CAPTAIN CALEB J. AMOS.
Marion county pays honor to a most worthy man when she makes mention of Captain Caleb J. Amos, who was numbered
among the Iowa pioneers who represented the state upon the battlefields of the south during the darkest hour in
the country's history and who was afterward identified with business interests in this state, becoming a merchant
of Knoxville. Ohio claimed him as a native son, his birth having occurred in Highland county, that state, on the
31st of July, 1839. His father, Pleasant Amos, was born in Grayson county, Virginia, and represented one of the
old colonial families of that section of the country. He removed from Virginia to Ohio and in the autumn of 1848
brought his family to Iowa, again casting in his lot with the pioneer settlers. He took up his abode near Red Rock,
in Marion county, and Captain Amos, who was then a lad of nine years, was largely reared to manhood in Marion county,
meeting with many of the experiences of pioneer life.
The latter attended the common schools and afterward became a student in Central University at Pella, where he
pursued his studies for three or four years. He had almost reached the point of graduation when his course was
interrupted by his military life. All of his preconceived plans were put aside when the Civil war broke out, for
on the 12th of August, 1862, he enlisted as a member of Company H of the Fortieth Iowa Infantry and assisted Dr.
Johnston in raising that company. His father had been a soldier in the War of 1812 and the military spirit was
strong within him. He was chosen second lieutenant of his company, but was commissioned first lieutenant when the
regiment was mustered into service at Iowa City on the 15th of November, 1862, being the youngest commissioned
officer in his brigade. The following winter was spent in Kentucky and in the summer of 1863 he participated in
the siege of Vicksburg. Later his command was stationed for a year and a half at Little Rock, Arkansas, and when
Captain Richards retired from the command of the company Mr. Amos was appointed to that position on the 9th of
April, 1864, and thus won the title by which he was afterward known. He was at that time acting quartermaster of
his regiment in the place of A. B. Miller of Knoxville, who had retired. Captain Amos saw strenuous service in
the Camden expedition, in which he was twice wounded, though not so seriously as to necessitate his leaving the
company. He was on duty at Fort Smith and at Fort Gibson and when, in May, 1865, the victorious Union army marched
through the streets of Washington in the Grand Review, the most celebrated military pageant ever seen on the western
hemisphere, Captain Amos stood at the head of his company and participated in that event. He was mustered out with
his command on the 2d of August, 1865.
Captain Amos at once returned to Marion county and on the 20th of May, 1868, he was united in marriage to Miss
Emily A. Hestwood, a daughter of the Rev. Samuel Hestwood, who for many years was a distinguished minister of the
Methodist Episcopal church in Iowa. They became the parents of four children, all of whom died in infancy, with
the exception of one son, Charles, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this work.
Following his marriage Captain Amos located in Essex, Page county, Iowa, where he engaged in business for three
years and took an active part in the upbuilding of the town during the time when the Chicago, Burlington &
Quincy Railroad was built through there. In 1875 he moved to Knoxville, erected a business block and conducted
a dry goods and general store until 1878, becoming one of the leading merchants of the city. The success which
he achieved in that connection led him to seek a still broader field of labor and in October, 1878, he went to
Chicago, where he engaged in the live stock commission business to the time of his death. He was a man of energy
and prudence, possessed sound business ability and good judgment and obtained in large measure the rewards of business
application and enterprise. He was also a man of scholarly tastes and habits and in the midst of pressing business
duties found time to keep abreast with modern thought and to inform himself concerning questions of vital and significant
importance. Of him it was said: "He was known among his associates as a thoughtful, well informed man and
one possessing broad views of public matters and of life. To him the world was more than a place in which to make
Captain Amos passed away at his home in Chicago on the 7th of January, 1893, and his remains were taken back to
Knoxville, Iowa, for interment. He was for many years an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity and to the
time of his death retained his membership in the lodge at Knoxville, which organization conducted his funeral services.
He was also a member of Abraham Lincoln Post, G. A. R., and many of its members were present when he was laid to
rest. No better indication of his life and character can be given than by quoting from one of the Knoxville papers,
which said of him:
"Captain Amos was deservedly held in high esteem by all who knew him. He had the confidence and esteem of
his business associates in an unusual degree. In the army he was loved, honored and trusted by his comrades and
showed marked qualities for leadership. He was a man of commanding presence, generous heart and broad sympathies
and loved to do a kindly deed. He was an upright, manly man. He had no patience with meanness, trickery or dishonesty.
His most marked characteristic was sterling honesty. He sought to be an honest man in business, in his social relations,
at home, everywhere. He was a man of courage on the field and was no less brave in the defense of what he believed
to be right at home. And with these qualities he was fitted to take a manly part in the wonderful development through
which our country has passed since the war and in the growth of the great western metropolis in which latter he
had made his home. In his home life he was a dutiful son, a brother beloved, a kind and loving husband and father
and everywhere a genial and companionable man."
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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