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David H. French (1841-1920)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 11/3/2022 at 23:08:24

David H. French
(August 2, 1841 August 26, 1920)

David H. French, the well known and popular station agent at Knierim, Iowa, and an honored veteran of the Civil war, was born on the 2d of August, 1841, in Andover, Windsor County, Vermont, his parents being Jehu and Matilda R. (Pearsall) French, the former of whom was also a native of the Green Mountain state, the latter of New York. The father was a brickmaker and followed that occupation for thirty-two years. In 1842 he removed to New York, where he made his home until 1849, and passed the following ten years in Jefferson, Wisconsin. He next resided with his daughter at Solon
Mills, McHenry county, Illinois, but spent his last days with our subject in Hudson, Illinois, where he died in his seventy-third
year. In politics he was a Republican. His wife had passed away in 1863. They were married in Andover, Vermont, and became the parents of six children, of whom two died in infancy. The others were Mary A., now the wife of Peter Overson, of Antioch, Lake County, Illinois; David H., our subject; Truman A., a very extensive contractor of Phoenix, Arizona; and Edward P., who was thrown from a horse and killed at Hudson, Illinois, in September, 1874. Much of the boyhood of our subject was spent in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, and he attended a frontier school at Poynette, that state, for three years. Leaving home at the age of fifteen years, he began working by the month on a farm, and was thus employed until the Civil war broke out. Hardly had the echoes of Fort Sumter's guns died away when he enlisted, April 15, 1861, but the company was soon afterward disbanded. On the 14th of July, of the same year, he joined Company A. Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain S. D. Atkins and Colonel W. H. Wallace, and was mustered into the United States service on the 30th of that month, at Birdpoint, Missouri, opposite Cairo, Illinois, where they remained some months as a rendezvous, preparing for the spring campaign. On leaving that place they proceeded to Fort Henry, February 3, in a cold rainstorm, and landed six miles below the fort, where they remained until the 11th of that month, and then marched to Fort Donelson, Company A being detailed as one of the advance guard. They camped that night in range of the guns from the fort. With his company Mr. French did picket duty most of the day, and suffered many hardships, being under fire from both artillery and sharpshooters. Just before the battle of Pittsburg Landing he
was taken ill and confined in the hospital at Savannah for two months. He was then discharged from the service May 17, 1862, but again enlisted for three months in Company A, Seventy-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain George Black and Colonel Burnside, with the express understanding that the company was to go to Annapolis, Maryland, but instead it was sent into camp at Columbus, Kentucky, and was engaged in guarding bridges at Little Obion, that state. On the expiration of his term of enlistment Mr. French returned to Freeport, Illinois. and from there went to his old home in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, where he was ill all winter. On the 14th of October, 1863, he was united in marriage with Miss Kezia A. Roach, of Freeport. Illinois, who was born in Shefford, Canada, June 1, 1844, and is a daughter of James and Mary C. (Savage) Roach, also natives of Canada. Leaving his young bride, Mr. French re-entered the army, enlisting January 28, 1864, in Company A, Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Joseph Clingman and Colonel B. F. Dornblazer. His command first went to Black River Station, Mississippi, and from there to Vicksburg, where they did garrison duty. They took part in several expeditions while stationed there, the most important of which was to Benton, Mississippi, in June, 1864, at which time they made a forced march of thirty miles in one day. They returned to Vicksburg in the latter part of the month, and on the 1st of July started for Jackson, Mississippi. On the 7th of July Mr. French was wounded at what was known as the second battle of Jackson, in which engagement his company lost heavily, one being killed and forty-one wounded. In their return to Vicksburg the regiment was ordered to Morganza Bend and took part in some heavy skirmishing. In October they went to White river and from there to Duvalls Bluff, and on to Memphis, Tennessee, where they remained until December 24, 1864, and then proceeded to Moscow, Tennessee. They intercepted the retreat of General Hood during the battles of Franklin and Nashville, after which they returned to Memphis. On the 1st of January, 1865 they were ordered to Kennerville, Louisiana, where they remained about a month and while there was paid off. They were next ordered to Dauphine island, where the following month was passed in reorganizing for further campaigns. They crossed Mobile bay, March 17, to Spanish Fort, and were about a week investigating the fortifications there. They next proceeded to Fort Blakely, and were constantly engaged in battle for about ten days. They charged on the works April 9, at five o'clock in the afternoon, which was probably the last charge of the war. Later they were sent to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and went into camp on the old camp grounds of General Jackson at Salubertz Spring, where Mr. French was detailed as an agent of the freedman's bureau, in which capacity he served through the summer. Going to Baton Rouge he was mustered out of service January 20, 1866, and returned north, reaching home on the 22nd of February. On the 1st of April, 1866, Mr. French began working for the llinois Central Railroad as a section hand, and the following year was given a position as ticket agent and telegraph operator, lie was placed in charge of the station at Hudson, Illinois, June 1, 1869, and was later transferred to Baileyville, that state, and from there to Cherokee. Iowa. He then worked as extra for the company until his present position was ready and on the 1st of November, 1899, came to Kuierim, Calhoun County, as agent and operator, in which capacity he is still serving the company, but lacks only a few months of the time when he will be able to retire on a pension from the railroad. He is one of the most trusted and faithful employee of the company, and was presented with a souvenir medal for his thirty-two years' service with the Illinois Central Railroad, and also holds a certificate from the general superintendent for good conduct and satisfactory service from 1868 to 1899. Mr. French assisted in organizing the town of Knierim, and has taken an active part in its improvement and development. He owns Hotel Leota, which he conducted from April 9, 1900. to July, 1901. but is now making his home with his son-in-law. On the 5th of January, 1900, he was appointed postmaster and has since acceptably filled that office.
Mr. and Mrs. French have become the
parents of ten children, namely: Albert A., born July 3, 1864, is now with the Columbus, Ohio, Traction Company; Nellie M., born November 6, 1866, is the wife of Lewis Shellard, of Knierim, Iowa; Truman H., born June 21, 1871, is in the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad Company; Gertie E., born December 8, 1873, is the wife of J. W. Kamper, of Knierim: Charles R., born December 6, 1876, is also a railroad man: John J., born July 4, 1879, is assistant postmaster at Knierim; Alida L.. born July 31. 1881, Levi C, born July 26, 1883, Mary A., born April 25, 1885, and Myron L., born March 29, 1S90, are all at home. The family now attend the Methodist Episcopal church, although Mr. French is a Baptist in
religious belief. Politically be is a stanch Republican, and socially is an honored member of the Masonic fraternity and the Grand Army of the Republic, in which orders he has held office. Among his most cherished possessions is a violin, now one hundred and eighty years old. Mr. French is one of the representative and prominent men of his community, and wherever known he is held in high regard. [Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S.J. Clarke, 1902, p.458]


Calhoun Biographies maintained by Karon S. Valeu.
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