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returned to Ottawa, settled the estate, and in July,
1865, came to Ackley and built an elevator, and
started a lumber yard, branches of which business



he is still engaged in, and in which he has met with
good success.

In 1870 he started a bank in company with John
Christian Lusch. This institution has enjoyed a
steady growth of business and possesses the un-
limited confidence of the people. Mr. Lusch, his
local partner, is a man of solid character, and, like
himself, is a man of first-class business capacities.

Since settling in Ackley, Mr. Carton, the pioneer
business man of the city, has made himself very use-
ful in many ways in building up the city.

In education, and every commendable enterprise,
he has been one of the foremost men. He has been
especially active in the local school board, and has

served as a town trustee or member of the board of
supervisors much of the time.

The interests of Ackley he has made his own,
and with the first decade of its history his name is
inwoven in an especially honorable manner. He is
essentially one of the many enterprising town-
builders of Iowa, and having energetic co-workers
in Ackley, they have built up a lively town.

Mr. Carton is a republican in politics, but his
taste rather inclines to business than office.

He is a Royal Arch Mason, a warden of the
Episcopal church, and a man of pure character.

On the 3d of January, 1867, Miss Susan E. Ray-
mond, of Ottawa, Illinois, became his wife.



HON. DAVID S. WILSON, for nearly thirty
years a member of the legal profession of
Dubuque, furnishes an excellent example of that
class of western lawyers who have achieved success
and gamed a competence by persevering adherence
to their chosen calling. He was born at Steuben-
vi'lle, Ohio, on the 19th of March, 1825.

At the age of fourteen he graduated from the
high school of his native town, and immediately
removed to Dubuque, Iowa, and commenced the
study of law, in the office of Hon. T. S. Wilson, his
brother, and one of the three original judges ap-
pointed by President Van Buren in 1838. After
remaining in the office a short time he turned his
attention to the editorship of the " Miners' Express,"
which he conducted with success until 1845, when
he sold his interest and turned to the study of law.

So popular had he become with the people of his
county, that in 1846, though but a month over age,
he was .chosen to represent them in the state legis-
lature, and took an active part in the re-submission
of the state constitution to the people.

During the Mexican war he was commissioned a
lieutenant by Governor Clark, with authority to
raise a company, which was employed to remove
the tribe of Winnebago Indians from their reserva-
tion at Fort Atkinson to Long Prairie, one hundred
and twenty-five miles above the falls of Saint An-
thony. They remained in service several months
after the close of the war, on account of the inability
of the government to relieve them.

Returning to Dubuque, he was admitted to the
bar, and was immediately elected by the citizens as
prosecuting attorney, which position he filled with
ability for two terras, declining a further election.

In 1 85 1, on the establishment of the land office at
Dubuque, great inducements were offered to active,
energetic men to engage in the speculations which
followed. Forming a partnership with his brother,
Hon. T. S. Wilson, they embarked in the enterprise
with great success, until the storm of 1856-57 ruined
their hopes, as it did hundreds of others.

In 1857 Mr. Wilson was elected to the state senate
for a term of four years, and he served with such
distinction as to soon be one of the leading men of
his party. During the extra session called by Gov-
ernor Kirkwood, to place the state on a war footing,
he was nominated by the legislature to deliver a
lecture on "The Right of States to Secede from the
Union." Up to this time he had been an earnest
democrat, and one of the strongest and best advo-
cates of the principles of his party in the state ;
but in the examination necessary in preparing his
lecture, he found occasion to diverge some from his
former opinions. He brought out a masterly effort
in point-blank opposition to the right of secession,
which evinced great research and thought, and was
the first of the kind that appeared. So great was
its popularity, that it was adopted as the war-docu-
ment of the state, and the legislature published and
circulated it by thousands throughout Iowa. By
invitation of the people of Des Moines, he repeated



. his lecture in that city to one of the largest audi-
ences ever assembled at the capital. From this
time Mr. Wilson worked in the cause of the Union
during the war, and by his influence and example
was of valuable aid.

In 1862, entirely without his knowledge and with-
out solicitation, he was commissioned colonel, by
secretary Stanton, of the war department. Although
over fifty thousand men had been sent from the
state to the army, by his personal exertions he raised
his regiment. Just previous to their being mustered
into the service, the outbreak of the Sioux Indians,
followed by the Minnesota massacre, caused the
government to send Colonel Wilson's regiment to
the relief of the border, where they participated
in several engagements. During the fall of 1863
Colonel Wilson built Fort Sully, on the upper Mis-
souri, and during the following winter was stationed
with his command along the Missouri river, for the
protection of the settlers from Fort Sully to Sioux
City. In June, 1864, he resigned his command,
and in the following August removed to California,
where he formed a partnership with his brother, S.
M. Wilson, Esq., one of the leading lawyers on the
Pacific coast, for the practice of their profession.
After remaining two years he returned to Dubuque
and resumed his practice, as well as practicing in
the courts at Washington. In 1872 he was ap-
pointed circuit judge, to fill a vacancy caused by
the death of Judge Barker. This office he held

until August following, resigning to accept the ap-
pointment of district judge, left vacant by resigna-
tion of Judge Brayton. In 1874 he was elected by
a large majority, irrespective of party distinction, to
the office of district judge, which he still fills.

Mr. Wilson is a popular judge and a hard worker.
Whatever he undertakes he throws into it his whole
energy, and this may be the ground-work of his
success. He is prominently spoken of by his friends
as candidate for congress in the coming convention.

He was married in 1850 to Miss Henerettia E.
Sanford, of Erie, Pennsylvania.

In every position which in his eventful life he has
been called upon to fill. Judge Wilson has been suc-
cessful in the highest sense. He has left an un-
tarnished record and unspotted reputation. As a
business man, he has been upright, reliable and
honorable ; as a soldier, brave and chivalrous ; as a
public official, attentive and obliging, but inflexible
and unswerving in the discharge of duty. In all
places and under all circumstances he is loyal to
truth, honor and right, justly valuing his own self-
respect and the deserved esteem of his fellow-men
as infinitely more valuable than wealth, fame or
position. He is a man of fine personal appearance,
courteous and friendly, and grows in esteem among
his friends upon extended acquaintance. He may
well be termed a self-made man, as he began the
voyage of life with only his iron will to stem the
current of the stream of life.



TWENTY years ago, when the subject of this
sketch crossed the Mississippi river to locate
and to practice medicine, he brought with him an
ardent love of his profession, a mind richly stored
with medical knowledge, and the experience of five
years' diligent practice. It will be seen that he laid
a broad foundation, sparing no pains or expense in his
medical education, and building slowly and solidly
on the foundation laid in early manhood.

Benjamin McCluer was born in Franklin ville,
Cattaraugus county. New York, on the 8th of May,
1824. He received the christian name of his father,
who was a farmer, and who died when the son was
hardly eight years old. His mother, Elizabeth Bar-
ber McCluer, died when he was nineteen. At that

time, having received only a common-school educa-
tion in his native town, he went to Moscow, Liv-
ingston county, and spent six months in a graded
school. He then attended two terms at the Perrv
Center Academy, Wyoming county, and two years
at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, Lima, Livingston
county. At the last mentioned institution he paid
some attention to classics, but much more to mathe-
matics and the natural sciences, for which he had
a strong predilection.

From Lima he went to Moscow, and read law
two years with William M. Older, Esq. He then
turned his attention to medicine, and, remaining in
the same town, studied in the office of Dr. William
C. Dwight.



In the winter of 1849-50 he attended a course
of lectures in the medical department of Harvard
College, in Boston, and the following year at Cleve-
land, Ohio. Returning to Massachusetts in 185 1,
he took a special course in chemistry, under the
instruction of Professor E. N. Hosford, at the Law-
rence Scientific School, Cambridge. At its close
he again entered the medical college, in Boston,
beginning with the session in the autumn of 185 1
and graduating the following March.

Thus thoroughly qualified for the practice of
medicine. Dr. McCluer opened an office the same
month in which he graduated, at Holliston, Massa-

Five years later, tempted by the many promising
fields presented at the west, he removed to Dubuque,
Iowa. Here he continued the practice of medicine
from the autumn of 1856 until August, 1861, when
he accepted the post of surgeon of the 9th regiment
Iowa Infantry, acting in that capacity until April,

1863. In the early part of the next year he re-
ceived from the President a commission as assistant
surgeon of United States Volunteers. He was pro-
moted to the rank of surgeon in the following Sep-
tember, and the next year, while on duty at Macon,
Georgia, he received the commission of lieutenant-
colonel by brevet.

Before returning to Dubuque to resume practice,
during the winter of 1865-66, he attended lectures
at Bellevue Hospital College, and the College of
Physicians and Surgeons, New York city. Since
1866 he has continued to practice in Dubuque with
a constantly increasing reputation.

So thoroughly is Dr. McCluer wedded to the
science of medicine, that he has never otherwise

He has always acted with the republican party.

He has been a member of the Congregational
church for twenty-five years, and is highly exem-
plary in all his habits.



HENRY W. STARR, lawyer, was born in Mid-
dlebury, Vermont, on the 24th of July, 1815 ;
son of Hon. Peter Starr and Eunice Starr nee Ser-

He was educated at Middlebury College, from
which he was graduated in 1834.

He studied at the law school in Cincinnati for
three years, occupying a desk in the office of his
uncle, Henry Starr, a prominent lawyer at that time,
and was there admitted to the bar in 1837. Chief
Justice Chase was his examiner..

In June, 1837, he left Cincinnati, seeking a place in
which to locate in profession, and, after visiting all
the most prominent places in the west, decided to
settle at Burlington, then the capital of Wisconsin
Territory, General Dodge then being governor.
After a short visit home he located here in Novem-
ber, 1837.

After practicing a short time he formed a partner-
ship with the late Senator Grimes, making a firm of
much celebrity and prominence, which enjoyed a
lucrative practice for seventeen years, and was per-
haps the best known of any law firm in the state. It
is hardly necessary to enter into the details of this

The achievements of Mr. Starr as a distinguished
advocate are well known to the community and
state at large, and is a record in itself.

Noted from boyhood for his clear and active in-
tellect, these faculties were highly cultured by a
liberal course of education. He passed through
college with credit, and his studies in the law school
were a thorough preparation for the brilliant course
of practice which followed.

Had he gone into politics he might have been
distinguished in the halls of legislation, but neither
his tastes nor his ambitions led him in that direc-

He was twice elected mayor of Burlington ; be-
yond this he never sought or held office, keeping
entirely free from the political arena.

He was married in September, 1844, to Miss
Marion S. Peasley, who died in 1855. In 1859 he
was again married, to Miss Eliza M. Merrill, of Mid-
dlebury, Vermont.

On account of feeble health he quit the practice
of law about twelve years ago, and retired on a com-
fortable competence.

Though retired from business and somewhat in-
firm, his mental faculties are still vigorous.* He has



lived an active and useful life, and has merited the
confidence and esteem given him by the community
and state at large.

His only living son, Charles E. Starr, was born at
Burlington, Iowa, on the 29th of September, 1845.

While fitting for college in 1862, he received an
appointment to the United States Naval Academy,
which he accepted, remaining in the Academy un-
til ordered into active service as midshipman in

1866. He resigned from the navy in 1867, after a
little over a year's active service, and commenced
the study of law, graduating from the law depart-
ment of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri,
in 1873; since which time he has practiced at the
bar of his native city. With an increasing practice
he bids fair to fill the place left vacant by his
father's retirement, and place himself among the
leading members of the Iowa bar.



FEW residents of Clayton county, Iowa, have
made a more honorable record than Samuel
Murdock. His talents, attainments and fitness for
certain positions of trust and honor were early dis-
covered. He has been called repeatedly to fill
public offices, and has never disappointed the ex-
pectation of his constituents.

He is of Scotch-Irish descent, and his father,
whose full name the son bears, came to this country
in 181 2, and located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
where the subject of this sketch was born, on the
17th of March, 1817.

When he was eleven years old his father moved to
Ohio, settling on a farm near Cleveland. There the
son remained several years, aiding his father three-
fourths of each year, attending a district school the
rest of the time, and completing his studies under a
teacher, with a few terms at an academy in Cleve-

He taught school at different places in Ohio ;
went to Kalamazoo county, Michigan, in 1838;
taught there one season ; returned to Ohio and con-
tinued teaching, and in 1841 emigrated to Iowa.

In the autumn of that year we find him in the law
office of Hon. Oilman Folsom, of Iowa City, where he
remained until he was admitted to the bar of John-
son county, in the spring of 1843. He immediately
removed to Garnavillo, Clayton county, and began
practice, being the first lawyer in the county.

A year or two later Mr. Murdock entered some
land a mile and a half south of the village, and in a
few years had one of the best improved farms in
that part of the county. It was his home nearly
thirty years, and its evergreens, vineyards and or-
chards showed the hand of taste and the skill of an
experienced horticulturist.

With the exception of two winters in McGregor,
passed there on account of school privileges, he lived
at the little paradise, called " The Evergreens " until
March, 1876, when he removed to Elkader.

He is of the firm of Murdock and Larkin, attor-
neys-at-law, and is regarded by all as the father of the
Clayton county bar. He has the reputation through-
out the state of being an able lawyer and a sound
jurist, and his acquaintance with the laws, statutes
and constitution of Iowa is extensive.

This great commonwealth has grown from a wil-
derness under his eye, and his knowledge of her
public men, her improvements and her resources is
equally as extensive.

As already intimated, during the thirty-seven years
that he has been in the state he has been the recip-
ient many times of official honors.

In 1845 Mr. Murdock was elected to represent
Dubuque, Delaware and Clayton counties in the ter-
ritorial legislature, and attended two sessions. He
aided, at this time, in securing the northern boun-
dary of the state.

He held the office of school-fund commissioner
about four years, commencing in 1848, and during
his administration most of the school lands of the
county were sold by him. He had the sagacity to
see that in all cases they fell into the hands of bona-
fide settlers.

It is safe to say that no man ever looked after the
interests of the county better than he, or guarded its
funds intrusted to his hands with greater vigilance.
Neither the county nor any man ever lost a dollar by

In April, 1854, Mr. Murdock was elected the first
judge of the tenth judicial district, and he held the
office until the new constitution, adopted in 1857,



went into effect. During his term of office several
counties were organized in his district, and he held
the first court in them.

Judge Murdock was a member of the thirteenth
general assembly, and during its session was ;imong
the most influential members from the northern part
of the state.

He was for several years president of the Pioneers
and Old Settlers' Association, of Clayton county,
and has written a great deal of biographical history,
not only of local early settlers, but of those in other
parts of the state. Years ago he wrote a fine sketch
of each of the three territorial governors of Iowa.
His pen is still active. Scarcely a week passes in
which something from it does not appear in some
county paper.

'Judge Murdock has always had a taste for scien-
tific pursuits, and has taken up and pursued with
diligence several branches of knowledge about
which he knew nothing when he came to this state.
He has carefully studied astronomy, geology and
archaeology, and has lectured on these subjects as
well as others in many places in Iowa. He is famil-
iar with tlie geology of the state, and has probably
gone down as deep as any one into her fossiliferous
strata to bring up the earlier representatives of life.

He has done much to bring to light the relics of
prehistoric races that once swarmed along the Mis-
sissippi river and its tributaries ; and for these ser-
vices scientific societies have conferred upon him
distinguished honors. He is one of the vice-presi-
dents of the American Anthropological Association.

In intellectual pursuits, he has the avidity and

activity of middle life ; his rnental powers were never
more vigorous, and he appears as if still in the
prime of life.

Judge Murdock was a democrat until the organi-
zation of the republican party, since which time he
has acted with the latter. During the rebellion his
voice and pen were active on the side of the- Union.
He spent some time in the southern states in 1862
and 1863, and his letters written at that time to
different northern papers attracted considerable at-
tention. In religious matters, Judge Murdock calls
himself liberal.

On the nth of September, 1845, he married Miss
Louisa Patch, of Clayton county, a woman who had
the good sense to be contented with frontier life
when it was not convenient to have any other, and
who can be domestic and happy with much or little
society. She has had six children, four of them
now dead. The eldest living daughter, Marion, is
professor of elocution and mathematics in the State
University, Madison, Wisconsin ; the other, Amelia,
resides at home. Both inherit their father's love
of knowledge, and, like their father, sometimes in-
dulge in the "pleasure of poetic pains."

As the first lawyer of the county, the first judge of
the tenth judicial district, and as a miscellaneous
writer and scientist, the name of Judge Murdock
will ever be associated with the history of Iowa in a
manner honorable to his memory.

His good conversational powers, his kindly and
humane disposition and other fine social traits,
greatly endear him to his neighbors and his large
circle of acquaintances.



AMONG the earliest pioneer settlers, and one
. who has watched the growth of this populous
city from a little hamlet of two or three houses to
its present proportions, and has seen it take its place
among the most important of Iowa's cities, is the
name which heads this sketch. Hon. Harvey Leon-
ard, ex-mayor of the city and sheriff o£»Scott county,
Iowa, was born at Lebanon, Warren county, Ohio,
on the 20th of November, 1812. His parents were
James and Jane Leonard n^e Biggs. His father
was a native of Pennsylvania, and his mother of
Virginia. He had very little opportunity for edu-

cation in his early youth, all of which was gained
at the common schools, he being at the same time
engaged in learning his father's trade, that of brick-
making, learning also the trade of brick-laying.

When sixteen years of age he left home and com-
menced working for himself, and in 1829 came to
St. Louis, living, however, on the Illinois side, oppo-
site the city. Here he remained till 1837, when he
removed to Iowa and located at Davenport. At
that time there were but three or four houses and
less than one hundred inhabitants. He commenced
working at his trade, and to him belongs the honor


C d-t L Gl-^/t^



of making the first brick, and building the first
brick house in Davenport.

He still worked at his trade after being elected
county officer, and he has served as sheriff more
consecutive terms, and been longer in office, than
any other sheriff in the state. Being elected in
1847, he held the office by reelections till i860. In
1872, after a lapse of twelve years, he was again
elected sheriff, which position he still occupies. He
served as alderman several years, and in 1842 was
elected mayor of the city. He has done much in
aiding the enterprises of the city in its early day.

Mr. Leonard is not a member of any church, but
holds liberal views on religion.

He was educated in the democratic school of
politics, the principles of which party he still advo-

He was married in 1835 to Miss Pelogie Bough-
nou, of St. Louis.

In all the various changes of an active life Mr.
I,eonard has gained the respect of a large circle
of friends, and the confidence of his constituents.
He is a man of good sound understanding, of large
practical experience, and of genial manners.



T UDGE MITCHELL is a native of Ohio, and was
J born in Cincinnati on the 31st of May, 1827.
His father, Henry Mitchell, was a farmer. His
mother belonged to the Corbin family, of Ohio. His
paternal grandfather was one of the militia men
called out to defend Baltimore during the revolu-
tionary war. While Isaac was an infant his father
moved to a farm in Clermont county, Ohio, and
there the son worked until he was nineteen, when he
went to a high school at Laurel, Ohio, a few months
to prepare himself for a teacher. He taught in
Brazil, Indiana, and adjoining districts, for nearly
three years. While preparing to teach he worked
on a farm a while for two dollars a week, devoting
the money thus earned to the purchase of text-books.
He read law while teaching in Indiana, and com-
pleted his school education by attending Asbury
College, Greencastle, Indiana, one term, when, his
health giving way, he had to leave the institution.
He removed to Boonesboro, Iowa, in June, 1855,
and there resumed his study of law, while engaged
in the drug business. He finished reading law early
in 1858; was admitted to the bar at Boonesboro in
April, and opened an office there in that year. He
has since been in constant practice, except when in
office, building up a large business and an enviable

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 59 of 125)