[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Phineas Francis Sturgis, 1831-1903


Posted By: Constance, IAGenWeb Volunteer
Date: 6/12/2021 at 21:06:56

West Union Gazette
West Union, Fayette Co., Iowa
February 13, 1903
Page 1 column 5 and 6


HON. P.F. STURGIS is dead! A fatal termination of his sickness had been evident for days, yet this announcement Monday morning came as a shock to most of us. A few weeks ago a boil gathered on the back of his neck, developing into a most vicious carbuncle that resulted in blood poisoning. Mr. Sturgis had not been well for several years, and this very likely was but a different form of the disease that lurked in his system. All during his sickness he had the best of care, and his son Lew of Oelwein was with him nearly every day, at the last remaining at his bedside to the end.

The funeral was held at the rooms Wednesday afternoon, the attendance being largely the pioneer friends of the deceased, with the H.A.L. club in of the late Senator James F. Wilson. Mr. Sturgis was one of his firmest friends and admirers, and their relations wore intimate and cordial. He conducted the campaign of I884 which resulted in the nomination and election of Hon. Wm. Larrabee as Governor. or ye shall be an oak whose leaf fadeth."'Rev. Fr. Mulligan.' paid a beautiful tribute to the memory of the deceased, and H. L. Adams read a brief sketch of his life. At the grave Mr. Adams read "Thanatopsis," a favorite poem of Mr. Sturgis.

The bearers, chosen from the list of Mr. Sturgis' older friends, were J S Sampson, Wm. Colby, Chas. Woodard, L. Datton, J.F. Smith, Wm Heiserman. Mrs. Stam sang a solo, and the choir rendered other selections. The flowers were numerous and elegant, the most noticeable feature being a sheaf of ripened grain and a floral book, from the H.A.L Club.

Phineas Francis Sturgis was born in Fayette county, Penn., Dec. 7, 1830. He came to West Union in 1851, and, with the exception of three years at Clear Lake, this has ever since been his home. His business was merchandising, in which he was exceptionally successful, retiring from trade in 1872. In 1856 he was married to Miss Rachel Irwin of this place. Four children were born to them, two, a boy and a girl, dying in infancy. Mrs. Sturgis died April 8, 1895, and the beautiful obelisk that has ever since marked her grave will now contribute to. the memory of the loving husband and father who sleeps his last sleep by her side.

In 1863 Mr. Sturgis was elected to the lower house of the Legislature from this county, serving one term very acceptably. For many years he rendered the State good service as a member of the Board of Trustees for the College for the Blind at Vinton. He was at the convention in Chicago when Abraham Lincoln was nominated, and a delegate in the Garfield convention of 1880. He was born a Henry Clay Whig, and the eminent Kentuckian was ever his political idol, probably no man in Iowa being better versed in the public and private record of this great statesman, none possessing a more extensive library of the period in which he was the dominant figure. But much as Mr. Sturgis admired Henry Clay, he was not blinded to other great characters of history, ancient and modern, it being one of the joys of his life to study the events and men of the past and discuss their merits and demerits among congenial companions. And it was not alone in the past that he lived, for few among us kept better pace with current events or more intelligently comprehended the drift of the times. He was a natural student, with a broad, active mind, original in thought and expression, and was withal a most engaging conversationalist. As a politician he was shrewd and farseeing, his counsel often sought by men of Status and national reputation. During the life of the late Senator James F. Wilson Mr. Sturgis was one his firmest friends and admirers, and their relations were intimate and cordial. He conducted the campaign of 1884 which resulted in the nomination and election of Hon. Wm. Larrabee as Governor.

In common with most men of large intellectuality, Mr. Sturgis possessed a rare vein of humor, making him most companionable and entertaining; and in reminiscences of pioneer days he was irresistible. He long had to contemplation the preservation in some permanent form of his recollections of the early days in Iowa, but so far as we know never fully carried out his purpose, the failure of his eyesight during his late years deterring him from entering upon his work. His mind was stored with a vast fund of incidents covering a period of over 50 years in this State, and now that there is no hope of their being garnered is a matter of sincere regret on the part of those who realize the value of the treasure that is lost.

It was a delight of Mr. Sturgis all his life to encourage the young men of his acquaintance in the sturdy of history, and many a youth is indebted to him for suggesting's in a course of reading that proved a veritable mine of pleasure in all afterlife. He found in Shakespeare, Bryant, Gray and Poe his ideals of poetic compositions, and his favorite among them all he had at his tongue's end. For fiction he has no use, considering it not only a waste of time but tending to mental deterioration.

Mr. Sturgis was peculiar in his likes and dislikes. He utterly detested shams and hypocrisy, was quick in their detection and unsparing in their denunciation. Men of sincerity, honor and integrity he admired, and was free to cultivate their acquaintance however much he might differ with them in matters of politics or religion. He was firm in his opinions, but freely conceded to others the rights he demanded for himself. Although republican from the days of Fremont, some of his best friends were as ultra Democratic. We think to most of people he appeared reserved and indifferent, but with those for whom he discovered an affinity he was open, frank and interesting. He has been prominent character in this community for over half a century, but now, in common with most of those who were in the van of that tide of emigration that rolled over the prairies of Iowa in the early '50s, "he has wrapped the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams."

Grave photo

Fayette Obituaries maintained by Constance Diamond.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]