187 1, which office he
still holds, and has been for three years treasurer of
the Scott County Bible Society. He has perhaps
done more in the aid of the Young Men's Christian
Association in Iowa than any other one man in the
state. He was president of the Davenport Young
Men's Christian Association in 1873, 1874 and 1875,
and of the State Young Men's Christian Association
in 1874 and 1875. He is now chairman of the state
executive committee, and the corresponding member
for Iowa of the National Young Men's Christian
Association. He has been superintendent of the
sabbath schools most of the time since 1856, and is
at present superintendent of the Bethlehem Sunday
School.

He is a member of the Masonic order, having
joined in 1865 ; also a member of the Sons of Tem-
perance.

Mr. Russell has ever been prominent in the ad-
vancement of all enterprises for the benefit of the
city and country. He is a member of the board of
trade, and very active therein.

He is a member of and an elder in the Presby-
terian church, although he . was educated in the
Congregational church, and was a member thereof
from 185 1 to 1872. He is a firm believer in evan-
gelical Christianity.

He was raised in the republican school of politics,
has always been a radical anti-slavery man, an abo-
litionist and opponent to caste, and is now president
of the county republican organization.



THE UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONART.



335



In 1868 he made a short visit to Europe for his
health, visiting many points of interest.

He was married in April, 1852, to Miss Lydia R.
Rutledge, daughter of Rev. W. Rutledge.

Mr. Russell stands high as an editor, a very useful
and respected citizen, and one of the most promi-
nent of those who helped build up the press of the



great west. He has pursued his chosen course with
untiring zeal, and with a success which has already
earned for him no inferior rank among the editors
of the country. The growing prosperity of the
paper over which he presides, and the prominent
position into which it has sprung, might satisfy any
ordinary ambition.



JOHN S. DAVIS,

DA VENPORT.



A MONG the enterprising manufacturers of the
£\. northwest we find the name which heads this
sketch. John S. Davis occupies a prominent posi-
tion and has taken an active part in the mercantile
community of Davenport for the past twenty years.
He has worked shoulder to shoulder with other
public-spirited citizens in various enterprises for the
development of the city and country.

He was born in Gloucester county. New Jersey,
on the i2th of November, 1816, and is son of Charles
and Mary Davis nSe Fisher, both natives of that
state. He commenced life as a farm boy, and was
reared, as boys of that day were, to habits of econ-
omy and industry. His opportunities for education
were limited, confined as they were to the common
schools and the ordinary branches. After leaving
school in 1838 he went to Cincinnati, engaging in
the store of William Resor, manufacturer of stoves,
where he remained till 1855, when he removed to
Indianapolis, Indiana, and engaged in the leather
business, under the firm name of Fishback and Da-
vis. He continued there only one year, when he
sold out and removed to Davenport, Iowa, and es-
tablished the firm of Davis, Watson and Co., manu-



facturers of threshing machines and agricultural im-
plements. This firm was very successful, building
up for themselves an enviable name as manufact-
urers. In 1864 Mr. Davis took the business in his
own hands, and has continued the same to this time.
Much of his success may be attributed to his habits
of industry, perseverance and business energy, which
have acquired for him a competence. Notwithstand-
ing his success, he gives his personal attention to
the superintendence of his works.

He is not a member of any church, though brought
up in the Methodist faith.

He was educated in the republican school of pol-
itics, although never taking any active part in polit-
ical matters.

He was married on the 24th of February, 1848,
to Miss Eliza J. Hasselman, daughter of Lewis Has-
selman, Esq., a prominent manufacturer at Miamis-
burgh, Ohio.

Mr. Davis is emphatically a self-made man. Com-
mencing life in straitened circumstances, by his own
energy and perseverance he has made for himself an
honored name, and gained the confidence and es-
teem of his fellow-citizens.



SAMUEL H. SHOEMAKER,

DB WITT.



THE present postmaster at De Witt is a fair
representative of the Iowa journalists who have
had a printing-office education. He never went to
school a day after he was sixteen years old, and
when he joined the list of compositors he took little
with him but good moral habits, and a settled deter-
mination to succeed in his new undertaking, if faith-
fulness and industry would do it. He began aright,
and his course has led on steadily to success.



Samuel Henry Shoemaker, son of Samuel and
Sarah Long Shoemaker, is a native of the Empire
State, and was born at Millport, Chemung county,
on the 19th of July, 1840. The Shoemakers are a
patriotic race, some of them having fought against
the mother country in both wars. Two uncles were
taken prisoners by the British in 181 2-15. In 1847
Samuel Shoemaker moved with his family to Will
county, Illinois, and settled on Rock creek, where



336



THE UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY



he died the next year. Left with a family of seven
children, the widow removed to Joliet in order to
obtain better school privileges. Three years later
she removed to Monmouth, where she married
Judge Daniel McNeil.

In 1853 Samuel cameto De Witt with the family,
and in 1856 entered the office of the De Witt
" Clintonian," O. C. Bates, editor and proprietor,
remaining there two years. With slight interrup-
tions, he worked at printing until the rebellion broke
out, enlisting three days after the president's first
call, in a company whose services were not then re-
quired. In June, 1862, he again enlisted, this time
in the i8th Iowa Infantry, going to the front two
months later as second sergeant in company A, and
returning the following January completely broken
down in health. It was a long year before he recov-
ered sufficiently to resume business.



In July, 1864, he started the "Observer," an out-
spoken republican paper, of which he is still the
editor and proprietor. It is a good county as well
as political paper, looks well to all local interests,
and has a good support. Thoroughly appreciating
his services to the national administration, in 1872
President Grant appointed Mr. Shoemaker postmas-
ter, and so faithfully did he discharge his duties that
at the end of four years he was reappointed for an-
other term, which he is now serving. He is and
always has been very industrious, and both as post-
master and newspaper conductor gives excellent
satisfaction. He is a member of the Ancient Order
of United Workmen, and of the Methodist Episco-
pal church.

He has a wife and two children, a son and daugh-
ter, having married Miss Rette Ferree, of De Witt,
on the 4th of September, 1866.



HON. GEORGE F. WRIGHT,

COUNCIL BLUFFS.



GEORGE F. WRIGHT stands prominent among
the leading lawyers of Iowa ; his firm pur-
pose from the beginning of his legal career has
been to honor his profession ; and his success in
this regard is best attested by the high esteem in
which he is held by the members of the bar.

He is a native of the town of Warren, Washing-
ton county, Vermont, and was born on the 5th of De-
cember, 1833. His father, Franklin A. Wright, of
English descent, was a farmer by occupation, and a
man of decided character, who exerted no small
amount of influence in the community where he
lived.

George received a good academic education, and
designed to pursue a course of collegiate studies. At
the age of seventeen, however, he engaged in teach-
ing, and continued that vocation for four years;
at the expiration of that time, in the spring of 1855,
he settled in Keosauqua, Van Buren county, Iowa,
and there began the study of law in the office of
Messrs. Knapp and Wright. He was admitted to
the bar in 1856, and became a partner in the firm
with whom he had studied, taking the place of Mr.
George G. Wright, who retired from the firm for
the purpose of assuming his duties on the bench
of the supreme court of Iowa.

Continuing in practice at Keosauqua until 1868,



with good success, Mr. Wright then removed to
Council Bluffs, his present home, and resumed his
profession as a partner with Judge Caleb Baldwin,
whose sketch appears in another part of this volume.
This partnership continued until the death of Judge
Baldwin, which occurred in the winter of 1876, and
since that time until the present (1877) Mr. Wright
has conducted the business in his own name.

During the said partnership connection Messrs.
Baldwin and Wright acted as attorneys for the Chi-
cago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad, and also
for the Burlington and Missouri, and the Union
Pacific railroads. His fellow-citizens recognizing
in Mr. Wright a peculiar fitness for official positions,
have honored him with various responsible trusts.

While a resident of Keosauqua he was solicited
to become a candidate for the legislature, but by
reason of business engagements was compelled to
decline the honor. In the year 1874 he was elected
to represent in the state senate the district compris-
ing Mills and Pottawattamie counties, for a term of
four years. In public enterprises he has been espe-
cially active, and has been instrumental in organ-
izing several corporations of prominence in the state,
being owner of a large portion of their stock, and
acting as their attorney.

Among these may be mentioned the Broadway



THE UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONART.



Ill



Street Railway Company, of Council Bluffs, organ-
ized in July, 1868; the Council Bluffs Gas Light
Company; the OttumwaGas Light Company, organ-
ized in October, 187 1; the Mount Pleasant Gas
Light Company; the Elgin Gas Light Company,
organized in November, 1871; the Cedar Rapids
Gas Light Company, organized in January, 1872;
and the Sioux City Gas Light Company, which he
organized on the 22d of February, 1872.

While in the state senate he acted a prominent
part, and to his efforts is due the securing of the
appropriation for building the west wing of the insti-
tution for the deaf and dumb at Council Blufls.

During the civil war he rendered very efficient



service to the state in raising troops, and through
his efforts the necessity of a draft in Van Buren
county was prevented. Upon the first call for
volunteers by President Lincoln he was commis-
sioned by Governor Kirkwood, and, raising a com-
pany, repaired to the rendezvous ; but the call being
already filled, his company was disbanded.

Personally, Mr. Wright is a man of admirable
qualities, and possessing a wide range of experience
and fine conversational powers, is a most excellent
social companion.

He was married in 1865, to Miss Ellen E. Brooks,
of Northfield, Vermont, and by her has two sons and
two daughters.



GEORGE H. WRIGHT,

SIOUX CITY.



IF there is a self-made man in Iowa it is the pres-
ent register of the land office at Sioux City. He
never spent three weeks in a school-room, yet suffi-
ciently improved his mind as to be deemed worthy
of a place in the councils of the state of his adop-
tion and an important office under the United States
government. It was not his fault that he had no
school education. Even as late as his nineteenth
year he entered an academy in Livingston county.
New York, but the very first day he was taken sick
and remained so until the end of the winter term,
when, being a sailor, his services were required on
the lakes. What education he has he picked up at
odd intervals, both on the land and water.

George Henry Wright was born on the 3d of No-
vember, 1829, in Troy, New York, his parents being
Allen M. and Abigail Valentine Wright. He lost
his father when four years old. A few years later
his mother married Daniel Morgan, and the whole
family went, in 1838, to Black Rock, now a part of
Buffalo. In 1843 the family moved to Grand Island.
George worked with his step-father at the cooper's
trade from eleven to fifteen years of age, but did not
like the business, and went on the Niagara river and
subsequently on the lakes, starting as a wheelsman
on the steamboat Commerce, running on the river,
and working his way up to the master of a vessel on
the lakes at twenty-one.

Mr. Wright piloted the first vessel that went into
the port of Tonawanda, the top-gallant-rig schooner
Hudson, owned by Wlnslow and Co., of Cleveland,



Ohio. • During his sailor life he had some dangerous
adventures. In the spring of 1857 he swamped his
vessel off Buffalo in a fearful squall. His wife was
with him with an infant son, and for twenty minutes
he held- to a ring-bolt with his left hand and to his
wife with. the right hand, she, meanwhile, holding
the child in her arms, with the sea rolling over them
all the time.

Two years later the steam-tug Jenny Lynd was
wrecked in the Niagara rapids between Chippewa
and the head of Goat Island, and Mr. Wright was
persuaded by her owner to superintend the perilous
work of taking her off. It required a man of much
aquatic experience and strong nerve to do it. Mr.
Wright succeeded in two days, sleeping one night on
the wreck with the waves foaming round him. He
received two hundred dollars for his two days' work.

Like landsmen, sailors have their financial ship-
wrecks. In the summer of 1857 Mr. Wright had
seven thousand dollars, all of his own earnings, in-
vested in the Lake Navigation Company, and the
hurricane of that season sank every dollar of it.

In July, 1859, Mr. Wright removed to the west,
spending one year in Wisconsin, three years in Des
Moines and Fort Dodge, Iowa, and eight years at
Grant City, Sac county. He sold fruit trees and
agricultural implements at Des Moines, bought furs
at Fort Dodge, and sold goods and built and oper-
ated a flouring mill at Grant City. He was also an
internal revenue assessor in Sac county in 1868 and
1869.



338



THE UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTION ART.



On the i2th of July, 1871, he came to Sioux City
under appointment of the United States government,
and one week afterward assumed the duties of reg-
ister of the land office. He has proved himself so
competent and faithful an officer, so prompt and en-
ergetic, that he is now holding under a second ap-
pointment.

Mr. Wright was a member of the lower house of
the general assembly during the thirteenth session,
1870, representing Sac, Beuna Vista, Cherokee and
Clay counties; acted on five committees, and was
chairman of the committee on domestic manufac-
tures. He aided in drafting the herd law, and the
best powers of his active mind were used while in
the legislative body.

A democrat until 1855, he has since voted with
the republicans. He is connected with no church.

Mr. Wright is a prominent member of the Ma-
sonic order, having taken thirty-two' degrees.

On the 24th of October, 1854, Mr. Wright took to
wife Miss Sarah Smith, of Penfield, New York, and
they have six children. He is giving them a good
education.



Mr. Wright has quite a taste for numismatics, and
has gathered more than a thousand pieces of coin, no
two of them alike. He has several coins older than the
christian era. One of them is Roman, representing
Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf This
coin was found by an officer in the French army,
George Scheuster, now a resident of Sioux City.
He presented it to Mr. Wright. The subject of this
sketch has also a fine collection of postage stamps,
gathered from more than a hundred and twenty-five
nations and provinces. He has also a great many
stuffed birds, common to the Missouri valley, col-
lected, however, mainly by his boys. He likes to
encourage them in any pursuit that will enlarge
their knowledge.

He cultivates fruit and has an extensive nursery,
giving the few leisure hours at his command, at cer-
tain seasons of the year, to horticultural pursuits.
He is a busy man. He started out for himself a
little more than thirty years ago, with twenty-five
cents in his pocket, and not even the education
of experience, and to-day has a competency and
stands among the honored men of the state.



MYRON UNERWOOD, M.D.,

ELDORA .



AMONG the thoroughly educated physicians of
/\. Hardin county, Iowa, and one whose life
record is second in purity to none in that section,
is Myron Underwood, a native of Ohio. He was
born at Montville, Geauga county, on the 7th of
August, 1833. His father was Jonas Underwood,
a farmer. His mother, before her marriage, was
Mary Vorse. Some of the ancestors on both sides
of the family participated in the revolutionary strug-
gle. When Myron was twelve years old his father
immigrated to McHenry county, Illinois, and settled
on South Prairie, on the west side of Coon creek: —
the pioneer in that immediate locality. There the
son passed the remainder of his youth. He and a
younger brother, David, used to travel three miles
to attend the winter school, the summers being
given to work on the farm, until he was twenty.
Of his schoolmates in those days, a few years subse-
quent to his father's settlement on that prairie, were
five who afterward graduated from Rush Medical
College, Chicago, two who are now lawyers, and
three who are ministers of the gospel. An elder



brother of Myron represents Grundy county, Iowa,
in the general assembly.

The years 1853 and 1854 Myron gave to study
in the seminary at Mount Morris, Ogle county. He
attended three courses of lectures in Rush Medical
College, and graduated in February, 1859. On the
20th of the following May Dr. Underwood reached
Hardin county, Iowa, and opened an office at Steam-
boat Rock. After practicing there between one and
two years he moved to Eldora, where he has prac-
ticed constantly except when in the army.

On the 19th of August, 1862, he was commis-
sioned assistant surgeon of the 12th regiment of
Iowa Infantry, and was in the field three years.
The surgeon, Sanford W. Huff", M.D., was detached
from the regiment most of the time, and Dr. Under-
wood had full charge of it more than two years.
The 1 2th was in a great many battles, among them,
at Corinth, Jackson, two engagements, Vicksburg
during the whole campaign, and in all the battles of
the sixteenth army corps subsequent to the surren-
der of "Vicksburg, and Surgeon Underwood often had



THE UNITED STATES BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.



3.S9



very laborious duties, yet he was off duty scarcely a
day during the whole three years' service. It was
the wonder of his comrades how he could accom-
plish so much work.

On being discharged, in September, 1865, he re-
turned to Eldora, and after a very brief rest resumed
practice, and has continued it to the present time,
with a gradually increasing reputation. Ordinarily
he has all the business any one man ought to do.

Dr. Underwood is a member of the blue lodge
and chapter of Masons in Eldora, and also a promi-
nent Odd-Fellow, having passed all the chairs of
the subordinate lodge.

He always votes with the republicans.

Dr. Underwood has been a member of the Meth-



odist Episcopal church more than twenty years, and
has constantly held an official position in it since a
resident of Iowa.

On the 6th of April, 1861, he married Miss Sophia
A. Ellis, of Steamboat Rock, and has had six chil-
dren, only half of them now living.

Dr. Underwood was a member of the Eldora
board of education six or seven years, and has lost
none of his interest in educational matters. Like
other leading citizens of the place, he gave time,
labor and money to get the Reform School located
at Eldora and under way, lent a hand in securing
the completion of the railroad from Ackley to El-
dora, and is found in the front ranks in all beneficial
enterprises.



JUDSON E. CARPENTER,

CLINTON.



T UDSON E. CARPENTER, silent partner in the
•J firm of Cu"Vtis, Brother and Co., sash, door and
blind manufacturers, was born at Oxford, Chenango
county, New York, on the igth of May, 1835. His
father, when he was nine years old, removed from
Rhode Island and settled on a farm in the neighbor-
hood. He came of good old Saxon stock, his an-
cestors on both sides being among the early settlers
of New England. The religious faith of his family
is derived from Roger Williams, the founder of the
Baptist denomination in this country. At home and
in the common schools he received the usual amount
of education bestowed upon farmers' sons. Subse-
quently, however, he pursued in the Oxford Acad-
emy a thorough course of study, with the design to
qualify himself as a teacher. His natural taste in-
clined him to literary and scientific pursuits, and his
original intention was to prepare himself for early
admission to the university, but several causes in-
tervened to prevent the ultimation of this design.
This disappointment turned the channel of life into
another direction, and led him to relinquish his idea
of professional life. At an early age, however, as
an occupation to obtain a livelihood, he became a
teacher, devoting his winters to this vocation, and
his summers to farm employment.

In 1855, his attention having been turned west-
ward, he left home and took up his abode tempo-
rarily in Rochelle, Illinois. In this vicinity he opened
up a farm, and with fair profits and moderate suc-
34



cess devoted one season to its cultivation. The
following spring, through the influence of a relative,
he was induced to purchase a large farm, consisting