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SWENEY, Charles 1840-1917

SWENEY , HOLBROOK , KILDEE , EDEN

Posted By: Marilyn O'Connor (email)
Date: 5/27/2008 at 15:16:05

Charles Sweney, a Mitchell county [resident] since 1855 died April 6, 1917, at his home on East State Street after an illness which extended over several months.

In a long life of usefulness in the county Mr. Sweney had been one of the foremost of public men.

He was a county treasurer for a period of several years following his return from service in the Civil war and later entered the banking business in which he was engaged for over 40 years.

He was a city alderman and served as mayor for a number of years. He was a member of the old soldiers' relief committe, which came to be an organization of importance to the old "boys in blue" in later years.

He was also a member of the state commission which located the old soldiers' home at Marshalltown. In the years of his business activity, few public enterprises were promoted without his assitance.

Charles Sweney was born Aug. 1, 1840, near Russell, Warren County Pa. He was 76 years of age at the time of his death.

In 1855 his family, consisting of father, mother, brothers, and sisters, gathered together their belongings and set out for the new and sparsley settled state of Iowa.

Their trip was down the Allegheny river by raft to Pittsburg, from there by steamboat on the Ohio river to Cairo, Illinois, and then up the Mississippi to Clayton county, Iowa, stopping at St. Louis and other points enroute. From the river they came to Mitchell county by wagon and established their new home on a farm bought the preceding year near Burr Oak.

The family life for the years following was the life of pioneers. Money was scarce, but work was plenty and hearts were brave. McGregor was the nearest market and the surplus produce was hauled there for sale. Nothwithstanding hardship and privation the farm yielded them a living, and Charles found it possible to attend Upper Iowa university at Fayette for three years.

He was a Master Mason on Dec. 29, 1863 by Osage Lodge No. 102, A.F. & A.M. During these years he had come to know and later to love Annie E. Holbrook, the daugher of a pioneer neighbor, and he took her promise with him when he left home and friends to do his share for the salvation of the Union. Her love and her prayers went with hime through the dark days following and brought him back to her maimed in body but staunch and strong in heart.

He served with Company K 27th Iowa infantry Volunteers until July 15, 1864, when he fell in battle with a shattered arm and a minnie ball in his hip. That and the four days following held more of agony and torture for him than often falls to the lot of any man.

It is almost impossible to believe that a human being could survive the boiling heat, the interminable delay in medical attention, the entire lack of hospital facilities, the midnight amputation in the open air, and the four day ride in a primitive, horse drawn ambulance. That he did live to reach a hospital is due solely to the will of God and the tender and self-sacrificing care of his brother, Henry a member of the same company.

For a year he lay in a hospital at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., at first hovering between life and death, and gradually adding to the strength which the rebel bullet had so mercilessly wrecked.

During those long months he was cared for and nursed by his devoted mother, who left home and family to aid him to health. His patience and uncomplaining suffering were in daily evidence.

Mother Otis, nurse in charge of his ward, told the writer nearly 50 years later that she had never witnessed such fortitude and told the following incident to illustrate it. Some charitable organizations had offered a quilt as a prize for the greatest exhibition of patience covering a considerable period of time.
The choice which was made by vote of the
wounded men, fell equally on him and another soldier, he insisted that the other man take the prize as he had no mother there to care for him.

Afer recovering his health to a degree, he returned to Iowa and as a tribute to his ability and services was elected as treasurer of Mitchell county, an office he held for several years, during which time Osage was made the county seat.

On September 2, 1865, he claimed "the girl he left behind him" and was married to Annie E. Holbrook, who now mourns her loss. To them were born four children, two of whom, Marshall C. Sweeney and Ruth S. Kildee, survive him. Their son, Harry, died at an early age, and their daughter Bell E. Eden in November, 1915.

In 1887, with his brother, Henry, he organized the Mitchell County bank, of which, and of its incorporated successor, he was president for over 40 years.

In Charles Sweney, this community has lost a good citizen; his neighbors have lost a tender and considerate husband and father.

Those who knew of his suffering of former days and those who have watched him in the last few weeks as he patiently waited the end, write in this tribute, : He was the gentlest, bravest man we ever knew."


 

Mitchell Obituaries maintained by Kermit L. Kittleson.
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