BAXTER, HIRAM BENNETT, one of the extensive landholders in Illinois, and a well known and respected citizen (now of Cass County, formerly of Morgan), was born near Madison, Jefferson County, Ind., September 22, 1840. He is of Scotch-Irish and Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestry, his parents, William and Jane (Kerr) Baxter, being natives of Ohio, the former born in the city of Dayton. His grandfather, James Baxter, a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, came to the United States about the time of the Revolutionary War, settled near Pittsburg, Pa., and married a German lady, whose name was Rebecca Riddle. Mr. Baxter's maternal grandfather, Josiah Kerr, was a native of Scotland.
Hiram B. Baxter is the sixth of twelve children, comprising ten boys and two girls. The others of the family were: James Riddle, the eldest, an attorney, who died in Bloomfield, Ind.; Josiah Kerr, a retired physician, of Sharpsville, Ind.; Daniel Thomas, a carriage maker, who died January 5, 1859; Oliver H. Perry, who was one of the first settlers of Pueblo, Colo., and who now resides there; William Alexander, who died in Indianapolis, Ind., September 15, 1877; George Washington, now a resident of Indianapolis, Ind.; Alonzo Hayden Hayes, a prospector and miner in Colorado; Edward Arthur Zener, an ex-Sheriff of his county, now a resident of Pawnee, Ill., and an extensive breeder and raiser of Duroc Jersey hogs; Leonidas Napoleon, now a resident of Indianapolis, Ind.; Havana Siloam, widow of Robert Williams, of Madison, Ind.; and Emlona Hazeltine, who died young, January 2, 1856. The mother of the family died May 27, 1855, and the father married her sister, Margaret Kerr, by whom he had one son-Erastus Virgil, who died November 25, 1861. The father was a farmer, prospered in his calling, and died on his old farm in Indiana, August 25, 1861, at the age of fifty-seven years. His second wife died at the old homestead on November 24, 1892.
Mr. Baxter was reared on a farm, attended the district schools and at the age of eighteen years was himself teaching a district school in his county. On July 14, 1861, he enlisted in Company K, Twenty-second Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered into the service at North Madison, Ind., by Col. (afterward Gen.) Thomas Wood. He participated in the Missouri campaigns under Fremont, Hunter and Curtis, taking part in the engagement at Glasgow, in which Major Tanner, of his regiment, was killed; was in the battle of Pear Ridge, Ark., and at the siege of Corinth, Miss. He then accompanied his regiment, in General Buell's army, to Louisville, Ky., a distance of nearly 400 miles, and participated in the battle of Perryville, Ky., where he received a severe rifle wound in the knee. Of the thirty-five men in his company, who were engaged in that battle, but eight remained to answer roll-call next morning; ten were killed, thirteen wounded and four were captured. The wounded were all made prisoners for the night. Mr. Baxter rejoined his regiment at Murfreesboro, Tenn., after the battle of Stone River, February, 1863. He then received his commission of First Lieutenant of his company, being promoted from a sergeancy. In the absence of the Captain, who had been wounded at the battle of Stone River, Lieut. Baxter assumed command of the company. The regiment remained at Murfreesboro until June 24, 1863, when it marched with Rosecrans' army on the Tullahoma campaign, following the enemy under Bragg to Chattanooga. His command was assigned to the work of guarding a pass in the mountains, near the battle-ground of Chicamaugua, and was not engaged in that battle. His regiment was then cooped up, with the balance of the Army of the Cumberland under Thomas, and subsisted on short rations for two months in Chattanooga, until re-enforcements arrived under Hooker from the East and Sherman from the West, with Grant to take command. Then the army burst forth from its lethargy and captured Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge in a grand charge all along the line, driving the enemy from their vantage ground at every point. Lieut. Baxter was in command of Company G of his regiment in the charge on Mission Ridge, being in Sheridan's Division of the Fourth Corps, and ascended the ridge near where Bragg's headquarters were established. Immediately after the battle the next day, with his command, he started in pursuit of Longstreet to relieve Burnside at Knoxville, Tenn., arriving there after a hard forced march to find Burnside's army safe and the enemy gone. The army remained there for six weeks, subsisting principally by foraging over the surrounding country.
Here Lieutenant Baxter re-enlisted as a veteran with his company, all retracing their steps to Chattanooga, where they re-mustered for three years, or during the war, and returned to Indiana on a veteran furlough of thirty days. At the expiration of the furlough he returned by rail, with his command, to Nashville, Tenn.; then marched on foot to Chattanooga, where the company was assigned to Dan McCook's Brigade, in the organization of Sherman's Army for the Atlanta campaign and the "March to the Sea." He was at Tunnel Hill, Rockyface Ridge, Resaca and Rome, Ga., where, in command of his company, he was again wounded in the same leg as before. He remained in the hospital and on furlough until the 29th day of August, following, when he was honorably discharged by the Secretary of War for "disability from gunshot wounds." He then returned to his home in Indiana, for a time attending commercial school in Indianapolis. Recovering from his disability in a marked degree, during the fall and winter, he again entered the service in February following, as First Lieutenant of Company B, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Indiana Volunteers, and upon the organization of the regiment he was made Captain of the company and served as such until the end of the war, being mustered out at Indianapolis, Ind., September 6, 1865.
Six of Mr. Baxter's brothers served in the Federal Army during the Civil War, no two of them being in the same regiment, all survived the conflict, and the seven are living at this date (Dec. 25, 1905).
After returning home at the end of the war, Mr. Baxter for a time was clerk in a railroad office at Indianapolis, but becoming dissatisfied with that business, turned his attention westward. On December 15, 1866, with $700 in his pocket, he arrived at Jacksonville, Ill., near which place he taught school for two years and was similarly employed for the same length of time near Literberry. At the latter place, for nine years, he was afterward engaged in selling goods, also filling the positions of Postmaster, railroad agent, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public. On January 21, 1881, he moved to the farm upon which he now resides, in Cass County, Ill., about eight miles from Literberry. He and his wife are now the owners of 1,400 acres of land, 1,100 acres of which are included in his homestead, in Cass County, and 300 hundred acres in Morgan County. He devotes his time to the feeding of stock and the management of his farming interests.
On October 4, 1876, Mr. Baxter was united in marriage with Lydia Ellen Crum, the only daughter of Abram A. Crum, a sketch of whose life may be found elsewhere in this volume. Mr. and Mrs. Baxter are the parents of two sons, namely: Albert Crum, who is a student in the medical department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor; and William Abram, who is a pupil in the Whipple Academy, Jacksonville.
In politics Mrs. Baxter is a stanch Republican. Fraternally he is a member of the John L. Douglass Post, G.A.R., of Ashland, Ill., and was its first Commander. Aside from being a well-informed citizen and the owner of a large tract of fine farming land; Mr. Baxter's military record, as detailed in this sketch, bestows upon him a priceless heritage of honor for transmission to his posterity.