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HUNNICUTT, James S. (1822-1923)


Posted By: Laura Gardner (email)
Date: 6/21/2007 at 14:24:35

The Tama Herald for Thursday, September 27, 1923
James S. Hunnicutt Dies in His 102d Year; First Came to Tama in 1852

Tama county lost its oldest resident on Sunday morning at 6:30 o'clock when James Sinclair Hunnicutt passed away at the great age of 101 years, five months and one day.

Realizing that his end was approaching, on Saturday afternoon, only a few hours before his death, he said, as he feebly waved his hand, "Good by Tama, and all my friends, good by! When the sun rises tomorrow morning I shall not be here." His prediction was verified. It was just as the sun was about to rise on Sunday morning that he peacefully fell asleep. He had suffered intensely during the preceding week but at the last all pain departed and he sank to rest unvexed by physical pangs.

Neighbors and friends assembled at the Baptist church at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning to attend the funeral services. They were conducted by the pastor, Rev. Robert D. Kinney, who preached from texts taken from the book of Job. The first quotations were 'I know that thou will bring me to death and to the house appointed for all living and thou shall come to thy grave in a full age like a shock of corn cometh in his season." He then followed with another text from the same writer, and on this one founded his sermon, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth. Though the skin worms destroy yet in my flesh shall I see God." In the course of his discourse the speaker read a poem entitled "An Address to the Deity," which had been quoted by Mr. Hunnicutt on the day before his death.

Music was furnished by Mrs. Carl B. Harrison and Mrs. Harry Platt with Mrs. Carl S. Brice at theh piano. The pall bearers were R. H. Ryan, Hiram Bissell, Albert Fife, L. H. Brannen, J. L. Posten and H. F. Carmichael. Interment was in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Hunnicutt was not only the county's oldest man. He was in all probability the last survivor of the real pioneers of the county, he having come to the county in 1852, and having lived here practically all of the time during the succeeding period or for seventy-one years. With the exception of a brief period spent in Perry township in this county and at Springville in Linn county, all of the seventy-one years were spent in Toledo or Tama, fifty-one years of that period having been spent in Tama as he came to this city to make his home in 1871 and continued to reside here until the day of his death.

Mr. Hunnicutt was born April 22, 1822, in Belmont county, Ohio, then one of the frontier settlements of the country. He was a boy six years old when Andrew Jackson was first inaugurated as president of the United States and it is of interest to note that on the day of his birth Ulysus Simpson Grant also first saw the light of day.

Mr. Hunnicutt's American ancestors were early settlers in Virginia and it was in that state that his father was born in 1784. The family migrated to Ohio early in the Nineteenth century.

The youth and early manhood of Mr. Hunnicutt was spent in Belmont county, Ohio, and in Morgan county, that state, he was married when a young man to Miss Mary Parkins and to them three children were born, Elvira, Edwin and Thomas, two of whom survive and one of whom, Edwin, died in 1871.

Mr. Hunnicutt came west in 1852, first locating in Toledo, then the only town in the county, and remaining there for a few months. In the following year he moved to Springville, Linn county, where he made his home for a few years.

His wife dying he was married to Mary Gilmore, of Jackson county, Iowa, in 1855. To this couple six children were born: John, Mary, Clifford, Ulysses, Cynthia and Robert, all of whom survive but Cynthia, who died in Tama in 1919.

The family returned to Tama county in 1862 and for a time made its home in Perry township, finally returning to the southern part of the county and locating in Tama in 1872, this city having since continued to be the family home. Mrs. Hunnicutt died here on April 18, 1908.

During Mr. Hunnicutt's early residence in Toledo he assisted the civil engineers in driving stakes to locate the corners after that town had been selected as the county seat of the new county and in his later life he enjoyed speaking of his relation to the early beginnings of that community.

In his early life Mr. Hunnicutt learned the trade of a mason and that was destined to be his life work. He worked on many of the pioneer structures of this city and among those still standing as monuments to his industry and skill are the Empire Block, considered one of the fine business blocks of the town fifty years ago, at present occupied by Joseph Svacina's harness shop and other business houses, and the Levi brick building, at present occupied by Frank Slaboch's hardware store.

Mr. Hunnicutt was not only a good mechanic, he was a good citizen as well. Honest in all his dealings, economical and prudent, he reared a large family and met his every business engagement with scrupulous fidelity. While he was not seeking to be in the public eye he had pronounced opinions on questions that were under discussion as affecting the community and national welfare and could express them thoughtfully and cogently.

Mr. Hunnicutt not only lived many years. He lived a helpful life as well and he will be remembered for that fact quite as much as because his life bridged the gap between the formative period of the new Republic and the present day's glorious realization of the dreams of the country's first builders. As they laid a rugged foundation upon which to build a Nation so this veteran mechanic built foundations for houses that have endured and will endure.


Tama Obituaries maintained by Ann Selvig.
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