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Thomas G. Orr


Posted By: S. Ferrall - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 7/6/2020 at 12:53:08

Popular Former Resident of Town Has Had Wonderful Careers
Waukon, Ia., June 24 - Col. and Mrs. Thomas G. Orr are visitors in Waukon, coming from their home at Hot Springs, S.D., to visit Mrs. Orr's mother, Mrs. C.J.F. Newell, and renew acquaintances of years ago when they were residents here. Saturday was Col. Orr's seventieth birthday and the event was appropriately celebrated.

The colonel is a truly self-made man, for when he was but seven years of age he was left an orphan in Virginia and was brought to Volney, this county, by Dr. Thomas Barnes, who practiced medicine in Waukon and vicinity for many years, but who has long since passed to the great beyond.

"Tommy" Orr, as a boy, worked at odd jobs until one day he observed an advertisement in a Lansing newspaper stating that they wanted a boy to learn the printer's trade. This was before the Civil war. So "Tommy" made application for the place, secured it, and worked in a print shop until he went to the war as a drummer boy at the age of thirteen years.

After the war he returned and Waukon and for some years worked again as a printer in Waukon newspaper offices, later going to Lansing where he was employed by the grain buying firm of Hewit and Lamkin.

About 1884 Mr. Orr went to South Dakota, where he was at once picked as a candidate for the combined office of clerk of court and register of deeds, and that fall was elected and was subsequently re-elected for several terms.

He was at various times president of the Republican State League, president of the republican state central committee, was deputy state food and dairy commissioner, was appointed twice by two different governors as a member of the state soldiers' home board for three years, when he was elected superintendent of the state soldiers home, which position he held for nearly seven years, when he resigned because of ill health.

During the nearly ten years' connection with the soldiers' home he made a host of friends among the members of the G.A.R., as will be evidenced by the fact that at a meeting of the G.A.R. at which he was not present; he was elected by acclamation, under suspension of the rules, as a delegate at large to the national G.A.R. convention to be held at Portland, Oregon, on the 18th August next.

Eleven years' ago Col. Orr underwent an operation for cancer at the Mayo hospital at Rochester, Minn., when nearly all of the intestines were removed.

And now, on his seventieth birthday, he is here to meet his old, old friends and neighbors of forty and fifty years ago, and says he is proud of the progress he finds made in his old home town and the grand reception given him by his old friends and neighbors.

~Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 25, 1918

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Selected transcription of a related news item --

Veteran Soldier Tells How McNamara Attorney Offered him a Bribe
Hot Springs, Dec. 23 - When a man has served an Iowa regiment through the civil war he has learned such lessons in patriotism that he cannot take a bribe and live with his conscience. This is shown by a letter received here from Robert Bain, whose evidence brought the McNamara murder trials to such a sudden and shocking conclusion. Col. Thomas G. Orr, superintendent of the state soldiers home here has received Bain's own story of the affair.

Bain and Orr enlisted in the 5th Iowa infantry in June 1861. Bain was drum major and Orr, who was 13, was one of his drummer boys. Col. Orr was the youngest Iowa man who went entirely through the war. The two slept and fought together for three years. After Bain's bribery was made public he could not rest till he confessed and squared himself to his old comrade here.

[transcription note: the next few paragraphs detail the bribery, which had nothing to do with Orr]

Col. Orr has a photograph of Robert Bain taken at Huntsville, Ala., in 1863, showing him in his musician's uniform. Another picture shows him as a member of the San Diego drum corps, composed of Civil war veterans who still meet each year. Before him is his drum, which is a famous battle relic. According to Col. Orr, who knew this drum as intimately as he does his own.

[transcription note: the remainder of the article detail's Bain's family military history, and doesn't mention Orr again]

~Bad River News, Philip, Stanley County, S.D.; Thursday, Dec. 28, 1911
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Notes: Thomas Graham Orr died 11/22/1920 and is buried with his wife, Emma M. (Newell) Orr, in Greenwood cemetery, Brookings co., S. Dakota.


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