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Honor Jackson Orr


Posted By: County Coordinator
Date: 3/11/2009 at 17:13:29

Honor Jackson Orr the subject of this sketch was born in Fayette county, Ohio, September 21, 1832, son and second child of Samuel Orr, a native of Kentucky, born June 2, 1800. His father was John Orr, son of James Orr, a Scotchman who migrated to American in 1745. Jackson Orr was known in Boone county as “Captain” , Orr an inheritance of his army service during the Civil War. He has one brother, William Orr, older than himself, who died in Fort Dodge, Iowa September 21, 1855, and is buried in Boone. His mother’s family name was Snider, being of German descent. There were also two sisters: Mrs Eliza Jane Stedman, who died August 14, 1857, and Mrs Amanda Mosier, who died August 18, 1863, in Iowa.
At the age of four years Captain Orr removed with his family form Kentucky to northern Indiana, settling in the village of Benton, Elkhart county. The region was new and the Indians had not then been removed, an event delayed for several years after the advent of the Orr’s. The common schools of that time were equally primitive, and young Orr received the elements of an English education within the walls of the traditional log school house. He made the best use of his opportunities, however, and at the age of sixteen taught a country school in the same county. At the age of eighteen he attended the LaGrange Collegiate Institute at Ontario, LaGrange county, Indiana, and the year following returned to his birth place and attended an academy in Greenfield, Highland county, Ohio, for one year. The next year he spent in a country store and on leaving this service he attended the State University of Bloomington, Indiana. His collegiate course at this institution was terminated by the breaking out of the cholera there, and Captain Orr returned to his home in Elkhart county, finding employment in the office of the clerk of the district court of Noble county, Indiana, as deputy clerk, In this capacity he remained for four years, when he became a candidate for that office but was defeated at the polls, the reaction after the “ Know Nothing” political episode having give the county to the Democrats.
Shortly after this the death of his brother, William at Fort Dodge, Iowa, called him out to that place to settle up his estate. This accomplished, Captain Orr settled in Jefferson, Greene county, Iowa. In Greene county he held the office of superintendent of schools, by election and subsequently that of county treasurer, by appointment. He also engaged in the practice of law in Jefferson, but the sparse population and small legal business in consequence required him to add to his profession the business of land speculation.
On the breaking out of the Civil War in 1861, he raised company in Greene county which became Company H of the Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was chosen as its captain. The regiment was organized at Iowa city and went into service at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Captain Orr and his company served through the campaigns of Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi until after the surrender of Vicksburg, when failing health compelled his resignation.
Previous to the war and while residing in Jefferson he had married Miss Elvira e Amy of that place, who had borne one child who died at the age of one year. His next child was Jackson E, born at Jefferson, August 30, 1861, during the absence of the father in the army. He lived to the age of twenty-two years and lost his life in a railway accident near Ogden, Utah. Two daughters were born at Boonesboro, whither the family had removed soon after Captain Orr’s return from the army: Mrs Maude Blanche Nelson and Mrs Zoe Amy Trowbridge, both of whom are living.
Captain Orr’s first wife died at Des Moines, Iowa, July 27, 1896, and was buried at Boone. October 14, 1901, he was again married to Lavinia Waddell, at Chicago, Illinois.
After location in Boonesboro Captain Orr first engaged in mercantile business, which was afterward removed to the new town of Boone. He became a candidate on the Republican ticket for the office of representative in the state legislature, but was defeated by William Cook Martin. In 1868 he was again a candidate for the house and was elected to the twelfth general assembly over John A Hull the Democratic candidate.
In 1870 the Republican of the sixth district of Iowa nominated him as their candidate for representative in congress and he was elected a member of the forty-second congress, defeating the Democratic candidate, Charles Smeltzer of Fort Dodge. He was again a candidate for the same office in 1872 and was elected, defeating John F Duncombe, Democrat, of Fort dodge. At the expiration of his second term, having served four years in the nation congress, he removed to Colorado which had just been admitted to statehood, settling first at Silverton and afterward removing to Denver, where he now resides. During his residence in Silverton he held for four years the office of county judge. He has been frequently active in the general politics of the state of Colorado. In all his residence in that state he has been engaged in mining and is so engaged at present.
Captain Orr’s service in the national legislature was conspicuous for the part he took in what is known as the “River Land” matter. Early and poorly considered legislation on the part of Iowa general assemblies had the result of creating conflicting titles to a large portion of the lands lying along the Ds Moines river between the state capital and the Minnesota border. Successive but futile attempts to quiet these had been essayed, Congressman Orr took the matter up perfected his knowledge of the many intricacies surrounding the subject and was successful in securing such legislation as to subsequently clear up the entire matter. It can be properly said that he was the creator of Senator Allison. At the close of his first congressional term, there were conditions which seemed to require of him that Senator Harlan should be displace. His quiet campaign to this end made throughout the wide extent of the ten large sixth district of Iowa, resulted in the return of the state legislature immediately following of the sufficient number of members there from to secure the choice of Senator Allison as Mr Harlan’s successor.
Captain Orr was more than usually well endowed campaign speaker. His friends were greatly surprised at this capacity, all unsuspected by them, until his campaign against Hon John F Duncombe, the acknowledged orator of northwestern Iowa, brought it to light. He proved to be a foeman worthy the steel of Mr Duncombe’s flashing blade. In addition to the gift of ready speech in the forum, Captian Orr was a most engaging conversationalist. This was aided by the gift of a very pleasing personality, good descriptive powers and a vein of quaint humor which afforded the proper seasoning. His memory of his favorably recalled by the older residents of Boone county, who knew him thirty years ago.

1902 Boone County History Book


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