submitted by Neal Carter, November 28, 2007

Jan 2, 1897 (hand written)

Muscatine mourns the loss of one of its old-time leading citizens, who was repeatedly honored with the position of chief executive of the municipality, in the death of Former Mayor Robert T. Wallace, who breathed his last at 5:45 p. m. yesterday. The deceased had been in broken health for the past two years, during the greater portion of which period he retired from active business pursuits. The ailment which gradually undermined his rugged constitution was chronic dyspepsia, but on the 3d ultimo he sustained a paralytic stroke from which he never rallied, and which confined him to his bed until death came as a welcome release. The aged patient lay in a comatose condition for several days, and when the inevitable end came he passed away without a struggle.

Hon. Robert Thompson Wallace, so long one of the enterprising merchants of Muscatine, was born in Allegheny county, Pa., October 29, 1826, and was a son of John and Rebecca (Irwin) Wallace, who were also natives of the same county. The father was of Scotch origin and served in the war of 1812. He was a carpenter and builder by trade, and operated a farm. After 66 years of wedded life he died at the advanced age of 93 years, Mrs. Wallace being of the same age at the time of her death. Robert, who was one of ten children, spent his boyhood days on the Allegheny county farm. He began his education in the subscription schools and later attended the common schools of his native state. When sixteen years of age, he began life’s battle as a clerk, receiving $8 per month, and later was employed by a canal company as collector of tolls. In the month of July, 1856, he left Pennsylvania for the far west, locating in the village of Muscatine. He soon secured employment as a salesman, but shortly afterward formed a partnership with Marx Block, as agents for the steamboat companies on the Mississippi River. This business was prosecuted for eleven years, when on account of failing health he sold out to his partner. His next venture was in the retail grocery business, forming a partnership in that line with Col. Beach, to whom he sold his share two years later, when he went to Chicago and began dealing in building material. During the financial panic of 1873 he was much reduced in circumstances but continued business in Chicago until 1876, when he returned to Muscatine, and in 1881 began dealing in wood, coal and building material, in which line he continued until failing health compelled his retirement, his son meanwhile having active management of the business.

In 1861 Mr. Wallace was united in marriage with Mary A. Kerr, daughter of Dr. J. P. Kerr, of Claysville, Washington county, Pa., and by their union three children were born, only one of whom survives, William N., a graduate of the High School at Iowa City and successor to his father’s business. In 1868, Mrs. Wallace, who was a member of the Presbyterian church and a lady highly respected in the community where she resided, was called to her final rest.

In his political sentiments Mr. Wallace was an uncompromising democrat, as was his patriotic sire, was had voted for the author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the democratic party, Thomas Jefferson, for president. He was honored with several local offices, including wharfmaster, recorder and marshal. He was elected to the office of mayor in 1882, re-elected in 1883, again in 1884, and finally in 1892. A man of pronounced views, he adhered to them tenaciously and a sense of duty and regard for the public weal characterized his every official act and made him a strong favorite with the people, their confidence in him and satisfaction with the able, honest and fearless manner in which he discharged his duties being attested by repeated triumphant elections.

His son, William N., of this city, and two sisters survive, they being Mrs. Jane Newell, of New Castle, Pa., and Mrs. Wm. Rigg, of Valparaiso, Indiana. The funeral is appointed to take place Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock from the residence, corner Fourth and Linn streets.

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