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Obituary ~ Edgar W. Curry
July 25, 1848 ~ November 18, 1896

Decatur County Journal
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
November 29, 1896

EDGAR W. CURRY was born in Indiana, July 25th, 1848, and with his parents emigrated to Iowa in 1852 settling on a farm in Franklin Township, Decatur County. His early days were ones of hardship and toil like those of many pioneer boys of that time. At the age of 15 years, he enlisted in the 3rd Iowa Cavalry and served honorably till the close of the war. Yet he was never known to use this fact to advance his after interests, seldom speaking of his army experiences except as he sometimes related them to his child.

After the war, he entered Harkness Academy at Garden Grove and there received what schooling he had except the course in law at Iowa City taken in the year '68-9. On graduating there he returned to Decatur County, settling in Leon, and has practiced law here continuously since. His marriage to MISS ADELAIDE LUNBECK occurred January 8th, 1871, and their only child, GRACE, now MRS. J.W. ROWELL, was born, August 4th, 1872. Both survive him.

His life was an open book to all this part of the country. Its preface was one of sadness and deprivation, of lack of opportunity and right direction. The chapters following were varied and marked by high and unusually noble achievement and also, alas for poor human nature, by some mistakes.

The finale was strong and beautiful. He died in the height of his best achievement, surrounded and honored by his intellectual and social peers and true to the heart's core to his best self and to his friends; even to those unfortunate ones who blamed themselves for his injuries, he had only words of pity and forgiveness.

-- Contributed.

~ ~ ~ ~

Decatur County Journal
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
November 29, 1896


Remains of E.W. Curry Brought to Leon on Thursday.

Large Concourse of People Pay Tribute to the Departed -- Secret
Organization From Abroad in Attendance.

The somewhat sensational circumstances surrounding the death of E.W. CURRY has attracted much attention to the case and occasioned considerable comment. While it is difficult to obtain a correct version of the accident which resulted in his death, it is believed that the following is in the main reliable.

MR. CURRY was initiated into the Des Moines Lodge of Elks on the night of October 14th. He seems to have had a predilection for secret societies and was a member of the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and G.A.R. fraternities. On the evening of the initiation, he was blindfolded and attired in lodge costume and seated in a chair which was provided with an iron seat. It was a custom to place a lighted lamp under the chair so that when the iron seat became warm, the candidate would jump out to the diversion of the members of the order. In MR. CURRY's case, however, he sat still until his flesh was burned. Still no importance was attached to the incident and late in the evening he delivered an address and attended a banquet. For two days afterwards, he directed the business of the campaign as usual and the next night after the injury, attended the Joseph Jefferson performance at the opera house. Then the effects of the burn was developed. Blood poisoning set in and the case was soon beyond the power of medical skill.

The Des Moines Leader says that MR. CURRY's own explanation of how he allowed himself to be burned so severely was simply that, having been through various initiation ceremonies before and believing that the ceremony of the Elks was particularly replete with surprises for the candidate, he did not realize that he was being seriously hurt. He thought the proper thing was to sit still and make no demonstration. It was his request that the Elks might never be in any way blamed for his death and he said: "If I get well, I will be one of the boys; if I die, I don't want the Elks to ever be blamed, however remotely, for my death." The members of the fraternity left nothing undone which could express their regret over the sad fatality. The best physicians and nurses were employed and every want was supplied that money could secure. The Elks liquidated all the bills to the amount of over $l,000. The Leader says that deceased exhibited a wonderful degree of vitality before his death. For ten days or more it had been admitted by the physicians that there was no hope of his recovery. His death was conceded to be a matter of a short time. Yet he lingered on day after day; for the last eight days before death came, he was at no time conscious and in his right mind. Much of the time during the earlier part of his illness he was delirious, and raved violently; but in the last few days was too weak, and lay unconscious, his life slowly ebbing away. When his daughter and partner came, he could not recognize them and did not to the end.

MR. CURRY's remains arrived on the D.M.& K.C. passenger train from Des Moines at 11:47. An escort of Des Moines Elks and Masons accompanied the body. The Elks were represented by R.L. BLAIR, WM. H. KORN, WM. SAUL and LEE SHEUERMAN, and the Masons by D.F. CALLENDER and R.M.J. COLEMAN. MRS. E.W. CURRY, her daughter, MRS. J.W. ROWELL, and her sister, MISS CLARE LUNBECK, of Mason City, V.R. MCGINNIS, the deceased man's law partner, and C.A. WALSH, of Ottumwa, secretary of the national democratic committee, also accompanied the remains from Des Moines. A large crowd of MR. CURRY's friends, neighbors and associates in business, were assembled at the depot when the train arrived. Court having been adjourned, a number of the deceased man's associate practitioners before the Decatur County Bar and County Officials marched to the depot in a body, and, with a number of others, escorted the remains to the law office of Curry and McGinnis. The body reposed in state in the fourth room, MR. CURRY's private room, Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening and Friday forenoon. During that time, hundreds of the deceased man's townspeople were permitted to gaze on the remains of him with whom all were so well acquainted.

Friday, the day set for the interment, was cold and a snow storm raged all forenoon. On the noon trains, representatives of the Knight Templar order arrived to do their deceased brother honor. Constantine Commandery, No. 23, K.T. of Osceola, in which lodge MR. CURRY held his membership, was represented by Knights B.W. Welch, R.W. Myer, Jason Roberts, C.T. Hardinger, J.W. Boden, M.L. Temple, Isaac Whaling, J.F. McAuley, O.E. Garret, E.E. Rarick, U.S. Bond, I.N. Beard, H.L. Karr, J.W. Reynolds, John K. Kemp, A.T. Stodgel, F.M. Kyte, A.W. Lewis, L.W. London, J.W. Holland, S.H. Lander, of Osceola. Knights S.H. Amos and C.B. Frase of Garden Grove, members of Immanuel Commandry, Chariton, were also in attendance at the obsequies. Knights C.W. Beck, W.A. Boone, C.A. Hawkins, B.O.Springer, F. Gittinger, J.E. Leeper, J.N. Gates, J.W. Bowman, H.R. Layton and L. Van Werden, of Leon all members of Constantine Commandry, Osceola, were present at the funeral with one or two exceptions.

Only a short service was held at the place where the remains repose. Rev. G.D. Gurley, Pastor of the Leon Presbyterian Church, offered prayer, and read a short scriptural lesson from Psalms 23. After a baritone solo, "Nearer My God to Thee", rendered by A.M. Schoenert, the Knights took charge. The usual beautiful and impressive ritualistic service was carried out. After a parting look at the remains of the deceased man, the line of march to the cemetery was formed in the following order:

Pall Bearers on Foot.
Knight Templars on Foot.
Relatives in Carriages.
Leon K.P. Band.
Knights of Pythias on Foot.
Citizens on Foot.
Citizens in Carriages.

At the [Leon] cemetery, the services were even more simple and unassuming than those at the office. The short ritualistic service was followed by a beautiful funeral dirge, "God Be With You", rendered by the K.P. Band, and arranged especially for the occasion by Prof. C. M.Kohler. With this, the service was ended, the mortal remains of E.W. CURRY laid away in the silent tomb.

The following gentlemen, MR. CURRY's fellow practitioners before the Decatur County Bar, with Sheriff C.C. Beck and Deputy Sheriff W.A. Brown, acted as pall bearers: C.W. Hoffman, R.L. Parrish, Marion F. Stookey, J.H. McVay, John S. Parrish, J.W. Harvey, M. Woodard and S.A. Gates, of Leon; J.H. Kling of Davis City; G. Taylor Wright, of Lineville.

MR. CURRY's remains were placed in a heavy metal casket weighing probably 600 pounds. The coffin was finished in imitation rosewood, with silver trimmings. On a silver plate placed on the top of the casket were engraved the words,


Aged 48 Years.


The floral offerings were exquisitely beautiful. The Order of Elks of Des Moines presented a handsome pillow of white chrysanthemums and pink roses, which reposed at the head of the casket on a stand while the body lay in state in the office. On the pillow were arranged the initials and number of the lodge 'B.P.O.E. 98' -- the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, No. 98. The offering of the Masons of Des Moines was in the form of a cross, an exquisite creation of white chrysanthemums and roses. The initial letters, 'A.A.S.R.', appeared on the cross, representing the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Masons. Blair Bros., the Des Moines Florists, offered a lovely boquet of interwoven white and yellow chrysanthemums and yellow roses. Mr. and Mr. O.E. Hull, of this city, presented a handsome bunch of white pinks, Carmean & Co., a basket of beautiful white chrysanthemums and heliotropes, MR. CURRY's favorite flowers. Mr. and Mrs. S.F. Fox of Des Moines and other friends whose names we were unable to obtain, sent lovely flowers.

The deceased was a private in the Third Iowa Cavalry, enlisting during the latter part of the war at the early age of 15. On his return from the army, he attended school at Garden Grove and then entered the law department of the Iowa State University from which he graduated in 1869. He immediately commenced the practice of his profession in Leon and eventually became one of the best known criminal lawyers in southern Iowa. He had fitted up an expensive office and possessed very fine law and private libraries.

MR. CURRY was formerly an active and radical Republican but became dissatisfied with the party and associated himself with the Democracy. He was always prominent in the councils of his party in this county and its occasional successes were due largely to his ability, industry and management. Several years ago he was made committeeman from the Eighth district and immediately became prominent throughout the state. He became an advocate of the free silver heresy and when that question assumed a national importance, was chosen chairman of the state committee. He firmly thought that if the believers of free coinage could be brought together in one organization, the movement would be victorious by large majorities. He thought Bryan's election and Col. Hepburn's defeat in this district beyond question. Had Bryan won and CURRY lived the latter would have been rewarded by a high appointment.

The death of EDGAR W. CURRY at the age of 48 years is another evidence of the uncertainty of life. The messenger on the pale horse appears when least expected. Only a short time ago, he was among us apparantly in the fullness of his mental and physical powers. But the place which has known him shall know him no more forever. We may learn from his demise how uncertain is the tenure by which we hold our own lives, and how trifling become earthly honors and earthly powers when they are brought face to face with death.

It will be admitted by all the acquaintances of the deceased that he was a vigorous thinker, and adhered to his views and opinions with great tenacity. Without high scholarship, he was a man of extensive information. Without high qualities as an orator, he was always formidable in debate of discussion, whether before a jury or his fellow citizens. As an attorney he was remarkably industrious and energetic in the discharge of his duties.


Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
Tuesday, June 5, 2001