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William A. Duckworth


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 20:14:50

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Capt. William A. Duckworth, one of the wide awake businessmen of Keosauqua is engaged in farming, is a dealer in lumber, and is a contractor with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company, to which he furnished ties and timber. Men of his enterprise and business capacity add not a little to the growth and progress of the city, and it was fortunate for Keosauqua that he chose there to make his home. The Captain, a native of Greencastle Indiana, was born May 31, 1837, and is a son of Thomas C. Duckworth. His father, who was born in North Carolina, June 12, 1811, in early life emigrated to Washington County Indiana and later to Greencastle where he became acquainted with and married Miss Rachel T. Stone whose birth occurred on October 14, 1814, in Mercer County Kentucky. By their union were born nine children, five sons and four daughters, as follows: Mary A., who became the wife of George c. O’Neil, and died in Moulton Iowa in the fall of 1888; John A., who enlisted as a private in Company G, Second Iowa Infantry, and was promoted to the rank of captain for gallant service, died in Savannah Georgia in December 1864, leaving a widow whose maiden name was Rebecca C. Evans; William A., whose name heads this sketch, is the next younger; Sarah A., who died near Denver Colorado in 1887; was the wife of W.F. Hammett; Dr. D.A. , a practicing physician of Keosauqua; Enoch A., who also served in the Second Iowa Infantry; Elizabeth H., of Bloomfield; G. Lewis dealer in harness and agricultural implements of Bloomfield; and Celesta A., wife of Harrison Bruce, of Sherman Kansas.
Thomas C. Duckworth, the father of this family was a man of more that ordinary ability. He possessed a powerful mind, was a man of strong reason and a deep thinker, and was very successful in his chosen profession of teaching, which he followed for many years. Politically, he was a stalwart Democrat, and was favored with several local offices of trust, while a resident of Indiana. In 1854, he immigrated to Davis County Iowa, where his dearth occurred in 1888. In early life both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church, but after coming west, there was no church organization of that denomination in the neighborhood where they settled, and they associated themselves with the Methodist Church.
In his youth our subject received limited educational advantages, but today we find him a well- informed man. Studious by nature, and possessing an observing eye and retentive memory, he has familiarized himself with many standard works, and has gained a practical knowledge of men and their manners which could not have been acquired from textbooks, and which has been of great benefit to him in his business career. He has knowledge of many subjects of general interest, is posted in regard to political affairs; and is a pleasing conversationalist. At the age of eighteen years he was apprenticed to the millwright’s trade, and having become a proficient workman, followed the business for several years, during which time he constructed a number of the best mills in southern Iowa. On July 26, 1859, he was united in marriage with Miss. Rebecca C. Evans, daughter of William and Elizabeth Goldsmith Evans, but ere two years had passed away, he was called from home and wife to serve his country upon Southern battlefields.
Captain Duckworth watched with interest yet with apprehension, the progress of events in the South, and noted with disfavor the attitude which the Southern States assumed, and when his worst hopes were realized and Ft. Sumter was fired upon, he resolved that he would strike a blow in defense of his country’s honor, and the close of the week following the assault of the fort, saw him enlisted among the boys in blue. He was mustered into service at Keokuk as a member of Company G, Second Iowa Infantry, and after a short rendezvous was sent to Hannibal Missouri to guard the Hannibal and St. Joe Railroad. On the return of the troops to St. Louis, they were soon afterward sent to Bird’s Point, opposite Cairo, Illinois but in a short time returned to St Louis and guarded the rebel prisoners. Later the regiment was ordered to Ft. Donelson, and during the battle was placed in the front ranks, and received the credit and honor of being the first regiment to break the works. Their next engagement was at the battle of Shiloh, as a part of Gen. W.H.L. Wallace’s Division, and Captain Duckworth was near the General when he was shot from his horse. This was followed by the battle of Iuka, and the first and second battles of Corinth, the Second Iowa then remaining at Corinth until after the siege of Vicksburg was raised when a portion of the regiment, including our subject, was granted a thirty-day furlough. On rejoining his command, Mr. Duckworth was made First Lieutenant of the One Hundred and Tenth Regiment Colored Infantry, and on September 24, 1864, was attacked by Forrest, who, greatly superior in number, captured the entire command, sending them as prisoners to Enterprise Mississippi, where they were paroled. The treatment they there received differs vastly from that of the experience of many others; in fact, they were well treated, and as Captain Duckworth remarks, were “allowed to wear a boiled shirt, and go to meeting on Sundays.” Later they were sent to St. Louis and exchanged, and then joined the army at Savannah, Georgia whence the Captain made his way to Goldsborough, North Carolina, where he resided, April 6, 1865. On the return trip he passed through Washington D.C. and was in the city the night of the assassination of President Lincoln.
After a four-year experience on southern battlefields, during which he endured many hardships and privations, Captain Duckworth retuned to his home and business. From 1865 until 1874, he engaged in milling in Davis County Iowa, but in the latter year sold out and removed to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he owned and operated a foundry for a short time, but fire destroyed his property, and he lost nearly all he had. In company with Dr. Cook, he then built a mill, but sold his interest in the business to his partner in 1876, since which time he has been engaged in furnishing ties and timber to the Chicago, rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company, with headquarters in Floris, Eldon and Keosauqua. In 1882, he removed to the latter city, where he has since made his home, and in addition to the enterprise before mentioned, he is also engaged in the lumber business and farming. In politics, the Captain is a stanch supporter of the Democracy, and while residing in Davis County, was honored with the nomination of State Senator, but as the county has an overwhelming Republican majority, he could not hope for an election. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery.
In 1889, Capt Duckworth suffered the loss of his wife, who died at their home in Keosauqua on July 25, leaving a family of four children; Albert S., Herbert E., Rachel E., and Lewis S. The wife and mother was a most estimable lady, and a sincere Christian; a member of the Congregational Church. Beloved for her many excellencies of character, and respected by all who knew her, her death was sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.
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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