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Coddington, Eli (Family)


Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 6/9/2011 at 20:43:21

The death of Laura Coddington Eason leaves but four remaining members of Wesleyan's class of 1893. Clara Bird Kopp and Lillian K. Rogers of Mt. Pleasant. Grace Dickenson Payne of Centerville, Ia. and Dr. Edward M. Myers of Woodward, Ia.

It was fitting that Mrs. Eason should be brought back here and laid to rest by the side of her father, mother, and two brothers in Forest Home. They will not be lonely, for all about are scores and scores of old friends of town and college days.

The Coddington family name is almost a tradition in town and college circles. Mrs. Eason's father, Rev. Eli Coddington, was a minister of the old Iowa Methodist conference and a soldier of the Civil war, and her mother was a woman who will long be remembered, but particularly by her most unusual work as an army nurse of the Civil war. More than that, the Coddingtons are closely tied in with the story of Southeastern Iowa. As we shall see.

Mrs. Eason's father was Rev. Eli Coddington. As a boy he came to Iowa in 1837 with his parents and his first home was in Hillsboro and where his father and mother died and are buried. Passing through the schools at or near Hillsboro, young Eli entered Wesleyan and was graduated with the class of 1866. Two of his classmates were the late Judge W.I. Babb and his sister, Mrs. Belle Babb Mansfield. While in college the Civil war broke out and young Coddington, in the fall of 1861, left college and enlisted in Co. F. 14th Iowa Infantry. At the Battle of Ft. Donelson in Feb. 1862, Coddington lost his left arm at the shoulder and was given an honorable discharge.

As soon as the wound permitted, Coddington re-entered Wesleyan in early 1863. But he was soon back in uniform. Leaving the campus in 1864, he was at once commissioned a captain of Co. H. 45th Iowa Infantry, serving until the close of the war, when he again enrolled at Wesleyan and was graduated in June of 1866.

Directly after graduation, Captain Coddington was admitted to the old Iowa Conference of the Methodist church and his first assignment was to the small charge at Troy, in Davis Co, where he served two years. He also served pastorates at Bloomfield, at Mt. Pleasant and his last charge at Fairfield, where his daughter, Mrs. Eason was born, and there an infant son was born and is buried. Reverend Coddington never recovered from the wound that cost his arm. The pastorate at Fairfield was his last charge. Ill health forced him to retire from the active work. He moved back to Mt. Pleasant and where in July 1877 in his 40th year, he passed away and was interred in Forest Home cemetery.

The mother of Laura Coddington Eason, at the time of her marriage to Rev. Eli Coddington at Troy, Iowa, was a war widow, having been married in April 1862 to H. N. Tannehill. Six months after the wedding, her husband enlisted in Co. I 13th Iowa Infantry. Later near Vicksburg, he sickened and died in Feb. 1863, at the age of but 25 years in a military hospital in Louisiana, and was buried there. And his wife, Belle, at the age of but 20 years, was left alone.

A few weeks after the death of her youthful soldier husband, Belle Graham Tannehill applied for duty as an army nurse. She was at once commissioned a hospital nurse at Benton Barracks, St. Louis. She was later transferred to the Nashville, Tenn. Union Hospital. A little later she was called back to St. Louis for service with the Christian Commission . After two years of hospital service, and the war ended, Mrs. Tannehill returned to her home at Troy. In 1895, a publication with a large sale, "Our Army Nurses" had among other articles, a long, detailed and interesting account of Mrs. Tannehill's work.

A short time after her return home to Troy, she met Rev. Eli Coddington, who was serving the Troy charge, and they later were married. It was while at Troy their first child was born, Clinton G., in 1867. A second son, Earnest, was born while the Coddingtons were serving the Fairfield charge, lived but a few weeks, and was buried there. It was while the Coddingtons were at Fairfield, that their daughter, Laura, was born.

Fairfield was the last charge of Rev. Coddington and at the end of his term, the family moved to Mt. Pleasant, after but seven years of active service in the ministry. While there, their fourth child was born, a son, but it too died in a very short time and was buried in Forest Home. Rev. Eli Coddington lived but four years, passing in 1877 at the age of 40, leaving his wife and two children. The Coddingtons first lived on Lincoln street, near Willowbank school house, but later moved to Adams street, for many years occupying the residence first house north of Junior High.

Mrs. Coddington left Mt. Pleasant to make her home with her daughter, Laura Eason, and at her death some years ago, her remains were brought back to the old home town and interment was at Forest Home. On the bronze tablets in the corridors at the Court house are preserved the names of the men of Henry county who served in the Union forces of the civil war. With them is the name of Belle Coddington, an army nurse. Her name is also perpetuated by the Belle Coddington Tent of the Daughters of Union Veterans.

Clinton Coddington, son of Rev. and Mrs. Coddington, passed through the public schools of Mt. Pleasant, and then Iowa Wesleyan, graduating with the class of 1890. Of his class, but five remain. In this community, but two, Miss Ida Van Hon, and Mrs. Lillian Rogers [Music]. Clint Coddington's last year in college clearly showed that his health was failing. Immediately after leaving college, he went to Randolph, Nebr. to work on the Times newspaper, and where he remained until his death, in 1904. His body was brought back to Mt. Pleasant and burial was in Forest Home beside his father.

We knew Clint Coddington well. While he was in a class ahead of this writer, we were in the same frat, worked on the Wesleyan News together. He was one of the most loved and respected of the men students while in college. Tall, slim, bright of intellect, witty, jovial, a young man of character and great promise. Of all the young men on Wesleyan's campus, during our four years there, the close friendship and the finest was with Clint Coddington.

Laura Coddington Eason, whose life work is now closed and who has joined the family circle out in Forest Home, really grew up in Mt. Pleasant. She was born in Fairfield in 1872, while her father was serving the Methodist charge there, at the close of which the family moved to Mt. Pleasant. Laura Coddington passed through our public schools and then Wesleyan, as had her brother and father, graduating with the class of 1893. For four years she taught in our public schools, later taught in the public schools at Ottumwa and still later out in Washington state.

In August 1901, Laura Coddington was married at the home of her mother on North Adams St. to French L. Eason. For a few years they lived here, but for a long time Evanston, Ill., has been their home. It was where her last years were spent and where Laura Coddington Eason died, Feb. 20, 1947.

The Easons had two children, French L. and Margery Sadler, both attending their motherís funeral. Laura Coddington Eason possessed many of the fine traits of her brother Clinton and inherited from her parents most unusual and fine qualities.

The name of Coddington will long be remembered in Mt. Pleasant and college circles.
[The Bystander's Notes, 'Mt. Pleasant News', Wednesday, February 26, 1947]


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