JANUARY, 1889. No. 1.
WHO TAUGHT "THE FIRST SCHOOL IN IOWA, AND
WHEN AND WHERE ?"
BY T. S. PARVIN.
"Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's, thy
God's, and truths."—Shakespeare.
"Truth is brought to light by time."—Tacitus.
Magna est veritas et prevalebit.
Some seven, and five, and three years ago we wrote and
published articles under the same or a similar heading to that
which forms the query we have again essayed to answer. In each
and all of those essays we told the "the truth, and nothing
but the truth;" but upon neither of the occasions did we "tell
the whole truth;" because we did not, as too many do who
scribble for the press upon such themes, profess to " know it
all." We have essayed to again" speak in public " and take for
our following the same text. And we can truthfully say with
the immortal few, that our aim is to glorify our state,
"render honor to whom honor is due," and to vindicate the
truth, "only this and nothing more." The time which has
elapsed since we wrote our first and last paper upon this
topic has " brought to light" new truths and "more light." And
it may be that our contributions shall afford some data for
the historian who shall undertake the task of writing the
"History of Education in Iowa."
We propose to follow this paper with one upon the "Early
School Legislation in Iowa," the necessity for which may be
found and made apparent by the following extract which we
clipped from one of the many papers in Iowa which gave it a
place in their columns.
THE FOUNDER OF THE: IOWA SCHOOL SYSTEM.
It is probably not generally known that Hon. Horace
Mann, the educator of Massachusetts, was
the founder of the Iowa public
school system, and
which has made it one of the foremost states in the Union.
When he was president of Antioch College he was selected by a
committee of the legislature to prepare a law embodying
his ideas of a public school system, which he did, providing
for the township as the unit in school administration,
teachers' institutes, county superintendents and normal
schools for teachers. Although his law was far in advance of
the public sentiment of that day, and the legislature did not
adopt it entire, they did adopt the fundamental principle of
it and have since been adding to the structure according to
Mr. Mann's idea, as public sentiment would warrant. It was the
earnest desire of that great educator to see his plans carried
out in Iowa.
There are several fundamental errors in this statement,
which some over-zealous friend has set afloat to belittle the
state and defraud others as far back as the date of the
organization of the territory in 1838 of the honor their due.
President Mann was not "the founder of the Iowa public school
system," nor was "he selected by a committee of the
legislature to prepare a law," etc., as we will prove in a
subsequent article. More than this, Iowa had established a
State "Normal School" in 1849; held "Teachers Institutes" in
1849, and the "Township System" had been recommended as early
as 1838 and often later. Mr. Mann's report was not presented
till December, 1856, reminding us of the fable of the "wolf
and the lamb."
Again the necessity of a thorough research into the
history of "Early Education in Iowa" is made apparent from the
fact that no less than three living persons claim the honor of
being "the first teacher of the first school in Iowa." It is a
historical fact that seven cities of the ancient world put in
a claim to the honor of having been the birth place of Homer
the greatest poet of all time and the sweet singer of Greece.
Why, therefore, following so illustrious a precedent, should
not a citizen of Iowa, of Illinois, and of distant Oregon put
in their claim and contest for the honor in view.
In an autobiographical sketch of one of our "old
settlers," published in 1883, the author claims that "he (we
will not name him, because of the gross absurdity of his
claims,) was the first teacher of the first school in Iowa."
The absurdity not to say folly of his claim is presented by
himself in a further paragraph, where he adds that " he opened
his school in Burlington, the first Monday in November, 1838."
All readers of Iowa history know the Territory of Iowa was
separated from Wisconsin and organized July 1838, and
Wisconsin and Iowa separated from Michigan Territory, when it
became a state in June 1836 and that both were "attached for
judicial purposes to Michigan in April 1834. There was
therefore an organized government for Iowa from 1834 to 1838
and until it became a state in 1846. The population of Iowa in
1836 was 10,531 and in 1838, 22,859 among whom there were, as
any one might know, some children of a school age. At the date
of our admission into the Union (1846) the population was
102,388. And in 1856 when Hon. Horace Mann presented his
"revision and improvement of school laws of Iowa," and not a
new " public school system," the population was 517,875. It is
hardly presumable even by a gullible person that half a
million people mostly emigrants from the New England and
Eastern States had lived and prospered for twenty years
without a "public school system." So too must every one know,
as the old settler aforesaid ought to have known, that the
people of either ten or twenty thousand had not suffered their
children to run wild without the benefit of schools for a
period of either two or four years as his statement asserts.
In our first paper we were unable from the data at our
command to trace a school back of and prior to the spring of
1834, taught in Dubuque in a building (of which more anon)
erected in 1833 for "the use of the Methodist Episcopal
Church," but when not occupied for divine service might "be
used for a common school,"—as it was the following year.
The publication of that paper brought forth new claimants
and "further light" upon the subject of our "Early Schools and
School Teachers." In 1866 the Burlington Gazette put
forth the claim of I. K. Robinson of Mendota, as the first to
teach a school in Iowa, in the winter of 1830-31 in Lee
County. Before the date of the Gazette article,
December 1886, we had secured evidence that Mr. Berryman
Jennings (published in the Minutes of the Old Settlers
Association of Lee County, as Benjamin Jennings) had also
taught school in Lee County in 1830. It may prove a matter of
interest as illustrating the course pursued and the
difficulties in the way, obstructing our earlier efforts to
get at the facts and elicit the truth we sought, to present
some of these mountains which we later reduced to mole-hills.
We accidentally fell in with a paragraph stating that one
Benjamin Jennings had taught school in Lee County as early
as 1830. But an extended correspondence with the early
settlers failed to inform us who he was, or if living where he
resided. As a Mason and custodian of the large Masonic Library
of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, we had long known that Berryman
Jennings was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
Oregon, organized in 1851. After some correspondence with the
officials of that jurisdiction we learned that Berryman
Jennings quite old and very feeble resided tat Oregon City, an
old but small town on the Willamette river, and some ten or
fifteen miles above Portland (also on the same river—and not
the Columbia as most people supposed). We accordingly
addressed him a letter, and another when after some months we
received from him a long and interesting letter, in his own
hand. This letter is so full of important facts and promising
great interest to the new as well as old settlers that we
transcribe it for preservation in a durable form (the original
is in the autograph collection we gave-the Grand Lodge in June
OREGON CITY, November 28, 1884.
T. S. PARVIN, P. G. M., Iowa City, Iowa.
Dear Sir and Brother:—Your letter of January 7th
asking whether Berryman, rather than Benjamin Jennings, taught
school in Lee County, Iowa, in 1830, was received. I could not
use the pen then, nor can I now, but will try with a pencil to
reply. I was residing on the Half Breed Tract, now part of Lee
County in 1830. Dr. Garland (We knew him well—the name is
incorrectly spelled; it is Galland—his son Washington is now,
1888, living, and the earliest settler in Iowa at Montrose,
Lee County,) an eminent physician and citizen lived six miles
above the present site of Keokuk on the Mississippi river,
near where resided several American citizens who had children
of a school age. The doctor prevailed upon me to teach a three
month's school. Dr. Garland furnished room, fuel, furniture,
and board in his family. While teaching he gave me the use of
his medical books (with which he was well supplied) to read
And after school I continued to read them till mid-summer of
1831, when I was taken sick. Convalescing, I returned to my
father in Warren County, Ill. [It will be borne in mind that
young Robinson, whose parents also resided in Illinois, did
the same thing, removed to his father's home when school was
This school room was, as all other buildings in that new
country, a log cabin built of round logs or poles notched
close, and mudded for comfort. Logs cut out for doors and
windows, and also fire-places. The jamb-back of the
fire-places was of packed dry dirt, the chimney topped out
with sticks and mud. The cabin, like all others of that day,
was covered with clapboards, weighted down with cross poles.
This was to economize time and nails which were scarce and far
between. There were no stoves in those days and the fire-place
was used for cooking as well as comfort. You mention Capt.
Campbell, who went with his father to Iowa in 1830. I remember
an Isaac R. Campbell, who went from near Nauvoo, Ill., to Iowa
in 1830. I can hardly realize that the lad Campbell (a son of
the former) whom I then knew and who would now be sixty years
old, is still a resident there. I would like to relate many
incidents of the early settlement of that county, but fear I
might make mistakes, as some others have done.
Dr. Ross, whom I knew well, made some mistakes. [He
refers to his address read at the semi-centennial celebration
of the settlement of Iowa, at Burlington in 1883. Dr. Ross,
whom we also knew well, was the first postmaster in Iowa, at
Burlington in 1834, and also furnished a room in his house for
the first school in Burlington in 1834, taught by Zadoc C.
Ingraham, who died in Missouri the past winter. His son, Mr.
I., is now a citizen of Burlington. Dr. Ross died at Lovilia,
Iowa, also this last winter.] Capt. Campbell's mistake in my
name is easily accounted for. I usually sign my name "B." I do
not remember the names of the pupils of my school [Bro. J. is
quite old, over eighty years and quite feeble] or of my
patrons, but I do remember that I taught. school in Iowa
in;1830 and that it was the first school taught north of
Missouri and west of the Mississippi river—a very large school
district extending to Canada on the north and the Pacific
ocean on the west, where there are now some thirteen or more
states and territories. What a growth in fifty-five years!
About thirty years ago I met Dr. Garland in Sacramento, Cal.,
tottering with old age. Some say he was buried near Sacramento
with no stone to mark his grave, others that he died at Ft.
Madison. I don't know. [We do, he died at Ft. Madison in 1858,
where he had first located in 1828.] Thus one after another of
the old settlers pass away and are soon forgotten, [a sad
truth, for they builded wiser than they knew," and the present
generation of citizens are enjoying the fruit of their toil
and labor to build a state.]
Your Annals [I had sent him the periodical published by
the State Historical Society] of Iowa will perpetuate the
names and services of some of them for the benefit of future
With fraternal regards, etc.
This letter, around which clusters so much of interest
to old settlers and those seeking to unravel the mysteries
connected with the early history of our state and especially
its educational history, failed to give the date (save
the year) in which he taught that " first school." It was at
that time (1884) however deemed conclusive and so we stated in
our second paper in 1886. The Gazette's claim of
priority later in that year reopened the question, when having
obtained the address of Mr. Robinson, in whose behalf the
Gazette put forth the claim, we addressed him a letter of
inquiry as to the month in the year 1830, he had taught
his school. To that letter he promptly and courteously replied
MENDOTA, ILL., January 20, 1887.
T. S. PARVIN, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Dear Sir and Brother:—In answer to your letter of
inquiry of the 17th inst., about "the early schools in Iowa,"
I answer, I commenced teaching a school December 1st, 1830, in
the employment of a Mr. Stillwell, who was then the owner of a
warehouse and wood yard at the present site of Keokuk, Iowa.
His only child large enough attended the school. A brother of
Mrs. Stillwell, whose Christian name I have forgotten, but
whose surname was Vanausdal, Seth Wagoner and his brother of
"Wagoner's Run," Hancock County, Ill., one or two children of
Mr. Brierly, a sister of Mrs. Forsythe, a Chippewa Indian girl
and I think a son of Dr. Muir were as I
remember, members of my school.
It is possible that Capt. Campbell, of Fort Madison, can
furnish you the address of Mrs. Stillwell and her brother
Vanausdal as they were living in the summer of 1884. The
school was conducted until some time in the spring of 1831.
The winter was one of remarkable severity and noted for the
great amount of snow falling at one time, being over two feet
in depth. If there were any schools in Iowa previous to this
one, I do not know where or by whom taught. Battese, a full
blooded Indian boy, and adopted by Mr. Blondeau in his family,
informed me that he had went to school and learned the letters
and could spell words of one syllable but that he got flogged
every time he went to recite his lessons. He was probably
attending the same school with Mr. Blondeau's daughters at St.
Charles or Portage de Sioux, Mo.
I. K. ROBINSON.
In his subsequent letters he supplies two omissions, and
gives the name of Mr. Seth Wagoner's brother as "Christian"
and Mr. Vanausdal's Christian name as "Valentine." One of Mr.
Brierly's sons, a pupil of Mr. Robinson, is also living in
this state. His father, James, was one of the representatives
from Lee County in the legislature which met at Burlington
(the first) November 1838.
This letter of Mr. Robinson disproves the criticism of
the papers alluded to above, that "there were no settlers in
Iowa in 1830, and that "Mr. R. taught school in Iowa in the
winter of 1829— 30.
This letter so courteously written in response to our
request establishes the fact that "a school was kept" at the
landing, the present site of Keokuk, Lee County, as
early as December 1st, 1830, and was taught by Mr. I. K.
Robinson, then a young man, now an octogenarian residing at
A word explanatory of the fact disputed by the State
Register when we published our third article that there
were children in Iowa at so early a period as 1830. We
have seen that Iowa, first called the "Iowa District of
Wisconsin," west of the Mississippi river, was first organized
into a government as an attachment to the Territory of
Michigan, but only for "judicial purposes" to throw the aegis
of the law over the miners of the "lead mines" in the vicinity
of Dubuque. There are yet a few of those early miners residing
there, who commenced mining "under difficulties" as early as
General Jackson's election in 1828. The difficulties were that
before the Blackhawk War of 1832 and the capture of that grand
chieftain, the strip of country along the Mississippi river
ceded in 1832 was not to be opened to settlement till the
spring of 1833, and the settlers (squatters) were often
removed (transported across the river) by the U. S. troops,
stationed at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, under command of
Captain, afterward General and President Taylor and his
lieutenant,. afterward the famous Jeff. Davis.
But prior to this in the year 1824, the Indians, Sacs and
Foxes, in a treaty ceding a portion of their lands in Missouri
and Illinois, ceded to half-breeds of their tribe the
celebrated "half-breed tract," comprising a large portion of
the county of Lee, on the Des Moines Rapids. Later the "New
York Company" purchased of a portion of those half-breeds
their share (for they held it in common), and sent parties out
to reside upon and hold it. Many of those persons were heads
of families and had children, and at that early day
established schools (we purposely use the plural) on the
The priority of claim was still in doubt upon receipt of
this interesting and valuable letter of Mr. Jennings giving
particularly the month of the year in which he taught
that so-called first school. We addressed the same query to
Captain James W. Campbell, then and now one of the leading
business men of Ft. Madison, Lee County, where he has resided
for almost sixty years. Mr. Campbell was one of Mr. Jennings'
pupils, whereupon his testimony becomes conclusive of the fact
to which he testifies. As these letters are historical
evidences of an essential fact elucidating the early history
of education in Iowa, we present them to our readers in this
form for preservation for the use of the future historian of
Iowa. That from Mr. Jennings was written by his daughter and
is as follows:
OREGON CITY, February 14, 1887.
T. S. PARVIN,
Dear Sir:—Your favor of the :4th was received some
days ago when my father was laboring under a severe illness.
He is recovering, but unable to attend to his correspondence,
and I hasten to reply for him. He does not remember the exact
month, it is so long ago, but it was in the fall of 1830 that
he commenced his school and closed that year in December, as
near as he can recollect. Father left Iowa and came here
(Oregon) in the year 1847. [Here follows some data furnished
for a sketch of his life we will present in our Masonic annals
should we survive our aged brother.]
LILLIAN M. JENNINGS.
The following is the letter from Capt. Campbell who
not only fully corroborates the statement of Mr. Jennings but
is more full and minute.
FT. MADISON, March 20th, 1887.
I have delayed answering your question relative to the
authenticity of the facts stated as to the first school taught
in Iowa. I now have information which is unquestionable, and
communicate to you the following facts:
Berryman Jennings was the first to teach a regular school
in Iowa, which he did at what is now Nashville, Lee County,
Iowa, in October, 1830. This locality was then known as
Ahwipetuc on the Half-breed Reservation. The first school
taught at Pucke-she-tuc, now Keokuk, was taught by Jere
Creighton in the winter of 1832-33. He was a shoe-maker by
occupation and about sixty years of age then, and came from
New Orleans, La. The attendants at Creighton's school at
Keokuk were Valincourt Vanorsdal , Valincourt Stillwell,
Margaret Stillwell, Forsythe Morgan, John Rigg, alias Keokuk
John, George Crawford, Henry C. Bartlett, Mary Bartlett, Mary
Muir, Sophia Muir, Michael Forsythe, Eliza J. Anderson and the
writer, J. W. Campbell.
In regard to the
claim of Mr. I. K. Robinson's friend that he taught the first
school in Iowa, there is some mistake. He, or his friend for
him claim that Valincourt Vanorsdal and the Muir children
attended his school. I have a letter now from Vanorsdal
stating the contrary. Now I have in my possession Dr. Muir's
books, which show that he was a practicing physician at
Galena, III., and did not remove to Iowa (Keokuk) till the
autumn of 1830, a short time before Berryman Jennings opened
his school at Ah-wi-pe-tuc. And further, I have in my
possession Mr. I. K. Robinson's receipt, signed by Chauncey
Robinson, for school services at Commerce (then 1830) now
Nauvoo, at which school I attended August 5th, 1830, on the
hill in the Gouch school house, about three hundred feet east
of where the Mormon Temple was in after years built. Mr.
Robinson is in error in his statement that Francis Labersure
was one of his scholars, He was not less than twenty-six years
old at that time, and was far advanced in educational
accomplishments over Mr. Robinson or any one else at Keokuk at
that date. He was educated at a Jesuit school at Portage de
Sioux under the supervision of the Chouteaus, and was their
interpreter for the American Fur Company at that time. Mr. R.
claims he was an attendant at his school taught in 1830 1831.
[This Indian or Half-breed, called by Mr. Campbell, Labersure,
must be the same person that Mr. Robinson calls in his letter,
I think it superfluous to add more in refutation of the
claim of Mr. Robinson being the first school teacher in Iowa.
That honor belongs to Berryman Jennings of Oregon and his
pupils now living, Capt. Washington Galland, at Montrose, Lee
County, Tolliver Dedman, and myself assert these facts.
Yours truly, J. W. CAMPBELL.
Not having the address of Mr. Dedman, and having
personally known Capt. Galland for nearly fifty years, we
addressed him and give his reply in corroboration of Capt.
Not that any further evidence is needed, though it makes
"assurance doubly sure," but as containing additional facts
bearing upon that very early period in our history we append
the letter addressed us upon the same and other subjects by
Capt. Washington Galland now as at that early date a citizen
of Lee County. We are certain we need offer no apology for the
insertion of these letters in full rather than present
Capt. Galland writes:
MONTROSE, IOWA, April 16th, 1887
PROF. T. S. PARVIN, Cedar Rapids:
Dear Sir and Brother:—Replying to your favor of the
9th in regard to the school taught by Berryman Jennings, now a
P. G. M. of Oregon, I would say from my best recollection and
limited data at my command, that the time must have been the
fall and winter of 1830, and the place Ah-wi-pe-tuck (the
Indian name), afterwards " Brierly's Point," then Nashville,
and now changed by order of the Board of Supervisors of Lee
County, to the town of Galland, that being the name of the
The "settlers " resident with families then were, as far
as I can now remember, Dr. Isaac Galland (my father), Isaac R.
Campbell (father of Capt. J. W. Campbell), James and Samuel
Brierly—Samuel afterwards married Sophia, a daughter of Dr.
Galland—W. P. Smith, Col. Dedman (father to Tolliver, referred
in Capt. C.'s letter), and Abel Galland. My father's brother
lived with his family in a cabin some distance back from the
river and on the hill. Among those without families was
Berryman Jennings, our school teacher.
Among the young people who were his pupils I can only
remember the following names: James W. Campbell, Tolliver
Dedman, James Dedman, David Galland, Thomas Brierly, Eliza
Galland, and I think, but am not sure, George W. Kinney, then
a lad of fifteen or sixteen years of age (a brother of my
mother), and myself.
With sincere and fraternal regards,
The testimony here produced and from living witnesses
and all of them parties either teachers or pupils of the first
two schools taught in Iowa conclusively establishes the
1st. That Berryman Jennings, now of Oregon City, Oregon,
taught a and the first school in Iowa, in Lee County, near the
present site of Nashville on the Des Moines Rapids, October to
December inclusive, 1830.
That three of the pupils of the school yet reside in Iowa
(two of whom testify to these things), viz.: Capt. J. W.
Campbell, of Fort Madison, and Washington Galland, of
Montrose, Iowa, and Tolliver Dedman.
2d. That I. K. Robinson, of Mendota, Ill., taught in the
same county and where Keokuk now is in December, 1830, January
and February, 1831.
That two, if not three, of his pupils are still living in
Iowa Thos. Brierly and Valincourt Vanorsdal and Mr. Seth
Wagoner, in Illinois.
3d. That the claim of the third claimant for these first
honors that "he was the first teacher of the first school in
Iowa," is not true, as he himself says in his autobiography
that " on the first Monday (fifth day) of November, 1838, he
opened the first common school in Iowa." It must have been
very common indeed even for that early period, as he did not
seem to know that a dozen "common schools" had been "opened in
Iowa," before he came to Burlington, Iowa, the 5th day of May,
The facts are interesting to know that schools were
taught in Iowa four years before our connection with Michigan,
six earlier than our union with Wisconsin and eight before
Iowa had an independent organization. It is also worthy of
note that amid the mutations of time pupils now honored
citizens of our State still survive in our midst. And that
those venerable teachers still live (at this date, 1888),
though past fourscore years of age, honored and respected in
the countries where they reside and have lived for so many
Within a year we have personally met two or three of
those old pioneers, Captains Campbell and Galland, whom we
have known for half a life-time and found them hale and hearty
and full of reminiscences of early times.
Within a month the "Iowa. Masonic Library " at Cedar
Rapids has been presented by Louis A. Gerolamy, artist
Chicago, with a fine large crayon portrait, nicely framed, of
Past Grand Master Jennings, whose claim to the honor of having
taught "the first school in Iowa," is fully established. Such
a portrait should grace the walls, also, of the Department of
Education at Des Moines—and were it not that " the
schoolmaster is abroad," and but little interest, seemingly,
felt in matters of "ye olden times," the fathers of our
educational system would be more highly honored, and such
honors no longer bestowed solely upon those—as shown in one of
our extracts—who come in as laborers at the eleventh hour.
A TRIBUTE TO THE 16TH IOWA.
Hon. Gilbert B. Pray, the present Clerk of the Supreme
Court of Iowa, at the reunion of Crocker's Iowa Brigade at
Davenport, September 21st and 22d, 1887, paid the following
eloquent tribute to the 16th Iowa Volunteers of which he was
himself a gallant soldier:
"General Belknap, to you or the members of Crocker's
Brigade, it is needless to say a word of or for the 16th Iowa.
You know them; you have tried their mettle and seen it tried.
Your blood and theirs was mingled in the same soil. In all
that makes a brotherhood of soldiers, they have joined you and
been one with you. If there were none to hear save you, my
comrades, it would be needless to address you, but to a very
large number the war and its soldiers is a tradition or
history. It seems to me like a passing dream, yet it is
twenty-six years this month since the first of the companies
that were mustered into the 16th regiment came into your city
and were quartered here, forming the nucleus of what was
supposed to be the last regiment Iowa would be called upon to
furnish for the war; and oh, how fearful the boys were that
they were going to be left; that the war would be over before
they got to the front.
They were gathered here and mustered during the fall and
winter of 1861 and 1862, seven as fine companies of men as
ever gathered on a tented field or mustered into any service
in any land. Two other companies were mustered at Keokuk, and
the tenth at St. Louis, the three being the equal of the seven
in every respect. Every company was a good one, every soldier
was a good man, and of course the regiment was good—so good
that the "Old War Governor" sent them to the field without a
chaplain; and from beginning to end this regiment never had a
chaplain, and, as was said by a waggish war correspondent at
the time, had no need of one, for the following reasons:
First—Because it was a moral regiment, and the office
would be a sinecure.
Second—Because the form of prayer was always either
marching or fighting, and in this way they got sufficient
Third—Because the form of prayer adopted by the
colonel was such that it could be said by any soldier in the
Fourth—There was only one deck of cards allowed in
I know the fourth reason is correct, because, when on a
former occasion I alluded to the Crocker Brigade as the "four
of a kind" brigade, there was not a man in the 16th Iowa who
knew what I meant.
As the child goes forth from the arms of the loving
parents to perform a willing service, so went the boys of the
16th from the doors of their Iowa homes, willingly, gladly,
into the service of an imperiled country, assuming all the
risks of war, without a doubt, without a fear.
The regiment left your city and the state in March, 1862,
and ere they returned for muster-out had made a record for
themselves and for Iowa that was and is to-day untarnished,
and that was and is unequalled, save by other Iowa troops.
That record is as long as the road from Pittsburg Landing
to Washington, by way of Corinth, Iuka, Vicksburg,
Chattanooga, Kennesaw, Nickajack, Atlanta, Andersonville,
Jonesborough, Raleigh and Richmond—a record that would of
itself be a history of the war in the west. Every milestone on
that long road is a monument of the valor of the 16th, a
headstone at the grave of a departed hero.
In July of 1865, after this long and toilsome road had
been traversed on foot, after these great battles had been
fought and great victories won, after the last rebel had been
disarmed, this regiment returned to your city, not in holiday
attire; not on dress parade; not seeking plaudits or laurel
wreaths, but oh, so glad to get back to dear old Iowa's soil
again. It was then we were glad to see you people of
Davenport, and the kind little greetings you gave us then sunk
deep into our hearts and have made us remember you kindly and
desire to return, as we have. The ranks of this regiment were
then decimated and torn; many a friend of the old boys looked
in vain for the faces of some who departed with it but were
not of it then, save in spirit and memory.
Though it had had the names of over two thousand men upon
its muster-rolls during the four years of service, it returned
on that bright morning with but a trifle over four hundred. Of
those who returned not I cannot speak. No pen or tongue can do
them justice. They have given their all to their country, to
the good name and glory of their state; they were with God.
But of the living, if I may be permitted to speak of them, I
can say, four hundred braver men, truer and manlier, never
returned to honor a state or enrich its citizenship. Every man
who could be worn out by toilsome and weary marches had been
worn out. Every man who could be made to fall by the wayside
by sickness or disease had long since fallen. Every man who
could be made disheartened or whose spirit could be broken had
long before been broken down. Every man who by the chances of
war could be was wounded or killed; for this regiment had
accepted every opportunity to meet its country's foe. They had
represented you and their state in that highest type. of
citizenship—the volunteer soldier. No greater compliment can
be paid them than that expressed by that greatest of
volunteers, our lamented friend and comrade, General Logan:
"They were ready in
storm and in the sunlight; they were ready in the darkness or
daylight. When orders came they marched, they moved, they
fought, whether their guns were of the best quality or not;
whether their clothing was adapted to their position or not;
whether their food was all they would have it or not—was not
the question with these men. The question was: Does our leader
want us to go? And when must we move ? "
These men marched through valleys, over hills and
mountains, across rivers and through marshes. There was no
question as to time and number of the enemy; but where is the
foe- the foe of your country and theirs?
They returned, asking naught but permission to stand side
by side with you in the duties of civil life and citizenship,
asking naught but the privilege of bearing their strong arms
and aiding in the struggle to repair the waste of war; aiding
in building up an empire of peace within the domain of Iowa.
As the rain drops on the great river become assimilated
with and a part of it, so the volunteer soldier melted away
and became part of and one with the citizenship of Iowa. As
such you know and respect him to-day. Under the impulse given
society by the return of so many earnest workers, Iowa has
marched steadily forward on the old route-step of her
volunteers. Since that return twenty-two years have elapsed;
the middle-aged man and matron who on that day watched for the
return of a son are now old and decrepit. The young man and
the maiden who welcomed the return of a lover, friend, or
brother, are now in middle life; and the dancing, joyous,
lighthearted girl who waved her little handkerchief in sheer
delight at sight of the marching column is now in the full
tide of maturity and womanhood, and the barefooted boys who
crowded the curbstone and hurrahed themselves hoarse, where
are they? You will find them in all the toils of manhood. To
them the war and the soldiers is a tradition. They have given
place to a generation who must learn its story from history;
for the good of the nation, may they learn its lesson well. No
boy is expected to remain a boy except the boys in blue. As
such you won lasting name and fame. No matter how old you get,
in the hearts of this generous people "boys in blue" you will
To day the 16th is with you again. Many of you do not
recognize them, but they are the same brave boys who returned
to you twenty-two years ago. True, many of them are now
wearing the gray, but it is the gray that crowns a loyal
life—a gray that comes to all, and brings respect from all;
the gray mist that dims the eye, and frosts the hair, and
denotes the passing away; the gray mist of that eternal
morning; the gray that warns you to honor them with the
tributes of to day. It is a gray that has come there through
age, hastened by the exposure of sleeping under the stars or
standing guard amid snow and sleet. They are a little stooped
and bent, and the eyes of all are dimmer than when, in days of
yore, they sighted their guns. The limp of rheumatism plainly
marks their steps as they keep time to the drum-beats to which
they marched a quarter of a century ago. But in heart and
spirit they are the same grand fellows who made so much
history for this country to be proud of.
"Some day the air will echo to sweet music
Of drum and bugle-call and martial tread;
And with the flag draped o'er his pulseless bosom,
The gallant soldier will be cold and dead.
"And all the tributes heaped upon his bosom
Will fail to fill his heart with joy or pride.
But had he heard in life one-half your praises,
Or felt your fond caress, he had not died."
Davenport was and still is the home of many of this
regiment. This but adds to the pleasure we have in coming to
your city. Here resides that gallant and most meritorious
officer, Colonel Sanders, one of the living idols of the
regiment. We are delighted to visit him at his home.
Here was the home of one who was not permitted to return
with us, one who after winning the greatest renown that comes
to a volunteer soldier, found rest from the turmoils of war in
the peaceful serenity of a soldier's grave; one who at the
hands of our greatest leader, the gallant McPherson, received
the golden medal, voted by Congress to the bravest man of the
17th army corps; the one who of all the brave men of the 16th
regiment, or of the Crocker Brigade, of all the gallant
soldiers of the 17th army corps, was designated the bravest of
the brave; his home was here, and here his memory is cherished
and the golden medal preserved to his honor. I refer to
Lieutenant Samuel Duffin, of Co. K. 16th Iowa.
In honor of him and his memory, and in honor of the
memory of all his brave comrades who fell in their country's
battles, or have since fallen in the battle of life, the
surviving members of the 16th regiment, and of Crocker's
Brigade, the bonds of whose fraternity were cemented by the
agonies of war, are glad to accept the hospitalities of the
good people of Davenport. "
By the favor of Gov. Kirkwood I was appointed
Assistant Surgeon of the 11th Iowa Infantry Volunteers on the
organization of that regiment. I joined it at Camp McClellan,
the place of rendezvous, three miles above Davenport, on the
Mississippi river bluff. The Colonel, A. H. Hare, lived at
Muscatine, and had not yet joined. The Lieutenant Colonel,
William Hall, was in command. Hall's home was in Davenport,
where he had been a young attorney. He was about thirty years
old, wore his dark hair, parted in the middle, long and
streaming over his shoulders. He had a full dark beard and a
pale intellectual face. He was kind-hearted, generous, gay
with his friends, impulsive and brave. He had a fine mind,
lodged in a small frail body. He labored under a chronic
nervous disease, which made his legs unreliable. In walking,
when he threw forward his foot to take a step, it was sure to
go too far forward, or to one side, or perhaps backwards,
while the other, when it came its turn to progress, would
execute movements opposite and contrary. This unfortunate
infirmity, which was temporarily benefited by stimulants,
often occasioned him to be wrongly accused of intoxication
when he was sober, and credited with sobriety when he was
toned up with whiskey. The parents of Col. Hall's wife, Mr.
and Mrs.Higgins, had an elegant and hospitable home on one of
the hills back of the city, and here, just before leaving camp
McClellan for the south, Hall took all his officers one
evening to tea. Our table zests are much enhanced by the
recollection of delicious flavors relished when hungry youths,
and the rich aroma of Mrs. Higgin's coffee has often lent for
me a sweet flavor to bad decoctions of rye and Rio since that
It was a cold snowy November day on which we left
Davenport on a steamboat. The men murmured at being crowded on
one boat and exposed to the weather, and Gov. Kirkwood being
aboard he obtained additional transportation when we landed at
Burlington, and half the regiment was transferred to another
boat. We took aboard Col. Hare at Muscatine, and the Major, J.
C. Abercrombie, at Burlington. The Major, who proved himself a
very trusty and gallant soldier, had command of the battalion
on the boat I was on. Soon after leaving Burlington supper was
served on the boat, the cabin of which was assigned to the
commissioned officers. At this hour a great many of the men
reported themselves sick. I requested the steward of the boat
in such cases to supply them with cabin fare and allow them
beds in the state-room. Pretty soon the long dining table in
the cabin was lined on either side with sick soldiers
disposing of the cabin viands at a rapid rate. Abercrombie,
who had had experience as a soldier in the Mexican war, took
me aside, and told me those men at the table were evidently
not sick, and that if I did not use more discrimination I
would soon have the whole battalion in the cabin. After
promising more care, I soon learned from the Major that he was
familiar with the place of my residence, which he said he
often had visited on business during the sessions here of the
legislature, but, as I divined from the drift of his
conversation, to pay his addresses to a young lady at the
Col. Hall's ill health made his temper irritable at
times. After the battle of Shiloh, in the slow march from
Pittsburg Landing to Corinth, we were for some days encamped
in a dense swamp, devoted previously to our coming entirely to
the uses of owls and ticks. One night Hall lay there in his
tent unable to sleep. He had issued strict orders against
noise in camp after taps. On this night the orders seemed to
be ignored. To hoo, to hoo, sounded a voice, very
distinct and very human, and to a nervous man could easily be
transmuted to Tough Hall, Tough Hall, to h-l, to h-l,
or anything else disrespectful. The Colonel called the guard
who was pacing in front of his tent, sent for the officer of
the day, and had many suspects arrested. But the
offender was not detected till dawn revealed the culprit
roosting on a pine bough over the Colonel's tent, in the form
and semblance of a screech owl. The Colonel accepted the
apologies of the bird, who sent his regrets in a parting to
hoo, to hoo, and Hall devoted his attention for some time
afterwards to extricating himself from the toils of a huge
It was during this short campaign that the "scratches"
became so prevalent as to suggest to a casual visitor the idea
that the regular old-fashioned itch was raging in the army as
an epidemic. All soon became familiar with the pests which
occasioned the discomfort. On one occasion when the camps of
the 16th and the 11th joined, Surgeon Wm. Watson of the 11th,
visited a friend in the 16th, to which I had by this time been
transferred. He began to chafe his friends of the 16th with
the prevalence of "grey backs" and their large size in the
16th, claiming that the 11th was comparatively exempt from the
nuisance. At this moment Capt. Alpheus Palmer of the 16th, by
the light of our rail fire detected an enormous one crawling
on the cape of Watson's overcoat. This so turned the jest
against Watson that he shunned the camp of the 16th for
. It was about this time that the Government having
authorized an additional assistant surgeon to each regiment,
the new medical officers began to join their regiments. Dr. D.
C. McNeal, of Clinton county, was appointed to the 16th.
McNeal was a man of varied abilities. In addition to his
professional qualifications, which were good, he had been a
Methodist minister and an editor, and was an amateur actor,
musician and ventriloquist. He wore a full beard and his
goatee reached to his belt. Soon after he joined the 16th I
made a visit to Chaplain Estabrook, of the 15th, and in the
course of conversation remarked on the arrival of McNeal.
Estabrook was a very social man, and distinguished himself in
his brave ministrations to the wounded on the field during the
battle of Shiloh. On this occasion he was sitting on a camp
stool at an improvised table where he had been writing. At the
mention of McNeal's name, he laid his face between his hands
on the table, and I could see by the convulsive motions of his
sides that he was indulging in a fit of silent laughter which
he could not suppress. After a while he raised his head, and,
gave me some account of McNeal's varied accomplishments, which
I soon afterwards learned for myself.
It was while we were at Grand Junction, just previous to
the beginning of the Central Mississippi campaign, that
McNeal, tucking up his beard, changing his dress, and
disguising his voice, deceived Capt. Turner, of the 16th, into
the belief that he, McNeal, was Judge Thayer, then of
Muscatine, but now editor of the Clinton Age, who was expected
daily on a visit with others from Iowa. Turner was seated on a
canvas stool, taking a hand in a game of old sledge, by the
light of a tallow dip, on an inverted candle box, but was so
completely deceived that he deserted the game, shook hands,
and entered into conversation about home matters with the
It was before this, and while we were at Bolivar, that
Col. Add. H. Sanders, of the 16th, now editor of the Davenport
Tribune, who was near-sighted, mortified himself before a
squad of comrades. We had just gone into a new camp, and the
tents were pitched irregularly. Sanders had everything in his
tent always in precise order. In this instance he came into
Capt. Palmer's tent, supposing it to be his own, and flopped
down on the cot, and began to give directions how those
present should conduct themselves while there. "I don't want
you, captain," he began, "to smoke that strong pipe in here,
nor you, doctor, to put your feet on that stool." Pretty soon
some one intimated to the colonel that he was in the wrong
pew, when he hastily beat a retreat. Sanders, however, was not
given to retreating before the enemy. He was brave to
rashness, and if commissioned officers had been included in
the competition for prizes for bravery, he would have given
Sergeant Duffin a hard tussle for the gold medal. I recollect
how disappointed he was after the battle of Iuka because he
had not been wounded. Two weeks afterwards we had another
battle at Corinth, where Sanders was more fortunate. The first
day's fight was nearly over and Sanders was still unwounded,
though wooing the enemy's lead. Finally, in desperation, he
rode a long way in front of his regiment, as if to reconnoitre,
and the coveted bullet came, carrying away a good-sized slab
of flesh from the outside of his thigh. With all his bravery
he dreaded pain, and while being taken to the rear expressed
some anxiety to know whether the ball was lodged and would
have to be cut out which proved unnecessary, as the- missile,
after laying bare his thigh bone, which glistened like a
smooth quarter, had gone on, perhaps to kill another less
O. F. MAIN, born in Canandaigua, Ontario County,
New York, but a resident of Iowa since 1855, died at his home
in Marion, Linn County, August 7th, 1888, aged 58 years. He
had been engaged in the Methodist ministry, and was prominent
in the Masonic and other benevolent orders.
MAJOR WILLOIS DRUMMOND, formerly conspicuous in
Iowa politics, died at San Diego, California, January 19th,
1888. He was elected to the State Senate of Iowa in 1857, was
editor of the McGregor News and served with distinction in the
war of 1861, and afterwards was Commissioner of the General
Land Office during the administration of President Grant.
W. F. HUDSON, Assistant Disbursing Clerk of the
Federal House of Representatives, died August 25th last, in
Washington City. Mr. Hudson's residence had been in Iowa
before his removal to Washington.
THE wife of Gen. George W. Jones, died on the 28th of
last April. She was the daughter of Charles Cirrille Gregoire,
a French political refugee of noble- birth, who in 1795
married Miss Mary Meunier of Philadelphia. In 1808 Gregoire
removed to St. Genevieve, Missouri, where he engaged in trade
with the Indians, and where Mrs. Jones was born, June 7th,
1812, and where on her seventeenth birthday she married Gen.
Jones; Gen. and Mrs. Jones had had their home in Dubuque or
its vicinity since 1830. Mrs. Jones ornamented the various
high positions held by her husband and well represented in
Washington the social refinement of the west.
A NATIONAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY, has recently been
formed at Washington City, with the Smithsonian Institute for
THE city of Boston, through an authorized committee,
has determined to erect statues to the memory of Genls. Grant
and Sheridan and Admiral Farragut.
The old settlers of Muscatine County celebrated Iowa's
semi-centennial anniversary at Muscatine last Fourth of July.
The principal speakers were Hon. J. P. Walton, Rev. A. B.
Robbins, and Hon. Theodore S. Parvin.
HON. CHARLES B. RICHARDS, of Fort Dodge, is the owner
of an autograph order of Gen.Washington, dated at Valley
Forge; March 9, 1778, directing Capt. Caleb Gibbs to send
Lieutenant Livingston and fifty men to Norristown as an escort
to Messrs. Richards, Clymer, and Potts, which has been in the
possession of his family for more than a hundred years. The
order, which is written on heavy unruled paper, is in a good
state of preservation and little faded. Some time ago it was
deposited in the State Library at Des Moines through Hon.
AT the beginning of 1888 there were in the army
thirty-five commissioned officers whose appointments were
credited to Iowa. Of these two were in the medical department,
one in the pay department, three in the corps of engineers,
seven in the cavalry, three in the artillery, sixteen in the
infantry, one post chaplain, and two on the retired list.
Eleven of them served in the volunteers and one in the regular
army during the war. The highest in rank are two colonels,