pub American Biographical Publishing Company.

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

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ally burned to the ground, and became a total loss,
without insurance, in less than a year after it was
built, but in less than ninety days thereafter it was
rebuilt and in operation again, and so continued
until 1869, when he sold it to Mr. John B. Hale.

Mi^ Bennett had observed for a number of years
that a serious obstacle to the trade of Muscatine
was the want of a bridge over. the Cedar river, south-
west of the city; accordingly in 185 1 he organized a
company for the purpose of spanning the stream by
an iron tressel-work viaduct. The organization was
known as the Washington and Oskaloosa Road and
Bridge Company, of which Mr. Bennett was presi-
dent. The contract for the construction of the

bridge was let to a Mr. Kilburn, of Saint Louis, Mis-
souri, who was very highly indorsed by Mr. Filley,
of that city, and others, and hence no security was
required of him. Stone piers were erected at great
cost, and a swing bridge was projected across the
stream, but the work seems to have been done in
a manner so unsubstantial and so utterly at variance
with scientific principles that several members of the
company withdrew, while others refused to hazard
any more money till the structure was completed.
The architect still insisting that the work would
prove a success, and Mr. Bennett unwilling to lose so
much money without a fair trial, he continued to make
advances to the contractor, till the occurrence of a
wind storm completely demolished the structure,
which became an immediate loss, the debris of which
still cumbers the channel of the river. In this enter-
prise Mr. Bennett lost over ten thousand dollars.
About the same time he was engaged with others
in the construction of a plank road from Muscatine
to Tipton, a considerable distance of which was
graded, but for want of cooperation this enterprise
also came to nought, and buried about five thou-
sand dollars of Mr. Bennett's money. Simultane-
ously with these enterprises he was also engaged,
on his individual responsibility, in building a wharf
in front of the city, which he brought to a successful
issue and retained the franchises of until 1869. He
was also largely interested in the first steamboat
ever owned in Muscatine, which after running suc-
cessfully for several years .was, in 1858, sunk between
Saint Louis and Cairo, becoming a total loss and
involving Mr. Bennett in heavy liabilities. These
are but a few of the enterprises in which our subject
was engaged; there was no public improvement, nor
any undertaking of importance or hazard, for the
benefit of Muscatine with which he was not promi-
nently connected. But of all his enterprises during
an active and busy life none has afforded him more
real satisfaction and happiness than the building,
entirely at his own cost, of a mission church and
Sunday-school room at south Muscatine. This in-
stitution, of which he is still the proprietor, has been
in successful operation since 1856, Mr. Bennett hav-
ing been in attendance every Sunday since its in-
auguration to the present time, except four, when
he was on a visit to Massachusetts. It has been the
means of leading many souls to Christ, and will bear
fruit in eternity.

He has been all his lifetime a total abstainer, and
to his honor and credit be it recorded that during



the early history of Muscatine, when every merchant
sold whisky, and it was considered an essential
article of commerce, Mr. Bennett refused to have
anything to do with the article ; on the contrary, he
opposed the traffic in intoxicating drinks in every
way in his power; and when a law was passed in 1856
restraining and regulating its sale, he was foreriiost
in aiding the authorities in the enforcement of it,
and in this way became so obnoxious to the foreign
element of the city, that his effigy was publicly car-
ried through the streets and burned on the wharf
amid the jeers and hoots of the rabble.

He became a member of the Congregational
church in 1856, and has since adhered to that faith.

In politics, he has always been radically republi-

On the 14th of August, 1845, Mr. Bennett was
married to Miss Elizabeth Rodgers Schenck, daugh-
ter of Colonel Wm. Rodgers Schenck, one of the
western poets, and granddaughter of Wm. C. Schenk,

brother of Hon. Robert C. Schenck, late United
States minister to England, and only sister of James
F. and R. C. Schenck, of Dayton, Ohio. They had
six children born to them, three of whom, William,
Oliver and Nelly, died in infancy, and the remain-
ing three, Joseph, Phoebe and Charles, still survive.
Joseph is engaged in merchandising at Waterloo,
Iowa, but the two youngest are still under tlje pa-
ternal roof.

Mrs. Bennett died on the loth of August, 1872, in
the 48th year of her age, universally regretted. She
had been a follower of Christ since her seventeenth
year, and since 185 1 a member of the Congregational
Church of Muscatine. She died with a calm and
peaceful trust in her Saviour. Her life was pure,
lovely, and of good report, and her name is cherished
as a precious keepsake by her surviving family and
many friends, to whom she had been for many years
a beautiful and noble example in all the various re-
lations, of life.



ONE of the self-made men and leading .attor-
neys at the Marion county bar is Orlando
B. Ayres, who never went to school to exceed four
months in his life after he was twelve years old, and
to-day is one of the best office lawyers in this part
of the state. He was born in Wiiloughby, Lake
county, Ohio, on the 26th of July, 1836. His fath-
er, Buenos Ayres, was from Massachusetts, and his
mother, Sarah Osborn, from Connecticut. In his
infancy the family moved to Hicksville, Defiance
county, in the northwestern part of the state, and
when he was fourteen removed to Waupun, Wiscon-
sin, spending one year there. In 1851 they removed
to Dover, Bureau county, Illinois, and two years la-
ter to Cambridge, Henry county, where the subject
of this sketch continued to work on a farm until
1 86 1, when he commenced reading law at Kewa-
nee, with Howe and North. He was admitted to
the bar at a term of the supreme court held at Ot-
tawa in December, 1863.

Prior to commencing the study of law Mr. Ayres
managed to secure a good practical business educa-
tion by private studies, mastering arithmetic, English
grammar and other branches. He sometimes went
eight or ten miles to borrow a useful book.

On receiving his certificate permitting him to prac-
tice, Mr. Ayres opened an office in Kewanee with
Levi North, his preceptor, and at the end of ten
months located in Knoxville, where he has been in
constant practice, a partner all of the time of ex-
Governor Stone. He has sedulously refused to ac-
cept any office, except that of notary public or
something in a business line ; is very studious, and
is a growing man. He is fully up to the average as
a jury lawyer, is a perfect master of the details of
an office, prepares his cases with tTie utmost care,
and is logical, clear and forcible in court work. In
industry he is almost a match for Judge Cole, late
of the supreme bench. The library of Messrs.
Stone and Ayres is large and choice, and the latter,
when not in court, is found there, applying himself
to severe studies.

Pecuniarily as well as professionally he is success-
ful, and is vice-president of the Marion County Na-
tional Bank. He has been from its organization a
director of the Knoxville and Des Moines railway,
the road now being in the hands of the Chicago,
Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company. He is
still a director.

In his youth Mr. Ayres was an abolitionist in



political sentiment, and since there was a republican
party has voted that ticket.

In religious sentiment, he is a Universalist. He is
a Chapter Mason and a sixth-degree Odd-Fellow.

The wife of Mr. Ayres was Miss Annie L. Stone,
sister of his law partner. They were married on
the 13th of July, 1864, and have had seven chil-
dren, six of thera yet living.



and Sarah (Freese) Hildreth, is a native of Ban-
gor, Maine, and first saw the light on the 20th of
March, 1822. His great-grandfather was from Ire-
land, and with two brothers fought for American
independence. The Freese family early settled in
Maine, but its pedigree we are unable to trace.

The subject of this notice attended the graded
schools of Bangor till fourteen years of age ; moved
with his father's family to Granville, Ohio, in 1836;
attended for two years the preparatory department
of Granville College, now called Dennison Univer-
sity; then learned of his father the cooper's trade,
at Alexander, near Granville ; worked at it five years;
taught a select school at Columbus two terms ; in
1843 commenced studying medicine with Dr. J. S.
Skinner, of Columbus ; attended lectures at Jefferson
Medical College, Philadelphia; graduated in 1846;
practiced two years at Shadesville, near Columbus ;
the same length of time in Columbus ; five or six
years at Mount Liberty, Knox county, and early in
the summer of 1856 left Ohio and settled at Lovilia,
Monroe county, Iowa. He practiced there seven or
eight years; at Bellefontaine, Mahaska county. In

1868 moved to Leon. Here he was employed in
the drug business five years, and since that time has
been practicing medicine, speculating in real estate,
building, and looking after his property. He erected
the Opera House block in 1876, to commemorate the
centennial year, and has several fine business houses
and other property in the city of Leon. He is pub-
lic-spirited, full of energy and enterprise, and is do-
ing his full share in beautifying the place, being the
most extensive builder, probably, in the city. His
works are his monument, and will stand long after
he has departed.

Dr. Hildreth was originally ah old-line whig, and
of late years has been a republican. He was a mem-
ber of the board of supervisors of Mahaska county,
and member and chairman of a similar board in
Decatur county one year.

He belongs to the Decatur County Medical Soci-
ety, and is a Royal Arch Mason, and has been high
priest of Chapter No. -^t^, Leon.

On the 26th of June, 1848, Miss Laura Devereaux,
of Granville, Ohio, became the wife of Dr. Hildreth,
and they have one daughter, Sadie, the wife of John
D. Robberts, of Albia, Iowa.



THE Argos are of French descent. The pro-
genitor of the family in this country, John
Argo, came over about the time of the revolution,
settled in Virginia, and fought under General La-
fayette. The name in the old country was Arago,
changed we know not why. Alexander M. Argo,
son of John and grandfather of George W., was a
soldier in the second war with England. The par-
ents of George W.. John and Sarah (McDonald)
Argo, moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania about
183s, and thence, a little later, to Logan county,

Ohio, where the subject of this notice was born, on
the 19th of September, 1843. When he was twelve
years old the family moved to Allen county, Indi-
ana, near Fort Wayne, settling on a farm. There
his mother died in 1861 and his father in 1862, leav-
ing the son with three younger sisters to take care
of Before the death of his parents George W. had
learned the carpenter and millwright's trade, work-
ing at it steadily until nineteen, except during the
winters, which he spent in a district school: When
the civil war broke out he was attending the Fort



Wayne College, and when the ssth Indiana regi-
ment was mustered into the service, he was a pri-
vate in company E. After being in the service
nearly two years he resigned, having previously been
promoted to second lieutenant of the company.

Soon after leaving the army Mr. Argo commenced
reading law at Fort Wayne with Hon. J. L. Worden,
now chief justice of Indiana. Having to support
himself and three sisters, at the end of two years he
had to return to his trade, still giving his leisure
time to his law books.

In March, 1866, Mr. Argo came to Marengo, Iowa
county, Iowa, where he was admitted to the bar in
February, 1867. Before opening an office he went
to Fort Randall, Dakota Territory, and aided in
building the new fort, he being foreman of the car-
penter's department. He was a member of the leg-
islature of that territory in the winter of 1870-71.
On the 1 6th of the next November he reached Le-
mars, which has since been his home, law being his
exclusive business. Probably no attorney in this
part of the state ever rose more rapidly. Since he
settled in Plymouth county he has had extraordi-
nary success, especially as a criminal lawyer. He

has been retained on every case of the kind tried in
the county since locating here, and his success as-
tonishes those who have the highest opinion of him.
He seems to have the law at his tongue's end, and
is a powerful advocate. He is growing in knowl-
edge, in popularity and in legal acumen and intel-
lectual 'strength. Evidently a brilliant future is to
be his.

Mr. Argo was a democrat before coming to Iowa,
and has since acted with the republicans, being
classed among the moderates or conservatives; yet
at times he is very active, exhibiting great zeal for
friends whom he wishes to see elevated to office.
He works to win, and rarely fails.

He is a member of the blue lodge in the order
of Free and Accepted Masons.

Religiously, he is partial to the Presbyterian faith
and order of worship, but is a member of no church.
At the time of writing he is giving his leisure to ad-
vocating the cause of temperance, a fine field in
which to show his oratorical powers. ,

On the 25th of December, 1866, Miss Carrie Swe-
zey, of Marengo, Iowa, was married to Mr. Argo, and
they have two children and have lost two.



BENJAMIN A. BEACH, ex-colonel of the nth
Iowa Volunteer Infantry, was born in Hamilton,
Butler county, Ohio, on the 20th of January, 1827,
and is the son of John and Rosanna (Wilson) Beach,
the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of
Pennsylvania. The ancestors on the male side are
of German origin, and of the same stock to which
the wife of Benjamin Franklin, from whom he is
named, belonged ; while on the female side the lin-
eage is traced back to the north of Ireland, and
thence to Scotland. Our subject was the fourth of
a family of six children, two sons and four daughters,
and'was made an orphan at the age of five years by
the death of his father. His mother was left with-
out means, and the children were early thrown upon
their own resources. The schooling of Benjamin
A. was limited to three months annually in the depth
of winter, at the public schools, previous to the age
of nine years, at which period he commenced work-
ing in Graham's paper mills, near Hamilton, Ohio,
at fifty cents per week, where he remained steadily

for four years. At the age of thirteen years he was
apprenticed to a tinsmith in Richmond, Indiana, to
learn the trade of his master, at which he continued
three years. At the outbreak of the Mexican war
he ran away from home and enlisted as a soldier in
the ist Ohio Volunteers, Colonel A. M. Mitchell
commanding, and remained in the service some six-
teen months. The change of diet, and especially
the malarious climate of the south, brought on an
attack of fever that reduced him almost to a skele-
ton, and for weeks his life hung by a thread, but
on being removed to a higher latitude he recovered
with great rapidity, and became one of the most ro-
bust and healthy veterans of the army. He further-
more developed a taste and aptitude for soldiering
that placed him in the front ranks as an accom-
plished soldier. He served through all the marches
and campaigns of that struggle, fought at Monterey
and in other engagements, and was honorably dis-
charged at the close of the war. After laying down
his musket he resumed his trade at Hamilton, Ohio,



where he worked steadily for over two years, and in
1850 moved to Muscatine, Iowa, which has been his
home ever since. Here he opened a shop and store,
and conducted a profitable trade until the outbreak
of the slaveholders' rebellion, when, actuated by pa-
triotic motives, he again tendered his services to his
country, and on the 17th of April, 1861, he enlisted
in company A, ist Iowa Volunteers. But his pre-
vious military experience was too important to per-
mit of his remaining in the ranks, and on the or-
ganization of the company he was elected to the
position of first lieutenant. He served in this ca-
pacity through the three months' campaign, and par-
ticipated in the battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, at
which the lamented General Lion was killed. On the
17th of October, i86r, he reentered the service for
three years, as captain of company H, nth Iowa
Infantry. He commenced his career in the new
organization early in the spring of 1862, on the Ten-
nessee river, and participated in the battle of Shiloh,
on the 6th of April, where he lost some thirty men of
his company. He also took part in the campaign
against Corinth, under command of General Halleck.
While stationed at Bolivar, Tennessee, in Septem-
ber, 1862, he was placed in command of a detach-
ment consisting of his own company and a battalion
from the 31st Illinois, as a train guard, between
Bolivair and Jackson, and while en route for the latter
point was attacked and surrounded by a brigade of
rebel cavalry under General Jackson, of Tennessee,
who destroyed the track, cut off retreat, and de-
manded an unconditional surrender; but the gallant
captain was not made of surrender stuff. By a bril-
liant manoeuvre he fell back a few rods to Madora
station, which he barricaded with cotton bales, and
defended the depot and stores with great tenacity,
keeping his assailants at bay for a period of four
hours, when reinforcements from Jackson arrived
for his aid. His loss in the encounter was six men,
among whom was his orderly sergeant. The rebels
were subsequently repulsed with considerable loss.
Captain Beach was commended in general orders
for his gallantry and soldierly qualities in this en-
gagement. Next day he rejoined his regiment at
Bolivar, which was then under marching orders for
Corinth. His regiment was assigned to the com-
mand of General Ord, and on the 30th of Septem-
ber participated in the battle of luka, and in the
second battle of Corinth on the 3d and 4th of Octo-
ber, when the regiment again lost heavily. In No-
vember following the regiment returned to Grand

Junction, Tennessee, and joined the army of General
Grant, which was then contemplating a move upon
Vicksburgh, by way of the Mississippi Central rail-
road, but this line of approach was abandoned in
consequence of the cutting off of supplies by the
rebel general Van Dorn, at Holly Springs. The
army then fell back to Memphis, and approached
Vicksburgh by the river. After a siege of over six
months this stronghold surrendered to Grant, on the
4th of July, 1863. After resting in Vicksburgh till
the middle of August, our subject, with his regiment,
was transferred to the command of General Stephen-
son, and participated in the bootless campaign of
western Louisiana, terminating at the Washita river.
The country being marshy and swampy, the men
suffered greatly from malarial fever, and on return-
ing to Vicksburgh nine tenths of the command were
on the sick list, there being but two members of
Captain Beach's company able to walk from the
steamboat to the camp. After recuperating at Vicks-
burgh, the regiment veteranized, and our subject
was granted a thirty-days leave of absence. He
next joined General Sherman at Ackworth, Georgia,
and participated in the campaign against Atlanta,
and thence in the march to the sea, with all its
skirmishes, battles and adventures, till its arrival at
Savannah ; thence to Bufort, South Carolina ; thence
through the Carolinas to Goldsborough, participating
in Sherman's last fight with the rebels at Smith-
land; thence to Raleigh, being present at the sur-
render of the rebel general Joe Johnson ; thence to
Washington, by way of Petersburgh and Richmond,
and was present at the grand review in the national
capital in May, 1865. We have thus given an out-
line of his brilliant military career without interrupt-
ing the narrative to note his several promotions,
which we will now place on record.

At the battle of Atlanta, the same engagement in
which General McPherson was killed, on the 2 2d
of July, 1864, Major Foster, of the irth, was killed,
and Captain Beach was elected over all the inter-
mediate line officers to fill the vacancy. Before the
arrival of his commission as major, the colonelcy
of the regiment became vacant by the resignation
of Colonel Abercrombie, when he was elected over
the intermediate officer to the command of the regi-
ment, and retained that position until the arrival of
the army in Washington, when he was placed in
command of an Iowa brigade consisting of the nth,
13th, 15th and i6th regiments, and was offered a
brevet to his rank, which, however, he declined, the



war having been ended, and the compliment being
an empty one. During his long, active and brilliant
military service he was never a day off duty by sick-
ness, never wounded, captured, or absent on leave,
save the thirty days referred to above, nor was there
ever a charge of any kind preferred against him.
He was mustered out of service at Louisville, Ken-
tucky, on the 19th of July, 1865, he having made a
stainless and eminently honorable record, which will
be a legacy of priceless worth to his children.

After quitting the army he returned to Muscatine,
where, in partnership with Wm. T. Butts, he opened
a large grocery establishment, which still continues
in successful operation.

He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being
a Knight Templar.

He has been for many years a consistent mem-
ber of the Presbyterian church, and is a generous
contributor to all local charitable institutions.

Politically, he was raised in the democratic faith,
in' which he continued till the outbreak of the rebel-
lion, since which period he has been among the most
radical of republicans.

He has been twice married : first, on the 29th of
November, 1854, to Miss Mary Rebecca, daughter
of George D. and Ellen Stevenson, of Muscatine,
Iowa. She died on the nth of March, 1857, leaving
one child, which followed her to the hither shore
soon after; second, on the 31st of January, 1866,
to Miss Josephine, daughter of George and Ellen
Mason, of Muscatine, Iowa. They have two chil-
dren, boys, George and Frederick.

In a word, Colonel Beach is the type of an honest
man, a quiet and orderly citizen, and a loyal patriot.
Whether upon the march, in the camp, in the coun-
cil, at the post of danger and responsibility, or in the
more peaceful walks of life, he has proved himself
the typical man of honor and probity. He is a man
of great decision of character, strong and enduring
convictions of right, and can no more be swerved
from established principles than the needle from the
pole. He stands ever ready to vindicate the cause
of truth, honesty and impartial justice, both by word
and deed. No man in the community is more highly
esteemed for his quiet and unostentatious manners
and solid worth than is Colonel Benjamin Beach.



DANIEL HUNT, representative in the general
assembly from Pottawattamie county, is a son
of Seth Hunt, a miller and mill-owner, now residing
in Monroe county, Iowa, and was born in Glouces-
ter, Providence county, Rhode Island, on the 17th
of May, 1836. An ancestor, Captain Seth Hunt, a
seafaring man, was one of the early settlers in the
city of Providence. The maiden name of Daniel's
mother, was Hannah C. Tourlellot, a descendant of
Gabrial Tourlellot, a French Huguenot who fled to
South Carolina at the time of the persecution, and
moved thence to Rhode, Island. The great-grand-
father of Daniel on his grandmother's side, Daniel
Smith, was in the first war with the mother country.
His grandfather. Pardon Hunt, was once high sheriff
of Providence county.

The subject of this biography lost his mother when
he was only two years old, and went to live with his

Online Librarypub American Biographical Publishing CompanyThe United States biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of eminent and self made men. Iowa volume → online text (page 77 of 125)