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Abram Hinkle


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 08:03:25

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Capt. Abraham Hinkle, a leading farmer and stock-raiser of Village Township, Van Buren County, was born in Pendleton County Virginia, July 1, 1835, and is a son of Esau and Leah Harper Hinkle. The Hinkle family if of German origin, and the name was formerly spelled Henkle. The great-grandfather of our subject, Abraham Hinkle, was a Lutheran preacher, and was born soon after the arrival of his parents in the United States, the family settling in Virginia. The grandfather, Capt. Michael Hinkle, was for a time a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but later became a Universalist. His title was acquired from service in the war of 1812, and he was a wealthy farmer of Virginia, owning many slaves. He married Sarah Judy, and unto them were born eight children. In his community, Captain Hinkle was a leading citizen, and in politics was an Old Line Whig. He died during the late war, at the extreme old age of one hundred and one years, and in his will made a provision that his Negroes should never be sold, and thus forced to leave their county. The father of our subject was born in Virginia in 1795, was an extensive farmer and stock-raiser, and had a wide reputation as an energetic and capable businessman. He married Miss Harper who was born in Virginia in 1800, and whose people were advocates of freedom, as were the parents of our subject, who supported the Union during the late war. They made Virginia their home during their entire lives, but the mother, who was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for sixty years, died in Kansas, while there on a visit in 1876. Mr. Hinkle died in his native State in 1888. He was a Universalist in religious belief, and a Whig and Republican in political sentiment. During the war he was taken prisoner by the rebels, but through the influence of friends was released, though he lost all he had. In the family of this worthy couple were twelve children, seven of whom are yet living, namely: Mrs. Mary Haigler, of Colorado; Sarah living on the old homestead in Virginia; Abraham of this sketch; Isaac, of Iowa; Mrs. Emily Phares of Harrisburg Virginia; Mrs. Ellen Harper of Monticello Kansas and Amby of Cottonwood Falls Kansas.
Capt. Hinkle, whose name heads this sketch, was reared on a farm among the mountains of Virginia, and never attended school but six months throughout his entire life. His mother instructed him at home, and by observation and reading he has become well informed. He remained under the parental roof until 1855, when he came to Iowa, and four years later crossed the plains with a team stopping at Pikes; Peak. In the spring of 1861, during the midst of the Rebellion he returned to Virginia to his old home. With the exception of his father, all of his relatives were in sympathy with the South, even his brothers. The Captain tried to view the matter from a Southern standpoint, and go with his friends, but in vain. Neither could he stay at home, for men were forced to take sides, so his father gave him one of his best horses and a little money, and one morning, just after the battle of Rich Mountain, he bade farewell to his parents and the next day reported himself at the headquarters of Gen. McClellan, then in command of the federal forces, who was so much impressed with his appearance and Union sentiments that he at once proposed to engage him as a scout and guide to his army. When he left his parents he told them he would join the Union army, but as he had a brother and brother-in-law in the rebel army, they tried to persuade him not to fight against his brothers, but go North and remain silent or neutral; he told them he felt it his duty to take sides, and that he could not make a rebel out of himself.
On his way to join the Union forces, Capt. Hinkle stopped overnight with a Mr. Taylor, whose beautiful daughter was quite a favorite with young Hinkle, and who tried hard to persuade him not to join the Union forces, now only a few miles from her home, as her father and seven brothers were all at that time in the rebel army. While he found it hard to resist the entreaties of his old sweetheart, he nevertheless went on his way. McClellan left him in West Virginia, when he went to take command of the Union forces on the Potomac, as his superior knowledge of the mountains, and the people of that country, made him of great value to the Union forces operating in the Alleghany Mountains. He served for a while as a volunteer aid on Gen. Millroy’s staff, and participated in the battles of Cheat Mountain and McDowel, with distinction. At Franklin, Mr. Hinkle’s old home, Gen. Robert Schenck took command of the federal forces, and to him young Hinkle was introduced by Gen. Millroy, and for whom he obtained information that saved his command from being cut to pieces by the intrepid Gen. Stonewall Jackson. A few days after this, Gen. Fremont arrived with an army of 25,000 with headquarters at Franklin, only a few miles from the Captain’s father’s house. When Fremont took command, Gen. Schenck introduced young Hinkle to him saying: “General, here is the only Union man in this whole county, and knows more of the country and its people, that all of us put together.” Fremont at once engaged his services, placed him in command of all his famous Jesse Scouts, (a company organized in Missouri, and named in honor of his wife), with the title of Captain and a Captain’s pay, in which capacity he served during the war. He remained with Fremont, until Pope took over. He was engaged in the battle of Cross Keys, near Harrisonburg, Virginia.
We cannot give all the many incidents of the services of our subject that are worthy a place in any history, but suffice it to say he frequently obtained information upon which whole armies were moved and on many occasions success was due to his knowledge of the country and of the enemy, obtained in a way known only to himself and perhaps one of two brave boys, and this brave and gallant young man’s name would not be known in the movements of the commands. He served under Gen. Hunter in the same capacity, and the next morning after the battle of Port Republic, he led a battalion of cavalry into the town of Stanton released about two hundred and fifty prisoners mostly citizens, who were incarcerated in what they called barracks, on account of their loyal sentiments, and as his duty required him to be, he was always with the advance guard, he was again sent back into western Virginia, where his superior knowledge of the country in that mountainous region made his services almost indispensable. He accompanied as the chief guide and scout, the brave Averhill on several of his raids inside the rebel lines; was with him at the battle of Stoney Ford, near White Sulphur Springs in Virginia, where he was repulsed by the rebel forces under Jackson, and would have been cut entirely off, had it not been for this man’s knowledge of the country, who led them out by by-roads and by ways, and nothing official to show his services save original letter from the many officers with whom he served, all acknowledging his great and valuable services.
On one occasion Capt. Hinkle started with ten picked men from New Creek, where Gen. Latham was in command, in the evening, and at daylight surprised a company of Capt. McNeil’s famous guerrillas in the town of Moorfield, fifty miles away, and while more that one hundred yards in advance of all his boys charging down the street, one brave rebel officer stood to fight and emptied the contents of a double barrel shotgun at him killing the Captain’s horse, and sever of the shots taking effect in his legs, and one in his hand, which he still carries. He extricated himself from the horse as he fell, ran upon the captured his would-be slayer, who, by the time the horse fell, was no more that twenty feet from the Captain, the blood from his hand flowing freely. The rebel says, “My God I have shot you,” and the next moment they recognized each other as old acquaintances. He returned to camp with a prisoner for each man. On another occasion he captured both his brother and brother-in-law.
Mr. Hinkle visited his father while Gen. Fremont was near there, and while in his father’s house there was a band of rebel soldiers tired to capture him, and would have done so, but for the faithful watch of one of his father’s old slaves, who saw them coming and running to the house, gave the alarm just in time for his young master to make his escape. Manfully did the old darkie fight to keep them from taking his horse and equipments, which he was watching, while the Captain was visiting his parents, but they took him all the same. After Lee’s surrender, he felt the war was all over, and he at once returned to his old home, to find his father robbed of everything he had, both armies having camped on his farm, eating up all his cattle, and taking all of his horses. And of course the result of the war had freed all his slaves; but accepting the issues of war manfully, he at once began to build up again, but turned over the management of his farms to his son, the subject of our narrative, who stocked them up. He also took a large stock of general merchandise, purchased in Baltimore, into his native village; Mt. Freedom, and for twelve months his was the only store within seventy-five miles of his place of business, consequently he did an immense business.
In the fall of 1865, Capt. Hinkle was elected to the Legislature of West Virginia, both parties voting for him. He refused to allow his name to be used any further, as he had no taste for politics, but turned his attention exclusively to business. However, he consented to serve his county as Supervisor, which placed he filled with great ability, finding much to do, as all the public buildings of the county, as well as school houses, and all bridges were destroyed during the war. He also served seven years as Deputy United States Collector of Internal Revenue.
On a visit to Iowa in 1865, he met Miss Sallie F. Jordan, the only daughter of the pioneer Indian trader, James H. Jordan, who was born in Iowaville, February 8, 1844, and on Christmas Eve. 1866, they were married. They immediately returned to Virginia, where he carried on his mercantile business until 1871, when he sold out, and removed to Iowa, purchased the farm on which he now lives, his landed possessions now are a little over eleven hundred acres, his home farm being one of the finest in the county, if not in the State. He engaged extensively in the business of breeding Shorthorn cattle, and his herds won many premiums both at State and county fairs. When it was dispersed in 1888, it was the largest individual her in the State. On the death of his wife he quite that business, but is now extensively engaged in raising horses and cattle, and ranks as not only the largest, but one of the most practical farmers in the county, and is looked upon as one of the most thorough going wide awake businessmen in his county.
In 1883, Mrs. Hinkle was taken with consumption; her husband traveled with her extensively and she spent two winters in New Mexico, hoping that the change of climate would prove beneficial, but death claimed her for his own on February 10, 1888, leaving six children: Lora J., Arthur, Harry, Nellie B, May, and Irwin. Nellie died at the age of sixteen years, and Irwin at six. Mr. Hinkle has been a life-long Republican, but can no longer tolerate the protection tariff, and is now Independent. In the fullest sense of the word he is a self made man, and deserves an honorable place among the representative men of his county and State.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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