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Akin, Jesse 1829-1921, wife Caroline and son Robert


Posted By: Wilma J. Vande Berg - volunteer (email)
Date: 10/19/2020 at 11:32:42

This BIO had three obits describing the lives of Mr. Jesse Akin and his wife Mrs. Caroline Townsend Akin; as well as the obit of their son Robert who was murdered in Wyoming in 1882.


Akin, Jesse born Dec 22, 1829 Bartholomew Co. IN died Apr 1921 buried in Grace Hill Cemetery Hawarden IA.

Hawarden Independent of April 18, 1921 page one.

Jesse Akin, patriot, pioneer, and one of the grand did men of the Big Sioux Valley, passed to his reward last Friday noon at his home in Union county, S. D., a mile west of Hawarden, at the age of 91 years and 4 months. He was doubtless the oldest person in this community and ranked among the very earliest settlers of the Sioux valley,

His death came following a general decline in strength and vigor due to his advanced age. Up until the last two or three years he made frequent visits to town an was a familiar figure on the streets of Hawarden, but gradually his eyesight began to fail and this made it unsafe for him to be about alone and his visits to town have been less frequent during the last year;

Funeral services were held at the home at l:30 Monday afternoon and at 2 o'clock at the Methodist church in Hawarden, and were in charge of Rev. J. J. Davies of Ida Grove, a former pastor, and Rev. W. A. Winterstein; the local Methodist pastor. Interment was made in Grace Hill cemetery.

The life story of Jesse Akin cannot be told in an obituary. It is part and parcel of the history of this community. Amongst the very first to settle here, conspicuous in public spirit, the contribution of himself and his good wife to every form of community betterment has been an important factor in bringing the Sioux valley to its present development.

Born in Bartholomew county, Indiana, Dec. 22, 1829, securing every advantage that Indiana schools of his day afforded, he moved, with his father, in 1852 to Macon county, Illinois, and in 1854 to Davis county, Iowa. Here he served in various occupations, such as teaching and surveying. On Sept. 16, 1861, he married Caroline Townsend, whose loving companionship was henceforth a constant benediction. More than 59 years they walked in life's ways and now she, broken hearted, waits to join him and their two sons, Robert, who for 23 years was a hope and joy and whose body now rests on Grace Hill, and Henry, who fell asleep when 6 years of age and was laid away in Madison county, "Iowa.

In 1862 Mr. Akin, with a very few other adventurous souls, was found at Elk Point, S. D., in search of a home. The Indians proved troublesome and learning of a raid he and eight others hurried to Sioux City for protection. He returned down state and in the fall enlisted as a trooper in Company B, 7th Iowa Cavalry. He was discharged from the service in 1866 as a First Leiutenant and settled in Madison county, Iowa.

In the spring of 1868 he returned to Elk Point and in June located on the homestead, a mile west of Calliope, where he continuously resided until the day of his death—a period of nearly 53 years. For the first five months of their residence on this homestead, from June until November of 1868, Mr. and Mrs. Akin lived, so to speak, in a hay stack. Hay was cut out and piled to form a circular wall and a piece of canvas stretched over the top to keep off the rain. Here even, in such a primitive environment, they were happy in their dreams of what the future might unfold. Before winter came on their spacious, log cabin was ready for occupancy and in this they resided for a number of years until the present farm home was erected.

Mr. Akin greatly enjoyed repeating the story of their home making and his friends were privileged indeed who were permitted to live over with them those early days. He was particularly happy in the recital of his religious experience what he called "giving my testimony." His conversion occurred in the 16x32 log cabin, when with his wife and two Methodist Episcopal preachers, one of whom was the Rev. Wm. Whitfield of sainted memory, who were enjoying the hospitality of his home, after conversation on things of God, he was led to seek and find peace in Jesus Christ.

He served his community in many ways. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention when South Dakota was admitted to statehood, was a member of the first legislature of the state, and was, during the days of his activity, ready for any needed service. "Uncle" Jesse Akin was loved and revered by hundreds of friends of both the past and present generation who esteemed it a privilege to speak of him with this term of endearment. Kindly, gentle, open-hearted, he always met life with a smile and many a burden has been made easier and many a pathway brightened through his kindly ministrations and cheery companionship. He lived n long, eventful, useful life and the influence of his unselfish character has left a lasting impression upon those who have been privileged to know him. The world is better that Jesse Akin has lived. ,

He is survived by two brothers, Joshua Akin of Winterset, Iowa, and Wilson Akin of Mountain View, Mo., two half-brothers, Lewis and Theodore Akin of Madison county, Iowa, and two half-sisters, Miss Sara E. Akin and Mrs. Emma Brady, also of Madison county.

(In the August 31, 1882 issue of Sioux County Independent of Calliope is the story of the murder of his son Robert, also see his obituary )


Akin, Caroline nee 'Townsend born Aug 30, 1837 Shelby Co. IN died Jun 1924 buried in Grace Hill Cemetery Hawarden IA.

Hawarden Independenet of June 26, 1924 page one.
DEATH CLAIMS PIONEER LADY MRS. CAROLINE AKIN ANSWERS GRIM REAPER'S CALL Died on Home Farm Where She Had Resided for Fifty-Six Years.— Laid to Rest Sunday Mrs. Caroline Akin, one of the Big Sioux valley's earliest pioneers, passed away last Thursday night at her farm home in Union county, a mile west of Hawarden.

Her death occurred on the same farm which she and her husband, the late Jesse. Akin, homesteaded fifty-six years ago and which has been her home continuously during all the intervening years. She was nearly 87 years of age and her death was due to the infirmities incident to her advanced years. Mr. Akin passed away three years ago last April at the advanced age of 91 years. Following Mr. Akin's death, his brother, L. W. Akin and family, moved here and have had the care of Mrs. Akin during the past three years

Brief funeral services were held at the Akin home at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, followed by services at the Baptist church which were conducted by the pastor, Rev. J. T. Parker, assisted by Rev. W. A. WinterStein, pastor of the Methodist church. Interment was made in Grace Hill cemetery where Mr. Akin was laid to rest. The Women's Relief Corps, of which Mrs. Akin WHS an honored member, gave their ritualistic burial services at tho arrive. The many old friends in attendance at the funeral and there was a wealth of beautiful floral offerings testified to the high esteem in which Mrs. Akin was hold in the community.

Caroline Townsend was born in Shelby county. Ind., Aug. 30, 1837. When she was about ten years of age she moved with her parents to Davis county, Iowa, where on Sept. 12, 1861, she was united in marriage with Jesse Akin.

The following year Mr. Akin came to Elk Point in search of a home but the Indians proved troublesome and the few adventurous souls who had accompanied him felt obliged to return to Sioux City to refuge. Mr. Akin then enlisted in the Union army where he served until 1866 after his discharge rejoined Mrs. Akin and they settled in Madison county, Iowa. But the call of the frontier was too strong to resist and the spring of 1868 found Mr. and Mrs. Akin again seeking a new home and in June of that year they settled on the homestead, a mile west of Calliope, where they continued to reside until claimed by death.

The story has been oft repeated how they spent the first five months on this homestead, from June until November, with a hay stack for shelter, but their log cabin was completed before winter set in and they lived in this for a number of years until the present fine farm home was erected.

Two sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Akin, Henry, who died at the age of 6 years and was buried in Madison county, Iowa, and Robert, who lived for twenty-three years when he was ruthlessly taken from them and sleeps in Grace Hill cemetery where Mr. and Mrs. Akin are buried.

Mrs. Akin united with the Christian church before her marriage and in June, 1918 united with the local Baptist church. She was always very much of a home body and took great delight in keeping her flower beds and shrubbery and all her home surroundings in the finest order. Inured to early pioneer hardships, it always became a pleasure to her to assist the needy and afflicted and to relieve distress wherever she found it. She was possessed of a most genial disposition which made her a delightful companion and visitors were always welcome under her roof.

Mr. and Mrs. Akin grew old together joyfully, with the consolation of a life well spent and since Mr. Akin's death she has waited calmly for the day when she would join him on the other side. She is survived by one brother who resided in Bloomfield IA.

(in the August 31, issue of the Sioux County Independent of Calliope is the long article about the murder of their son Robert in Rock Creek WY. It is a real wild west sad story)


Akin, Robert born 8 Aug 1859 IA died 21 Aug 1882 Sioux County IA buried in Grace Hill Cemetery Hawarden IA. Parents Jesse Akin and Carolyn Townsend Akin

Sioux County Independent of Calliope Sept. 7, 1882
Young, tender, amiable and kind, ever generous and grateful. He was the of his home and the true companion in friendship, a stranger to the evils terrible associations. He did not fear and guard against the dangers of a lurking foe, but, in his death in the full discharge of his duty, unconscious of the evils that conspired to rob him of that happy boon that was just budding into manhood. Happy in the thought of soon meeting dear ones at home— to greet a father and mother in the full prime of life, was just filling his young heart with manly pride ; but, oh ! How sad to witness all the fine hopes blasted by one diabolical act of cruel murder, sickening the heart of man and filing the breasts of loving parents with untold grief. Such was the sad fate of Robert Akin. and the little mound over-looking the home of his childhood in the valley of the Sioux river as it kisses the evening sun, will ever- remain the peaceful and final resting place of the subject of this sketch.

Sioux County Herald of Sept 7, 1882
Last Sunday Rev. G. M. Pendell preached the funeral sermon of Robert Akin who was so brutally murdered at Rock Creek WY Terr. The house was crowded with mourners and friends who deeply sympathize with M. and Mrs. Akin in this their great affliction.

Sioux County Independent of August 31, 1882

Full Account of the death of Robert Akin, as given by a Laramie Paper. The following is an extract from letter received by Mr. Jesse Akin, and also a full account of the shooting, as reported by a Laramie, Wyoming paper: ROCK CBEEK, Wyoming. Terr., Aug. 23, 1882 \

Mr. AKIN, Dear Sir:
I send you slip from a paper which gives you a full account of the death of your son. Bob had only been with me about six weeks, but I can say of him, be was an honorable man, and ever worthy of all confidence. His death was most unfortunate and deeply to be regretted. • • •
C E. Clay

The Account
One of the most cold-blooded, unprovoked murders that ever stained he pages of history occurred at Rock Creek station, fifty miles west of Laramie City, last night. Between he hours of 5 and 6 o'clock a man known as –Gibben, who made his living teaming, hunting and etc in that vicinity, drove up in front of the railroad eating house, kept by A. H. Baker, and informed that gentleman that he had some wild meat he wanted to sell. He had hitched his horses in Mr. Baker's front year, and that gentleman told him to move them. He answered in an insulting manner, but finally did as he was told. Mr. Dana Thayer, who was standing near at the time heard him mutter to himself as he did so: 'Ill shoot some s..of a b... for this before I leave town, by God”. He seemed slightly under the influence of liquor, but was by no means drunk, simply sullen and insulting in his manner.

Soon after he entered a store kept by Mr. E. E. Clay, and commenced raising a disturbance, banging a Sharp's rifle he carried on the floor and talking loud and insulting to Mr. Robert Akin, the clerk, who was standing behind the counter. Akin finally told Gibben that he was making too much noise and that unless he kept quiet he would have to go out. Gibben did not reply, but deliberately bringing the rifle he carried to his shoulder he fired, the winged messenger of death striking Akin directly in the forehead. He threw up his hands with a convulsive movement, half turned and fell dead!. While the murderer was still standing in the room with the smoking weapon in his hand, Mr. Clay, who was in the back part of the store when the shot was fired sprang forward and hit Gibbon back of the ear, laying him out temporarily. By this time the noise of the shooting had brought a number of citizens to the store, who assisted Mr. Clay in severely tying the desperado with ropes.

When he recovered consciousness and informed of the result of his shot, he expressed himself as perfectly satisfied; was not sorry for what he had done and declared that if they would turn him loose and give him a show he would 'stand off the whole G...d...ed crowd.” He hurled curse and impressions of the vilest and most wicked character at his captors, and made almost super human efforts to burst his bonds; but the men who had tied him had done their work well, and all his efforts to free himself were in vain. He was carried into the back room of the building and placed in charge of two guards, armed with guns. His victim had been picked up immediately after he had fallen, but life had fled.

Sheriff Boswell was notified at once by telegraph, and as soon as possible he left for Rock Creek on a freight train. The news was passed from lip to lip on the streets here and it was the universal opinion that the murderer would be lynched before our sheriff arrived; and subsequent events proved that our opinion was well founded.

Soon after 9 o'clock a party of masked men entered the room in which the murderer was confined, by the rear door. They were heavily armed, and the two guards seeing at a glance that it was useless to attempt to resist, their down their guns. A large handkerchief was tied over Gibbon's mouth to prevent his giving the alarm, and he was picked up by several stout fellows and carried out, followed by other member of the party. The doomed man evidently realized what was about to take place, and made every effort to loosen the ropes which held him, but could not. Arriving at the freight car standing on the sidetrack near the town, a rude gallows was improvised during which time Gibbon lay on the ground, each member fo the party kicking him whenever the spirit moved, and it moved them so often that his face was a mass of cuts and bruises when the architects announced that the gallows was completed.

They had taken a heavy piece of timber and placed it on the running board of the freight car allowing one end to project over, and tying the other securely. A rope was then placed about the murderer's neck; willing hands grasped the rope, and the body was soon suspended between heaven and earth. After waiting a short time in order the no one might have an opportunity to cut it down, the crowd melted away in the darkness. The swaying body at the end of the car telling its own story.
Robert Akins' death had be avenged, and justice done.

Sheriff Boswell arrived soon after and was told where he could find his man. After inspecting him he remarked that, from all appearances the services of a coroner instead of a sheriff were needed, and taking a late train returned to Laramie. Meanwhile Coroner Guensier had been notified, and at once left for Rock Creek, only to find on his arrival there that two inquests would be necessary instead of one.

But little is known about Gibbon, He was a man about forty or forty five years of age, about five feet six inches in height; short, thick neck; bull dog or pug nose; sandy beard. It became necessary to use the car he was suspended to this morning , and placed on a wagon near by. It presented a disgusting spectacle. The bruises and cuts about the face were awful, the eyes hung out and the neck was almost severed.

Akin, his victim was a young man and a favorite with the people of that section. He was never quarrelsome and, as shown in the foregoing, his murder was entirely unprovoked. What renders his death all the more sad is the fact that he had just perfected arrangements for visiting his parents in the east, and reviewing the scenes of his boyhood days. Instead of a happy meeting with their son, the parents are now called on to mourn his untimely death.

Dr. Guensier, coroner, returned from Rock Creek this afternoon, having held inquests on the bodies of the murderer and his victim. In the case of the former, the jury found the Gibbon, or Gillem came to his death by being hanged by the neck at the hands of persons unknown to the jury.

The verdict in the case of Akin was; Deceased came to his death from the effects of a gun shot wound at the hands of Gibbon or Gillem.


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