John Milton Leach
Posted By: Sharyl Ferrall (email)
Date: 10/30/2005 at 07:08:11
John Milton Leach
Began his earth-pilgrimage near where the Pilgrim Fathers first landed on the soil of the new world. His birth, in the town of North Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, dates September 12, 1838.
His father was a shoemaker, which trade he taught his son, who was also sent to the common schools of the town until his seventeenth year, when his mother died. This sad event seemed to loosen the ties that bound the family to their native spot; and like many another New England father, Mr. Leach turned his thoughts toward the great West, for the double purpose, in his case, of finding relief from the asthma from which he suffered, induced and aggravated by the cold moist atmosphere of his home, in the dryer air of the upper Mississippi, and at the same time to secure a large field for the opportunities of his three children. This important step was taken on the 26th of March, 1857, two years after the death of the wife and mother, and the family settled in Monona, Clayton County, Iowa, where Mr. Leach resumed his work at the bench and continued it until approaching death, which occurred in November, 1859, two months after our subject had completed his majority.
John M. continued the manufacture of boots and shoes in the same place until the spring of 1862, when he enlisted as a private in Company E of the 27th Iowa Infantry Volunteers. On the 12th of August, 1863, he was discharged from faithful service in this regiment to accept duty as quartermaster-sergeant in the 1st West Tennessee Infantry of African descent. In this position he was brought into direct contact with the entire regiment and at once commanded the respect and confidence of all on account of his thorough efficiency and readiness to oblige. For this he was partially rewarded on the 12th of February, 1864, by appointment of the President as regimental quartermaster with the rank of first lieutenant, in place of J.T. Vincent dismissed for drunkenness. Whatever may have been said, in jest or seriousness, of other quartermasters finding and maintaining positions four miles in rear of the line of battle, certainly never did apply to Lieutenant Leach, who was always with his command on every march and in every engagement, and was there to see that every want was, as far as possible, fully met.
Immediately on his muster-out with the regiment, January 31st, 1866, he, with several other of the officers, went to Tunica County, Miss., and undertook, with but ill success, the cultivation of cotton. Their failure was not from the lack of enterprise or industry. Discouraged by the loss of labor and capital, and the death of two of the number who had tarried in the South, in May, 1867, ten years after the first advent there, he returned to Monona, Iowa, and engaged in general merchandising, in which he continued four years, making many friends but not much money. One became to him more than a friend, and he was married on the 7th of October, 1867. One bright little daughter (Minnie) graces their home.
In January, 1872, he entered the office of the auditor of his county as clerk, where he remained eight years and until his own election on the Republican ticket to office of county auditor and clerk of the board of supervisors for the term of two years from the 1st of January, 1880. His present home is Elkader, Clayton County, Iowa.
A brief sketch of the organization and services of the Fifty-ninth Regiment of United States Colored Infantry : and biographical sketches; by Robert Cowden; Dayton, Ohio: United Brethren Pub. House, 1883; pg. 213-216
-transcribed for Clayton co. IAGenWeb by S. Ferrall
Clayton Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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