Biography of Captain John W. Carr
Poweshiek County, IA Biographies





CAPTAIN JOHN W. CARR.
There was one house in Montezuma when Captain John W. Carr came to Poweshiek county. He was then a lad of eight years and has therefore been a witness of the entire growth of the county seat and practically of the entire development and progress of the county and has himself borne an important part in its upbuilding, especially through his connection with the legal profession and with banking interests. His name is indelibly impressed upon the pages of its history.

His birth occurred in Logan county, Illinois, near Mount Pulaski, on the 26th of April, 1839, his parents being William and Catharine (Moore) Carr, natives of Virginia and Ohio respectively. The former was the son of a planter and in early manhood became a resident of Logan county, Illinois, where he developed and improved a farm, meeting the usual experiences and hardships of pioneer life during the early period of his residence there. When the war cry of the savages was heard and the Indians under the leadership of Black Hawk marched against the white settlers he did active duty as a soldier. His wife was born near Columbus, Ohio, and went to Logan county, Illinois, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Moore, who became farming people of the locality. Later Mr. Moore came to Poweshiek county, Iowa, in 1845, his death occurring here the following year. His widow, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Downing, resided near Montezuma for a number of years and was one of the well known pioneer women of this part of the state. Her death occurred in 1875, her daughter, Mrs. Carr, passed away in Illinois in 1843 and William Carr died in 1845. They were the parents of four children. Sarah, who was born in 1832, became the wife of Jacob Deardorf, who died in Oklahoma about 1900. Kate, born in 1834, became, the wife of Pleasant Deardorf, the brother of her sister's husband, and passed away in Madison county, Iowa, about 1899. Nicholas, born in 1836, was for about eighteen months a soldier of the Tenth Iowa Infantry during the Civil war. He was afterward sheriff of Poweshiek county, Iowa, for four years and later special examiner of tillable land in Nebraska under President Cleveland. He afteward became justice of the peace at Neligh, Nebraska, and died in that state in 1898.

Captain John W. Carr was the youngest of the family and was only six years of age when left an orphan. He lived with an uncle, William Moore, in Illinois until 1847, when with his brother and sisters he started for Iowa to make his home with his maternal grandmother, near Montezuma. They reached their destination on the 23d of December, after crossing the river at Warsaw because of the blockade at Fort Madison. Montezuma had not been platted at that time and contained but one house. The county was largely an unsettled and undeveloped region, the home of Mrs. Moore being in Union township, near Forest Home. Hers was the best house in the county and was a log structure eighteen by twenty feet. Religious services were there held whenever a preacher would visit the neighborhood. When but a young man Captain Carr became inured to the arduous task of developing a new farm, driving oxen to the breaking plow, dropping the corn into the furrowa and afterward cultivating the fields until crops were harvested. When school was im session he pursued his education, being a pupil in the first log schoolhouse of the county, Its was a primitive structure, having a puncheon floor and seats with windows Made of greased paper. The school boys supplied the fuel which was burned in a huge fireplace. The methods of instruction, too, were most crude and it was only at intervals that Captain Carr could attend, as his services were needed upon the home farm. He was ambitious, however, to make advancement along educational lines and utilized his evening hours for study. Later he had the advantage of instruction in the preparatory department of Grinnell College and the following year recited his lessons in the first college building there erected. As opportunity offered he continued his studies until after the outbreak of the Civil war save for the summer of 1857 spent in Missouri.

He was then eighteen years of age and saw for the first time the practices and abuses of slavery, and the opinion which he formed of the system led him later to espouse the abolitionist cause. His attendance at college was alternated by periods of school teaching, but after the outbreak of the Civil war he put aside all personal considerations and responded to the country's call for aid, enlisting on the 5th of July, 1861, at Iowa City, as a member of Company F, Tenth Iowa Infantry. He was elected second lieutenant and with his command went south, serving with that regiment until February, 1862, when a relapse after an attack of measles forced him to resign and he returned to Montezuma. He then purchased a drug store and began the study of medicine, thinking to become a physician. But on the 5th of July, 1862, following the call for three hundred thousand men, he began raising the company that was attached to the Twenty eighth Iowa Infantry as Company C. He was commissioned its captain and served until the close of the war. During his previous enlistment he had held the rank of second lieutenant. The succeeding winter was passed in Arkansas and Mississippi, after which the command entered upon active campaigning, taking part in the battles of Port Gibson, Edwards Station, Champion's Hill, Black River Bridge and the siege of Vicksburg, followed by the battle of Jackson, Mississippi. Later the command returned to Vicksburg and subsequently with the Department of the Gulf went to New Orleans in August, 1863. The year following Captain Carr participated in the engagements at Carrion Crow Bayou and Chaffelisle Bayou in Louisiana. In the spring of 1864 he took part in the Red River expedition under Banks and in July of that year was sent to Washington and afterward participated in the campaign in the Shenandoah valley under Sheridan in the battles of Berryville, Virginia; and of Winchester. At the last named he was wounded, a minie ball piercing his right leg which rendered him unfit for service for six weeks, during which time he was at Harpers Ferry until September 25, when he obtained leave of absence and returned home. On his recovery he rejoined his regiment, with which he remained until the close of the war. Owing to the wounds sustained by his colonel, lieutenant colonel and major he assumed command of the regiment and following his return at the close of the war was brevetted major. After Sheridan's campaign the regiment went to Savannah to return with Sherman and participated in the engagement at Newberne, North Carolina, and subsequently went to Augusta and assisted in paroling Johnston's army. The muster out came at Savannah, July 31, 1865, and later the command proceeded to Davenport, where the troops were honorably discharged and dispersed. That the service was arduous is indicated by the fact that out of the one hundred men of his company originally mustered in and twenty recruits, but forty five came home together.

Following his return to Montezuma, Captain Carr engaged in general merchandising until 1869, when he was elected clerk of the district court, which position he filled by reelection for three terms, or six years. During that period he studied law and was admitted to the bar in February, 1877. He has since practiced his profession in Montezuma with the exception of a year spent in Des Moines, and for three terms, or six years, he filled the office of county attorney. He was for a time a member of the firm of Redman & Carr, the senior partner becoming subsequently speaker of the Iowa house of representatives. From the beginning of his practice Captain Carr has been accorded a large and distinctively representative clientage and has been associated with much of the important litigation tried in the courts of this district. He prepares his cases thoroughly and his arguments are strongly logical and convincing. He is also well known in financial circles in Poweshiek county, having been president of the Montezuma Savings Bank since its organization in 1893. He was also at one time a director of the First National Bank, which he aided in establishing. He was the owner of considerable farm property in Poweshiek county together with a fine home in Montezuma, but has recently sold his farm property.

On the 10th of January, 1866, in this city Captain Carr was married to Miss Lottie Frick, who was born in Erie, New York, April 3o, 1844, and was reared in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. While visiting her sister, Mrs. M. E. Cutts, she formed the acquaintance of Captain Carr, who sought her hand in marriage. Their children are: Fred, who for fifteen years has been associated with his father in the practice of law; and Clifford W., a dentist of Los Angeles, California.

In his political views Captain Can has always been a stalwart republican and in addition to the offices already mentioned he has served as a member of the city council at Montezuma and as a member of the school board. He belongs to Wisner Post, No. 127, G. A. R., of which he has been commander, and holds membership with Lafayette Lodge No. 52, A. F. & A. M., of Montezuma, and the Royal Arch Chapter at Malcolm, Iowa. He is likewise a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity at Montezuma and of the State Bar Association. His activities have been most varied and in every relation of life he seems to have had a regard for the duties and obligations of citizenship and to have labored at all times for the progress and upbuilding of the community in which he has so long lived. No man in Montezuma is held in higher regard or more justly deserves the respect and honor accorded him.

From:
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1911


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