Thomas M. Gobble

THOMAS MCCULLOCH GOBBLE. The career of the late Thomas McCulloch Gobble, of Clinton, Iowa, was typical of the best citizenship during the period which saw his state develop, and to its growth and expansion he gave the best qualities of character and practical ability. The industry, foresight and spirit of such men as he made possible a progress that carried forward the West at a pace not equaled in any other national development. Upon their accomplishments and in their strong faith may the present generation build its confident hope of America's future.

Thomas McCulloch Gobble was born near Abingdon, Iowa, in a log cabin adjacent to the site of a building afterwards erected as the permanent home of the family. He came into the world April 2, 1846, a son of Thomas Wilson and Mary (McCulloch) Gobble, and he was named for his maternal grandfather, Thomas McCulloch, a pioneer of Iowa.

Tracing back in the ancestral line of the McCulloch family, Thomas McCulloch Gobble was a great-great-grandson of Thomas McCulloch, born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1735, and who died October 12, 1780. He like all of his relatives and neighbors, was of the Scotch-Irish stock who fought at the battle of King's Mountain, that decisive battle of the Revolution that brought about Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. Thomas McCulloch was a lieutenant in command of his company in William Campbell's regiment of Virginia Militia. On October 7, 1780, he was mortally wounded, and died from the effects of his injury five days later. His remains lie in Little Britain Cemetery, and on the rough stone marking his grave is this inscription: "Here lies the body of Lieutenant Thomas McCulloch belonging to Colonel Campbell's Virginia Regiment who lost his life in and for the honorable, just and righteous cause of liberty in defeating Colonel Ferguson's infamous company of bandetta at King's Mountain, October 7, 1780." He had two sons, John and Robert, and four daughters, Mrs. Rachel Jamison, Mary, Sarah, Mrs. Martin Hagy, and Mattie, Mrs. John Newhouse.

The McCullochs are said to be of the F. F. V., First Families of Virginia. They were always prominent in the affairs of the community. The will of Thomas McCulloch, in which he named his wife, Isabell, as administratix, is dated October 9, 1780, and is recorded in Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia courthouse. In this will he gives his son Robert a tract of land in said county. Said son Robert McCulloch was born May 2, 1764, and died August 29, 1849. His wife, Sarah (Clark) McCulloch, was born November 25, 1775, and died December 28, 1854. They were married in 1794, and had five sons: Thomas, born October 24, 1795, died January 18, 1858; John, Robert and two others; and four daughters; Polly, or Mary, wife of John Dunn, Sarah, wife of Abia M. Linder, and two others.

Thomas McCulloch II was married, October 5, 1815, to Dorcas Logan, who was born December 12, 1792, and died October 29, 1855. They came to Iowa in 1843, laid out the town of Abingdon, Jefferson County, which was name after the home town of Mr. McCulloch in Virginia. He was called Col. Thomas McCulloch because of the rank given him in the Virginia State Militia, and he became very prominent in his new home, becoming the first surveyor, a justice of the peace, member of the Iowa State Legislature for one term, 1851 to 1852, inclusive, and county judge, and he died while holding the latter office. He and his wife were buried in the cemetery at Abingdon, Iowa. They had two sons and three daughters: Harriet, who was born May 5, 1831, married James Thompson, a Methodist minister of Iowa; Mary Smith McCulloch, who was born April 29, 1820, died May 21, 1858, married Thomas Wilson Gobble, on October 18, 1838; Charles, born September 6, 1822; Elizabeth, born March 16, 1824; and John, born in 1828.

Thomas Wilson Gobble was born in Washington County, Virginia, August 20, 1818. His father, Isaac Gobble, was the son of George Gobble, one of the first settlers of the Holston River neighborhood in Virginia. His mother was Elizabeth Musick. He married Mary Smith McCulloch, October 18, 1838. On September 5, 1844, he started for Iowa, in a two-horse wagon, and landed safe in Jefferson County, October 9, 1844. Here he built a log house on a tract of land in Locust Grove Township, which he obtained from the United States Government in 1845, and held until his death. He established a grocery store at Abingdon in 1853, in which all of his sons were trained in the mercantile business.

The children of Thomas Wilson Gobble and Mary Smith McCulloch Gobble were : Mary, who died in infancy, in 1840; Margaret Jane, who was born April 19, 1843, married George Schriner, and died in March, 1928; Thomas McCulloch, whose name heads this review, married Delilah Ream, May 26, 1870, and died January 31, 1926; John McCulloch, who was born October 10, 1849, died in 1913; Charles Hardy, who was born July 23, died March 12, 1924.

Thomas McCulloch Gobble, the eldest son, was held in the highest esteem by his neighbors and friends at Clinton, and when he died he was president of T. M. Gobble & Company, although over eighty years old. Hon. Richard N. Howes, mayor of Clinton at the time of Mr. Gobble's death, issued the following proclamation:

"Tom Gobble has gone. His active life presented the finest type of public service and private citizenship. He was twice mayor of our city and a member of the police and fire commission since its inception. His integrity was beyond question. His service to this community is worthy of future emulation.

"Now, I, Richard N. Nowes, mayor of the City of Clinton, request that all business houses close Tuesday afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30 o'clock that we may pay respect to one of our pioneer citizens."

The same issue of the local newspaper which carried this proclamation also contained an extended biography of this distinguished citizen, and portions of it are quoted herewith because the writer knew the dead man intimately and was consequently able to render him the honor due him as no stranger could.

"He secured his early education in the little log and brick schoolhouses of the locality. At the age of fourteen he became a clerk in the general store owned by his father.

"Later he extended his education under a private instructor, as at that time he expected to become a civil engineer and studied algebra, geometry and trigonometry. It was an early ambition of his to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Thomas McCulloch, one of the first Iowa surveyors. On October 5, 1865, he entered Bryant and Stratton business college in Chicago. From that institution he graduated in April, 1866.

"During the following six months Mr. Gobble was in the employ of J. V. Farwell of Chicago. At the end of that time he returned to Iowa, and for eighteen months kept books in a general store in Fairfield. Afterwards he was employed as bookkeeper for John McWilliams, the first wholesale grocer in the City of Des Moines.

"On May 26, 1870, he was united in marriage with Delilah, Ream, of Abingdon. She was the daughter of Doctor and Mrs. Henry Ream, pioneer residents of Iowa, who came from Hagerstown, Maryland.

"In August, 1875, Mr. Gobble moved his family from Fairfield to Muscatine. After keeping books for six months for G. A. Garretson & Company there he and his brother, John M. Gobble, entered into a partnership, buying out the Garretson store. In 1884 he sold his interest in that business and on February 21 of the same year he moved his family to Clinton."

While at Muscatine he was a member of Company C, Second Regiment, Iowa National Guard, under the command of Capt. Fred Welker, widely known as "The Muscatine Rifles."

To resume the newspaper account of Mr. Gobble's life after coming to Clinton:

"Here he established the now widely-known grocery house, at whose head he remained until his death.

"This business was inaugurated about March 1, 1884, in the Harding Building. Afterwards the store to the east was acquired and occupied. In 1891 the firm purchased two lots, at 119 and 121 Fifth Avenue, on which a brick plant was erected. On November 17, 1915, the Gobble plant, with several adjoining buildings, were destroyed by fire. Work was rushed on a new building, which has been occupied since April 19, 1916.

"Mr. Gobble was on several occasions honored by the citizens of Clinton. In 1890 he was elected mayor and served two years. After several years of retirement from public duty his services were again demanded, and he was elected mayor in 1896, and served another two-year term. For many years he was a member of the Clinton police and fire commission board, of which he was chairman.

"Mr. Gobble was a staunch Democrat all his life. He cast his first vote for Horatio Seymour, of New York, for president in 1868. He was a Clinton County delegate to the national Democratic convention in Chicago in the summer of 1896, when William Jennings Bryan captured the nomination by his famous 'Cross of Gold' speech.

"Fraternally he was a thirty-second degree Mason, having completed his Consistory degrees with the class of December, 1891. At the age of twenty-one he was master of the Masonic Lodge at Abingdon.

"He was long affiliated with Emulation Lodge No. 100, A. F. and A. M. and was a long-time member of the Wapsipinicon Club, and one of the last two survivors of the ole-time 'Hearts' Club, which once included many prominent business men.

"Mr. Gobble was vice president and director of the Peoples Trust & Savings Bank.

"In August, 1903, he purchased his first automobile, becoming one of the first drivers in Iowa, and he had been a constant driver ever since.

"At the age of seventy-five he received numberous telegrams and letters from business friends of over half a century, and yesterday and today scores of messages of condolence reached the family expressing sorrow and sympathy.

"Mr. and Mrs. Gobble celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on May 26, 1920. It is said they had the distinguished record of being the only wedded pair in Iowa who both were natives of Iowa Territory and who had lived in the state their entire lives.

"Mr. Gobble had been identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church since he was fourteen years old.

"He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mary Nellie Gobble and Cora Gobble, at home, a son, T. Wilson Gobble, of this city, a grandson, T. Wilson Gobble, Junior, and a granddaughter, Bonnie Ann Gobble. He leaves also a sister, Mrs. Margaret Schriner, of Los Angeles, and the following half-brothers and half-sisters: Lee T. Gobble, of Fairfield; Mrs. Annie Linder, of Fairfield; Frank Gobble, of Washington, Iowa; Wilson B. Gobble, of Colorado, and Mrs. Mabel Hawthorne, of Abingdon, Iowa.

"Mr. Gobble's energy seemed inexhaustible, and right up to the time of his death he was at his desk in his office at 7:30 every morning. During his entire life, from the age of fourteen years, he had led an exceedingly active life, bringing to his business a remarkable equipment of ability and honesty which made his life work a great success. In Clinton's business and public life he was honored for the integrity and fair dealing which were the rules of his life, and among his wide circle of friends he was loved for his candor and geniality, and his loyalty and devotion to those he admitted to his friendship. He was always intensely interested in Clinton's welfare, and every worthy municipal cause was sure of his loyal support.

"One of Mr. Gobble's outstanding traits of character was his love for children, and today an old-time friend of his recalls having heard him say the day he was first elected mayor of Clinton: 'If I can help to make Clinton safe for children I will feel that my highest ambition has been realized.'

"At the offices of the wholesale grocery company he was regarded by all as the father of a united family. Many of the employees had been with him for many years, and the profound sorrow of all in his loss shows the love and esteem in which he was held by those with whom he had surrounded himself in the conduct of his business.

"A telegram received from John F. Baker, a former associate of Mr. Gobble in the local business, now in Phoenix, Arizona, is characteristic of many received yesterday and today. It follows:

" ' The passing of Mr. Gobble was a shock to me because of our close friendship and former business relations. His example of integrity and industry during our association in my younger days had a marked relation to any success I have attained. As one of his family of employees and partners I join you all in expressing my deepest sorrow.' "

The funeral services for Mr. Gobble were held at his former residence at Clinton, Rev. J. K. Hawkins, pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Clinton, having charge of them. Burial was made in Springdale Cemetery. All that is earthly of Thomas McCulloch Gobble has returned to the dust from which it was raised, but his spirit has gone to a better land to join those of his forbears whose noble deeds and stainless lives inspired him to emulate them, so that he, too, could hand down to his descendants a record of which they could well be proud.