pub American Biographical Publishing Company.

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

. (page 92 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

has the charge of the financiering and money matters
of the firm, to which he is eminently qualified.

Bernard Schwarting runs the Walcott Flouring
Mills, and supplies the factory with twenty to thirty
barrels of flour per day. He is interested also in the
grocery business, and not active in the bakery.

Altogether the firm is a good one. They are keen,
active business men, and are building up an im-
mense trade, which their good management and close
attention will constantly improve. They ship all
over the west, and their goods are growing into de-
mand and popularity.



R WALLACE DUNCAN, the member of the
. general assembly from the eighth district, is
a native of Trumbull county, Ohio, and dates his
birth on the 13th of January, 1836. His father,
Thomas Duncan, a descendant of an old Scotch
family, is a farmer, still living in Trumbull county.

Ohio. His mother was Susan Leach, descended
from New, Jersey stock. The grandfather of Wal-
lace, John Duncan, was a soldier in the second war
with England.

The subject of this notice early imbibed a strong
love for books, and became a great reader. Most



of his youth was spent in intellectual pursuits, and
he received his academic education at Warren and
Lordstown, in his native state. He went as far as
the middle of the junior year in the classical course
of the college at Mount Union, teaching meanwhile
more or less, then left and taught steadily for ten
years, principally select schools and academi-es, at
Austintown, Oldtown, Mineral Ridge, and at one or
two other places in Ohio. He taught the English
branches and classics, and as far .as we can ascertain
was an expert in English grammar ahd mathematics.

In 1867 Mr. Duncan ceased to teach; immigrated
to Iowa, and has since been in the hardware and
grain business with an elder brother, John R. Dun-
can, constituting a house of high standing in Mon-
roe county, and quite successful in its business op-
erations. Wallace pays no attention to the hardware
store, his specialty being the grain department. He
also deals largely in agricultural implements, wagons
and machines.

Mr. Duncan has always been a democrat, but not
a bitter partisan. In 1877 his party nominated him
a candidate for the lower house of the general as-

sembly, and 'though living in a strong republican
district, he received a majority of more than three
hundred votes.

Mr. Duncan has a wife and three children, his
marriage occurring on the nth of October, i860.
His wife was Miss Laura E. Jones, of Trumbull
county, Ohio. She is a member of the Christian
church, where the whole family worship. Though
not a member, her husband is a regular attendant at
the house of God, and a firm believer in the funda-
mental doctrines of Christianity.

The taste for reading which Mr. Duncan culti-
vated with great assiduity in youth has never aban-
doned him. He continues to gratify it with una-
bated ardor, and to no meagre or mean extent.
The writer heard him remark not long ago that,
however pressing his business, he read his three
hours a day, even though he could not commence
till ten o'clock at night. His reading is not all news-
papers, but mainly solid works. He has a love for
the newer branches of science, and for literature of
the standard class, the gratification of which must to
some extent daily expand and enrich his mind.



GEORGE W. McCRARY, secretary of war
(1878), was born near Evansville, Indiana, on
the 29th of August, 1835, his parents being James
and Matilda McCrary nee Forrest. His father was
one of the pioneers who settled in what is now Van
Buren county, Iowa, in 1836, when it was a part of
the Territory of Wisconsin. In 1838 Iowa became
an independent territory, and in 1846 a state of the
Union. Hence it will be seen that Mr. McCrary
has grown up and developed with a large region of
country having a common interest, and producing
four or five fine states.

He is of Scotch-Irish descent ; his ancestors
emigrated from Scotland in the early part of the
eighteenth century, and settled in the neighborhood
of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from whence his great-
grandfather, James McCrary, moved to North Car-
olina prior to the war of the revolution, and settled
in what was then Rowan, but now Iredell, county ;
there his grandfather, John McCrary, W&s born and
reared ; and his father, James McCrary, was also
born and lived there until he was about nineteen

years of age, when the family removed to Tennessee,
about the year 1812; lived there about ten years,
and then removed to Indiana, and from thence, in
1835 (the year of his birth), to McDonough county,
Illinois, where the family resided about a year, and
then moved across the Mississippi river to where
he was raised. George W. attended the common
schools of the district where the family settled, and
also an academy, receiving quite a thorough Eng-
lish education, and enjo)'ing some, though not great,
advantages in the acquisition of knowledge in the
higher branches of learning. His early experiences
were such as are common to a pioneer's son, namely,
plenty of manual labor, which was always cheerfully
and dutifully performed, and the usual vicissitudes
of frontier life. As a result, however, a fine physical
development was secured, and, what is of equal
importance, he acquired habits of industry and
strict sobriety. His tastes were always toward the
intellectual, and consequently toward the improve-
ment, of his mind.

He had early determined to make the practice of



law his occupation, and his first step after leaving
school was to enter the law office of Miller and
Rankin, of Keokuk. The first-named, Hon. Samuel
F. Miller, is now one of the associate justices of the
supreme court of the United States. Applying him-
self studiously, he was admitted to the bar in 1856,
the year of casting his first vote, and determined
to settle permanently in Keokuk, in which city he
continued to reside, and has ever since regarded it
as his home.

In 1857, when only about twenty-two years of
age, he was elected to the house of representatives
of Iowa, by the combined vote of several of the
southeastern counties, as *a " float," and served two
years. He was the youngest member of that body.
In 1 86 1 he was elected to the state senate from the
county of Lee, which had hitherto been overwhelm-
ingly democratic. In this position he served four
years, and became conspicuous for his personal
ability and wide-spread influence. Then came a
period of laborious and eminently successful efforts
in the line of his profession. In 1868, at the early
age of thirty-three years, he was elected a member
of the national house of representatives, and took
his seat in the forty-first congress as one of the
youngest of the members of that body. He was
reelected to the forty-second, the forty-third and
the forty-fourth congresses, and always with the most
flattering majorities. This brought his range of
public service up to the 4th of March, 1877, when,
on the organization of President Hayes' cabinet,
Mr. McCrary was offered and accepted the honor-
able position of secretary of war, and, it may be
added, no one of the selections made by the chief
magistrate has met with more universal approval.

Upon entering congress McCrary took position
very quickly. He was assigned immediately to the
committees on naval affairs, revision of the laws,
and elections ; as a member of the latter, he dis-
tinguished himself most signally. The considera-
tion and decision of election contests gave play to
his extensive legal knowledge, and his strong love
of justice and fair play enabled liim to rise above
party prejudice and decide such cases upon their
merits only. He at once took rank as one of the
best lawyers in the body, and as an authority upon
election la-vr. In the forty-second congress speaker
Blaine, in accordance with the general desire of his
fellow-members, appointed Mr. McCrary chairman
of the committee on elections ; in this position his
services were highly honorable and successful. With

his own party in a majority of more than two-thirds
in the house, he induced that body for the first time
in its history to vote upon election cases without
regard to party lines; and a majority of the cases
considered and reported by him were decided in
favor of his political opponents. His reports were
all adopted, and most of them without a division.
When the forty-third congress assembled, and the
questions relating to transportation, and the import-
ant matters connected with the subject of inter-state
commerce, were absorbing public interest and atten-
tion, Mr. McCrary was made chairman of the com-
mittee on railways and canals, to which all these
subjects were referred. He took hold instantly, and
labored with his usual thoroughness and vigor; he
prepared a report on the constitutional power of
congress to regulate railroad commerce among the
states, which was and still is regarded as exhaustive,
comprehensive and conclusive ; he reported a bill
on the subject, and advocated it before the house
with remarkable power. After one of the most
memorable debates on record it passed that body,
but was not reached for consideration in the senate.

In the forty-fourth congress Mr. McCrary was se-
lected by speaker Kerr (the democrats now being
in the majority) as a member of the committee on
the judiciary, where he served with his usual in-
dustry, ability and success. He was the author
of a bill to reorganize the judiciary of the United
States, which he advocated on the floor as well as
in committee, and which passed the house by a large
majority. After the presidential election of 1876,
when it was seen that the country was about evenly
divided in opinion as to the result of the contest,
and that the two branches of congress were sure to
differ, not only as to that result, but also as to the
proper authority to decide it, George W. McCrary
was the first to step forward with a proposition for
the adoption of a lawful and peaceful solution of the
difficulty. He proposed the joint committee, and
was himself a leading member of it, taking an active
part in the preparation of the electoral bill, and in
its advocacy in the house. He believes, and most
people will agree with him, that under all the cir-
cumstances this was a wise measure of statesman-
ship, which has given the country peace instead of
turmoil, excitement, and perhaps civil war.

Secretary McCrary was raised in the Christian
denominatit)n, a largely influential body of religious
people in the west, and has been a Unitarian for
twenty years past.



In politics, he has always been a republican, and
cast his first vote for General John C. Fremont in

He was married to Miss Helen A. Gelatt, a resi-
dent of Van Buren county, Iowa, on the nth of
March, 1857. Mrs. McCrary is of a sterling type
of American womanhood, intelligent, practical and
energetic ; is possessed of the finest religious, moral
and domestic instincts, and capable of adorning any
position into which she may be carried by the con-
stantly advancing fortunes of her partner in life.
Their union has been blessed with five children, the
eldest and youngest being sons. Of the daughters,
two ere long will approach the period of entering
into society. The boys and girls alike are being
educated in consonance with the views of their
parents, solely and with reference to their usefulness
as men and women.

The secretary is somewhat less than six feet in
height, is finely proportioned, rather muscular, and
weighs about two hundred and ten pounds. He has
a slight, scholarly stoop, arising no doubt from his
studious habits. His expression of countenance is

frank and benevolent. Great equanimity of mind,
and a disposition to weigh matters carefully and
justly, are prominent traits of his character ; but
back of these lies an immense fund of energy for the
prosecution of any cause his judgment commends.
In speech, he is remarkably easy, fluent and instruct-
ive, especially during his social hours. Before the
public, he is strong, logical and impressive, using,
in his most carefully prepared addresses, sturdy
Saxon language, and his voice on such occasions is
full, clear and ringing. True in his friendships, kind
to the poor and rich alike, with naught of venom
ever coming from hi^ tongue, he is a general favorite
with all who know him.

Mr. McCrary is one of the growing men of the
republic, and, if life be spared, will continue to be
heard from. In every station he has always come
fully up to the expectation of his friends. It is
seldom, even in this country, or indeed in any other,
that at the age of forty-two years any person has
had so large an experience, and, under its influence,
expanded so well. His example is truly an excellent
one for the ambitious youth of our land to imitate.



ONE of the youngest attorneys whose names ap-
pear in this volume is John Van Nesse Evans,
who has been only seven years at the bar, and is
already at the head of the profession in Harrison
county. He is a native of the Empire State, and
was born in the town of Shelby, Genesee county,
on the 8th of January, 1847. His paternal great-
grandfather was in the battle of Bennington, Ver-
mont, on the i6th of September, 1777. He came
from Wales, and settled in Otsego county, New
York, where Barnabas Evans, the father of John
Van Nesse, was born. His wife was Julia Ann
Brown, a native of Pownel, Bennington county, Ver-

The -subject of this sketch spent his youth in Ak-
ron, Erie county, six miles from his birthplace, at-
tending a district school in the winters and farming
the rest of the time. In October, 1863, the family
moved to De Witt, Clinton county, Iowa, reaching
there on the 30th of the month. After farming
there two seasons, the son entered Lenox Collegiate
Institute, Hopkinton, Delaware county, Iowa, spend-

ing most of the years of 1865 and 1866 there, and
nearly all of the next two years at Monmouth Col-
lege, Knox county, Illinois, pursuing the scientific
course, yet giving some attention to German and
the classics, but not graduating. During this period
and afterward he taught school to defray expenses,
six or seven terms in all. Whatever education he
has, literary or legal, he obtained by his own re-

Mr. Evans read law with George B. Young, of De
Witt, and was admitted to the bar at Clinton, on the
7th of December, 1870. His mother had died at
De Witt two years before ; his father followed her
in 1872, and after practicing a year or more at De
Witt, in the autumn of 187 1 he removed to western
Iowa, settling at Magnolia, then the shiretown of
Harrison county. In the autumn of 1875 he moved,
with the county records, to his present home, where
he is building up practice of the best quality and of
liberal extent. For the last two years he has been
county attorney. Young as he is, his position is at
the head of the Harrison county bar.



Mr. Evans is a member of the chapter in Odd-
Fellowship, and is a blue-lodge Mason.

His religious connection is with the Methodists ;
his political, with the republicans.

His wife, who was Miss Clara M. King, is a daugh-
ter of Stephen King, late judge of Harrison county,
and residing near Logan. They were married on
the i6th of June, 1875, and have one child.

While reading law as well as while pursuing his
literary studies, Mr. Evans taught school, and be-
fore he was admitted to practice had learned the
full value of time and money. That was one of his
most important lessons, and he has not forgotten it.
Every spare moment is now devoted to study, mainly
in the line of his profession; hence his rapid progress
and his high standing at so early an age.



JOHN ANSON NASH, president of the Univer-
J sity of Des Moines, and an educator of much
experience and eminence, is a native of Chenango
county, New York, and was born in the town of
Sherburne, on the nth of July, 1816. His parents
were John and Elizabeth Peck Nash, his mother
being a sister of Rev. John Peck, long an agent of
the American Baptist Home Mission Society. An
uncle, Moses Nash, was in the war of 1812-15.

The subject of this sketch lost his father before
the son was five years old, and was reared on a farm
by an aunt in Otsego county. At the age of twenty
he entered the preparatory department of Madison
University; graduated from the university in 1842,
and from the theological seminary at the same place
in 1844. His first pastorate was at Watertown, New
York, where he spent six years, leaving there in July,
1850. On the 3d of the next January he reached
Des Moines, which has since been his home. He
immediately gathered the few Baptists together, or-
ganized a church, and was its pastor between seven-
teen and eighteen years, teaching also the larger
part of this period. About 1853 he started a select
school, which soon grew into what was long known
as Forest Home Seminary, the only classical school
during its existence.

Des Moines being centrally located in the state,
and some inducements being held out to the Bap-
tists, it was resolved to establish an institution here
of the highest order, and the University of Des
Moines is the result of that movement, organized in
April, 1865. Dr. Nash became its financial agent,
and labored in that capacity, with some interrup-
tions, for four years, until his health broke down.
This was not, however, until some time after the
brick building on the hill in Des Moines had been

completed, and the institution was in operation
there. During the period that he was regaining his
health Dr. Nash was superintendent of schools for
Polk county, his tei;m expiring on the ist of Janu-
ary, 1874. Prior to this date, in the autumn of 1872,
he became acting president of the university, and
was at its head three years, when Hon. Frederick
Mott became president. After holding that posi-
tion a little more than a year. President Mott re-
signed, and Dr. Nash was again placed in the presi-
dential chair (May, 1877), where we still find him,
laboring with the utmost assiduity to build up the
university. From the time it was opened in April,
1866, its corps of teachers has been gradually in-
creased and its curriculum enlarged until it em-
braces a full college course. It is open to both
males and females, and graduated its first class in
1875. Each year shows a steady increase of stu-
dents, and being located at the capital, it can hardly
fail of becoming in time one of the great centers of
educational influence in Iowa. It has an endow-
ment of something like thirty thousand dollars,
which, no doubt, will be doubled or quadrupled in
a very few years.

Dr. Nash was, we believe, originally an anti-sla-
very whig, and has voted with the republican party
since it was formed.

He has had two wives : the first was Miss Jennie
C. Calhoun, of Pittsford, Monroe county, New York;
married in July, 1846. She died childless on the
3d of February, 1851. His present wife was Miss
Mary E. Hepburn, a native of New York, residing
at the time of her marriage (March 15, 1853,) at
Augusta, Lee county, Iowa. She is the mother of
four children, all living. John Alasco, the only son,
was educated at the university and the law school



of Des Moines, and is an attorney in this city;
Jennie C. is in the senior year of the same college ;
Netta in the junior year, and Hattie, aged eleven,
is in the public schools.

Since Dr. Nash located in Des Moines, at the
opening of 1851, he has accomplished a great relig-
ious as well as educational work, organizing two
Baptist churches, one on each side of the river, in
Des Moines, and being largely instrumental in the
formation of nearly thirty others in central Iowa.

Every good cause receives his hearty and powerful
support. Many years ago he canvassed the central
part of the state for a prohibitory liquor law, and
has been one of the champions of temperance for
forty years. A young commonwealth just shaping
its laws, or an older one desirous of keeping good
laws on its statute books, cannot have too many
citizens of the character of John Anson Nash. The
degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the
University of Chicago in 1877.



scendant of the celebrated Miles Coverdale,
the translator of the Bible, was born at Cottenham,
Yorkshire, England, in February, 1822, his parents
being John Coverdale and Mary Ann n^e Todd.
His father was born in Yorkshire in 1798, and is
at this writing (1877) in his eightieth year, resid-
ing in Muscatine with his son, having emigrated to
America some four years since. His parents, whose
parents owned and resided at Southard Hall, near
Cottingham castle, Yorkshire, was a member of a
family of three children, two of whom are still liv-
ing, namely, Elizabeth, wife of Edward Thompson,
of Montreal, Canada, and John Todd, now a resi-
dent of Sheffield, England. Mrs. Coverdale died in
1837, when our subject was but fifteen years of age,
leaving a family of three children, of whom he was
the eldest. Her father was a large land owner, but
dying very suddenly intestate, his estate became
involved in litigation and was ultimately placed in '
charge of the court of chancery, where it is likely
to remain indefinitely, unless a second Dickens with
a second " Bleak House " should appear to disturb
its slumbers and urge it on to a final decision.

Our subject received but a limited education.
His mother being an invalid during the last four
years of her life, and he being the eldest child,
much of the care of the younger children as well
as of the mother devolved upon him, and in this
way four of the best school years of his life were
employed. He has not infrequently been heard to
speak with much feeling of the trials and troubles
incident to his boyhood years, and the obstacles
with which he had to contend in his endeavor to
obtain the little book knowledge which he was able

to acquire ; and yet, on looking back over his whole
life, the recollection of those four years devoted to
the care of his dear mother affords him more genu-
ine satisfaction than any other period of his life.
In youth, he was grave, steady and earnest, gov-
erned by strong moral principles and an unswerv-
ing desire to do his whole duty in that state of life
to which it should please God to call him, and in-
deed such has been his character through life, a
str6ng, earnest desire to know and to do his whole
duty to God and man. '

At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed for
seven years to learn the trade of a machinist or en-
gine builder, his wages varying gradually from two
shillings and sixpence per week for the first year to
nine shillings per week for the seventh year of his
apprenticeship. After serving out the stipulated
period of tutelage he was taken into the employment
of the firm, where he remained eight years, the last
five of which he served as foreman of the depart-
ment of the establishment in which he was engageil.
In 1 85 1 he resolved to emigrate to America, being
moved to this step mainly by the hope of larger
wages and the prospect of bettering his condition,
and in that year he embarked for the new world,
carrying with him from his late employers the very
highest testimonials as to qualifications and charac-
ter for sobriety, honesty and industry. He halted at
Cincinnati, Ohio, where his reception was far from
encouraging, and his faith and stability were put to
the severest test. For months he was unable to pro-
cure any employment, though he sought it diligently
and sometimes even with tears; at last, utterly worn
out with discouragement, he determined to return
to his native land by working his passage home, his



money being well-nigh exhausted ; but on the day-
preceding that on which he had settled to com-
mence the homeward journey he resolved to make
one more effort among the shops of the Queen City,
and in the afternoon was offered a situation at seven
dollars per week at the machine shops of Hollibard
and Co., the manager telling him he might go to