John H. Hale

John H. Hale

One of the early residents of Waukon and a man who has many claims to the honor respect of his fellow citizens in John H. Hale, who came to the city in 1865 after a long and honorable period of service in the Civil war and who from that time to the present has been a central figure in mercantile circles here. For almost half a century he has witnessed the work of development and progress which has transformed the community and to an important extent has been identified with it, working along constructive and progressive lines through many active and honorable years until today he stands among the substantial and successful men of the city he aided in upbuilding.

Mr. Hale was born in Hartford, Connecticut, September 26, 1838, and acquired his education in Wilson Seminary in Massachusetts. He took a course in civil engineering and after completing it came west to Wisconsin in the fall of 1856, locating in La Corss on the 10th of October of that years. He there engaged in important engineering work on the Milwaukee Railroad and afterward was identified with the construction of the Root River Valley Road. In 1859 he went to Texas and practiced his profession there until the outbreak of the Civil war. In 1861 he enlisted in the Union army, joining company D, thirteenth Michigan volunteer Infantry, and as a private was sent to the front. He participated in numerous engagements, including the battles of Shiloh, Chickamauga and Mission ridge and was with Sherman on his march to the sea. At Chickamauga he received a gunshot wound in the leg. He came to Waukon and married in February, 1864, and almost immediately afterward returned to the front and, rejoining his command, served until the close of the war. He won promotion from the rank of private to that of second and then first lieutenant and was afterward captain and acting major through the Carolinas. He marched with his regiment to Washington, where he took part in the famous grand review, afterward receiving his honorable discharge at Jackson, Michigan, on July 25, 1865. John H. Hale was related to Nathan Hale of Revolutionary fame.

With this credible military record Mr. Hale came to Waukon and soon afterward engaged in merchandising, an occupation with which he has now been identified for forty-eight years. Under the firm name of J. H. Hale & Company he now has one of the largest dry-goods concerns in the city. For years C. W. Jenkins was a member of the firm and since his death the name of the firm has been J. H. Hale and Sons. A few years ago he erected a fine modern building to accommodate his growing patronage and on two of the floors carries an immense stock of goods which is well selected and tastefully arranged. Each year has seen an increase in the volume and importance of his business, which now amounts to more than fifty thousand dollars annually. Many changes have been made in the firm name since 1865, the title being today J. H. Hales & Sons, assumed when Mr. Hale admitted his two sons as partners.

Although he has won notable success as a merchant Mr. Hale has done equally important work in civil engineering during the years of his residence in Waukon. When the Waukon and Milwaukee Railroad was built into the city by private subscription he had charge of the engineering and construction work and he was also assistant engineer in charge of the construction of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Wisconsin Central. In his early years he delighted to leave his store and go into the open to work on engineering projects and he continued his activity in this line until 1905, when he met with an accident, having been run over by an engine and sustaining the loss of his right arm. He is numbered among the notably successful men of Waukon, owning, besides his business and the property upon which his store is located, a fine modern residence.

In February, 1864 Mr. Hale married Miss Henrietta M. Huestis, a native of Nova Scotia, who came here with her parents when young, and they have three children: Emily H., the wife of E. F. Wedary, of whom further mention is made elsewhere in this work; and Charles J. And W. H. Partners in their father’s business. Charles J. Hale is married and has four children, three sons and a daughter. Mrs. John H. Hales has since been called to her final rest.

Mr. Hale has been for many years identified with the republican party and is in sympathy with the progressive wing of the organization. He is a member of the Loyal Legion of Honor. His wife belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church. He has been at all times interested in the welfare of the city and has given his active cooperation to many movements for the public good, while his efforts in behalf of general improvement have been effective and far reaching. Living in Waukon for forty-eight years, he is one of the best known citizens in the locality, being widely recognized as a man of tired integrity and worth, of business enterprise and unfaltering diligence. His fellow townsmen honor and respect him and wherever his is known he has an extensive circle of friends. Moreover, he deserves mention in this volume as one of the veterans of the Civil war, to whom the country owes a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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