OTHER IMPORTANT IOWANS
HISTORIANS OF EARLY IOWA
Prominent among the writers of early Iowa
history are Theodore S. Parvin, William Salter, and S. H. M.
Byers. All three were well-educated men who spent most of
their lives in Iowa.
THEODORE S. PARVIN
Mr. Parvin was a native of New Jersey. In
1837 he graduated from the Cincinnati law school where, a year
later, he met Rober Lucas who had just been appointed governor
of the new Territory of Iowa. Governor Lucas liked Mr. Parvin
and appointed him as his private secretary. The two arrived
at Burlington on August 13, 1838. During the next twenty
years he held several important governmental positions.
Mr. Parvin was one of the first trustees of
the state university and served there for ten years as a
professor. He was one of the men who started the Iowa State
Historical Society and was secretary of that organization for
a few years. He was also one of the founders of the Masonic
order of Iowa. As its secretary, he collected, at Cedar
Rapids, the largest and most valuable Masonic library in the
B. F. Gue, another well known Iowa historian,
says, "Mr. Parvin was long regarded the highest authority on
Iowa history and biography.......No citizen of Iowa had done
so much to collect and preserve its early records and history
as Theodore S. Parvin."
William Salter, a friend of Mr. Parvin, was a
native of the State of New York. He attended Union
Theological Seminary of New York, New York University, and the
Theological Institution of Andover, Massachusetts. At Andover
he became a member of the famous "Iowa Band," consisting of a
small group of young men who came to Iowa to do missionary
work. The group arrived in Burlington October 24, 1843.
Young Mr. Salter preached his first sermon on
Iowa soil in a blacksmith shop at Keosaqua on October 29.
Seven of the band were ordained as Congregational ministers
at Denmark, Iowa, on Sunday, November 5. For the next two
years he worked among the "squatters" - a name applied to
certain early settlers - in Jackson County.
In 1846 the Rev. Mr. Salter was called to
Burlington where he preached his first sermon in a rented hall
over a store. He served as pastor of the First Congregational
Church at Burlington for sixty-four years.
Mr. Salter became interested in writing
history and wrote some of the best biographies that we now
have of prominent Iowa men. He had known personally nearly
all men of importance in Iowa.
S. H. M. BYERS
Samuel Hawkins Marshall Byers was a native of
Pennsylvania. His mother died when he was less than a month
old. As a boy of thirteen he came to Iowa with his father and
settled at Oskaloosa. He studied law in the office of William
Loughridge and was admitted to the bar.
Early in the Civil War he enlisted in the
Fifth Iowa infantry. At Missionary Ridge he, with eighty
others, was captured by Confederates. For fifteen months he
suffered in Libby and other Southern prison camps. Twice he
escaped from prison only to be recaptured.
In prison Major Byers began writing. While at
Columbia, South Carolina, he wrote the words to "Sherman's
March to the Sea." This song made him famous. Here he again
escaped prison and watched General Sherman and his army enter
the city. General Sherman assigned him to a place on his
staff and sent him to General Grant and President Lincoln to
report his great victory.
Major Byers filled several important
diplomatic positions. In 1893 he built a fine home in Des
Moines. He is the author of Iowa in War Times; Twenty
Years in Europe, and numerous poems among which are "Iowa"
and "Song of Iowa."
Iowa has had, and has today, a number of
prominent men and women in the field of literature. In
addition, there are those who once lived here but are now
elsewhere, who have become well-known writers. The story of
one of the many has been chosen and is here given because he
especially typifies Iowa and his life should be an inspiration
to boys and girls today.
JOHN HERBERT QUICK
John Herbert Quick was born on a farm in
Grundy County, Iowa, on October 23, 1861. Hence he knew
pioneer life in Iowa. When but twenty months old he was
stricken with infantile paralysis which left his feet and
ankles permanently deformed. In spite of his physical
handicap he worked on his father's farm and attended the
country school. Friends and admirers of Mr. Quick, a few
years ago, purchased the little old one-room country school
building which he attended, and moved it to the park at Grundy
Center where it is being preserved as a memorial to him.
Mr. Quick taught in rural and city schools
from 1877 until 1890. He studied law in a law office and was
admitted to the bar in 1889. From 1890 until 1908 he
practiced law in Sioux City and was mayor of that city from
1898 to 1900. He held other important positions but we are
interested in him here as a writer.
Herbert Quick, as he was familiarly known,
wrote many volumes. Three of them were Iowa novels,
Vandemark's Folly (1921). The Hawkeye (1923), and
The Invisible Woman (1824). He wrote his
autobiography, One Man's Life, in 1825. Two volumes,
The Brown Mouse, a novel, and The Fairview Idea,
dealt with educational problems and were no doubt the result
of his teaching experiences in Iowa.
Mr. Quick was greatly interested in the
improvement of farm life and wrote many articles along that
line. He died May 10, 1925.
The three men in the educational field who are
here presented have been chosen because of their influence
upon Iowa not only during their lifetime but also in the
traditions of service they left us and in the institutions.
Henry was born in Pomfret, Connecticut,
October 23, 1829. He graduated from Amherst College in 1852
and taught in Connecticut and New Jersey until 1870 when he
became superintendent of schools at Clinton, Iowa. He was
Superintendent of schools at Clinton, Iowa. He was
Superintendent of Public Instruction in Iowa from 1888 to 1892
and again from 1894 to 1898.
Mr. Sabin wrote an educational book entitled
Common Sense Didactics. He became best known for a
report which he wrote on rural school problems. This report
was made as chairman of a "Committee of Twelve" for the
National Education Association. It is said to be one of the
best, if not the best, discussions of the rural school and its
problems that was ever written.
The Making of Iowa, a textbook, for
boys and girls, was written by Mr. Sabin and his youngest son,
Mr. Sabin died on March 23, 1918.
William Miller Beardshear was a native of
Ohio. When he was fourteen years old he enlisted in the Union
army. After the war he attended and graduated from Otterbein
university. He became a United Brethren minister and preached
in Ohio. For two years he attended Yale Theological Seminary.
In 1881, Mr. Beardshear was elected president
of Western College at Toledo, Iowa. Although a young man for
such a position, his enthusiasm and ability soon won him
recognition. In 1889 he accepted a position as head of the
Des Moines public schools. Two years later he became the
president of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and
Mechanic Arts at Ames. It was here that Mr. Beardshear did
his greatest work and gained his real fame.
Iowa State College, as it is now known, had
been subject to much criticism and ridicule when Mr.
Beardshear became its president. He reorganized some of the
divisions of the college and brought new men to the staff. By
so doing he laid the foundation for what has since become one
of the greatest institutions of its kind in America.
HOMER H. SEERLEY
Homer Horatio Seerley was born on a farm near
Indianapolis, Indiana, on August 13, 1848. At the age of six
he came with his parents to a farm near South English, in
Keokuk County, Iowa. He attended a rural school and taught in
one after taking a preparatory course at the State University
of Iowa. He graduated from the University in 1873 and the
following fall began his work in the Oskaloosa public schools.
During his first three years there he served as assistant
principal, principal, and superintendent. He remained as
superintendent eleven years.
In 1886 Mr. Seeley was invited, by the Board
of Trustees, to become Principal of the Iowa State Normal
School at Cedar Falls, which later became the present Iowa
State Teachers College. It was as president of Iowa's
outstanding teachers' college that Mr. Seeley rendered his
greatest service to the cause of education. He was a firm
believer in the saying, "As is the teacher, so is the school,"
and that the boys and girls of Iowa are entitled to
Mr. Seerly presided over the teacher-training
institution at Cedar Falls for forty-two years, from 1886 to
1928. When he began his work there the school was a small
struggling affair, but ten years old. When he closed his
work, the institution ranked among the foremost teachers'
colleges of America.