William H. Fitch (1840-1907)
Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 4/6/2022 at 12:14:50
Captain William H. Fitch
(March 25, 1840 – July 27, 1907)
An enumeration of those men of the present generation who have won honor and public recognition for themselves and at the same time have honored the state to which they belong would be incomplete were there failure to make prominent reference to the one whose name initiates this paragraph. He has been prominently connected with educational, commercial and political interests in Calhoun County and holds distinctive precedence as a valiant and patriotic soldier who has ever borne himself with such signal dignity and honor as to gain him the respect of all. He has been and is distinctively a man of affairs and one who has wielded a wide influence. A strong mentality, an invincible courage, a most determined individuality have so entered into his make-up as to render him a natural leader of men and a director of opinion. Captain Fitch is a native of Vermont, his birth having occurred in Swanton, Franklin County, on the 25th of March, 1840, a son of Mason and Sally (Aseltine) Fitch, the former a native of New York and the latter of the Green Mountain state, while both were representatives of old New York families. When the Captain was about ten years of age the family removed to Canton, St. Lawrence County, New York, where the parents remained until the close of the Civil War, when they removed to Woodstock, McHenry County, Illinois, where the father died in 1880, at the age of fifty-six years. He followed the occupation of farming throughout his entire business career. After his death the mother took up her abode in Lake City, where her last days were passed. In their family were live children: William H. is the eldest, James C. was killed at the battle of Ringgold, Georgia, November 27, 1863, immediately following the engagement at Missionary Ridge. He was a member of Company A, Sixtieth New York Volunteer Infantry, of which our subject was captain, while he was orderly sergeant. After being shot he survived for only a few hours. George, who was a member of the Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, and also served under General Sheridan in the War of the Rebellion, died in California. Alice is the wife of James Hartman, who is living a retired life in Lake City, Sarah J. is the wife of Norman Mead, of New York city.
In the public schools of New York Captain Fitch obtained his education and in St. Lawrence Academy and St. Lawrence University. He was pursuing a course of civil engineering when the war broke out, and in July, 1861, at Canton, New York, he offered his services to the government. On the organization of Company A, Sixtieth New York Infantry, he was appointed corporal, soon afterward was made orderly sergeant and for meritorious and gallant service was commissioned first lieutenant at Chancellorsville, while a short time afterward he was made captain. He participated in the many battles of the Shenandoah Valley, including Harpers Ferry, Port Royal, Winchester and others of lesser importance. He then joined the Army of the Potomac and participated in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Later his regiment was transferred to the Army of the West, commencing operations at Wauhatchie, which was followed by the battles of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta, being continuously under fire until he reached the last named place. For a time the command was stationed at Stevenson, Alabama, guarding railroads, and was with Sherman from Atlanta to Savannah, thus participating in the celebrated march to the sea. Captain Fitch's regiment was the first to enter Atlanta and their colors were the first to float over any of the public buildings. The army with which he was connected had captured Savannah and had taken part in the battle of Goldsboro when Lee surrendered. The command then proceeded to Washington, where the Captain participated in the grand review, — the most celebrated
military pageant ever seen on the continent. He had re-enlisted as a veteran soon after the battle of Lookout Mountain and was honorably discharged at Alexandria, Virginia, in July, 1865. He saw much hard service. Three times the colors of his regiment were shot down at Lookout Mountain. General Waithall’s sword was there captured by his regiment, which also captured a Confederate flag. Captain Fitch was wounded at Chancellorsville in the right leg by a minie ball and several times had his hat and clothing perforated by Rebel bullets. He was also ill with typhoid fever for a time, but during the greater part of his military service he was in active duty, and his own gallantry and bravery inspired his men to deeds of valor. He served as inspector on the staffs of General Greene, Garey, Mendall and Bartlett for six months, and at the close of the war he held a commission as lieutenant colonel. He was in every engagement from Lookout Mountain until Sherman's army reached the sea, including forty battles and skirmishes.
At the close of the war Captain Fitch returned to his old home in New York, but after a short time came to the west in the fall of 1865, making his way to Chicago, thence to Omaha by way of the Missouri river and on to Fremont, Nebraska, where the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, expecting to enter the civil engineering department. He next proceeded to Fort Dodge by way of Lake City by stage, and that winter was employed to teach the school at Lake City. He taught through the winter and is now one of the oldest school teachers still living in this part of the
state. Subsequently he purchased a farm southwest of the town and carried on agricultural pursuits there until 1887, when he removed to Lake City, where he was engaged in merchandising as proprietor of a
store, in partnership with J. J. Hutchinson for four years.
Mr. Fitch has been honored with a number of public offices. In 1866 he was elected clerk of the district court and filled that position until 1873, when he was elected to represent his district in the state senate, in which he served for four years or until 1876, leaving the impress of his individuality upon the legislation enacted during that period. He was a member at the time the capitol was built and served as a member of the building committee. For six years he also held the office of supervisor, and in his political views he has always been a Republican, strongly endorsing the principles of the party and doing all in his power to promote its growth and insure its success.
The Captain was married, in 1866, to Miss Sarah E. Lindsey, of Lake City, and a native of Michigan. They have two children: Lora A., the wife of E. A. Losey, of Lake City, and John, who lives on the farm in Jackson Township. The Captain is a member of the Grand Army Post, while his wife is a member of the Relief Corps, and both take an active part in the work of the organization. They have a large circle of friends throughout Calhoun County, and the Captain is as true to his duties of citizenship today as when he followed the starry banner of the nation upon southern battlefields. His public and private record is above reproach, and whether in business or in official circles he has ever been found worthy the trust reposed in him. [Source – Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S. J. Clarke, 1902, p.300]
Calhoun Biographies maintained by Karon S. Valeu.
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