Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Capt. Daniel Iseminger: A comrade remembers

Channing Smith died at his home on South 8th Street at age 78 during September of 1921, a veteran not only of the Civil War but also of many funerals for departed comrades --- held with increasing frequency in Chariton and elsewhere as the boys of 1861-65 turned to old men, then walked on.

This was his mourning badge, worn during those funerals or on other somber occasions, including the annual Memorial Day decoration of veteran graves at the Chariton Cemetery. Retired upon his death, it eventually came to the Lucas County Historical Society in pristine condition, other than a broken clasp. He had two of these --- we have the other one, too; its clasp intact.

I've written before about Daniel Iseminger, after whom Iseminger Post No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic, was named. Organized on Oct. 18, 1879, Iseminger Post ranks grew to include nearly 100 men, including Channing Smith, before old age began to accomplish what the late war had not and comrades felled by the passing years gradually rejoined those who had fallen in war.

Iseminger, a veteran of the Mexican War, came to Chariton from Fort Madison in 1855 with his wife and son and went into business, then was among the first to answer the call when Civil War erupted. He died in combat on April 6, 1862, while leading the men of Company B, 6th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, at bloody Shiloh. Hugely respected by his men, there was no doubt among charter members that the new G.A.R. post would be named in his honor.

I wrote about the departure of this company from Chariton on July 8, 1861, just the other day: "Farewell to the boys of Company B."

What follows is a companion piece, a descriptive sketch of Iseminger himself, published on March 25, 1909, in The Chariton Leader during the weeks leading up to a reunion of Shiloh veterans. It had been written years earlier, however --- probably during the early 1890s --- by Emmett B. Woodward, who had served Iseminger as lieutenant and was promoted to captain and took command of Company B after his death.

Woodward, an attorney, had moved to Atlanta, Georgia, some years earlier because his wife, considered to be in delicate health, thought the climate more favorable. He died there at age 64 on Feb. 7, 1898. She outlived him by more than 20 years, dying in California at age 79 on Dec. 14, 1921. The remains of both were returned to the Chariton Cemetery for burial.

Woodward, too, was respected hugely by his men --- and other fellow citizens of Chariton. "Perhaps no man who ever lived in Lucas county had more friends or fewer enemies than he," his eulogist wrote upon his passing during 1898.

Here is Woodward's account of his old friend and commanding officer:


Several years since, when the picture of Capt. Iseminger was presented to Iseminger Post G.A.R., of Chariton, Maj. E.B. Woodward, of Atlanta, Ga., was asked to write something appropriate and following is the result. He too has long since answered the final roll call. The article will be interesting now on the eve of the Annual Shiloh Veterans Reunion:

It has been so long since the invitation to furnish a sketch of Captain Daniel Iseminger was exended to me, that an apology is due you for the seeming neglect on my part in not responding long ago. As most of you know I have been absent from Chariton a great deal, and could not designate an evening when I could well be with you. Again, I was some time in finding out where his family lived and procuring from them data as to his life prior to coming here.

I would not have the comrades believe the delay has been through any want of respect to their wishes, but through neglect and want of opportunity on my part.

I had no personal acquaintance with Captain Iseminger until the spring of 1860 at which time I located in Chariton. Hence, for the incidents of his life prior to that time, I am dependent upon information kindly furnished by his widow, now a lady of 72 years of age, and only son, George O. Iseminger, both of Bedford, Indiana, where they have resided since the war.

Daniel Iseminger was born near the city of Hamilton, Ohio, on the 30th of May, 1812, and when eight years of age, came with his father's family to Jackson county, Indiana, and a few years later removed to Monroe county in the same state, near the city of Bloomington, residing there until the breaking out of the war between this country and Mexico.

On the first call for volunteers, Iseminger enlisted at Bloomington, Indiana, and upon the formation of the third regiment of Indiana volunteers the company in which he had enlisted became Company "B" of that regiment, and he was elected orderly sergeant of his company. the regiment was commanded by Jim Lane, a man whose name became then, and for years afterwards, a household name throughout this land. With his company and regiment young Iseminger served through the war, being honorably discharged at its close. At the battle of Buena Vista, Sergeant Iseminger commanded the company being the ranking officer present. Wherever the regiment went, he went, and as Jim Lane was a renowned fighter, the regiment was always at the front when possible.

Upon the declaration of peace, our hero returned to Bloomington and remained until 1848, when he crossed the Mississippi River, settling at Fort Madison, and there engaging in the mercantile business; but for Iseminger the place had no attractions, for (in 1855) he left Fort Madison and came to Chariton, where he engaged in merchandising, and remained in this business until sometime in 1857.

When I first knew Iseminger he was, I believe, a Justice of the Peace of Chariton township, and deputy postmaster, under A.C. Cameron, then postmaster under the Buchanan administration, and remained as such until the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion in the spring of 1861. As soon as the result of the election of 1860 was known, the war clouds commenced to gather, and when congress met in December it soon became evident that our southern brethren would not hear to reason, but blindly made the election of Mr. Lincoln the excuse for (as they hoped) a peaceable withdrawing from the Union, yet while the North slumbered, took every precaution to be ready to fight for their darling theory if more peaceable and cowardly means failed.

In those days our nearest railway station was Ottumwa, and from there we had a daily line of stages carrying the mail which arrived here about three or four o'clock in the morning, thus giving us Chicago papers 48 hours old, and we thought ourselves then fortunate, little thinking we would ever receive Chicago morning papers at noon of the same day on which they were published.

In the fall of 1860, the lower part of our present courthouse was prepared for offices. Judge Edwards and his son, Eugene (now of California) and a nephew from Kentucky, a young gentleman of fine attainments, and who in the spring of 1861 returned to Kentucky, accepting a commission in the rebel army where he lost his life at Stone River, occupied the room now the recorder's office; while John D. Sarver and myself had an office where the clerk's office now is, and all being on neighborly terms, with little or nothing to do in the way of law practice, about all of our time was devoted to reading the papers and discussing the probabilities and possibilities of peace and war.

Judge Edwards was then speaker of the House of Representatives, a most genial gentleman, by birth a Kentuckian, and being in years and experience much older than others of our little set, we had a good deal of regard for his opinions, based upon his knowledge of southern people and their institutions. These offices became quite an agreeable loafing place for the business men, as well as idlers of the town, and opinions passed and prophecies were made in these accidental meetings that would have been creditable to a statesman of any age.

I was the only democrat (with the exception of young Edwards of Kentucky, who was an out-and-out rebel) in the courthouse clique, but Jim Baker, subsequently a captain in the army, since justice of the supreme court of Missouri, and now a retired millionaire of Evanston, Illinois; A.C. Cameron, then postmaster, and one of the first to enlist; and Daniel Iseminger, his deputy, all good democrats, as well as some others, dropped in daily, smoked their pipes, and helped to discuss the all-important and in fact the only question then before us, that of the breaking up of the then existing union by letting the slave states withdraw, or its preservation if necessary by the force of arms.

To show how little the magnitude of the approaching contest was comprehended by the most intelligent men, I recall a little incident of those days. On receiving the news of the first call by President Lincoln of 75,000 volunteers, Judge Edwards was in a towering passion over the folly and extravagance of the administration in asking for 75,000 men. "Why less than half that number added to our regular army could whip the south," said he, and he a man born and raised to manhood in the south. Well do I recollect one who was present and who had never been in the south replying, "Judge, before this thing is over with the president will want half a million men" and Judge left with the remark, "You are a fool." The judge, like some of the rest of us, lived to see who the better prophet was.

When the second call for troops was made, our little town of Chariton concluded to be represented, and we attempted to raise a company. Col. W.S. Dungan, E.E. Edwards, Iseminger and myself talked it over and went to work, calling meetings in different parts of the county, and enlisting all that we could. Iseminger, being the only one in our community who had ever had any connection with the army, we looked to him naturally for information concerning the formation and drill of a company, believing his experience in the Mexican War made him the most capable of any one we then knew for instructions. His whole heart was in the cause, and he would have as readily gone as a private, as commander of the company, and to him we were indebted for such knowledge as we had of soldiering before entering the U.S. Service. After much labor in this county, by taking about 30 men from Clarke and Wayne counties, we had a company in readiness and tendered it to the governor, who first promised us a place in the third regiment, but finally placed us in the sixth.

While awaiting assignment, for weeks we were drilling here, keeping the smart weed and dog-fennel well trod down along the outskirts of the town, and the boys naturally talked over the subject as to who their officers should be, and upon the question as to who should be captain there was but one opinion, and that was favorable to Iseminger. His former service in the Mexican War, his kindness of heart, and intense loyalty to the union, all made him pre-eminently the man to lead us.

I well recollect the day he was mustered into the U.S. service at Burlington by Capt. Chambers of the regular army. It was supposed that the law requiring every man to be perfectly sound and not over 45 years of age would be strictly enforced, and it was quite amusing to see those having any ailment or deformity, or being over age, resort to various devices to mislead the mustering officer. Being adjutant of the reigment, and having made up the mustering rolls, I had a pretty good understanding of affairs, and placed on the rolls men I feared would not be admitted, but as they were anxious to enter the service, and it was the business of the regular inspecting officers to reject, I did not scruple to place them upon the rolls as requested by the company officers. Capt. Iseminger was in his 49th year, and looked all of that, being a spare man and prematurely gray, and had worried considerably over the prospect of being rejected --- however, his age appeared upon the rolls as 44 years of age, and that day, as he stood up in front of his company with a new uniform, shaved and primped up, he would have passed for a man of 30, and the mustering officer simply glanced at the captain with an approving smile and passed on. Visiting the captain's quarters that evening I found him about the happiest man in camp. Notwithstanding Capt. Iseminger's age and the fact that he was not naturally a strong man, there was no man in the company who could stand marching and the fatigues of campaign any better. No matter how long or difficult the march, Captain Iseminger invariably brought his company into camp at night.

In the Fremont expedition after Price in the fall of 1861 from Jefferson City to Springfield, Mo., the march was a forced and rapid one, and told plainly upon the new recruits, and it was not uncommon to see regiments come into camp with less than a third of men in ranks, but I never recollect a day on that march or the return to Sedalia that Captain Iseminger was not leading his men.

After the return of Fremont's army to the line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in November, 1861, our regiment wintered with others along the road west to Jefferson City. The regiment was for some time divided, one portion being at Tipton and the other at Syracuse, of this latter detachment Capt. Iseminger had command, and for some time that winter commanded the post at Syracuse. Soon after the fall of Fort Donaldson, the regiment, with others, was ordered to Cairo, thence up the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing, and there being assigned to the division of the renowned Gen. Wm. T. Sherman. This was some ten days prior to the Battle of Shiloh, in which Capt. Iseminger lost his life.

On Sunday morning, the 6th of April, about 10 o'clock, Capt. Iseminger was killed, being struck in the abdomen by a piece of shell, and the regiment being forced back, his body with others was not recovered until after the light on Monday, when our army recovered its lost ground and camps.

Captain Iseminger was buried with six others of his company in one grave by the boys of his command upon the fatal field of Shiloh near where he fell; and today his bones repose in the National cemetery on that noted field, unmarked and unknown to all save Him who knows all things.


As a commander of men Captain Iseminger had few superiors. He was not only a fair drill officer, but always looked out for the interests of his men. If there was anything good to be had in camp, and money or strategy would obtain it. Captain Iseminger's men had it. To the sick and weak he ever extended a helping hand.

While enforcing military discipline and etiquette, he was ever kind and respectful to those he commanded; and really he looked upon his company with the love that a father has for a large family of boys. They could not be imposed upon by any ranking or inferior officer if the captain knew it, and let one of them get into trouble (as mischevious boys sometimes will, even in times of peace), the Captain was always ready to intercede for them.

As to bravery he was excelled by no man, and I doubt if he ever realized such a thing as fear. I have no doubt that he would face death, knowing it to be certain, with the coolness and indifference with which he would perform any of the ordinary functions of life.

In politics Captain Iseminger was a democrat of the Jacksonian school, but believed that the south had no cause for attempting to secede from the union, and that Buchanan made a great mistake in not arresting Jeff Davis, Breckenridge and the other leaders and hanging them, as Jackson threatened to do with Mr. Calhoun and his nullification conferees. Being the Captain's first lieutenant, though regimental adjutant, I was naturally much about the Captain's quarters, and being of the same political faith, and warm personal friends, I probably knew his thoughts as well or better than any one else could, and I know that no more loyal man ever lived. The Captain could not believe in one thing and fight for its opposite. If there was any one virtue in which he excelled it was that of consistent love for the integrity of the union.

Captain Iseminger had strong religous convictions, and was from an early day up to that of his deah a member of the Christian church, and while he was a man who made little parade of his religious belief, there was running through his whole career, as a civilian and a soldier, that quiet and unostentatious Christian like spirit and charity, than can only belong to the true child of God.

I have in my hand a letter written last may by the Rev. James N. Mathes, now in his 81st year, to George O. Iseminger, giving in brief his knowledge of the Captain's early Christian life, which you will pardon me for reading:

Bedford, Indiana, May 23rd, 1889
Geo. O. Iseminger:

Dear Brother: At your request, I seat myself to furnish you some of my recollections of the church life of your honored Father, the late Capt. Daniel Iseminger. I have passed the 80th mile post of my earthly pilgrimage, and I find that writing is not so easy for me as it was half a century ago. But I remember Brother Daniel Iseminger well, and I knew Uncle George Iseminger, your grandfather, intimately.

In my pioneer days in Monroe County, Ind., as an Evangelist of the Christian church, I frequently preached at the house of Uncle George's, and I often remained with him and family all night. He was a prominent member of the Christian church.

When I first met and became acquainted with brother Daniel Iseminger, while he was yet a young men, he and I were not far from the same age. I think he became a member of the Christian church while yet a young man, and he honored his profession as long as he lived.

After the close of the Mexican war, in which he bore an honorable part under Capt. John M. Sluss, of Bloomington, Ind., he and family removed to Iowa, and because a citizen of Chariton, Lucas Co., and united with the Christian church in that place, as I understand. And in 18681 when the war of the rebellion broke out, he raised a company of volunteers, and as Captain led them to the contest with "the Southern confederacy," where he lost his life.

It may be truly said of Daniel Iseminger, he was a true patriot, a good citizen, a gallant and brave soldier, and an earnest and devoted Christan. He was an Elder in the Christian church in Chariton when he died.

I regret that this little sketch of your father's church life is so imperfect.

Fraternally yours, James M. Mathes.

Taking it all in all Captain Iseminger, while an honest man, and whose station in life was like many others, not of an exalted and meteor-like character, as a neighbor, citizen, Christian gentleman and a brave soldier, his life was one to be admired and imitated by the young men of today. He was born and raised in Indiana at a time when schools were not numerous, and he had no opportunity to procure a liberal education; while probably a liberal education would have brought wealth and social distinction to Captain Iseminger, no schools or university could have added one mite to the noble attributes of manhood which nature had bestowed.

While his remains lie among those of the unknown dead, upon the once gory field of Shiloh, we have here, in naming this post after Captain Iseminger, done what we could to perpetuate the name of the old hero in the hearts of the living comrades, and it is to be hoped in the memories of our descendants, long after the last member of this post shall have answered the final roll call.

E.B. Woodward.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Warren Callahan --- behind the wheel

This postcard view, dated September 1911, turned up Sunday afternoon when I was moving stuff from one place to another at the museum and caught my attention (a) because of the vintage automobile and (b) because, hey, I know Warren Callahan, identified as the driver (and probably, the owner).

You don't really see much of Callahan in the photo because his face was shaded by the vehicle's cloth top. The child standing on the running board is identified as Richard Anderson.

Automobiles had been running around in Chariton since August of 1902, when Harry O. Penick brought the first --- a Locomobile --- to town. For more about that, see "Locomobile, not yet broke to ride, bucks off driver." But the Callahan-mobile certainly would have been among the earlier horseless carriages in town.

Warren, whose given name actually was Charles Warren, was an Ohio native who came to Iowa as a teenager about 1857 and settled in what became the Oakley neighborhood. After Civil War service with the 1st Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, he married Loretta Marsh and they had seven children prior to her death during 1888. He married Malinda (Carpenter) Fountain, widow of Moses, during 1902 --- three years after moving into Chariton from his farm. He died 20 years later, on Jan 14, 1933, age 89.

Richard Anderson, the boy on the running board, was the only grandchild of Warren's second wife, Malinda (Carpenter) Fountain/Callahan.

Several of Warren's descendants honored him by naming their children Warren, too. Among them was Warren Miller, son of Warren Callahan's grandaughter, Fern (Griffis) Miller and her husband, Jeremiah (my great-aunt and uncle); and Russell's Warren Blue, son of Callahan's daughter, Avis (Callahan) Blue.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Don't know 'bout God; do believe in George Strait

I'm a fan of country music --- honest. But it has to have steel guitars and fiddles in the background. So much of what plays on what passes for "country radio" these days is of limited appeal.

Although lyrics do grab attention now and then while driving down the road. Take these, from Love & Theft:

"No and I ain't afraid of dying,
But what scares me to death,
Is meeting Jesus
With whiskey on my breath."

There's a lot of drinking, meeting Jesus and longing for (heterosexual) sex out there on the "country" airwaves --- always has been. But somehow, someway, there used to be more class. And steel guitars and fiddles, too.

So yesterday, when my neighbor and her Kansas cousin started going back and forth about a newish country performer named Mo Pitney, I started listening (watching actually, YouTube clips). And frittered away even more of a day already spent mostly frittering.

Even went so far as looking this kind of goofy-looking guy up on Wikipedia, fount of all that's worth knowing, and found this line from a review of his debut single, "Country" --- "how good a simple country song sung by a man who believes in God and George Strait can feel."

Can't say nothing about God, but boy I sure do believe in George Strait. So I may be a fan of this guy, too.

There are lots of songs to listen to, but I figure you've really gotta love a guy who writes a country song about an old dog. So here it is, for Sunday morning:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Who in the world was John Scott?

I got to wondering about John Scott last week while visiting the Richmond family lot in the northwest corner of the Chariton Cemetery. He's their neighbor, just to the west, but seems to have the east half of Lot No. 1 in Block 14, Original Division, to himself. His fine monument, the tallest in that area and right up against the tree line, looks a little lonely.

The inscription on the stone tells us that John died March 1, 1872, and that his age was 27 years, 10 months and 20 days. A Grand Army of the Republic flag holder next to the monument suggests that he was a veteran of the Civil War.

My first step was to check out the newspapers, figuring there must have been a story published about his demise. But as it turns out, The Democrat had ceased publication temporarily the previous year when publisher John V. Faith left town and issues of The Patriot for the first half of 1872 are missing.

I did, however, find several mentions of John in issues of The Democrat between 1867 and 1871. As it turns out he was in the tombstone and monument business with a guy named D.T. Henderson, operating as Scott & Henderson. So I'm guessing that business was the source of his monument. Their advertisement appears in the earliest issues of The Democrat, so John must have arrived in Chariton soon after the Civil War.

I went to the 1870 federal census of Chariton and was able to locate John twice, once in the regular census at age 26, single, living in a boarding house with his occupation given as "marble dealer." And again, in a special "industrial census" taken that year. According to that census, Scott & Henderson had operating capital of $1,300, employed two people, had paid out wages totaling $850 during the previous year, had on hand raw marble valued at $1,000; and had manufactured 100 tombstones and 5 monuments during the year.

I also learned from The Democrat that John had another job, as part-time constable for the city of Chariton, and from county marriage records, that he and Ella Dennis had wed on May 28, 1871.

Then I hit a dead-end. John did not fit into any of the Scott families established in Lucas County. And although the G.A.R. flag-holder suggested that he was a veteran (these holders sometimes go adrift and alight next to tombstones where they don't really belong, so the presence of a flag holder is not a sure-fire guarantee of service), it was possible to determine that he had not enlisted for service from Lucas County. But there are a lot of John Scotts in the world and it seemed that figuring out which unit he had served with might be challenging.

Then it occurred to me that in was a common practice in turn-of-the-20th-century Chariton newspapers to list as Memorial Day neared the names and units of all veterans whose Chariton Cemetery graves would be decorated that year. So from those lists I discovered that John was a veteran of the 3rd Iowa Volunteer Cavalry.

As it turned out, only one John Scott served in the 3rd Cav --- and he enlisted at Fairfield in Jefferson County at age 19 as a private in Company F on Feb. 18, 1864, and was mustered out in Atlanta on Aug. 9, 1865.

So I went to the 1860 census of Jefferson County and found our John listed in the household of his parents, Malachi "Melchi" and Elizabeth (Clouse) Scott.

As it turns out Melchi Scott was a legendary Fairfield blacksmith known for the high level of his craftsmanship and his honesty. He also was an abolitionist. And the father of a noted criminal.

According to Jefferson County lore, Melchi was so honest --- and so dismayed by the criminal deeds of another son, Charles Clouse Scott, aka Frank Rande --- that he turned him in. Charles Scott had been implicated in the murders of up to five men when he hanged himself (or was assisted in hanging himself) on March 6, 1884, while serving a life term at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet. He was described in newspaper reports of the day as, "the most cowardly ruffian that ever disgraced the annals of the West."

But this had nothing to do with our John, who had been laid to rest in his quiet grave in the Chariton Cemetery a dozen years earlier.

Having located our John in Fairfield, I then turned to the back files of The Fairfield Ledger to see if his 1872 death might have been mentioned there --- and hit paydirt. As it turned out the Ledger had picked up a story about John's death from The Chariton Patriot and republished it in his edition of March 21, 1872. Here's how it reads:

SUDDEN DEATH --- It becomes our painful duty this week to chronicle one of those sad events which always cast gloom over an entire community --- the sudden taking away from our midst, by the grim hand of death, of Mr. John Scott, one of our young and respected citizens. Mr. Scott died suddenly at his house about half past ten o'clock Saturday night last, from ossification of the heart. He had been in the enjoyment of good health up to the moment of his sudden demise. Saturday evening he was about to start out in the performance of his duties as night watch, in good health and spirits, but his wife persuaded him to lay down on a lounge for a short time, as it was not time to go on duty. After his laying down his wife noticed something strange in his breathing and tried to rouse him. She lifted him up, but his arms fell by his side, and with a gasp he died in her arms. Mr. Scott was 28 years of age and was universally esteemed in the community. He leaves a widow and one child only a few weeks old. The funeral took place Monday evening, having been postponed till the arrival of his parents from Fairfield. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the widow and family of the deceased. --- Chariton Patriot, March 6th.

So now we know a little more about John Scott, at rest now for 144 years in a quiet corner of the Chariton Cemetery.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lillie Richmond and her children at rest

I've written a little this week about Romulus R. Richmond and his wife, Lillie L. (Green) Richmond, both born into slavery, who arrived in Chariton with their older children during 1887. I'll come back to both later, but wanted to finish up this week by taking a brief look at their family of 10 children.

Somewhat remarkably for any family, eight of the 10 adult children are gathered in death around their mother on a lot in the northwest corner of the Chariton Cemetery. Also buried here, but in unmarked graves, are their paternal grandmother and a sister-in-law. Also, somewhat remarkably, none of the younger Richmonds had children of their own --- so far as I've been able to determine. So when Florence Richmond died during 1979 that marked the end of a family line.

Theopolis "Buster" Gibson, a distant cousin, is buried just down the hill southwest of the Richmonds with his mother and sister. His death during 1990 marked the end of Chariton's historic black community.


Romulus and Lillie Richmond's first three children were born in Wisconsin. They were Winfield Scott Richmond, born Nov. 21, 1881; Grace F. Richmond, born June 29, 1883: and John R. Richmond, born June 19, 1884.

The remaining children were born in Chariton: Lillian, born Oct. 7, 1888; Joseph C., born during March of 1892; Florence B., born March 15, 1894; Antonio Maceo, born March 14, 1895; Henry Glenn, born Nov. 21, 1899; Thomas Emil Richmond, born Jan. 9, 1902; and Booker T. Richmond, born Oct. 5, 1904. 

Of the 10, only Winfield Scott, known as Scott, and Joseph are not buried here. Scott spent much of working life at Aurora in Kane County, Illinois, and so was buried in Riverside Cemetery there when he died at age 65 on July 2, 1947. Joseph spent much of his working life in California and probably died there, perhaps at Oakland, between 1947 and 1954, but I've not been able to track him down.

The first of the siblings to pass was Grace, who died of rheumatic fever at age 20 on Feb. 20, 1904, in Ardmore, Missouri, where she was teaching in the "colored" school. She was a 1901 honors graduate of Chariton High School. The Richmonds purchased their Chariton Cemetery lot at the time of her death. The death year inscribed on her tombstone is in error.

Romulus Richmond's mother, Emily Root, spent the last years of her life with the family of her son and daughter-in-law and died there on April 24, 1906. Hers was the second burial on the family lot, although the grave is unmarked.

Four years later, Nevada (Washington) Wallace-Richmond, first wife of Scott Richmond, died at age 27 on Oct. 2, 1910, of tuberculosis in Centerville little more than a year after their marriage. Hers was the third burial on the lot, but this grave is unmarked, too.

John Richmond was the second of the siblings to die, on Sept. 24, 1932, of cancer at a Chicago-area hospital, age 47. He was a combat veteran of World War I who had suffered from the after-effects of both wounds and gas.

Lillian Richmond died at home in Chariton, age 53, on Jan. 9, 1942, of a "complication of troubles." She was a Christian Scientist and that, it was believed, was one of the "complications." The death year inscribed on her tombstone is in error.

Henry Richmond died on Jan. 18, 1946, in Aurora, Illinois, after being struck by a car. He was living and working there after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army following three years of service as a truck driver in North Africa, France and Germany.

Lillie (Green) Richmond, mother of this large family, died at her home on South 11th Street in Chariton on May 30, 1952, just short of her 90th birthday.

Maceo, stellar athlete and one of the first U.S. Army officers to graduate from the pioneer training program for black candidates at Fort Des Moines in 1917, died in Chariton on Feb. 8, 1954, age 58.

Thomas, like his brother, Henry, a veteran of World War II, died at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Des Moines at age 55 on Sept. 3, 1957.

Booker T., a Des Moines attorney and also a World War II veteran, was visiting his sister in Chariton in the days after the death of his brother, Thomas, when he suffered a stroke. Transported to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Des Moines, he died there on Sept. 9, 1957, age 52.

Florence Richmond, the daughter who had remained at home to help raise her siblings and assist her mother, also was the last survivor of the family. She died at home on South 11th Street, age 85, on Sept. 17, 1979, survived by a devoted friend, Dorothy Ellis, and her distant cousin, Buster Gibson.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Meet Aunt Lillie Richmond ...

I wrote yesterday about Romulus R. Richmond, who arrived in Chariton from Grant County, Wisconsin, during 1887 with his wife, Lillie, and the oldest of their 10 children. 

The youngest of those 10 children, Booker T. Richmond, was born during 1904 in Chariton and not long thereafter Romulus moved on, leaving Lillie with the responsibility of supporting and raising their younger children.

She did that by working as a cook. According to her obituary, she had worked 22 years in the C.B.&Q. Depot restaurant, then 25 years more in the nearby Railroad Cafe before retiring during the early 1940s.

The family home was on South 11th Street, a block east of where I'm sitting now --- kind of on the "wrong" side of the tracks in a town where the grander neighborhoods --- where the swell folks live --- are north and south of the square, rather than east or west.

During the late summer of 1947, Lillie set out to visit her niece, who still lived on the farm their fugitive-slave ancestors had purchased in Grant County, Wisconsin --- not far northeast of Dubuque, Iowa --- during the late 1860s. While there, she was visited by Mrs. David Chrichton, a correspondent for several area newspapers --- including the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald. The resulting story --- and photograph --- was published in The Telegraph-Herald of September 28.

Here's the text of that story:

Meet Aunt Lillie Richmond, an ex-slave and proud of it. Aunt Lillie was 85 on July 4 and, as she says, "All I know about slavery is what my folks told me. It's kinda like something out of a story book." But the familiar story told and retold among her own people, makes her heritage of freedom seem very precious. She was doubly proud also to have two of her sons in World War I and one in World War II.

Aunt Lillie's home is in Chariton, Ia., where she owns a comfortable house earned by 25 years of cooking in Maggie Downard's railroad cafe. When summer comes she gets a longing for her old home near Lancaster and there's always a warm welcome waiting for her at the Beetown township farm where three generations have lived, now occupied by her niece, Mrs. Dick Lewis.

History for Centennial

Mrs. Lewis is writing for the Wisconsin Centennial a history of her people, some of whom have been in Wisconsin ever since it became a state in 1848. Aunt Lillie is helping her with the little details which come to mind about her arrival as she sits and quilts or mends. "She's a beautiful seamstress," says the niece. "When she comes I get caught up on my sewing like magic."

In Missouri, back in 1862, when she was born, Aunt Lillie relates, "freedom was sort of in the air. Black folks were sort of getting restless. Not that they weren't treated all right. They had no complaint. I've heard grandfather say so many and many a time. It was just that they were restless and wanted to be on their own."

So they saved and saved, pennies, two-cent pieces, three-cent pieces and nicklels and dimes, until one day, among them, they had $50. That was their stake, and a lot of money. That night, Grandfather John Green and Grandmother Lillie Green, and their five grown children, Hardy, Tom, Amy, Francis and Sarah, and grandmother's brother, Tom Smith, struck out for the north and freedom, walking all except baby Lillie, who was carried in her grandfather's arms.

Their immediate destination was St. Louis, where grandfather had gone numerous times with loads of apples. After walking all night one of the boys, by "hook or crook," Aunt Lillie says, came up with a team and wagon. Elated, they piled in, but their troubles were not over.

They were helped here and there by friends of the underground, but they also heard that the Bushwackers were on their trail. They made the best time they could but were beset with anxiety every mile of the way, for fugitive slaves were fair prey for a lawless element that roamed the countryside during the war years in Missouri.

Finally they reached St. Louis safely. Grandfather went to a man he had sold apples to for years and knew to be honest and friendly. "Grandfather said he wanted to ask a favor and the man said he would be glad to be of service. 'I want some one to see to it that this team and wagon is returned to the plantation,' Grandfather said."

"The man smiled and said, 'John, if you took a dozen teams and wagons it wouldn't pay you for what you justly have coming to you.' But grandfather would have none of that and made the man promise to get the team back to the plantation, which he did," Aunt Lillie said.

First Train Ride

The Greens boarded a train, the first they ever had been on. They landed at Dunleith, now East Dubuque. They spent their first winter on a farm near Bloomington. Some of the boys fought in the Civil War. In 1870, they bought the homestead now occupied by Mrs. Lewis and her husband.

Aunt Lillie's husband, dead for many years, was Romulus Richmond. He studied for the ministry and preached for some years. They had 10 children, whose raising fell largely upon Aunt Lillie's broad shoulders. She is wise in the use of common medicinal herbs and homemade remedies. "I had to be," she laughs.

When the children were old enough she went to work in the railroad cafe, where it was nothing at all to turn out 30 or 40 pies in the forenoon in addition to regular cooking. Her smile was known up and down the line and there was genuine regret when she retired three years ago.


Lillie (Green) Richmond died at home on South 11th Street five years after this Wisconsin visit on May 30, 1952, just shy of her 90th birthday. She is buried in the Chariton Cemetery along with eight of her 10 children.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Romulus R. Richmond's photograph

I've been intending for some time to write about Chariton's extraordinary Richmond family, but that's another of those projects that gets postponed again and again, partly because of its complexity. 

But I was inspired a few weeks ago after locating online this photograph of Romulus R. Richmond, who brought his family from Wisconsin to Chariton in 1887, now in the collection of the Grant County (Wisconsin) Historical Society. So maybe I'm back on track.

As you can see, the photo was taken at the Needham studio in Chariton, probably during the 1890s. A copy was sent to relatives in the historic Pleasant Ridge settlement in Grant County, then eventually passed into custody of the historical society as it worked to preserve the history of this pioneer community founded by former slaves.

Romulus was born in slavery, perhaps during December of 1856 in Randolph County, Missouri, but at some point between 1870 and 1880 accompanied John and Queen Richmond --- most likely his uncle and aunt --- from Missouri to the Pleasant Ridge settlement in Wisconsin.

During 1880, he married there Lillie Green --- who had been carried in the arms of her fugitive-slave grandparents from Missouri to Wisconsin during 1863. They went on to have 10 children, four born at Pleasant Ridge, the remainder in Chariton.

Romulus came to Lucas County as a preacher, apparently called to serve a Baptist congregation (or congregations). This may have been Chariton's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, but there was another congregation of black Baptists in the mining town of Cleveland, too.

By the mid-1890s, however, he was working for the Stanton family as sexton of the Chariton Cemetery.

I'll wait until later to add detail, but Romulus was a very talented man --- inventor, entrepreneur, iron molder (the profession he followed later in life), pioneer in introducing the movies to black audiences in the Midwest.

Unfortunately, he abandoned his family in Chariton prior to 1910 --- and that makes Lillie Richmond the hero here. She worked as a cook and at other occupations to support the children who remained at home after Romulus's departure. These younger children included Maceo, a stellar athlete who was among the first black U.S. Army officer candidates to train at Fort Des Moines during 1917; and Booker T., an outstanding attorney.

Romulus, according to some reports, died during 1924, perhaps in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was working as a machinist when both 1910 and 1920 federal census-takers called.

I'm out of time this morning, so that's all I have to share about the Richmonds at present. But stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Good Luck comeback continues ....

Of all the facade-improvement projects under way on the square this spring, I'm having the most fun watching restoration of the giant horseshoe window on the second floor of Betty Hansen's "Good Luck" Building.

The restoration crew had the plastic down yesterday while more masonry repairs were being made, so it was possible to take a closer look at just how architects and masons back in 1883 designed and built this innovative feature --- and how 2016 craftsmen are putting it back together.

When complete, new glazing will match the original --- a triple-hung center window flanked by arched sidelights.

In case you've forgotten how the building has changed over the last few months, here's a look at architect drawings for the facade project.

Look at the building as you walk or drive by and you'll also see that the Luxfer prism glass transom (pinwheel design, I think) of the cast-metal street facade now is back in place after restoration.

The final step down here will be new paint.

I'm told that the facade project in the Courthouse Square Historic District, which began late last summer, now is about 60 percent complete --- so more and more of these projects are coming together.

Monday, April 25, 2016

July 8, 1861: Farewell to the Boys of Company B

I've posted this 1860s photo of the 1858 Lucas County Courthouse a few times during the last couple of weeks, but wanted to give it one more airing this spring in company with the following article, published in The Chariton Patriot of July 11, 1861, and republished in the Herald-Patriot of May 4, 1922.

The first troops recruited for Civil War service in Lucas and Clarke counties left Chariton on the morning of Monday, July 8, 1861, heading for Burlington to be mustered into federal service as Company B, 6th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. They were under command of Capt. Daniel Iseminger, Chariton's first mayor, a veteran of service during the Mexican War --- and an "old man" of 49 who had to lie about his age in order to be mustered in at Burlington. The men of Company B had elected him captain because of his military experience --- and because they liked and admired him.

The farewell ceremony for the "Boys of 61" was held in front of the St. John House, to left of the courthouse in this photo. The men assembled on what now is Court Avenue; the flag presentation ceremony was held on the front porch of the hotel. Hundreds were gathered round to say "goodbye" and to witness an historic moment. Hammer Medical Supply stands now on the site of the St. John House.

This first-hand account of the farewell barely survived. Early editions of The Patriot were destroyed in a fire, so we have nothing other than issues of the competing Democrat, launched in 1867, to tell us about Lucas County's earliest days. By that time, the war was over.

But someone in the family of Russell's Alfred Riley Werts had saved the Patriot of July 11, 1861, as well as two other editions from the 1860s, and he brought those to the Herald-Patriot offices during April of 1922 where they became the topic of two articles, including this one. What became of those editions, I do not know.

The Boys of 1861 would sustain many losses during the war that followed --- Fifteen of their number died in combat or soon after of wounds sustained during; perhaps double that of disease.

The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, was especially deadly. Capt. Iseminger was fatally wounded by a shell fragment that struck him in the abdomen on the morning of the 6th. Monroe Hardin, Oliver B. Miller, William Sheets, Charles J. Cheeny (or Cheney), James H. Spurling, John M. Sayre and John W. Weaver also were killed outright. John W. Armstrong and Zara M. Lanning died of wounds soon after.

After the battle was over, surviving members of Company B returned to where their comrades fell, gathered the bodies of those killed and buried them together on the battlefield. By the time Shiloh National Cemetery was established, however, identities had been lost and so these Men of 1861 rest there in Tennessee among the "unknowns."

First Company Members Who Left Chariton to Serve in the Civil War
Company B, Under Command of Capt. Iseminger, Left on July 8, 1861; Were Presented With Flag by Ladies.

Last week we mentioned the fact that we have been loaned some old copies of The Patriot. One of them, of the issue of July 11, 1861, contained the message of President Abraham Lincoln, also a roster of company B, the first company to leave Chariton for the seat of war, which was in command of Captain Iseminger, after whom the G.A.R. Post at this place was named. Many of our present readers will remember these men. One of the Lucas county men, Asa N. Callahan, of Chariton, and one of the Clarke county men, Valentine Harlan, are living at the present time.

Mr. Callahan tells us that on July 4 the celebration was in progress at Baker's Grove, a short distance east of this city, when the word came to rendezvous, and the celebration was broken up. He also tells us that the flag carried by the company is now on exhibition at the state capitol building in Des Moines. Below we publish a short editorial from the paper of July 11th, 1861, regarding the president's message, also an account of the flag presentation and a list of the boys of Company B.


We give the President's message in this week's paper. It points out the only solution of our national difficulties, and that is by calling into exercise, and keeping in exercise, so long as it may be necessary, the war power of the government.

It is no war of conquest, or coercion, or of subjugation, but a war of self defense. It is the sworn duty of the President to employ force to repel force organized for the purpose of destroying the Government, and the nation will rejoice in the fact that our present executive will not shrink from his duty in this emergency. But while force is thus employed to punish traitors, loyal citizens and loyal states have every assurance the all of their constitutional rights will be strictly guarded.


Captain Iseminger's company left our town on Monday last for Burlington, The day will long be remembered; scarcely a dry eye was to be seen in the vast audience that collected to bid them adieu. While we may lament the absence of so many brave hearts from our midst, still we are happy in the thought that they go to right a wrong --- and that their banner will ever wave wherever their country demands their services.

No better set of men ever offered their services to their country. Captain (Daniel) Iseminger has not only had the experience to fit him for the position which he occupies, but as a man he is almost worshipped by the brave boys under his command. Lieutenant Edwards, although of limited experience in military tactics, bids fair to become an efficient officer. And as will be seen from the roll which we publish in this week's paper, our friend and fellow townsman, E.B. Woodward, is among the number. "Wood" was the first man who proposed the organization of the company at this place, and since that time he has zealously labored for the position which he now occupies. As will be remembered this proposition met with a good deal of opposition, but he labored against all opposition till success crowned his efforts Since the organization of the company, he has zealously labored to get into the service. We shall expect to hear of E.B. Woodward before this contest is ended. His kind heart will win him many friends wherever he wanders, while his bravery and manly bearing will as certainly achieve military honors.

Under the protection of such brave hearts the beautiful flag presented to them on the eve of their departure will ever remain safe --- they take it as the Magna Charta of their rights --- as the emblem of their national liberties. They take it with all the holy associations that cluster around it; with the history of their country written all over it --- with the glorious achievements of American valor burning upon every star and fold, and when the victory is won they will redeem the promise to return it to the fair hands who gave it, specked and spotted and mingled with glory.


Early on Monday morning our streets were crowded with men, women and children, who had come for the purpose of witnessing the presentation of a flag to the volunteers, and bidding adieu to their friends.

At 10 o'clock the company was formed in line on the street opposite the St. John House. Every available place within hearing of the speakers, who appeared on the porch of the St. John House, was soon occupied. A beautiful flag, prepared by the ladies of Chariton, was presented to the company by Miss McEldowney, with the following appropraite address:

"Officers and Soldiers of the Lucas County Guards --- In behalf of the ladies of Chariton I this day present to you the fruit of love's first offering. Assuring you that wherever you may bear it amid hunger and thirst, and fire and sword --- 'mid the pestilence that walketh at noonday, and the strife of battle, and the circumstances of war --- to glory and the grave, our prayers, our earnest hopes and our warmest sympathies shall go with you. And while at home with hushed and holy hearts, we wait for you to plant its starry folds on every hill and battlement of our common country, may our same woman's heart incline you to mercy rather than justice, and send not an erring rebel to his last home whose word or look shall plead for freedom --- rather,

When the fight shall thicken round thee,
Let each traitor brother feel,
Not in anger but in justice,
Come the cruel blows we deal."

On the reception of which, Lieut. E.E. Edwards replied as follows:

"Ladies --- I have been chosen by our captain in behalf of this company, to receive from your hands this beautiful flag --- the emblem of that glorious union which our fathers gave us. I think I can assure you that no traitor shall ever dim its glory, or blot from its bright constellation one single star, so long as strength enables us to bear it aloft. I have repeatedly had assurance from the brave soldiers to whom this presentation is made, that they are willing at the hazard of life, to bear it, and defend to the last with a steady arm and brave heart, the laurels which crown its past history as the emblem of a great nation, and in the exericise of this duty we will go forth in the strength of Him who controls the destiny of nations, to uphold the authority of law, to perpetuate the noble heritage of the fathers of the revolution, and to wrest and restore from lawless rebels a land long since dedicated as "a home for the brave and the free," whilst as soldiers upon the field of battle our efforts may be to sustain the honor and glory of our flag. You may rest assured that mercy and justice will be extended to the erring; that the blows struck, however severe or deadly, shall be in sorrow --- not in anger; and wherever duty may lead us in this conflict, we will keep in grateful remembrance your parting adieu as a stimulus to bravery as well as honorable deportment, knowing that as patriotic women, loving sisters and mothers, you will await with anxious and throbbing hearts that happy day when we shall return crowned with victory. This beautiful flag, if tattered and torn by bullets and covered with the stains of blood from many a hard fought battle, shall again be handed to your keeping as evidence of the valor with which it has been sustaned."

D.N. Smith then addressed the soldiers. His speech was brief as leaving time had arrived, but it was full of patriotism and words of encouragement. The greatest feeling prevailed as the soldiers bade adieu to their many friends and many tears were seen coursing the cheeks of fair women and brave men.


Capt. Daniel Iseminger, Chariton
1st Lieut E.B. Woodward, Chariton
2nd Lieut E.E. Edwards, Chariton
1st Serg. E.F. Alden, Hopeville
2nd Serg. D.J. McCoy, Lagrange
3rd Serg. W. Cowden, Freedom
4th Serg. V. Mendel, Chariton
5th Serg. J.W. Armstrong, Chariton
1st Corp. D. Frankhouser, Corydon
2nd Corp. J.H. Keplinger, Hopeville
3rd Corp. M.C. Fitch, Hopeville
4th Corp. Jos. Best, Chariton
Fifer A.J. Skelly, Hopeville
Drummer Dennis Myers, Warren county

John Relph, Lucas county
Raymond Ross, Chariton
Marcus Edwards, Chariton
Jas. R. Baldwin, Lucas county
Harvey Ford, Lucas county
Jas. B. Musselman, Lucas county
Oliver B. Miller, Lucas county
George Albertson, Corydon
N.M. Larimer, Chariton
J.L. Adkins, Hopeville
B.J. Hilling, Lucas county
G.H. Roney, Lucas county
John A. Miller, Chariton
John P. Williby, Lucas county
John W. Dodge, Freedom
Isaac R. Plymate, Lucas county
Monroe Hardin, Lucas county
John Bell, Lucas county 
Abraham W. Norris, Lucas county
Chas H. Griggs, Hopeville
Alonzo Ketchum, Hopeville
J.C. McPheters, Lucas county
W.H. Brandon, Osceola
Wm. D. Tull, Lucas county
Greene C. Adkins, Hopeville
Andrew Miller, Hopeville
John M. Roberts, Lucas county
Wm. Sheets, Lucas county
John Boyd, Lucas county
Wm. Monnahan, Lucas county
E.R. Godfrey, Lucas county
J.H. Hess, Osceola
Z.M. Lanning, Clarke county
M.L. Atwater, Hopeville
Lewis Ridgeway, Osceola
Kellogg Potsel, Osceola
Henry T. Wilson, Wayne county
J.H. Weaver, Wayne county
Jas B. Cameron, Chariton
J.N. Sayre, Osceola
Jas. M. Laughlin, Hopeville
Jas. S. Cain, Hopeville
Elijah J. Kent, Hopeville
C.J. Cheney, Hopeville
Joseph Hillier, Hopeville
Asa N. Callahan, Lucas county
L.G. Knotts, Osceola
N.J. Gordon, Osceola
W.J. Hamilton, Osceola
J.E. Thomas, Osceola
Daniel Musselman, Osceola
W.L. Brown, Osceola
G.B. Brown, Osceola
J.L. Miller, Osceola
Valentine Harlan, Osceola
David Sigler, Osceola
Lewis Brockway, Hopeville
J.R. Smith, Hopeville
Geo. W. Scott, Lucas county
J.H. Spurling, Lucas county
M.S. Campbell, Corydon
David Mann, Corydon
J.W. Boyce, Chariton
O.S. Rarick, Hopeville
Wm. J. Wilson, Promise City
J.M. Bond, Lucas county
C.H. Harvey, Pike's Peak
Jas. Myers, Newbern
H.I. Cameron, Chariton
A.C. Cameron, Chariton
Aaron Van Scoy, New Virginia
Otis Burbank, Hopeville
Nelson Maydole, Lucas county
James Rariden, Indiana
Jas. M. Harswell, Pike's Peak
L. Gardner, Lucas County

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tangled up in blue (rather than purple) ....

Every Iowan believes that there's a little bit of Iowa in every good thing --- so I was relieved to see this snippet yesterday on the Facebook page, Historic Valley Junction:
A very small world indeed - census records show that Prince's maternal grandparents, Frank and Lucille Shaw, lived in Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines, IA, in the 1920s. Their home was at 107 11th Street, near 11th and Railroad. Frank was a Pullman porter and their daughter was Mattie Della, Prince's mother. The family relocated to Minneapolis by the 1940 census.
You just knew there had to be a connection --- even those of us who were not necessarily fans of Prince and his work. That's a generational thing. Some of us are just too old.

I do think Minnesota State Sen. Karin Housely is carrying this whole thing a bit too far, however. She wants to have purple designated the official Minnesota state color.

That's all very well and good, but what are they going to do up there when that other Minnesota boy, Bob Dylan, kicks the bucket? As for me, I'm still tangled up in blue.