Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 74-76
submitted by Ronna Thuman, November 14, 2007


In the quiet hush of the Sabbath morning of December 9, 1877, passed away from earth and home and all that he held dear in this world, James Mahin, for many years connected with this journal in various positions, and for the last twelve years as one of its editors and proprietors. He had been ill several weeks with typhoid fever, and was thought to be convalescent, but on Saturday he had a relapse and died Sunday at nine o’clock a. m.

As the people of our city gathered in the various churches on that day to attend upon the usual services, and the word was passed from one to another that James Mahin was dead, a shock was felt on receiving the intelligence that a well known citizen in the fresh flower of his manhood, with a life of usefulness and honor apparently before him, had suddenly laid down his armor almost ere the battle of life had fairly begun. The silver-cord was loosed and the golden bowl was broken at the very fountain of life! The young wife looks upon the upturned face of the beloved rigid in the solemn mystery of death, and the mother, the brothers and sisters,--all to whom he was most dear—are stricken to silence and sorrow by a blow that human power is helpless to avert!

James Mahin was born in Cedar county, Iowa, near Rochester, Feb. 25, 1846. The family removed to Muscatine in 1847, where he has ever since lived. He received an ordinary common school education, which was supplemented by a brief course of study at the University at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. At quite an early age he began to work in the office of the JOURNAL, first as a carrier-boy, then as a type setter, and became a reporter before reaching the age of twenty; afterwards he was the associate editor of the paper until the time of his death, as already stated.

In the year 1862, Mr. Mahin joined the 35th regiment of Iowa Volunteers to engage in the war for the suppression of the rebellion, but was soon after discharged on account of sickness at Cairo. The disease contracted in the army never entirely left him, and in all probability its lingering effects made him an easier victim to the tenacious fever that destroyed his life.

He made a six months tour to Europe in 1871, visiting all the principal cities of England and France, extending his journey to Venice and Vienna, and returning through German, North England and Scotland. His letters to this journal during his absence were perused with much interest by its readers, and compared favorable with the foreigh correspondence of more pretentious travelers.

In the month of April, 1873, he was married to Miss Emma Lillibridge, a native of Muscatine, with whom four brief years of happy wedded life were passed. He left no children; the home and hearthstone are desolate, and the young widow in the fresh morning of life sits beneath the shadow of a great sorrow.

Mr. Mahin had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of this city, for six years preceding his death, and a teacher in its Sunday School, in which he took great interest. A touching tribute to his faithfulness, by the class of young ladies whom he taught, was the draping of his chair and decorating it with flowers during the session of the school yesterday. They sat in tearful silence before it until school was dismissed. Who shall say that the beloved teacher ever presented the lesson of the day more effectually? It was the silent eloquence of a voice hushed in death, more potent than the most persuasive language.

As a Christian Mr. Mahin was not demonstrative in the expression of his religious feelings, but he possessed a calm and abiding faith in the truths of the gospel and their power over the human heart, that ran deep as the current of a mighty river, and made its silent but fadeless impression upon his life and character for time and eternity.

As one of the editors and managers of the Muscatine JOURNAL he was widely known throughout the State and in this city and county. He will be missed by all upon the streets, where he made his daily rounds in quest of news; he will be missed in his office, in the columns of the paper that bore the daily impress of his thoughts and sentiments; he will be missed in its care and management. An inveterate worker, he was ever at his post, working indeed too constantly for the measure of his health and vital force.

As a writer he was easy, graceful and apt; his daily items of local news were fresh, crisp and racy; his more elaborate articles pointed and vigorous, yet modest and unassuming in style and expression. His correspondence with the paper during his various absences was always interesting and attractive; it showed him to be a keen and accurate observer, with the pen of a ready writer to give language to whatever impression was made upon his mind; he could be witty or ornate, as occasion required, and passed

“From grave to gay, from lively to severs.”

with great facility. Not only so, but we think he gave promise of a riper excellence and ability that would have gained him wider reputation among the journalists of the State, had his life been spared.

During his illness his mental strength and vigor continued unabated until a few hours before his death. It was his custom to ask for the news each day, and the evening before he died the “Kind Words” copied by the JOURNAL from its exchanges were read to him by his wife and afforded him much satisfaction. But the final summons was even then near at hand; the “inevitable hour” that comes to all was fast approaching, and in the pure sunlight of the Holy Sabbath morning his freed spirit returned unto the God who gave it, and the weary, wasted tenement was forever at rest.

The community has lost a quiet and unostentatious citizen, who used his talents in its interest and for its benefit.

The press of which he was a member has lost one who gave to it the best energies of a pure mind and an active intellect.

The church and Sunday School have lost a faithful member; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

The home circle—ah, who shall vade that sacred presence and seek picture its loss—its expressible … and anguish—its gloom--its vacant in such a presence speech may be silver but silence is golden. The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger may not intermeddle even with its joy! ------- D.C.R.

It was first arranged by the family to have the funeral from the home of John Mahin, brother of the deceased, but yielding to a general expression from the citizens, it has been decided to have the religious exercises in the First M. E. church, commencing at half-past one o’clock to-morrow (Tuesday). Revs. G. N. Power and A. B. Robbins will officiate.


Sadness and sorrow pervaded the exercises at the M. E. Church throughout the entire day, Sunday; the chair of a Sabbath school teacher was vacant, but the mourning with which it was draped and the tears that swelled up from great big hearts told plainly that he had not lived in vain—nor died in vain.


The press of Iowa is called to mourn the loss of one of its brightest members. The rising, radiant star of James Mahin has gone out in sudden darkness and death.

No stranger hand may draw the scene of domestic grief, or write the words of a brother’s desolation. These dear and sacred offices, we leave to those who so tenderly will indite the last farewell of home and kindred. But we knew him well, as journalist, student, friend. Not only was it our pleasure to exchange daily journalistic greeting with him, for years, but he had admitted us to his heart, with all its longings and ambitions, and the fierce turbulence which raged in the political columns of JOURNAL and Tribune through seven successive campaigns of party warfare, could not take from our daily greeting the accustomed words of faith and friendship.

There is pressing and sweet occasion in the first solemn impressions of this death, to speak of the loss of Muscatine. Possibly, none could measure the justice of this city’s sorrow, with true words than ours. We knew and meet him, day and night, as the chronicler of our city’s passing history; we marked his zeal, and conscientious labors; we read, as only a competitive critic could read, the exact and graphic drawings of his pen; we appreciated as only we could appreciate, the garnering, versatile and genial beauties of his gifts. We walked with him in the procession of mourners, and who shall hereafter write his tender memories of Muscatine lead? He had earned a seat at all our hearths, and was the honorary member of all the households of our city.

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But our thoughts were of a greater loss. The Press of Iowa are called to “close rank..” One of the bravest, and most promising of their numbers, has fallen. There are chivalrous and renowned journalists in Iowa; it may cause surprise if we name James Mahlin, the Bayard of his profession. He had not met you, Knights of the Eagle, in the arena of your proudest triumphs.--Death came, ere his glove was off his hand, ere his burnished lance was flashing among you. Reckon not upon his modesty. He had the presumption, to wait. Who among you, armed and equipped, like James Mahin, to whom Literature was an alphabet, and the skill of his profession, a childhood’s play, would have taken and carried through his pilgrimage to Europe? He went, not to see, but to learn not to enjoy, but to acquire. His sail across the Atlantic and travels through England, France Italy and Germany outranked in conception and brilliancy of execution, the European volume of Taylor.—Bayard Taylor satisfied the romantic longings of his youth. James Mahin studied the galleries of Paris, Rome and Florence, the lessons of the Rhino, and the historic views of England, to befit him for his profession. In one of his occasions of confidence, he said to us. “O, for two years in Europe!” which simply meant that there were lessons abroad which he had not time to learn.

But we forget thee, James Mahin, in your noble aspirations, to think of thee as the genial friend. We shall miss you; day after day we shall look for you in rain; you were a part of this daily life seen from our window; for years you have stood sentinel at the tower, watching without and within our gates. God be praised, that we may think of thee as within the Gates, where the genius of they spirit may find its full fruition in scenes of heavenly beauty and walks of perfect peace and love. ----- G.W.V.


Has Called Mr. James Mahin to his Long Home.

Muscatine Daily Tribune, Dec. 11th

When the news was whispered around Sunday morning that James Mahin was no more, everybody experienced a feeling of deep sorrow, which would hardly have been more poignant had it been one of our own family that had been called to tread the path leading to the beyond. The latest reports on the streets had been of a favorable character, and scarcely a person was prepared to hear Sunday that death had removed friend James from our midst. The first thought was of sorrow, the next of resignation, realizing that he had exchanged a mortal cross for an immortal crown; that he had already entered upon that new life where sorrow and trouble never come. But the grief of the relations, and more particularly of his dear wife—who can depict that? A fond and loving husband taken from her while yet in the prime of life, and ere the honeymoon was of scarce five years’ duration. She feels utterly inconsolable at this, her irreparable loss, and weeping, will not be comforted. The prayers and tears of the Christian people of this city and county unite with hers and for her, that she may have strength of body and soul to endure this great affliction.

We can hardly realize that James is gone. So long have we seen his pleasant and smiling face on our streets; so long have we had the pleasure of his acquaintance and that of frequent converse with him; so long have we admired his intellectual and moral traits of character, that it seems that he must return. Both the proprietors of this paper served their apprenticeship under the deceased, and the friendship there begun was never broken in after years. Although differing in polities, and occasionally indulging in sparring with probably a sprinkling of acrimony, yet behind and beyond remained the unchangeable respect and esteem for our old friend. He deprecated the jangling and controversies so frequent in newspaper life, and rarely himself indulged in them. Well do we remember a conversation had with him soon after the meetings of Graves and Leland, when he made the remark that he had been impressed by the text taken by one of these men at the beginning of a discourse, which was, “Let brethren dwell together in unity.” He thought that a beautiful passage, and one quite applicable to editors. He loved to dwell at peace with all men, and be friendly with everybody. As “local” of the JOURNAL he filled the position for which he was best suited, by taste and habits, and how well and faithfully the arduous and never-ending duties of the position were performed the files of that paper will show. Everything that could be of interest to the public was gathered and given out, and so earnestly and assiduously did he devote himself to the work that many fear that his constitution, never very strong, was undermined, making him an easy prey to the first disease he contracted. To such an extent had his labors become a second nature with him, that all during his sickness, and even to the evening before his death, he loved to hear his wife read from the newspapers, and especially from his paper; and its improvements and prssperity were noticed with a brightening eye and a lingering smile.

It would seem to mortal eye that his work was but half completer; that the good he had accomplished was but a drop compared to that which was to follow. But no. In the inserutable design of the All-Wise it was uttered, “Your work is done. Enter upon your reward.”

It was only four short weeks ago that deceased first felt the symptoms of the fatal disease which carried him to his grave. He was in Chicago at the time, and fearing sickness, he hastened home, and was compelled to take to his bed, from which he never arose. Although experiencing the severest of pains, with a fever consuming his very life, he was perfectly rational and conscious to the last. No one could imagine a death more peaceful and beautiful. Through Saturday night he had occasional respites from pain in sleep, and when Sunday morning came the drowsiness appeared to gain stronger and yet stronger control, until the failing pulse and the gasping breath told that the end had come. And just at nine o’clock on Sabbath morning the spirit left its mortal tenement, and returned to its Maker.

On the 30th of April, 1873, he was united in marriage to Miss Emma Lillibridge, and the succeeding years have been filled to repletion with counubial bliss. He leaves no children, and solitary and alone Emma is left in that now desolate home, to dream of the days that are gone never again to return.

Deceased had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the last six years of his life, and although not as demonstrative and pretentious as some in his religious life, none could deny his unfaltering observance of the dictates of duty and conscience, and an unselfish devotion in the interests and pleasures of his friends. For many years he has had charge of a class in the Sunday school, and as the young girls would grow up to womanhood under his teachings, who can tell the amount of good resulting from the truths which he so sedulously and entertainingly communicated to his pupils. Last Sunday that chair in the school was vacant, but his scholars had been there, and it was draped and decorated in an appropriate manner.

How true the words of the tribute offering of Mr. D. C. Richman, in last evening’s JOURNAL:

    “The community has lost a quiet and unostentatious citizen, who used his talents in its interest and for its benefit.

    The press of which he was a member has lost one who gave to it the best energies of a pure mind and an active intellect.

    The church and Sunday School have lost a faithful member; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

    The home circle—ah, who shall invade that sacred presence and seek to picture its loss—its inexpressible grief and anguish—its gloom—its vacancy? In such a presence speech may be silver, but silence is golden. The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger may not intermeddle even with its joy!”

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Resolutions of Respect.

The Academy of Science, at their meeting last evening, passed the following resolutions or respect to the memory of James Mahin:

    WHEREAS, The Academy has learned with unfeigned sorrow of the death of James Mahin, the long-time associate editor of the Journal, from whom this society has received many tokens of public notice and regard, whose sympathies and attainments have placed him in intimate relations with the Academy, and whose services to the society, have marked his loss as one of public calamity, therefore.

    Resolved, That the death of James Mahin should be recorded in the annals of this society, as of great loss to this community, and as cause of special mourning to all who believe in the highest culture and progress of the race.

    Resolved, That this expression be placed upon the records of this society, and that a copy of the same be tendered to the bereaved family and relatives.


At a meeting of Old Settlers, held at the Mayor’s office, Dec. 11th, expressive of friendship and respect to the memory of Mr. James Mahin, Mr. Richman, president, said that his whole life was a part of the history of our city; not only a private citizen of great worth, but a public man whose sentiments we have read and enjoyed for many years. As associate editor and manager of a public journal, it seems meet that we show in every way our high appreciation of his busy, useful life and kindly gentlemanly deportment among us.

Messrs. Burnett, Block, Bridgman, Demorest and others spoke in the warmest and most positive manner of his many excellencies and his useful and pure life.Messrs. Richman, Block and Bridgman were made a committee on resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting and community, and have the same inserted in our daily papers. Adjourned to meet at City Hall, at one o’clock to attend the funeral of deceased in a body.

D. C. RICHMAN, President


The Old Settlers of Muscatine county in meeting assembled to take action relative to the death of brother James Mahin adopted and directed the publication of the following expression of their sentiments on the sad occasion:

    They reflect with sorrow that one so young in years, standing on the threshold of busy life, should be called to leave all that makes this world desirable and happy, and pass through the dark valley in the midst of many vigor and usefulness.

    They sympathize with the disconsolate young wife and with the sorrowing kindred and friends and commend them to the only source of consolation in an hour like this.

    They recall the pure and noble life of their departed brother; his self-denial; his faithfulness to duty and right; his unflagging zeal and energy in all that engaged his attention, and warmly commend his life and example to the young of our community. They feel that the public generally, the business men, the church society, indeed all classes, have sustained a great and almost irreparable loss in the death of brother Mahin, and they desire to join with all these in the expressions of their sincere sorrow over so sad an event.

    But they remember while his life was short, yet it was filled with good deeds and noble aspirations, and that we may all cherish his memory as one who has not really ceased from his labor for the good of others, but has only gone up higher at the call of the Divine Master.

    D. C. RICHMAN,
    J. P. WALTON,

    Muscatine, Dec. 11, 1877


    The Printers’ Offering.

    Pursuant to call, the printers of Muscatine met in City Hall to pay respect to the memory of the late James Mahin.

    W. C. Betts was elected chairman and O. G. Jack, Secretary.

    On motion of Mr. Ed Cunningham, a committee of three was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting. The Chair appointed O. G. Jack, Harry Cunningham and G. W. Wieppiert said committee.

    Judge Williams, who, a number of years ago, was a newspaper reporter, was called to the floor. He made some well-timed and appropriate remarks, eulogistic of the character of the deceased.

    On motion, Judge Williams was added to the committee on Resolutions.

    On motion, Mr. B. F. Neidig was also added to the committee.

    Mr. Kegel moved that all printers in the city, whether now engaged in the business or not, be invited to take place in the ranks with us. Carried.

    Moved and carried that we meet promptly at 1 o’clock to-morrow, (Tuesday) at the City Hall, and escort the remains to the church and from the church to the cemetery, and that Mr. B. F. Neidig act as marshal of the printers’ procession.

    The Committee on Resolutions reported the following, which were adopted, and the meeting adjourned:

      WHEREAS, We, the printers and members of the press of Muscatine, have sustained an irreparable loss in the death of our former fellow craftsman and friend, James Mahin; and

      WHEREAS, We feel a peculiar sadness in this dispensation of Divine Providence, in taking from our midst one who has done so much to horror our profession, as an able journalist and a worthy Christian gentleman; therefore,

      Resolved, That while we bow with submission to the will of God, in removing from among us one who possessed such noble traits of character as deceased, we feel that our loss has been, his eternal gain.

      Resolved, That we unite in paying respect to the memory of our deceased friend and former associate by attending the funeral in a body, and escorting the remains to their last resting place.

      Resolved, That the above resolutions be published in the papers of the city and that a copy be presented to the widow of our deceased brother.

      W. C. BETTS, Chairman.
      O. G. JACK, Secretary

    Funeral of James Mahin.

    The M. E. church was filled to its utmost capacity, this afternoon, on the occasion of the funeral of James Mahin. The services were conducted by Revs. Power and Robbins, assisted by Rev. Barnard. The Odd Fellows, of which order deceased was a member, turned out in full force, as did the printers of the city and a large number of Old Settlers.

    Our readers, being humane, will excuse a lack of reading matter in to-day’s paper. All printing offices in the city were closed from 1 till 5 o’clock this afternoon.

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