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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 626~


George Erwin Comstock

George Erwin Comstock, Postmaster of Fayette, is numbered among the early citizens of Iowa, where he has made his home since 1855. A native of Michigan, he was born in Ypsilanti, October 30, 1839. His father, Isaac W. Comstock, was born near New Haven, Conn., July 4, 1808, and came of an old New England family which was founded in America about the year 1700. His mother, whose maiden name was Catherine M. Erwin, was born in Chenango County, N. Y., September 9, 1808, and was of English and Scotch-Irish descent. They were married in Toledo, Ohio, where Mr. Comstock carried on an extensive wholesale grocery and provision trade. He came to that city while a young man without means and secured a place in a wholesale grocery house. Being well educated, capable and strictly honest, he won the confidence of his employer, who about 1834 sold him the entire stock on credit. He commenced business for himself just at the beginning of the greatest era of speculation the country has ever witnessed. Prices became rapidly inflated, he soon paid off his indebtedness and made money rapidly. He purchased numerous farms, and engaged in real estate speculation to such an extent that when the great financial crash of 1837 came he, like thousands of others, lost nearly all he had in the world. Previously, he had secured some property in Washtenaw County, Mich., and soon after his failure, removed his family to Ypsilanti, from whence he went to Chicago in 1845. In the cholera epidemic which ravaged the country in 1852, he lost his wife, who died on the 9th of September of that year. He was again married in 1854 to Mrs. Esther M. Hill, widow of George B. Hill, and with their combined families he removed to Iowa, in 1855, locating in Buchanan County, where he engaged in farming until 1859, when he became a resident of Fayette, and there opened a meat market. The death of his second wife occurred in 1874. He survived her several years, dying December 14, 1885.


George E. Comstock, the subject of this sketch, accompanied his family from Michigan to Chicago, where he attended school for ten years and with them came to Iowa. After spending four years in Buchanan County, he came to Fayette in 1859, and soon afterward entered the Upper Iowa University, or rather the Fayette Seminary, as it was then called. It was his intention to take a scientific course of study but after the second year the breaking out of the late war led to his enlistment in Company C, Twelfth Iowa Infantry, on the 15th of September, 1861. The first active service the regiment saw was at the attack on Ft. Donelson. He participated in the battles of the 13th, 14th, and 15th of February, 1862, which resulted in the capture of the fort and garrison. The Twelfth Iowa distinguished itself by its endurance and bravery. At Shiloh the regiment was brigaded with the Second, Seventh and Fourteenth Iowa Regiments, called the Iowa Brigade, and Gen. Tuttle was made commander, while Gen. W. H. L. Wallace was division commander. The regiment was in line of battle from 9 A. M. until 6 P. M., during which time they repulsed several bold charges of the enemy and after a desperate resistance were captured. Our subject found himself with some four hundred of the regiment, a prisoner of war on Sunday evening, April 6, 1862. He was taken with his comrades to Montgomery, Ala., and five weeks later was removed to Macon, Ga., where he was held prisoner three months and then taken to Libby prison, Richmond, Va. He was paroled at City Point, October 11, 1862, after about six and a half months imprisonment. After being exchanged November 10, 1862, they were sent to St. Louis, where they were declared unfit for duty by reason of impaired health. Just at that time orders were in force refusing all furloughs so, through the kindness of the commanding officer the boys were given what was known as a French furlough, that is they were let go on their parole of honor and promise to report when notified if able. They then were paid off and sent home for thirty days. As an evidence of the spirit of patriotism that actuated the veterans of the late war, it should be recorded that every man not physically incapacitated, responded promptly at the close of his furlough and cheerfully returned to the front. In March, 1863, the detachment of the Twelfth Iowa to which the subject of our sketch belonged, was ordered to St. Louis, there to rejoin the regiment and as soon as organized to report to Gen. Grant near Vicksburg, Miss., which it did and served through the entire siege, participating in all the principal engagements until the 22d of June, when it was sent to Black River to guard the rear from an attack by Johnston, which service it performed until the surrender of the city July 4, 1863. On the 25th of December, 1863, Mr. Comstock veteranized and in the following spring went home on veteran furlough, rejoining his regiment at Memphis. Being then in S. J. Smith's reserve corps, he was in the Sturgis campaign that followed after the disaster and took part in the three days battle near Tupelo, Miss., July 13, 14 and 15, 1864. He was again captured, the second time being taken at Jackson, Miss., July 11, 1864, and sent to Libby prison, from whence he was transferred to Castle Thunder and Belle Isle. He succeeded in making his escape from the latter place and rejoined the Federal forces at Black River. In the fall of 1864, he participated in the pursuit of the Confederate General Price, through Missouri. The Twelfth Iowa took part in the two days battle at Nashville, December 16, and 17 and did gallant service. The regiment then marched with the army to Clinton, on the Tennessee River in pursuit of Hood, thence by steamer to Eastport, Miss., arriving at that place on the 7th of January, 1865. From Eastport the regiment was ordered to New Orleans and from there embarked with the forces under Gen. Canby in the expedition against Mobile. It was in the front line during the siege of Spanish Fort and did good service. After the surrender of Mobile the regiment marched two hundred miles to Montgomery and it was while on that march that the boys first heard of Lee's surrender. Up to the time of their arrival at Montgomery Mr. Comstock had participated in the work of his regiment in the various march and battles. He received an injury at Spanish Fort but was not incapacitated for service and after reaching Alabama he was detailed he was detailed on duty in the freedmen's bureau at Camden, Wilcox County, Ala., and ran that office for ten months. He was discharged in April, 1866, and returned to Fayette, after a period of four and a half years active service.


On his return from the war, Mr. Comstock went to West Union and engaged in the butchering business at that place. One year later he returned to Fayette and was variously employed until May, 1876, when he was appointed postal clerk in the railway mail service, which position he filled for ten years, retiring in 1886, after the change of the administration.


Mr. Comstock was married in West Union, November 26, 1868, to Miss Anna M. Kreamer, who was born in Millheim, Pa., October 1, 1848, and was a daughter of Michael Kreamer. She was a consistent and faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and died February 19, 1886, leaving six children, four sons and two daughters - Alfred E., Merton E., Willard W., Carrie H., Atha Gertrude and Arthur F. Mr. Comstock was married January 1, 1891, to Mrs. H. Eva Van Arsdel, nee Robertson, of Fayette, Iowa.


Mr. Comstock was appointed Postmaster of Fayette on the 2d of September, 1889, which position he still holds. He is a stanch Republican in politics, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, formerly held membership in Manchester Lodge, I. O. O. F., and now belongs to Warren Post, No. 47, G. A. R."





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