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Col. Jed Lake


Posted By: C. Diamond IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 1/4/2011 at 08:29:22

Biographical Souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan.
Chicago: F. A. Battey & Company. 1890.
pp. 601-2.

COL. JED LAKE was born in Virgil, Courtland county, N. Y., November 18, 1830. His father, Jedediah Lake, was the son of Henry Lake, of Montgomery county, N. Y., who served under General Washington in the Revolutionary war. He enlisted when seventeen years of age, and served four years. Jedediah Lake settled in Virgil in 1822, at the age of twenty-four, and was married to Patience Church, of the adjoining town of Marathon. They had two sons and two daughters. Our Jed Lake was the second son. His widowed mother with four children, the eldest seven and the youngest less than one year old, kept the family together, and carried on the farm until the eldest son was of age, when he took charge of it. This threw Jed on his own resources. He had received, at this time, no education except from common schools. He hired out to a neighboring farmer for the summer, but after working a month a disagreement arose, and Jed left.
While on his way to find employment he met a man going to Ithaca to start for New York, with a canal-boat. To him Jed hired out to drive a team on the Erie canal at thirteen dollars per month. The colonel says he has always felt a little diffidence about telling this part of his history, but since the election of Garfield he speaks of it with pride. He laid up some money that season, and the next spring went to New York Central college. By teaching, and working on farms, he supported himself for two years at this institution. At this time he would have been ready to enter college, had he been prepared in Latin and Greek, but in his youth he had been taught to despise these studies and it took him these two years to get over the prejudice. At this time the Cortland academy was in the full tide of its prestige. Here Jed took mathematics under Professor Lawrence, the author of mathematical works, and English grammar under S. W. Clark (also author of a text book), and German under Professor Maasburgh, and Latin under Professor Sanford. In May, 1855, he was taken with bilious fever and paralysis of the right side, and by the advice of physicians quit school. In the fall of that year he engaged to travel with William Swift, a cousin of the noted Professor Swift, of Rochester observatory. This Swift was giving lectures on electricity, electro-magnetism, and an expose of spirit rappings, which had just then come into notoriety. In this capacity he traveled until 1855, visiting New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio. At this time, desiring to settle into permanent business, he packed his satchel and started for Des Moines, Iowa, but landed in Independence, in October, 1855, where he has since resided. His health would not permit his engaging in a profession, so he spent two years on a farm. At the end of that time his cousin persuaded him to purchase a half interest in a saw-mill, and then lit out between two days, leaving Jed sole proprietor. Jed has not seen his cousin since. After a little he blew up the boiler, sold the remnants, sold all he had and paid his debts, as far as he could, came to town and commenced the study of law. He sometimes tells that it looked awful dark to him after he blew up his mill, but he is now satisfied that it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1859. He was examined by Hon. F. E. Bissell and D. S. Wilson of Dubuque, and John H. Pierce, of Anamosa, and they gave him a flattering recommend to the court. Honorable George W. Bemis tells that one day, meeting Jed, he said to him: Jed, I understand that you are admitted to the bar. Now, my advice to you is to go West and grow up with the country. You can make something out there. Said Jed, with clinched fist, I brought one thousand dollars in gold to this place, and Im not going to leave here until I can take as much away as I brought. Mr. Lake then settled down to the practice of the law. In the fall of 1861 he was elected to the State legislature. The following summer he enlisted in a company then being raised by Captain Noble, and was elected first lieutenant. He was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Twenty-seventh regiment Iowa volunteer infantry, by Governor Kirkwood. He served with his regiment during the war. His regiment was in very many battles, and lost a large number of men. At the close of the war he was colonel of his regiment. He then returned to Independence and resumed the practice of law. He has been urged by his friends to accept many official positions, such as representative, senator, and judge of district court, but he has positively refused to accept any office that would take him away from his business. He served as alderman for six years, as a member of the school board for seven years, and was a member of the board of supervisors two years. He performed the duties of the above offices with admirable skill and ability. He now holds the position of director and attorney of the First National Bank of this city; also director, attorney and chairman of the executive committee of the Independence Mill Company. In his law practice he has been eminently successful, and has secured an abundant competence.

In personal appearance, the colonel is a solid, well-built man, weighing two hundred and twenty-five pounds; has gray eyes and coal black hair. By strict observance of the laws of health he has preserved a remarkable fresh and youthful appearance, for a man of his years. As a lawyer he has but few equals in this part of the state. He has a strong analytical mind and a very retentive memory. is a close student, not only of law, but of general literature. He is not given to ostentatious show and glitter. Everything is business and matter of fact. His fine judicial mind and commanding presence well qualify him for the bench. Jed Lake was married June 2, 1861, to Miss Sarah E. Meyer. He has two children--Rush C., born April 13. 1862, and Hattie I., born February 7,1870.


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