Biography of Rev. Samuel Hestwood
Marion County, IA Biographies

One is apt to overemphasize the business development of a community and point with special pride to what has been accomplished in a material way without giving due thought to the great importance and potency of moral progress as a factor in character building, upon which depends all that is commendable and valuable in man's relations with his fellowman. Iowa owes a debt of gratitude to her pioneer ministers who sowed the seeds of moral advancement in this state. Among the number was the Rev. Samuel Hestwood, one of the early preachers of the Methodist church and one whose life was of strong force in the growth of the church, while his memory remains as a blessed benediction to all who knew him.

Rev. Hestwood was born in Delaware county, Ohio, August 16, 1822, and his boyhood and youth were there spent. It was not until after his marriage that he joined the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he became a member in 1848. From that time on his life was consecrated to the cause of Christianity and in 1850 he began preaching. Coming to Iowa, he joined the conference of this state in 1853 and devoted his efforts with untiring zeal to the work of preaching the gospel and promoting the cause of Methodism until after the outbreak of the Civil war. He watched with interest the progress of events in the south and when the country became involved in strife he went to the front as chaplain of the Fortieth Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, with which he remained for a year. Failing health then caused him to return home and he resumed his interrupted pastorate at Newton, Iowa. According to the itinerant custom of the Methodist minister, he was located at different times in various places, but everywhere he went proved a power of strength for good and he remained an active worker in the church up to a short time prior to his death. A few years before his death he took up his abode in Knoxville and never did his deep interest in the church and the cause falter. One of the Knoxville papers said of him: "He was a theologian of the self made type, an earnest, devout preacher of much more than ordinary ability and a most excellent and exemplary Christian gentleman, firm as a rock in his convictions of right, but affable and reasonable in all he said and did."

It was on the 16th of December, 1845, in Delaware county, Ohio, that Mr. Hestwood was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca Jones, who was born in York county, Pennsylvania, in 1824. She was about ten years of age when her parents removed with their family to Ohio and during her maidenhood she became connected with the Presbyterian church. She was a granddaughter of the Rev. John Jones, a Presbyterian minister, who served as a chaplain in the Revolutionary war and was also a member of congress. It was in 1847 that Mrs. Hestwood became a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and it was not until the following year that her husband united with the church. Removing westward, they settled first in Illinois and afterward came to Iowa. Mrs. Hestwood ever felt the deepest interest in her husband's work as a minister of the church, for she was in full sympathy with him and was also an ardent, aggressive force in evangelistic work and in the upbuilding of the church. She was especially helpful in promoting the cause of Methodism in Knoxville, where the memory of her work will constantly urge to noble deeds and to the highest attainments of Christian life. Rev. and Mrs. Hestwood became the parents of seven children, of whom a daughter died in infancy. The eldest son, Virgil E., enlisted when in his teens for service as a member of Company B, Fortieth Iowa Infantry, of which regiment his father was chaplain. He determined upon the practice of medicine as a life work and entered Rush Medical College of Chicago, from which he was graduated, becoming thereafter a successful practitioner. At length his health began to fail and, hoping to be benefited by a change of climate, he went to New Mexico, residing in Raton to the time of his death, which occurred when he was fifty one years of age. The other members of the Hestwood family are: J. E. Hestwood; Mrs. T. N. Johnson, of Kansas City, Kansas; Mrs. Emma Amos, of Knoxville, Iowa; Mrs. C. C. Smead, of Newton, Iowa; and Mrs. Sam Austin, of Eldorado, Kansas.

For almost forty seven years Rev. Samuel and Mrs. Hestwood traveled life's journey together, in the closest ties of companionship, strong sympathy and enduring love. The later years of their married life were passed in Knoxville and there the Rev. Hestwood was called to his final rest June 22, 1892, at the age of sixty nine years, ten months and six days. His wife survived him for seven years and died in Knoxville October 30, 1899.

Rev. Hestwood was a member of John C. Ferguson Post, G. A. R., and Colonel H. J. Budd of that post at the time of the death of Rev. Hestwood paid an eloquent tribute to his memory in the following words:

"The highest altitudes of life are reached only by the truly good and the most holy solace which it is possible to find in this world is in the benediction of a splendid life. Each of the ages have had their heroes. Statesmen have made imperishable names, philosophers have tamed the elements to become the servants of man, scientists have made docile and forceful the hitherto unseen mysteries of earth and sky; but to my mind the men who have given their lives for the intellectual, moral and spiritual good of our world are the highest type of men known to time. The soul of the military chieftain may be clouded by the black mask of mad ambition; the genius of the artisans in the other fields of life may be inflamed by the ill omened light of greed, or the phantasms of vain glory; but the man who devotes his life and soul to the betterment of his age is next highest in authority to the God who made him. The presence of death is always a scene of imposing solemnity. By it we are touched with the uncertainty of life, and with the need of hope and promise. In its mute eloquence we read the story of a life and in its 'marvel of the heroic' we catch the inspiration of the beyond. Better lips than mine will tell you the story of Father Hestwood's life. We who knew him best can never know the many trials and distresses through which he passed, but we can feel and know the sublime good he has done. One of the wealthiest, and among the best men I have ever known, in answer to the question 'What was the best investment you ever made?' said, "Trying to do as I would be done by." There is but one better investment than that this side of the stars and that is that of trying to enlighten and redeem a race without hope of adequate present reward. Such a spirit outshines the diadem of human genius. It is the spirit in the presence of which all cavils and contentions scatter in dismay and which lights up even the dark corners of life with the 'light divine.' Such was Father Hestwood's life.

"Thus in the name of John C. Ferguson Post, Grand Army of the Republic, I lay tribute upon the altar of his memory, the tribute of the soldier to the soldier, a tribute, 'mighty only when 'tis felt.' To the aged and disconsolate widow and to the bereaved children all that is tender and constant is given. Thus to Chaplain Westwood, we return, in part the 'bread cast upon the waters,' by his ministrations to the Fortieth Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry."

Equally appropriate and eloquent were the expressions of Dr. McDonald, presiding elder of the district, and of Rev. J. W. Hackley, who was the pastor of Rev. Hestwood at the time of his demise. With the passing of Rev. Hestwood Iowa lost one who, coming to the state in pioneer times, had taken a most active part in the upbuilding of the commonwealth along the line of its moral development and progress, and the impress of his noble life remains today upon the character of those with whom he was associated.

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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