Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens
Revised, Home and School Edition by Brigham Johnson.
2 Vols. Des Moines,
IA: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918.
Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Tamara Jorstad.
William Salter, Circuit Rider – Pioneer Preacher and Pastor – Occasion Orator, and Historian, 1821 – 1910
It is with some measure of relief that we turn from biographies of men who in their time bravely bore the brunt of contests in forum and field to a sketch of one who in the course of a long life lived on in the joy of service to his family, his church, his community, the state he loved and served, his country, the world.
“The last of the noble Iowa Band,” as the national council of his church in 1910 officially styled him; “the father of Congregationalism in Iowa ,” as his brother ministers were wont to call him, and among the first to grasp the significance of our annals and local tradition and crystallize them into history. It is fortunate that on the 86 th anniversary of his birthday, November 17, 1907 , Doctor Salter gave his congregation in Burlington an autobiographical outline of his long life, the sketch interwoven with contributions from other sources throwing light upon the character and career of this pioneer of pioneers.
William Slater was born in Brooklyn , New York , on the 17 th day of November, 1821. His earliest recollections were of a happy home, fond parents, school and church, scenes and events about Fulton Ferry and New York Harbor , and thought-excursions far out on the illimitable ocean beyond. In a larger sense that than in which the words are commonly used the boy was “well born.” His father was a ship-builder and ship-owner, who, with his brother, had built a ship named “Mary and Harriet,” in honor of their respective wives. As the boy stood upon the deck or climbed in the rigging, he longed to sail out into the vast unknown; but his father, who in his youth had come under the influence of Phillips Academy , Exeter , N. H. willed that the son should have a liberal education. At the age of ten William began the study of Latin; two years later he took up Greek, and six year later he began to read the Hebrew Bible and became a student of the Arabic tongue, thus laying broad and deep the foundations for a classical education. His father having moved to the City of New York , the youth came under the influence of Doctor Cox, an ardent anti-slavery preacher, whose home and church were once stoned by an anti-slavery mob.
A financial crash swept away the capital his father had accumulated and the son was compelled to earn money to continue his education. When in 1833 Black Hawk, Keokuk and other western chiefs visited New York , their coming turned the young man's thoughts in the direction of that great prospective seat of empire, the Mississippi Valley.
Completing his four-years course at the University of the City of New York , at the age of eighteen he accepted an offer to teach school in Norfolk , Connecticut . Theodore Frelinghuysen, chancellor of the university, recommended him as “well qualified for such duty,” adding: “His high standing in his class for scholarship, his correct deportment and exemplary conduct in the institution, fully entitle him to esteem and confidence.”
After six months' experience as a teacher he entered Union Theological Seminary, New York . After two years spent in the seminary, he went to Andover to complete his course. His receptive mind readily imbibed the Andover spirit, and in the quieter atmosphere of that old New England town he made rapid progress in his studies and became an omnivorous reader.
Graduated from Andover in 1843, he entered the missionary field and was assigned to Jackson County, Iowa Territory. Let us look in upon the youthful graduate of Andover in search of his field.
“Salter and Turner, yokefellows as before, go thirty miles farter up the river and land at Davenport . Here they found one of the “Sacred Seven,” Rev. A. B. Hitchcock, just moving into a small house and beginning his labors . . . From this place to their appointed stations Salter must go sixty miles and Turner ninety .. . . They had no conveyance . . . Mr. Hitchcock's brother offered to take them in a lumber wagon part of the way. At night they reached the log-dwelling of Rev. Oliver Emerson . . . then living in Clinton County . With his characteristic cordiality, he welcomed them to his heart and house. Here was one of the double log cabins with two rooms about ten feet apart and an open space between them having extended over the whole and sod chimney graced each end of the building. The logs were not hewed but laid up in their native covering of bark. The openings between the logs were “chinked” with strips of wood spread with mortar, made pretty much of mud. The floor of the loft was loosely laid with crooked basswood boards, not so close as to prevent the free circulation of air. These also formed the ceiling of the lower room.
“The pioneer missionary provided for their further journey the only conveyance that could be obtained among his people, a log wagon having a box somewhat in the shape of a skiff. It was a raw and dreary November day, and the chill winds had full play upon the defenseless voyagers . . . Once there came a sudden halt. It was caused by a break in the harness. From a pocket filled with strings the driver gave Salter and Turner their first lesson in harness mending. Soon they came to a small branch of the Wapsipinicon . They had poled across the main river on a flatboat the day before. Going into the steam the driver jumped upon the board that had answered for his seat and directed Salter and Turner to do the same. When the team attempted to ascend to dry ground on the opposite bank, the wheels of the wagon went to the hubs in the soft mud.
“They did not reach McCloy's mill until dark, and to their dismay found no accommodations for the night. Hence they continued to wind their way in the dark along the banks of the mill creek, in one place fording it when they could not see from one bank to the other. At 10 o'clock they reached Mr. Shaw's. This was their destination, and Mrs. Shaw insisted upon getting them a warm supper. As the house was a small log building and one room answered for kitchen, parlor, dining-room and bedroom, and as there were children, besides Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, there was question about a dormitory. But with a blanket Mrs. Shaw soon partitioned off an apartment. Here Salter and Turner slept the sleep of the just-arrived.
“The next day being Saturday, the two ministers spent the forenoon in pastoral calls at the Forks, afterward named Springfield , now Maquoketa. In the afternoon, Salter rode to the home of Rowland Cotton, son of Deacon Samuel Cotton. On the Sabbath he preached in the upper story of the log court-house at Andrew. He delivered his first sermon as an ordained minister from a desk where sentence of death had been pronounced in the first judicial trial for murder in the territory of Iowa .”
Here William Salter labored as pastor and circuit rider for over two years. In the course of his ministry he rode up and down the Maquoketa River and along its branches, over the prairies and through the woods. He followed up his preaching with personal visitations in the cabins of the pioneer farmers of the period. The young circuit rider's zeal, tact and kindness of heart made him a welcome guest in many hospitable homes. In anticipation of marriage with a sweetheart whom he had left in the East, he built a small cabin in Maquoketa. He was about to start east for his bride, when there occurred one of those unexpected circumstances which strangely turn the course of many a life.
Word came from Burlington , Iowa , that the pastor of the Congregational Church there was seriously ill and had resigned his pastorate, and that the young circuit rider was wanted to fill the vacancy temporarily. He had made a good beginning in the Maquoketa Valley and thought he had best stay. In his judgment, Burlington needed an older and stronger man. But he ventured to visit the church and look the field over.
On the first day of March, 1846, William Salter preached for the first time for a congregation with whom he was destined to remain as pastor for more than sixty years – a service without a parallel in Iowa history, and with few parallels in the Christian ministry. His first service was held in a rented hall over a store on Main Street . He remained two more Sundays, and during his stay was welcomed into the homes of all the families most interested in the church.
On the 15 th day of March the Congregational Society of Burlington invited their guest to become their pastor, and the call was accepted. Bidding a reluctant farewell to his friends in the Maquoketa Valley , he returned to his parish and on the 12 th day of April entered upon his principal life work.
In the summer following, the young preacher went east for his bride. On the 13 th day of August, 1846, in Charlestown , Massachusetts , William Salter and Mary Ann Mackintire were married.
While preaching was to the last his vocation, William Salter early became interested in history and current events. In the course of his long after-career he delivered many discourses, lectures and occasion-addresses, and wrote many historical and biographical papers and several books of permanent value – chiefly historical works.
is sympathies. Though strongly averse to war, he keenly sympathized with the policy of President Lincoln, and with the soldiers who came to the support of the Union . As a member of the U. S. Christian Commission he carried his ministry to the sick and wounded and dying, in hospitals and at the front. He was a keenly interested observer of the battle before Atlanta . He saw the movement of Sherman 's army, and, under the guidance of General Corse, he saw hundreds of the Confederate dead that had been mowed down in the furious assault upon Corse's breastworks. Sickened with these horrors the minister of peace returned home and a whole month elapsed before he recovered from the shock.
Three times during his long ministry, Dr. Salter visited Europe . He also made numerous long trips to distant parts of his own country, and his keen observation greatly enriched his preaching and his contributions to historical literature.
In 1852 he built a home on a height overlooking the city he had grown to love and the river which claims so much of prominence in his historical writings. There he and his devoted wife spent their declining years.
Governor Grimes in a letter to Mrs. Grimes, dated June 24, 1855, relating the story of the only arrest made in Iowa under the Fugitive Slave Law – that of a negro whom Dr. James of Burlington had ineffectually tried to shield from his pursuers – the governor pays this tribute to the courage of the preacher and the intensity of his convictions on the slavery question: “How opinions change! Four years ago Mr. Salter and myself, and not to exceed three others in town, were the only men who dared to express an opinion in opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law; and because we did express such opinions, we were denounced as pickpockets.”
Summing up his long career on his eighty-sixth birthday, Dr. Salter informed his friends that he had preached 2,050 sermons written in full, and had delivered thousands more extempore or from notes. He had performed 639 marriage ceremonies and had officiated at over 1,000 funerals.
In 1864 he received from the Iowa State University the degree of Doctor of Divinity. To many ministers of the gospel the doctor's degree refuses to “stick;” but so well had William Salter earned the title that from the time it was conferred until his death he was known far and wide as “Doctor Salter.”
When the young preacher came to Burlington his little church organization numbered only about forty members and its small pioneer church building soon afterward erected was ample for its congregation. On the Fourth of July, 1867, the natal day of the republic was celebrated by the doctor and his people with the laying of the corner-stone of a new church building which was to cost eighty thousand dollars – and which is still on of Burlington's most notable church edifices.
Dr. Salter was never happier in his public utterances then in his historical addresses. He was at his best, perhaps, in the address delivered before the State Historical Society of Iowa, June 23, 1873 , commemorative of the two-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Iowa by Marquette and Joliet. The narration of the historical events leading to the memorable voyage down the Mississippi , with the landing of the explorers on Iowa soil, is given with the accuracy of a true historian and with an artist's imagination. The after-history of the transfer of Louisiana Territory to the United Sates is told with an interest foreshadowing the doctor's later historical work. The address thus eloquently concludes:
“Divine Providence gave it to the French to discover the land and possess it ninety years, and to Spain to own it for forty years, but reserved its settlement to be accomplished under the genius of American institutions and laws. And now that a fair beginning has been made, and a happy civilization is budding and blooming all over the State of Iowa, it remains for the present and for the coming years to unfold here one of the noblest and grandest chapters in the book of Time, in all departments of human industry, in the culture of the earth, in commerce, in invention, in church and school, in science, in art, in literature, in social and political order.”
Doctor Salter's prayers were never perfunctory. They came, rather, from a heart that, to the last, was imbued with the fervor of youth and with consecration to humanity's service. While little remains on record of the doctor's petitions, we are indebted to stenography for a report of the invocation with which the territorial semi-centennial was opened in Burlington in June, 1883. After thanks for the “green fields, the pastures new, cities fair, and happy homes, and schools and churches,” with which Iowa had been blessed, Doctor Salter besought the Lord to bless the pioneers, to “cheer the evening of their days . . . with glad occasion, he asked that his people be delivered “from pride, vainglory and hypocrisy,” and that their hearts be confirmed “in devotion and piety.” He prayed that those in authority be helped “to execute justice and maintain public virtue and order,” that “vice and wickedness be driven away, and the blessings of knowledge and of religion, pure and undefiled, be universally diffused.” He prayed that Iowa might “be filled with all things true and honest and pure and lovely'” that the half-century's history might “commend the sacred principles of liberty, equality and fraternity to other lands and encourage the disenthralment of all nations from oppression and wrong.” His concluding thought to his people was that peace and good will and salvation might be their portion.
In an impromptu address delivered on the evening of the semi-centennial in 1883, Gen. A. C. Dodge, the presiding officer, himself a Roman Catholic, paid a well-deserved tribute to his long-time fellow-townsman, in the course of which he said:
“When, in 1850, . . . the Asiatic cholera appeared in Burlington, dooming to sudden and violent death a hecatomb of victims, William Salter had the courage, when others fled, to remain at the post of duty and danger. He faced the grim-visaged monster, going as readily to the call of the sick and dying who were not of his own flock as to those who belonged to it.
“. . . It was at that painful time, when speedy dissolution was inevitable, that Doctor Salter and his amiable lady, unalarmed by fear of contagion, visited my dying sister [the wife of Governor Clarke] and caught from her lips the aspiration she breathed to Heaven for the welfare and proper rearing of her children . . .
“Doctor Salter is the Nestor of Burlington preachers, and during his long ministerial career, has imparted unspeakable consolation and happiness to heart-stricken wives, daughters and sons, whose relations, dying without the pale of the church, would have been denied Christian burial but for him.”
On the 12 th of June, 1893 , Doctor Salter met with a great bereavement and at the same time had a narrow escape from death. His wife, with some friends, was riding in a carriage with him when a tree fell and killed her instantly, slightly injuring the other occupants of the carriage. The Hawkeye speaks of Mrs. Salter as a faithful, loving wife, an affectionate mother and true woman. “By nature intellectual, she could not do otherwise than keep pace with her scholarly husband in all his theological studies and writings, and his literacy ventures into the field of history and biography, which he has cultivated with such great success.”
Iowa 's semi-centennial as a state, held in Burlington in the fall of 1896, was anticipated by a historical discourse delivered by Doctor Salter in his church on the 2d day of August. His impressive test was, “What Hath God Wrought!” He began with a review of the Indian's sad failure to rise above quarreling, warring and bloodshed and his inability to grasp the great fact of brotherhood. The speaker reviewed the trend of Iowa history and dwelt upon the extent to which Iowa 's political institutions had been, and then were, directed by religious men, men of broad tolerance, high character and righteous lives – a political inheritance of priceless value.
Doctor Salter's friends made much of the happy anniversary occasions which marked his progress from young manhood to old age. On the fortieth anniversary of his pastorate in Burlington a number of congratulatory addresses were delivered. The one perhaps most pleasantly remembered was that of the genial humorist, Robert J. Burdette, who, largely because of the doctor's ministrations, afterward entered the ministry.
At the completion of forty-five years in the ministry in Burlington , the doctor surprised and grieved his people by tendering his resignation as their pastor. He assigned as his reason the fact that having nearly reached his threescore and ten, and feeling his strength unequal to the tasks belonging to the pastorate of a growing church, he felt that the burden should fall up on younger shoulders. His congregation refused to let him go, and the church trustees asked him to withdraw his letter. Tributes of regret and regard came from many sources, with the result that an assistant pastor was called, and his resignation was withdrawn.
The unveiling of an oil portrait of Doctor Salter in the portrait gallery of the Historical Department of Iowa occurred in November, 1902. The painting, by Mayer of St. Louis, was the gift of a number of the doctor's Burlington friends. The presentation address was delivered by Hon. Frank Springer, a son of Judge Francis Springer, prominent in Iowa history. Governor Cummins quoted the remark then recently made by Doctor Gunsaulus that Iowa combined more of the qualities of good citizenship than any other sate in the Union , commenting as follows: “Somebody gave us the impulse in the years gone by that still keeps us true to the doctrines of good life, good morals and good government. Who gave us this impulse? Doctor Salter and his associates of the formative period of the state. I believe the men and women of this generation ought to be forever grateful for the instruction, the spirit that has come down to us from those former times.”
The venerable preacher and publicist, who had “come down to us form a former generation,” lived on, and though burdened with years toiled on as strength was given him, until the 15 th day of August, 1910, when at the age of eighty-eight, after a residence of sixty-three years in the city of Burlington, his spirit found rest in death. The entire city participated in his funeral. The city council of Burlington and various other bodies passed resolutions honoring his memory, and many were the tributes paid to the singular worth and rare usefulness of this good and – in the best sense of the term – great man.
Five children blessed the union of William Salter and Mary Ann Mackintire, three of whom survive: William Mackintire Salter, scholar, lecturer and author, recently a special lecturer for the Department of Philosophy in the University of Chicago; Sumner Salter of Williams College, Massachusetts, a distinguished musician, composer and lecturer on music; and George B. Salter, a successful and prominent business man of Burlington, Iowa.
A fine and richly deserved tribute to the worth of the man whose life is here outlined is the memorial number of the Annals of Iowa, issued in January, 1911. The number includes a lengthy sketch of Doctor Salter's life by Dr. James L. Hill of Salem, Massachusetts, also the modest autobiographical outline prepared at the request of the doctor's congregation on the occasion of his eighty-sixth birthday, and many touching tributes to the departed and to the companion of his joys and sorrows who had preceded him to the other world.
Few if any more valuable contributions to the history of Iowa have been made than Doctor Salter's “Life of James W. Grimes.” The work might well have been entitled “The Life and Times of James W. Grimes,” for such as it is. The relationship of the author and his subject was so close, and the author's knowledge of Iowa history so intimate and so nearly first-hand, that, with Senator Grimes' correspondence and other papers at his disposal, Doctor Salter was the man of all others to write the story of the great founder of the republican party in Iowa and of that period of Iowa history leading down to and including the formation of that party.
That Senator Grimes realized the fitness of Doctor Salter for the work is evident from the fact, briefly mentioned in the preface, that the senator honored the doctor with his confidence and placed his home letters in the doctor's hands. From these letters and the senator's general correspondence and the public records with which he was familiar, the author arranged with clearness, consecutiveness and good taste the memoirs of the great senator's career. Anticipating the modern trend of biographers toward letting the subject as far as possible tell his own story in his own language, he has related a history of political and social movements in the state during the third quarter of the last century, which, as the story of a contemporary, leaves little to be desired on the subject.
The literary style of Doctor Salter may perhaps be best illustrated by a few sentences copied for the concluding pages of the work:
“He [Grimes] had a genius for public affairs, and evinced superior tact and practical wisdom in the Legislative Assembly of an infant territory and state, in the executive chair of wisdom in the Legislative Assembly of an infant territory and state, in the executive chair of a growing commonwealth, and in the Senate of the nation . . . The prosperity of the great communities and the well-being of future times were objects of his ambition . . . In the changes from peace to war, and from war to peace, he knew the seasons, and was prompt to take occasion by the hand, and conform his political action to new and altered conditions . . . In war no bugle blew a bolder blast; in peace, no one bade heartier farewell to all pride, pomp and circumstances of war, or sought more sincerely the things that make for peace . . .
“A leader more than a follower of opinion, his guiding hand was upon the institutions and laws of a new era in the State of Iowa , and in the nation . . .
“Richly blest and supremely happy in his home, no other place was do dear to him, he cherished no other influence so constantly and warmly, and none were more helpful to his character and life . . .
“Not alone on the battlefield, and in ships-of-war, were the costly sacrifices made that saved the nation. This volume is a record of a valiant man worn out, his health impaired, and nervous power paralyzed, by the watchings and debates and discussions through which the life and integrity of the republic were assured to future times.”
One cannot re-read the voluminous correspondence in the book without some measure of regret that Doctor Salter did not give his readers more of the author's own recollections of the great orator who in 1854 woke the echoes all over Iowa in his insistence on “no more slave states.”
William Salter's last and most valuable contribution to history as distinct from biography – published in 1905, five years before the author's death – is entitled “Iowa: the First Free State in the Louisiana Purchase.” The work covers the entire period from the discovery of the region now included in the State of Iowa 1673, to the admission of the Territory of Iowa into the Union in 1846.
Of the many books written on the Louisiana Purchase , no one had clearly traced the relation of Iowa to that most important event in the early history of the Mississippi Valley . It remained for Doctor Salter to develop that relation form the tangle of purposes and cross-purposes, of after-legislation and conflicting interpretations of law, and of movements of population as affected by the menace of slavery and by treaties made and broken and remade with the Indians. Bringing his history down to the last year of Iowa as a territory in which the last treaties were made with the Indians, providing for the removal of the Winnebagoes and the Pottawattamies, Doctor Salter thus concludes his story:
“Thus Iowa was to be relieved of an Indian population, and the whole state, with as little waste land as any other equal portion of the earth's surface, and with conditions of climate favorable to health and vigor, was opened to civilization, to the hand of industry, to the plow and the spade, to the planting of homes, to the school and the church, to representative government, and to equal laws and courts of justice.”
From Hill, “Dr. William Salter.” Annals of Iowa , January, 1912.
Addison H. Sanders -- From "Printer's Devil" to Brigadier
Gen. Addison H.
Sanders -- to his comrades plain "Ad Sanders" -- was one of
the best known of Iowa soldiers. Born in Cincinnati in 1823, he was
educated in the old-time poor man's college, the printing office, his
education supplemented by a course in Cincinnati College. His brother
Alfred had founded the Davenport Gazette, and in 1845 and again 1846
"Ad" came to help his brother. Ten years later he located
in Davenport and took editorial charge of the Gazette. When the war
opened his was one of the leading republican journals in the Mississippi
valley. First an aide to Governor Kirkwood, and later in command of
Camp McClellan, near Davenport, he so impressed the governor that he
was offered a colonelcy. He modestly declined, recommending the appointment
of a regular army officer. He was then made lieutenant-colonel under
Colonel Chambers. He fought at Shiloh, was severely wounded at Corinth,
was taken prisoner before Atlanta, and nearly lost his life in a Confederate
prison. Brevetted brigadier-general for gallant conduct in battle, in
March, 1865, he was discharged for disability.
Returning to Davenport he was appointed postmaster. In 1870 President
Grant appointed him secretary of Montana, and later he became governor
of that territory. In 1872 he was appointed registrar of the United
States land office in Montana. Later he returned to journalism in Davenport.
In 1900 Gen. William T. Clarke, of Texas, visited his old home in Davenport.
His first inquiry was for General Sanders, remarking that "Ad was
one of the most gallant officers in the war." He died at the Soldiers'
Home in Marshalltown, November 7, 1912, aged eighty-nine.
H. Stibbs Brave Soldier and Prince of Good Fellow
Among the old army men, who does not recall with
a smile of satisfaction Gen. John H. Stibbs -- better known as "Jack"
Stibbs? Born story-teller and humorist and price of good fellows, he was the
life of every soldiers' reunion. Short and stout, like Phil Sheridan, his round
face shone with geniality, and his greeting of comrades was worth doing miles to
see. Stibbs was an Ohioan by birth, but early came to Iowa. The Twelfth Iowa
Infantry, of which Joseph J. Woods was the first colonel and Stibbs the second,
was organized in Dubuque in the fall of 1861, with "Jack" Stibbs, of
Cedar Rapids, captain of Company D. After hard fighting at Donelson, the Twelfth
proceeded to Shiloh, where the entire regiment, also the Eighth and Fourteenth
Iowa, were left to battle as best they could and were captured; but their
stubborn resistance enabled Grant to form a new line. Eight months' captivity
followed. In March, 1863, the regiment was reorganized with Stibbs as its major.
He was in evidence at Vicksburg and Jackson, and in camp on Black River. Here
Stibbs was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. After a furlough spent in Iowa, the
regiment reassembled at Davenport in April, 1864. Colonel Stibbs commanded his
regiment at Tupelo, and later at Nashville, winning high praise in both
In a crisis which occurred in the battle of
Nashville, Colonel Stibbs proved himself equal to the emergency. His brigade
commander, Hill, had fallen, and there was consequent dismay and confusion. The
colonel halted the retiring command, re-formed the lines, and directed a
continuous and resultful fire upon the enemy in front. Next day he relinquished
the command to Colonel Marshall of the Seventh Minnesota, who outranked him.
We next find Colonel Stibbs detailed as a member
of the general court martial in Washington and on other detached service.
He was promoted to colonel February 11, 1865, and was mustered out April
30, 1866. He was afterward given promotion as brevet brigadier-general.
Stone Prominent In Grand
Army and Loyal Legion
There are a few
names that figure prominently in Iowa history, and one of these is Stone. George Augustus Stone was born in Schoharie, New York, October 13, 1833.
When he was six years of age he came with his family to Washington county,
Iowa. After obtaining a good common-school education, he entered Wesleyan
College, Mount Pleasant. An opportunity came to him to become cashier
of the First National Bank of Mount Pleasant, and, not waiting to graduate,
he accepted it. He resigned this position in 1861 to enter the service.
He took an active part in recruiting Company F, of the First Iowa Infantry,
and was chosen first lieutenant.
He took part in
the battle of Wilsons Creek. In October following, he was commissioned
major of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry. In August, 1862, he was made colonel
of the Twenty-fifth Iowa. He led his regiment at Arkansas Post, before
Vicksburg, and in several engagements around Chattanooga. Soon after
the battle of Ringgold, in which his regiment took prominent part, he
was given command of the Iowa Brigade, and Lieut.-Col. D. J. Palmer
took command of his regiment. His brigade was conspicuously active in
the March to the Sea. He received the surrender of the city of Columbia,
capturing forty pieces of artillery, 5,000 stand of arms and 200 prisoners.
He was unjustly charged with the burning of the city on the night following
the surrender. It was presumably set afire by certain released prisoners,
or negroes, for Colonel Stone keenly deplored the vandal act and did
all in his power to check the spread of flames. At Coxs Bridge
and Bentonville the brigade fought bravely, afterward receiving high
praise and its commander the honor of brevet brigadier-general. Thence
to Goldsboro, Raleigh, Richmond and Washington, where he led the famous
Iowa Brigade in the Grand Review. In June the general and his Iowa veterans
returned to Davenport, where they were disbanded.
General Stone was
welcomed back to his former position in the Mount Pleasant bank. Thence
he removed to Ottumwa and thence to Rulo, Nebraska, where he engaged
in merchandising. Years afterward, President Cleveland appointed him
national bank examiner for Iowa. That position he held for seventeen
years until his death, which occurred May 26, 1901. His remains were
buried in the cemetery at Mount Pleasant.
military and civil record is without a blemish. He was prominent in
the Grand Army and the Loyal Legion, and, was buried with military honors,
those bodies conjointly conducting the services at the grave. Only thirty-two
years old when he was mustered out, General Stone was then described
by Stuart as youthful in appearance, of middle size, with black hair
and merry brown eyes; prompt, precise, proud and ambitious, but happily
free from the pseudo-dignity which seemed to afflict army officers conversely
in proportion to their merit. He died at the age of sixty-eight.
Joseph Montfort Street
(edited and condensed)
Joseph Montfort Street was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, on the 18th
day of December, 1782. His father, Anthony Street, was a Virginia planter, of
English ancestry. His mother, Mary (Stokes) Street, was a sister of Gov.
Montfort Stokes, of North Carolina. Anthony Street was a soldier in the
Continental army from the commencement to the close of the Revolutionary war,
and retired a colonel in command of a regiment. He was then made sheriff of
Lunenburg County, holding the office for many years.
Joseph was appointed deputy sheriff before he was of age. His early
educational advantages must have been meager, for we soon find him employed in a
commercial house in Richmond, Virginia.
Little is known of his migration to Kentucky. He read law in the office of
Humphrey Marshall and with the great Henry Clay, and for a brief period
practiced law in the courts of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Young Street and John Wood began in Frankfort the publication of a
politically independent weekly newspaper named The Western World. The World one
day startled its readers by boldly charging Aaron Burr, Judge Innis, one
Sebastian and others with conspiracy against the Government. Kentucky was alive
with sympathizers with Burr, some of them erroneously believing that the
proposed expedition to the Southwest was secretly sanctioned by the Government.
Judge Innis sued the publishers for libel. The editors pleaded justification,
proving that Innis had transmitted sealed documents to New Orleans, documents
prepared and sent by Burr. Innis, taken by surprise, fainted and was carried
from the courtroom. Street was challenged by several of Burr's allies, but he
paid no attention to their challenges further than to publish them as items of
news, editorially remarking that they were on file and the writers would
severally be attended to!
We next learn of Street's marriage to Eliza Maria, daughter of Maj.-Gen.
Thomas Posey of Revolutionary fame, and of his retirement from the State of
Kentucky. In Shawneetown, Illinois, Street served for sixteen years as clerk of
the court. During much of that time he served also as postmaster and recorder of
In the year 1827, President John Quincy Adams appointed Joseph M. Street
agent for the Winnebago Indians at Prairie due Chien, on the Wisconsin side of
the upper Mississippi.
The appointment was due to the influence of Street's friend, Henry Clay. In a
letter announcing that he had been appointed to the Indian agency, Clay
expressed his conviction that the appointment would redound to the welfare of
the Indians and the honor of the Government.
The newly appointed agent entered upon his duties in November, 1827. Early
the next year he moved his family to Prairie du Chien.
The next move of the superintendent, in 1835, was the transfer of General
Street from the Winnebago agency to that of the Sacs and Foxes, with a change of
residence from Prairie du Chien to Rock Island. This change was a great loss to
the Winnebagoes, but a corresponding gain to the Sacs and Foxes.
From 1835 to 1837 General Street and his family resided in Rock Island. Then,
at no little personal sacrifice, he removed to Prairie du Chien that he might
place the Government school which he had founded upon a permanent basis.
Accompanied by Chief Poweshiek and a body-guard of Sac and Fox braves,
General Street penetrated the wilderness of the lower Des Moines, to locate an
agency at a point most accessible from the principal villages of the tribe. The
site was duly selected -- early in 1838 -- and the general contracted for the
erection of the necessary buildings, including a council house, a dwelling for
his family, a business office, stables and a blacksmith shop.
The site selected, Street contracted with a builder from Missouri and
imported a force of mechanics, laborers and negro slaves. The council house was
first erected and after that the blacksmith shop. In April, 1939, General Street
moved his family and household effects to the new agency, and, with many plans
for the future, settled down to the final work of his career.
While deeply engaged in work for his wards, he was warned by failing health
that his end was near. He was taken ill in November, 1839, and lingered on until
the 5th of May, 1840. Drs. Enos Lowe of Burlington and Volney
Spaulding of Fort Madison attended him during his last illness, their ride
extending over seventy-five miles each way. Doctor Posey, of Shawneetown, his
wife's brother, came to their relief as soon as possible. While his death was
attributed to apoplexy, his son was of the opinion that he was afflicted with
paralysis attended with aphasia. While he found difficulty in expressing
himself, "his mind was clear and his faith bright. A short time before his
death he called his family together and spoke of his probable death with his
customary fearlessness, and charged them to meet him in Heaven."
In a picket enclosure in the woods not far from Agency City, new Ottumwa,
Iowa, are three vaults each covered with a marble slab. One of these contains
the mortal remains of Chief Wapello; another, those of the Indian's "father
and friend," General Street, and the third, the remains of the widow and
those of her children who have passed away.
These graves may be seen on the south side of the railroad track about a
half-mile east of Agency City. As a local historian has well said, "This
spot is classic ground in Iowa's aboriginal history."
Now, three-quarters of a century removed from the period made glorious by
this man's fidelity to a sacred trust, we of the twentieth century should be
proud of the fact that away back in the thirties there lived in Iowa a man who
in his long career as Indian agent was, and will remain for all time, an ideal
public servant whom the spoils of office could not buy.