Biography of Hon. Charles H. Amos
Marion County, IA Biographies

Iowa lost one of her most distinguished residents when Hon. Charles Hestwood Amos was called from this life. With marked strength of character he had used wisely and well the talents with which nature endowed him and he stood among the foremost lawyers of the state, also as a leader in political circles and, as one of the prominent members of the Masonic fraternity. There were, moreover, in him those social traits which made him the loved friend of all with whom he came in close contact.

His birth occurred in Union township, Marion county, February 25, 1869, his parents being Captain Caleb J. and Emma Amos. His early youth was spent in his native county, but when he was eight years of age his parents removed to Chicago, where his father engaged in the live stock business. In that city the boy, therefore, pursued his education, attending the public schools until graduated from the Lake high school. He was ambitious to secure a. good education and entered the University of Michigan, where he spent three years as a student in the liberal arts department in preparation for a course in law. He had determined to make law practice his life work and after studying for a time in the Michigan State University entered the Union College of Law, now the law department of Northwestern University of Chicago, from which he was graduated at the head of his class in 1892, despite the fact that he was earning his own way, working in the claim department of the Nickel Plate Railroad.

Mr. Amos immediately entered upon the practice of his chosen profession in Chicago and notwithstanding the fact that competition is nowhere greater he made substantial progress there during the three years of his residence in that city. Owing to his father's death he became the only support of his widowed mother and repaid her for every thoughtful care and attention which she had bestowed upon him in his childhood with the most filial love and devotion. This was one of the traits of his character that made him universally respected and admired. She was not only his mother but his confidant and his best fiend, and the closest ties of companionship bound them. In 1895 they returned to Knoxville, where Mr. Amos entered into a law partnership with W. A. Stone, which relation was maintained until 1897, when Mr. Stone removed to Idaho. At that time Mr. Amos became a partner of Hon. L. N. Hays, with whom he was connected for fourteen years, when the senior member of the firm was made district judge. At that time the firm of Amos & Vander Ploeg was formed and so continued until the death of Charles H. Amos. With the passing years he won a place among the distinguished lawyers of Iowa. He was a forceful and resourceful member of the bar, strong in argument, logical in his deductions and a wise counsellor. There are few lawyers who are so careful to conform their practice to high standards of professional ethics. He gave to his clients the service of great talent, unwearied industry and rare learning, but he never forgot there were certain things due to the court, to his own self respect and above all to justice and a righteous administration of the law which neither the zeal of an advocate nor the pleasure of success would permit him to disregard.

Of him the Knoxville Journal said: "It is said that 'death loves a shining mark, and so it would seem in this instance when it summarily closed a career so bright with promise as that of Charley Amos. He was a man of unusual ability, of commanding presence, an orator of power and effectiveness, endowed with a liberal education and the broadest views, and he seemed at the very outset of a career of much distinction. The safe counsellor, the brilliant advocate, the honored citizen and loving son has been taken away, affording further evidence of the truth of the precept that the ways of Providence are past finding out."

Prominent as was Mr. Amos as a member of the bar, he was equally well known in political circles. All unsought, he had attained a position of leadership in the democratic party and two years before his death was his party's candidate for attorney general, while at the last primary election before his demise he would have been a formidable candidate for governor had he permitted the use of his name. He studied the political problems with great thoroughness and earnestness and no one ever questioned the honesty of his convictions.

About the time he attained his majority Mr. Amos became a member of the Masonic lodge and afterward advanced through both the York and Scottish Rites until he became a Knight Templar and a Consistory Mason and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He took great delight in the work of the order in all of its branches and served as high priest of Tadmor Chapter, R. A. M., for several years. He was also patron of the Eastern Star chapter at Knoxville for two years and in March, 1910, attained the thirty second degree of the Scottish Rite in the Des Moines consistory. At that meeting he was chosen by unanimous consent to be the spokesman of the class, which was a large one, and delivered one of the finest orations ever heard upon such occasions. His life embodied the highest standards of Masonry. The teachings of the order made a deep and lasting impress upon his mind and he ever endeavored to live out the instruction concerning the brotherhood of man. It was a great comfort to him during his last illness that his Masonic friends were the watchers at his bedside. Among his closest associates he was known as "The Duke" a term of affection by which he was greeted on all occasions. During the last six months of his career after being advised by his physician of his condition he made a strong fight for life, but when he knew that the end was certain he met it with the same courageous spirit that characterized him in every action. Around him were the watchers at his bedside and, returning to consciousness after a period in which he had been in a comatose condition, he said: "I didn't think I would ever come back again, boys, but while I, am here I want to talk to you. You boys of the consistory and you others too remember your Masonry. Maybe my life has been open to criticism but I have tried to live my Masonry. The consistory has been my religion. I will meet you boys again. Remember the teachings of Masonry. Everything is all right with me, with everybody and everything. I am not afraid to die. (Here one of the boys broke down and began to cry, whereupon he said, calling him by name and waving his hand toward him with a smile.) Never mind, it is all right and all for the best. You boys will take care of my blessed mother."

If the historian were to attempt an analyzation of the life work of Charles H. Amos, which ended January 18, 1913, when he had compassed but the comparatively brief span of forty three years, ten months and twenty three days, it would be difficult to point out the strongest element. Nature endowed him with keen mentality, but it is only through the exercise of effort that powers grow. He had the force and ambition that enabled him to earn his way through college and as the weeks sped on his mind compassed the branches that fitted him for high professional attainments. Citizenship was never to him an idle term. He studied political questions with a sense of obligation that arose from his belief that every individual should do his best for his country. Of him it might be written:

"Not a general giving his orders,
Not an officer wearing the gold,
But a true-hearted private in service,
With the strength of a warrior of old.

"Not the glory of fighting in battle,
Not the glory of winning the day,
But the glory of doing his duty
When his country's need pointed the way.

"Not a life with its joyous home-coming,
Not a life with ambition fulfilled;
For duty and death met together,
And his great heart of honor was stilled."

However, the great circle of his friends and they were as numerous as the circle of his acquaintance, have the firm belief that that which is great and good and noble is eternal and may well entertain the spirit of James Whitcomb Riley's beautiful lines:

"I cannot say and I will not say
That he is dead-he's just away.
With a cheery smile and a wave of his hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

"And you, 0 you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return-
Think of him as faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;
Think of him still the same, I say-
He is not dead-he is just away."

History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915

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