am asked to bring before this generation a reproduction of the
times, scenes, emotions, hardships, and general experiences
through which we passed during the trying times of the Civil War.
ask myself - can it be done, does anyone live who could properly
passing years have softened that feeling of hatred we then felt
for our foes and the southern sympathizers living in our midst,
whom we spoke of as Butternuts, Copperheads, and Rebels.
as war is with all of the losses of the notorious, noble, young
manhood, loss of treasure, which many generals must assist in
paying, loss of happiness in the homes from where these young
hopeful, patriotic boys went out, many of them never to return -
must be added the privations and sacrifice of those left at home.
paper today will treat of conditions here in Madison County, where
I fear there were not many Spartan mothers who buckled on the
armor and bade their sons go forth and battle for their country.
No, the mothers of whom I have knowledge although noble and
patriotic, held these boys tenderly to their hearts, while the
tears blinded their eyes, and the sobs followed those boys as they
marched bravely away in their new uniforms.
tears must soon be dried and their attention turned to the
practical things of life, the crops must be raised., the affairs
of everyday life must be attended to, as many of the men left at
home were too old, and others too young to enlist, the women had
to assist in the outside work, but I never heard any complaining,
they did what they could.
were many ways by which we could help the boys at the front, by
frequent letter writing by making little articles for their
convenience, needle cases, etc, and we often met to scrape lint
from linen for their wounds. Our conversations at these gatherings
were not of the latest fashions nor idle gossip but of the
battles, of the different moves of the armies and always of our
will be hard for this and future generations to realize our almost
primitive modes of living — our facilities for news and
transportation were very different from what they now are, instead
of taking our much abused train for Des Moines, a stage coach was
drawn up in front of the St. Nicholas Hotel (then the "Pitzer
House" and always spoken of as a tavern) each morning for
passengers. It also carried the mails, and its return in the
evening was watched for with great interest.
pride of those stage drivers in making a rapid entry, and the
peculiar crack and wielding of their whips and the masterful way
of rounding corners was something only attained by long
experience. Then they were also news carriers, anything that had
happened in the outside world since they had left in the morning
was quickly told, and. eagerly listened to by the many by-standers
who had congregated to witness the grand entry and hear the latest
the newspapers were distributed, each man possessing one was
immediately surrounded by a crowd of eager listeners and the
latest news from the front was read aloud - and each man on
returning home, after hearing it read., would stop and tell every
one he met the latest war news.
the first call was made for 75,000 volunteers, the excitement all
over the county was intense. No place was too small for the
interest and excitement to penetrate, and all supposed that Uncle
Sam’s boys could clean them out in no time, and some of our
patriotic and hot-headed boys were so anxious to get in and help
with the job that they did not wait for a company to be formed
here but took a carriage and rushed over to Indianola and enlisted
with a Company then forming there…the Third Iowa Infantry. These
were Miller R. Tidrick, Samuel G. Ruby, Benjamin F.
Murray and N. C. Newburn. Samuel G. Ruby and Miller
R. Tidrick are still living. Perhaps no greater patriot ever
enlisted than N. C. Newburn. When he was so severely
wounded at the battle of Hatchie, that one leg had to be
amputated, and when just emerging from the effect of anesthetic,
he heard the nurse as a company of soldiers were passing, his
emotion found vent in a stream of patriotic eloquence seldom
equaled, a copy of which may be found in the History of Madison
County. It was written by a war correspondent and published in a
Cincinnati paper. When this thrilling account of the event reached
Winterset, great was the interest and excitement. A copy was taken
to school where he had attended and read aloud by Sophie Ogden
later Mrs. S. C. Ruby. I think some of us tried to hide the tears,
which streamed down our faces during the reading
home boy who left our school to enlist, and who never returned was
Dwight Ewing, who had reached the rank of Lieutenant when
the years went by and the conflict continued and companies were
formed here, and more ant more of our boys went to the front,
there came a time when there were not enough enlistments and a
draft had to be resorted to to fill the fast thinning ranks.
lives were spent in watching the movements and actions of the
various armies. We were not a rich community, nor was this a rich
county at that time, but we did what we could to aid the families
of the enlisted men; we gave supplies and held socials for raising
the money for the purpose.
dressing in those days was not exactly the latest Paris and New
York styles. As young girls we felt very well dressed in a new
calico dress, for had not the material for one cost five dollars,
and when it was worn over the large hoop skirt then so much in
vogue, we felt well dressed. A word regarding the dressing and
style of hair at that time…we did not think it necessary to wash
the hair as often as we now do, but we used hair oil, and plenty
of it -highly perfumed - the druggist’s shelves were filled with
it of various kinds and scents.
women wore the style of hair known as " waterfall",
which consisted of a very large ill-shaped back bunch with a net
can’t give you the name of the style the men used - they made a
part from the crown of the head to the collar behind, then the
hair was carefully brushed toward the ears. The old men wore the
far as jewelry, we were not burdened with that, but when silver
coin went entirely out of circulation, and we had paper money in
all denominations, even to five cents, a silver piece was much
prized, arid each lady who had a breastpin made of a silver
quarter, one side made smooth and her initial letter engraved on
was just as proud of it as she would be with a diamond pin today.
Our jeweler, Jerry Banker, did quite a business in this
line, and when a pin was finished it had cost $2.25.
news of a defeat came, our sorrow was deep, and when we were
victorious in a battle, we had a jollificial turn. But
unfortunately all in our midst were not loyal. We had some
"undesirable citizens" - citizens who were southern
sympathizers and were a constant annoyance in all that pertained
to the war. We really felt more bitter toward them than we did
toward the southern rebels. They were constantly stirring up
strife and insulting our patriotism. It was discovered that some
of the men were organized and secretly drilling out in Union
Township under the leadership of one Blair. They called themselves
"The Knights of the Golden Circle." They had various
places of meeting one was above Sam Snyder’s grocery
store, at which place W. C. Newburn and Samuel G. Ruby,
after their return from the War, made a raid on them and broke up
their meeting. They also held meetings at Brown’s Bridge at
North River at Blair’s and at St. Charles.
of the leaders were arrested. and taken to Davenport. They were Jack
Porter, J. K. Evans, David McCarty, V. M.
Gichan, Peter Mann, William Evans and James Keith.
Soldiers from Des Moines were sent here after them in 1862. In
1863 a petition was presented to the government and they were
released, and returned home and their friends gave them quite a
welcome. At one time they became so troublesome that a squad of
soldiers under the leadership of Capt. Henry was stationed here
for some time, during which time we heard no boasting by our home
rebels. Under the leadership of Brad McCarty they had
threatened to tear down the flag, mob the printing office, burn
down the town etc. J. M. Holaday was at that time editing
the Madisonian and when he was not in the service and had changed
the name to "The Hawkeye Flag" he was sending hot sheet
with each issue
Ruby and Benjamin F. Murray had set a splendid flagpole in
the center of the square, which was in pretty constant use. The
stump of it was recently found in making some excavation under the
courthouse and the County Auditor, Mr. Herman Mueller, had
it tenderly cared for and. it is now preserved as a relic and
reclines in an upper room of the courthouse.
one time we thought we were going to have a taste of war right
here in Winterset. The report came that Anderson with his
guerillas was going to make a raid on us. When the news came we
were in consternation - all the church bells rang - squads of men
were sent in every direction to intercept them, valuables were
hastily buried in backyards. No one slept any that night. The next
morning the news began coming in and we realized it was a false
is hard for us now to realize that the much loved, martyred
President, Abraham Lincoln, was so thoroughly hated and constantly
abused in language, not only by the southern rebels, but equally
as much by our home ones, and they spoke of our soldiers as
"Lincoln Hirelings" and at the time of his assassination
an ignoramus on our streets was heard to say, "I would like
to have a stone as large as I could carry and drop it on him as he
is put in the grave.°
of the events that stands out prominently in my memory is the
sight of Jonas Brock making a speech from a wagon to a
crowd as large as could hear him. He had returned from a long
siege in southern prisons and was reduced to almost a skeleton.
His denunciation of the hellish southern prison pens were hurled
out with all the feeling and eloquence that his feeble body would
permit, and was listened to with intense interest.
Benjamin F. Murray fell in the battle of Shiloh, his comrades
thought he was killed, and that report was believed here for some
time, but he had fallen from exhaustion and was taken prisoner,
and for two months was dragged from one prison to another, as they
were driven farther south in retreat. After he was finally
exchanged, and after spending some time in a hospital in St.
Louis, he returned home. His return was an event in Winterset. His
father, Nicholas Murray, laughingly said that the Rebs
would have hard work shooting Frank as his legs were so thin a
bullet would pass between them. While he was in Andersonville
Prison, the conditions became so intolerable that some of the
prisoners decided to get a remonstrance and send in, believing
that they would be shot for it, but thinking that they would die a
worse death under existing conditions they prepared the paper and
wanted some one to sign it. Frank Murray immediately put his name
to it and it went in, he expecting to be shot for it, but somehow
they did not, but it did not improve things.
were not drinking coffee in those days. Neither did we have the
delicious postom. We had to get along without southern products,
so all kinds of berries (principally peas and rye) were parched
and ground and made into beverages to take the place of coffee.
But we had pie and plenty of it. The wonder may be, what we made
them of - as it had not then been discovered that we could raise
any fruits here except apples. Well, I want to tell you that pies
made of dried apples, vinegar and even green tomatoes tasted
pretty good. We had the wild. Fruits - plums, blackberries and
gooseberries. If any pie was left over, it was just as much
enjoyed next morning for breakfast. The Mason fruit jar had not
made its appearance and our surplus stock was prepared for winter
use by drying and preserving.
with her wealth of delicious fruits was only in her swaddling
clothes commercially. She was only known fur her gold at that
time. Luther Burbank was probably too young to realize the
wonderful things he was to do in the improvement and evolution of
John C. Ewing who had a long pastorate in the Presbyterian Church
here, and who had two sons in the service, was suspected of
reporting on the doings of "Knights of the Golden
Circle" or of another secret organization - the "Ku Klux
Klan" was twice warned to keep indoors after dark, but he was
not to be daunted by them but walked the streets at any hour that
a battle in which some of our home boys were killed, it became the
duty of some friend to carry this sad news to his family. Mrs.
Jesse Truitt whose husband was in the south fighting rebels,
told me that this became her duty more than once, and what a sad
duty it was.
we were not always sad in those trying times. We girls wrote
letters not only to our sweethearts but to all the boys of our
acquaintance, who had much of homesickness, and when one came home
on furlough we all exerted ourselves to make his short stay with
us as pleasant as possible. We had little parties and showed him
every attention, and felt very proud of them. They looked so brave
and splendid in their uniforms.
patriotic songs written for those times, "They've Drafted Him
into the Army" , "John Brown's Body Lies Moldering in
the Grave" , "Dixie" , "The Year of
Jubilee" and many of the Negro melodies were hummed by every
one, were soul-stirring in their words and tunes.
of the very exciting events was the encounter between two women in
a store on the south side of the square. One of the rebel
sympathizers appeared with a butternut pinned on the front of her
waist. Mrs. McNeil, whose husband was in the service, heard
of it and immediately rushed down and with the vigor of her young
womanhood proceeded to remove that hated rebel emblem. A lively
fistfight was on, but the by-standers separated them and thus
spoiled what promised to be the liveliest female battle of the
war, and all of us who had missed being present deeply regretted
chief amusement for the young people was the dances which were
held in the hotel dining rooms and in Pitzer Hall, which was above
and to the west of Pitzer’s store on the west side of the square
where Shaw’s store now is. The music for them being violin
exclusively. Our stores were Pitzer & McKnight's. We had one
bank, managed by Albert West.
merchants carried for dress goods besides calico, delaines,
challies, poplins, poplinettes, ginghams, mozanbiques and
jaconnettes. I think they usually had a roll or two of black silk.
We had no traveling salesmen in those days, but the merchants made
trips to New York twice year to buy their stocks of goods and
returned with nice presents for their wives, either a dress
pattern, a wrap or a hairnet sent by the merchant of whom they had
purchased their goods.
doctors were Levi M. Tidrick, David D. Davisson, Alfred
and Chancy. The lawyers - M. L. McPherson, George N.
Elliott, John Leonard, Fred Witt and perhaps one
or two others.
meeting place for rebels, copperheads and bad characters generally
was at Joel Graves, who lived about three miles east of
Buffalo. They also used to drill, and the beating of their drums
could be heard by the farmers in that vicinity. Mr. Graves himself
was a pretty good citizen, but Mrs. Graves and the other members
of the family seemed to be the leading spirits in the rebel cause.
incident in which the pathetic was equally mixed with the comic,
was that the wife of a cavalry soldier who was killed in battle.
She asked a friend to write for particulars of his death, and
added - "tell them to send me the feather off his hat, as I
want to wear mourning and can put it on my hat.
like everything else, changes with the passing years. While it is
much more voluminous now than then, it was quite as expressive as
the article we now have. "Bully" was one of the most
used words to express anything that was particularly to our liking
"Petered out" would now be expressed by "played
is probably difficult for our "youngsters" of today to
see in this Company of the Grand Army of the Republic - young,
active, enthusiastic, vigorous young soldiers of ‘61 and ‘65.