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Last updated: 08 September 2020 ms


Surnames beginning with the letter O

   JAMES O’BLENESS, son of Henry O’Bleness Jr. and Lutitia McKibbin O’Bleness, was born on February 15, 1823. On September 10, 1845, thirty-two-year-old James married Sarah Cree in Washington County, Ohio. Sarah, born on August 3, 1824, and James would be the parents of eight children: Hamilton (1846), Letitia (1849), Eliza (1850), Stephen (1853) and John (1855) who were born in Ohio and Lewis (1858), Mary (1859) and William (1861) who were born in Iowa. All of the children except Lewis, who died the year he was born, would live to adulthood.
   After President Lincoln’s 1860 election, states in the South began to secede and on April 12, 1861, General Beauregard’s cannon fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina. The war that followed escalated quickly and by 1862 tens of thousands of men had died. On July 9, 1862, Iowa Governor Sam Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments as part of the President’s call for 300,000 three-year men. Despite the Governor’s confidence, enlistments started slowly and all men between eighteen and forty-five were listed in preparation for a possible draft.
   Hundreds of regiments were in the field and thousands of men were dead. Most Northerners felt losses to preserve the Union could be tolerated but the President and his Republican supporters were increasingly flexing their abolitionist muscle. Acts to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, confiscate rebel property and free their slaves (and compensate slave owners in the border states) had passed "by Republican votes alone, the Democratic minority protesting each time." Bipartisan support for the war was wavering. Pennsylvania Democrats met on July 4th to denounce "the party of fanaticism and crime," the party that "seeks to turn loose the slaves of the Southern States to overrun the North." Ohio's Democrats met the same day. Freed slaves, they claimed, would "compete with and under-work the white laborers" and become an "unbearable nuisance." Indiana Democrats said the "honest laboring white man should have no competitor in the black race." Illinois was similar.
   On August 1, 1862, James O’Bleness was enrolled as a 1st Corporal in Company C of Iowa’s 23rd Infantry and described as being a 5' 9" farmer with blue eyes and brown hair. They were mustered into service on August 23rd and soon thereafter started down the Mississippi River and were briefly posted in St. Louis before moving to Rolla, Houston and West Plains. On February 26, 1863, they reached Iron Mountain and on March 12th arrived in St. Genevieve where James O’Bleness was promoted to 4th Sergeant. From there they were transported downstream to Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, where General Grant was assembling a large, three-corps, army to capture Vicksburg. In a brigade with the 21st and 22nd Iowa and the 11th Wisconsin and a corps led by General John McClernand, they moved slowly south, walking on roads, wading through swamps and crossing bayous, often from one plantation to another, along the west side of the river with their supply line back to Milliken’s Bend getting longer and longer and more and more vulnerable to attack.
   On April 30, 1863, they crossed from Disharoon’s Plantation to the Bruinsburg landing on the east bank and started inland determined, said Grant, to “cut loose from my base, destroy the rebel force in the rear of Vicksburg and invest or capture the city." According to Grant, Sherman protested that “I was putting myself in a position voluntarily which an enemy would be glad to maneuver a year - or a long time - to get me," but inquiries since crossing the river convinced Grant his army could, if necessary, live off the land.
   On May 1st the regiment participated in the Battle of Port Gibson and on the 16th they were present but held out of action at Champion Hill but on the 17th, with the 21st Iowa, led an assault on Confederates entrenched on the east side of the Big Black River. They spent the 18th burying their dead and caring for the wounded but then, with the army having secured access to the Yazoo River and a reliable supply line to the north, were assigned the duty of guarding the Big Black prisoners and taking them north to Memphis while General Grant extended his line around the rear of Vicksburg. After starting a return to Vicksburg, they had reached Young’s Point when alerted on June 6th to Confederate movements near Richmond, Louisiana.
   Unaware that Grant had secured the new supply line and no longer needed the line west of the river, General Henry McCulloch led a rebel attack on Milliken’s Bend which by then was occupied by members of the 10th Illinois cavalry and an untrained African Brigade. Fortunately for the Federals, “the 23rd Iowa and two gunboats, the Choctaw and Lexington, came to their assistance” on June 7th. A fierce battle, with hand-to-hand combat, followed with the 23rd Iowa being “the only regiment of white troops engaged.” “This was the first important engagement of the war in which colored troops were under fire,” said Grant, and despite their inexperience they “behaved well.”
   The rebels withdrew about noon but by then the Iowa regiment had suffered heavy casualties. It entered the battle with “less than 200 officers and men able for duty” and by day’s end had 23 of its members killed and another 41 wounded. Among the dead was James O’Bleness. It’s likely he was buried locally and reinterred as an “Unknown” in a national cemetery after the war, but there is a military stone, likely a cenotaph, for James in Pine Hill Cemetery, Des Moines.
   On July 8th, less than a month after her husband’s death, thirty-eight-year-old Sarah, signing by mark, applied for a pension on her behalf and on behalf of her six children who were still under sixteen years of age: Lettie (14), Eliza 13), Stephen (9), John (7), Mary (4) and William (2). On inquiry from the pension office, the War Department confirmed James’ service and death while Sarah secured a certificate from a probate judge in Ohio confirming their marriage. A widow’s pension was granted for her and for each of the children (expiring for each of them on their sixteenth birthdays), but it was terminated when Sarah became the third wife of Rev. Henry Badley in 1885.
   Henry died in 1900 and was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery and the following year Sarah applied for restoration of her widow’s pension. By then her children were all over sixteen years of age, but Sarah’s pension was restored and she received $12.00 monthly, payable quarterly through the Des Moines Pension Agency. She died on February 2, 1903, and was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery.
~Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson August 2020

HENRY O'CONNOR was born in the City of Dublin, Ireland, July 26, 1820. When old enough to leave home he was sent to Tullow where he received private instruction from the monks who kept a free school. He finally emigrated to America, going to Cincinnati, where he began the study of law when about twenty-six years of age and took six moths' instruction in a law school, working at his trade to support himself. In 1849 he was admitted to the bar and came to Iowa, locating at Muscatine, where he opened a law office. He united with the free soil movement in 1854, supporting James W. Grimes for Governor. In 1856 he was a delegate to the State Convention which organized the Republican party in Iowa and made a speech on the evening of the ratification meeting which for impassioned eloquence has seldom been equaled. It place him in the front rank of Republican orators. In 1857 Mr. O'Connor was chosen District Attorney in the Seventh District. When the War of the Rebellion began in 1861, Mr. O'Connor enlisted as a private in the First Iowa Regiment and fought bravely until his term of service expired. In 1862 he was commissioned major of the Thirty-fifth Regiment. In 1867 he was elected Attorney-General of Iowa, serving by reelections until 1872. While holding this position, a young woman was elected to the office of superintendent of schools in Mitchell County. Her eligibility to the office was questioned and submitted to the Attorney-General. He decided that a woman was eligible to hold office-the first decision in the United Stares upon that subject. In 1872 Mr. O'Connor was appointed by President Grant Solicitor of the Department of State and served in that important position under four secretaries-Hamilton, Fish, Wm. M. Evarts, F. T. Frelinghuysen and James G. Blaine, a period of nearly fourteen years. In 1872 he was warmly supported for Governor before the Republican State Convention but the nomination went to C. C. Carpenter. Major O'Connor died at the Soldiers' Home, November 6, 1900.

Source: History of Iowa, Vol IV, 1903


Redding Herald, 1926


F. N. OLLIVER (sic), Highly Respected Resident of Redding Vicinity, Dies Suddenly.

The community was saddened on Friday when word was passed about of the sudden death of F. N. OLLIVER (sic) at his home east of town. He was taking his usual after dinner nap when he suddenly passed away. Mr. OLLIVER had been in a rather feeble state of health for some time. He will be greatly missed in our community for he was one of our most highly respected citizens.

"Frederick Newton OLLIVER was born in Randolph county, Indiana, September 10, 1847. He came to Iowa in his boyhood days with his parents, settling at Allendale, Missouri, where they resided for about three years, then removing to a farm south of Redding, near Honey Grove, where he remained until he enlisted at the age of eighteen years in Company I, of the seventh Iowa Infantry, where he served his country until the close of the Civil war. His enlistment was voluntary. He was with General SHERMAN on his historical march to the sea, and still vividly recalled the stirring incidents of that memorable journey. In the death of Mr. OLLIVER the country loses one of its best citizens, a man who, during all these years of his long residence in
this county, had by his manly demeanor commanded the admiration and respect of the people of the community. He was known as a true Christian gentleman and his influence was always found on the side of justice and right. He was noted for his loving, quite disposition. He will be greatly missed in the home and community.

"After his return from the Civil war it was necessary for him to rest and remain quiet for a number of months, after which time he engaged in farm labor and worked until the year 1874, when he purchased the farm where he passed quietly away, at the age of 79 years, eight months and four days, having resided sixty-one years as a citizen following his service for his country.  On November 10, 1871, he became united in marriage with Martha Jane GRIFFITH, who
survives the loss of husband and companion.

"To this union were born six children, five of whom live to suffer the loss of their father; namely, Mrs. Mary SAVILLE, Mountain Park, Oklahoma; Mrs. Della PARKER, Houston, Missouri; Mrs. Carrie SAVILLE, of Redding, Iowa; Willard OLLIVER, of Redding, Iowa; and G. A. OLLIVER, of Pleasantville, Iowa; also James Wesley, who having preceded his father to the great beyond on July 7, 1896, now enjoys the reuniting with his father, who together beckon to one and all to come to this heavenly abode. Besides those relatives named, he leaves thirty-eight grandchildren and thirty-three great grandchildren; also a host of friends to witness the passing from this world into the next, that of heaven. He early united with the M. E. church at Middle Fork, Iowa, and there remained a faithful member. He was a kind and loving father, husband and grandfather, and was loved by all who knew him. Interment was made at the Middle Fork cemetery, Tuesday, May 18, Rev. L. G. CHANNELL officiating."

When pining sickness wastes the frame,
And dimly burns life's feeble flame,
When clouds of guilt the mind o'er spread
And sorrow bows the aching head
Then how reviving mercy's voice,
That bids the humble heart rejoice,
Reveal a Saviour's smiling face,
And in that smile a resting place!
Oh, when my spirits tempest tossed,
Feels that all earthly scenes are lost,
And trembling views the immortal shore,
Where grief and sin are known no more
Then may I see that Saviour near,
To hush each sigh and dry each tear,
And grant me in his blest embrace
An everlasting resting place.
Peaceful be thy silent slumber;
Peaceful by resting in the arms of Jesus.
Thou no more will join our number
Thou no more our sorrows know,
Yet again we hope to meet thee
When the day of life is fled,
And in heaven with joy to greet thee
Where no farewell tears are shed.


We desire to thank each and every one for the kindness shown us during the time of our deep sorrow also for the words and letters of sympathy which we have received. All will long be cherished and remembered by us all.


NOTE: Martha Jane (GRIFFITH), wife of Frederick Newton OLIVER was born in 1853, and died in 1935. They were interred at Middle Fork Cemetery, Ringgold County, Iowa. Of their children: Williard N. OLIVER was born in 1881, and died in 1962 with interment at Middle Fork Cemetery; and James Wesley OLIVER died at the age of 22 years, 5 months and 10 days on July 7, 1896 with interment at Middle Fork Cemetery.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, 2008

JACKSON ORR was born in Fayette County, Ohio, September 21, 1832. He was reared on a farm and by his own labor earned the means to pay his way in the University. After attending the public schools in boyhood, he attended the University of Indiana. In 1857 he came to Iowa, locating in Greene County. He studied law and was admitted to the bar. At the beginning of the War of the Rebellion he raised a company of which he was chosen captain. This company was incorporated into the Tenth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Captain Orr was a gallant soldier and rendered distinguished service at the Battles of New Madrid, Island No. 10, Corinth, Iuka, second Battle of Corinth and in the Vicksburg campaign. He was strongly recommended for colonel of the Thirty-ninth Regiment but lacking the help of influential friends at headquarter, was not promoted to the position which he had nobly earned. After the close of the war he removed to Boone and engaged in mercantile business. In the fall of 1867 he was nominated in the Sixth District for Congress and was elected by a majority of more than 11,000. He secured the passage of a bill through the House of Representatives granting indemnity to the River Land Settlers for the loss of their homes but the bill failed in the Senate. He was reelected at the close of his first term, serving four years. Captain Orr removed to Colorado where he held several important public positions.

Source: History of Iowa, Vol IV, 1903