A Narrative History of The People of Iowa


RALPH P. BOLTON was a life long resident of Des Moines, and represented the third generation of a family whose name will always have worthy relations with the capital city.  The late Mr. Bolton was a good business man, measured up to his responsibilities in all the normal departments of life, but above all stood his loyalty to his home city.  It was this characteristic that caused a Des Moines editor to single out his career for an unusual tribute when he wrote that of Ralph Bolton the term "public spirited" could be correctly applied.  To quote this editorial further:
"Des Moines, like every other city, no doubt has need of public spirited men.  There is never the slightest danger of having too many.  Reduce to its basic meaning, the public spirit referred to is that which leads a man willingly to take part in projects aiming at broad betterment of the whole community, whether it grow out of intelligent recognition that this will serve private interests best and most largely in the long run or out of good will toward his neighbors.  it is practically always both, because the man with intelligence enough to see the broader advantages in invariably big enough to be kind.  Fine personal qualities of course could be emphasized in referring to Mr. Bolton's passing.  The community-spirited life is well worth giving the main stress, for this once, however."

Mr. Bolton was not yet fifty-seven years of age when he passed away March 15, 1929.  He was born in Des Moines July 23, 1872, and was a son of Leander Bolton and grandson of Evan and Phoebe (Hanna) Bolton.  Evan Bolton was a native of Kentucky, who settled in Des Moines before the Civil war and was a lumberman in that city until his death in 1873.

Leander Bolton was born in Fayette County, Indiana, October 10, 1838, and was eighteen years of age when he came to Iowa and established his home at Des Moines in 1856.  When the Civil war broke out a few years later he enlisted in the Union army and performed garrison service until the close of hostilities.  In 1871 he entered business as a hardware merchant, and was a successful figure in the commercial affairs of Des Moines for thirty years, until his death in 1901.  He married Miss Belle Palmer, who was born at Ithaca, New York, April 3, 1853, and continues to reside in Des Moines at the age of seventy-seven.

Ralph P. Bolton graduated from the East High School and took his law degree from the University of Iowa in 1892.  He was admitted to the bar, although he did not practice, most of his attention having been given to business interests.  For twelve years before his death he was associated with the Ankeny Linseed Company, of which he was president.  At the time of his death he was also secretary of the Des Moines Coliseum Company.  He was a charter member and for many years president of the Hyperion Club, also a member of the Des Moines and Wakonda Clubs.  Mr. Bolton is survived by Mrs. Bolton and two daughters, Berene and Ruth.

The late Mr. Bolton from 1911 to 1921 served as secretary of the Greater Des Moines Committee.  It was through  this committee that he found the opportunity for the most noteworthy of his services to his home city.  He is credited with having done most to secure the location of Camp Dodge at Des Moines early in the World war.  After the war he was presented with a testimonial signed by the thirty members of the committee, including many of the most prominent business men of the city, and their tribute at that time is a fitting close for this brief sketch:
"The members of the Greater Des Moines Committee feel a very deep sense of gratefulness to you for the unusual character of your service during the year 1917.

"We are most anxious to have you know that we gladly recognize that it was your genius for organization that brought Des Moines the Cantonment, and that it was the high order of your capacity and tact that has handled the great camp to the satisfaction of the War Department, the commanding officers, and the people of Des Moines.
"You have been tireless and true.  You have earned the praise of all of our citizens, and the members of the committee desire to subscribe themselves as your admiring supporters, co-workers and friends."


~ source: A Narrative History of The People of Iowa with SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY, BUSINESS, ETC., by EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M. Curator of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa Volume IV THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc. Chicago and New York. 1931
~ transcribe by Debbie Clough Gerischer for the Great War