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Elisha H. Skinner


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 23:06:15

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Elisha H. Skinner, banker and general merchant of Birmingham, is a native of that town, his birth having occurred on October 24, 1846. His father, Charles D. Skinner, was born in Chautauqua County New York, May 21, 1816, and when thirteen years of age removed with his parents to Holmes County Ohio. In 1839, he came to this county a single man and took a claim near Birmingham. Soon afterwards however, he met a lady whose hand he sought in marriage—Miss Nancy Barnes, and on November 12, 1840, they were united in marriage. Mrs. Skinner was a native of Holmes County, Ohio, and with her parents came to Iowa in 1839. Mr. Skinner made farming his life work. He took a lively interest in politics, though not for selfish ends; adhering to the doctrines of the old Whig Party until the rise of the Republican Party, when he joined its ranks. In 1850, he made a trip to California, where he was engaged in mining for some three years. Returning once more to Iowa, he resumed his former calling, which continued to be his occupation until laying aside the duties of life, he was called to his final home. He died on February 24, 1890, in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he had been a member for forty-seven years. His wife and seven children survive him, while five of the family has passed on before.
Our subject was the fourth in order of birth. On the farm he learned the useful lessons of industry and energy and in the public schools and McArthur’s Academy of Birmingham, he acquired a good English education. Although seventeen years of age, in June 1863, he enlisted in Company C., of the Eighth Iowa Cavalry, and from Davenport went to Nashville, Tennessee, and then on to the Atlanta Campaign, participating in nearly all the engagements from Chattanooga to Atlanta. He was in the famous Kilpatrick raid, where a good part of his regiment was captured though he was more fortunate. Having returned to Nashville, reorganized and received fresh horses, the command marched to the Tennessee River to harass Gen. Hood in his movements. Having taken part in the battle of Spring Hill and Franklin, they went into Kentucky and were remounted, after which, returning, they participated in the battle of Nashville, driving Hood beyond the Tennessee River. In a cavalry charge near Tuscaloosa Alabama, Mr. Skinner received an almost fatal wound, a ball striking him at the lower part of the left ear and passing through his neck. Falling from his horse he was left for dead, not however without some kind-hearted rebel appropriating his hat, coat and shoes. He was found by a Negro and taken to a house near by. When Gen. Forrest and his staff came up, the surgeon said it was not worthwhile to parole him, as he would die before morning. But no so, after remaining there some three weeks, the rebels took him from his bed and made him walk thirty-two miles the first day under a summer’s sun. Faint and exhausted, he lay down on the ground and told his captors that he would rather die that go farther. He was then put on a horse and taken to Columbus Mississippi, but four days later was removed to Jackson Mississippi. One morning a rebel officer ordered him to be ready to travel by one o’clock and at that hour he was put into an ambulance to be driven away, whether he was to be made a victim or retaliation or not was impossible to tell. After driving nearly all day, he was informed that he was being taken to Natchez to exchange him for a Confederate prisoner they wanted, but as there was no one there having authority to make such an change, it only remained to him to be driven back again. As soon as it was sufficiently dark he sprang from the ambulance and took to the woods. His pursuers were unable to catch him and by one o’clock that night he was within the Union lines. He presented himself to Gen. Davidson who gave him a pass to Cairo Illinois where the Christian Commission furnished him with clean clothes, an inestimable gift. On the first boat he went to Nashville, where he met some of his comrades from Andersonville prison. Together they joined their command in Macon Georgia, where he remained until mustered out at the close of the service in August 1865.
After receiving his discharge in Clinton Iowa, Mr. Skinner returned to Birmingham and once more resumed peaceful pursuits. For a time he was employed as clerk by the firm of Moss and Pitkin, and later was a salesman for the latter gentleman, Mr. Moss having retired. After clerking for ten years, he was admitted to partnership with Mr. Pitkin, which connection he has since continued with the exception of one year. They do an extensive mercantile and banking business and are ranked among the enterprising citizens of the place. At Birmingham on November 4, 1866, Mr. Skinner was united in marriage with Miss Alice Gibbs, a native of Tippecanoe County Indiana and unto them was born five children, but one died in infancy. Those living are Walter G., Effie M., Bert and Nellie. Mrs. Skinner is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically, Mr. Skinner is a Republican. During the second term of Gov. Larabee’s administration, he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel on his staff. He is a member of the G.A.R. Post, of Birmingham, of which he has served as Quartermaster since its organization and has also been Treasurer of the city and school fund for a number of years.
He takes a prominent part in the political affairs of his county, but without desire on his part of official recognition. He is accounted one of the foremost businessmen of Southeastern Iowa, and the reputation, which he has gained as a man of enterprise and sterling worth, is certainly well merited.
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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