Rutledge, John - History

Rutledge, John - History

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Rutledge, John (1739-1800) Chief Justice of Supreme Court: Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Rutledge studied law in England and was admitted to the English bar in 1760. In 1761, after returning to the colonies, he was elected to the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly. Three years later, the King's Governor appointed him Attorney General of South Carolina, and he served for ten months. Joining the patriot cause, Rutledge became the youngest delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. He later headed the South Carolina delegation to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and was involved in the South Carolina Ratification Convention in 1788. President George Washington appointed Rutledge one of the original Associate Justices of the US Supreme Court in 1789. After serving for only one year, he resigned to become Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. In 1795, when Chief Justice John Jay resigned to become Governor of New York, President Washington nominated Rutledge to replace him. Since the Senate was in recess, Rutledge served as a recess appointee for four months. When Senate reconvened, it refused to confirm his appointment, and he was rejected. Oliver Ellsworth filled the position a few months later. Rutledge died on June 21, 1800.

Edward Rutledge

Edward Rutledge was an American lawyer, a South Carolina governor, South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and above all a patriot. Edward, like so many of his time, risked his life and devoted his best years to seeing the birth of this beautiful country become a reality.

Edward Rutledge was born on November 23, 1749 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was the youngest of seven children. When he was old enough, he, lie his brothers before him, studied law in London at Inns of Court. In 1772, he passed the English foo.

Shortly thereafter, he returned to Charleston to start practicing law. On March 1, 11774, he married Henrietta Middleton, sister of Arther Middleton, fellow signer of the Declaration. Her wealthy father’s political connections would advance Edward’s career and make him the youngest member of Congress. The couple had three children together, one of whom died as an infant. Henrietta died in 1792, and he remarried, but he and his previously widowed second wife, Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, were childless.

When arriving back at Charleston, Edward had started a law firm with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. The firm had taken off and made the two men very successful. It wasn’t long before Rutledge was one of the leading citizens in Charleston, and owned quite a bit of land and almost 50 slaves.

In 1775, Edward was asked, along with his brother, John, to go to represent South Carolina as a delegate to the <a href=”second-continental-congress.html”>Continental Congress</a>. At first, Rutledge was instructed by South Carolina leaders to directly oppose Lee’s Resolution for Independence. They believed that the time was not yet right for something like that, that they would strike too soon, and be defeated by the British.

In a letter to John Jay, Rutledge wrote, “The Congress sat till 7 o’clock this evening in consequence of a motion of R. H. Lee’s resolving ourselves free & independent states. The sensible part of the house Opposed the motion…They saw no wisdom in a Declaration of Independence, nor any other purpose to be answered by it…No reason could be assigned for pressing into this measure, but the reason of every Madman, a shew of our Spirit…The whole Argument was sustained on one side by R. Livingston, Wilson, Dickenson & myself, & by the Powers of all N. England, Virginia & Georgia on the other.”

He is held responsible for delaying the vote for Independence. His youth and vigor lent him energy older men didn’t have, and he grew to be one of the loudest and most influential anti-independence voices in Congress. However, by the time July of 1776 arrived, Edward was instructed to vote on behalf of South Carolina in favor of independence, and, for the sake of unanimity, he convinced his party concede. Later that year, Edward Rutledge signed the Declaration of Independence. At the age of 26, he was the youngest man to sign that document.

Interesting Facts About Edward Rutledge

• Being a slave owner from the south, he worked hard to expel the Negroes from the Continental Army. Most slaveowners felt that arming former slaves would only lead to rebellion in the future.

• As the youngest man in Congress, he had to contend with much older, staid men. John Adams, a particularly conservative man, wrote in his diary, “Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock who wastes time debating upon points of little consequence excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady jejeune, inane, and puerile.” Adams’ friend Benjamin Rush, however felt the complete opposite, commenting on his orating skills and called him a “sensible young lawyer.” Even the great orator Patrick Henry was impressed with Edward’s eloquence.

• Edward and John Rutledge supported each other very openly in Congress. The brothers didn’t allow the strife and intense arguing come between them.

• Edward’s sisters-in-law (by his second wife Mary) also married signers of the Declaration one married Thomas Heyward, Jr. and the other Thomas Lynch, Jr.

In November of 1776, Rutledge returned to South Carolina and took a seat on the South Carolina Assembly. He also became Captain of Artillery in the South Carolina Militia. He fought in the battle of Beaufort in 1779. The following year however, he was taken prisoner of war at the fall of Charleston, along with his brothers-in-law, Thomas Heyward and Arthur Middleton. He was held by the British in St. Augustine until July of 1781.

After his release, he returned home and returned to his duties on the South Carolina Assembly. He actively served there until 1796, sometimes serving on 19 different committees. He was elected to the Senate a couple times, and in 1798, he was elected governor the state, aligned with the Federalist party. Although he supposedly fought against the anti-slavery paragraph in the original draft of the Declaration (this was never been corroborated with actual written evidence), he did oppose the opening of the African slave trade at this point in his career, even though he owned many slaves. Perhaps, like some of his colleagues, he intended to support the Act for the Gradual Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Edward was on the committee that wrote the Articles of Confederation, though he did have some reservations about the document, that turned out to be well-founded. “I am resolved to vest the Congress with no more Power than what is absolutely necessary,” he wrote to John Jay. Many felt the Articles were incomplete, and before too long, they were replaced by the Constitution, which he voted in favor of.

While attending an important meeting in Columbia, he fell ill with gout and had to return home. He died before his term was up on January 23, 1800. Edward Rutledge now rests in peace in the cemetery of Charleston.

RUTLEDGE Genealogy

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Key Figures in the Ratification of the Constitution: John Rutledge

State: South Carolina

Age at Ratifying Convention: 49

Affiliation: Federalist

Vote at Ratifying Convention: Yea

Date of Birth: September 1739

Date of Death: July 23, 1800

Schooling: Middle Temple, 1760

Occupation: Planter, Slave Holder, Lawyer, Judge

Prior Political Experience: First Continental Congress, 1774 State Constitutional Convention of South Carolina, 1776 Governor of South Carolina, 1776-1782 Confederation Congress, 1782-1783 Lower House of South Carolina, 1782 South Carolina Chancery Court, 1784-1791.

Other Political Activities: Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1789-1791 Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, 1791-1795 Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1795.

Biography from the National Archives: John Rutledge, elder brother of Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born into a large family at or near Charleston, South Carolina, in 1739. He received his early education from his father, an Irish immigrant and physician, and from an Anglican minister and a tutor. After studying law at London’s Middle Temple in 1760, he was admitted to English practice. But, almost at once, he sailed back to Charleston to begin a fruitful legal career and to amass a fortune in plantations and slaves. Three years later, he married Elizabeth Grimke, who eventually bore him 10 children, and moved into a townhouse, where he resided most of the remainder of his life.

In 1761, Rutledge became politically active. That year, on behalf of Christ Church Parish, he was elected to the provincial assembly and held his seat until the War for Independence. For 10 months in 1764, he temporarily held the post of provincial attorney general. When the troubles with Great Britain intensified about the time of the Stamp Act in 1765, Rutledge, who hoped to ensure continued self-government for the colonies, sought to avoid severance from the British and maintained a restrained stance. He did, however, chair a committee of the Stamp Act Congress that drew up a petition to the House of Lords.

In 1774, Rutledge was sent to the First Continental Congress, where he pursued a moderate course. After spending the next year in the Second Continental Congress, he returned to South Carolina and helped reorganize its government. In 1776, he served on the committee of safety and took part in the writing of the state constitution. That year, he also became president of the lower house of the legislature, a post he held until 1778. During this period, the new government met many stern tests.

In 1778, the conservative Rutledge, disapproving of democratic revisions in the state constitution, resigned his position. The next year, however, he was elected as governor. It was a difficult time. The British were invading South Carolina, and the military situation was desperate. Early in 1780, by which time the legislature had adjourned, Charleston was besieged. In May it fell, the American army was captured, and the British confiscated Rutledge’s property. He ultimately escaped to North Carolina and set about attempting to rally forces to recover South Carolina. In 1781, aided by Gen. Nathanael Greene and a new Continental Army force, he reestablished the government. In January 1782, he resigned the governorship and took a seat in the lower house of the legislature. He never recouped the financial losses he suffered during the war.

In 1782-83, Rutledge was a delegate to the Continental Congress. He next sat on the state chancery court (1784) and again in the lower house of the legislature (1784-90). One of the most influential delegates at the Constitutional Convention, where he maintained a moderate nationalist stance and chaired the Committee of Detail, he attended all the sessions, spoke often and effectively, and served on five committees. Like his fellow South Carolina delegates, he vigorously advocated southern interests.

The new government under the Constitution soon lured Rutledge. He was a Presidential elector in 1789 and Washington then appointed him as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but for some reason he apparently served only a short time. In 1791, he became chief justice of the South Carolina supreme court. Four years later, Washington again appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, this time as Chief Justice to replace John Jay. But Rutledge’s outspoken opposition to Jay’s Treaty (1794), and the intermittent mental illness he had suffered from since the death of his wife in 1792, caused the Federalist-dominated Senate to reject his appointment and end his public career. Meantime, however, he had presided over one term of the Court.

Rutledge died in 1800 at the age of 60 and was interred at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston.

South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge opposes independence

On June 28, 1776, Edward Rutledge, one of South Carolina’s representatives to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, expresses his reluctance to declare independence from Britain in a letter to the like-minded John Jay of New York.

Contrary to the majority of his Congressional colleagues, Rutledge advocated patience with regards to declaring independence. In a letter to Jay, one of New York’s representatives who was similarly disinclined to rush a declaration, Rutledge worried whether moderates like himself and Jay could �tually oppose” a resolution for independence. Jay had urgent business in New York and therefore was not able to be present for the debates. Thus, Rutledge wrote of his concerns.

Rutledge was born in Charleston, to a physician who had emigrated from Ireland. Edward’s elder brother John studied law at London’s Middle Temple before returning to set up a lucrative practice in Charleston. Edward followed suit and studied first at Oxford University before being admitted to the English bar at the Middle Temple. He too returned to Charleston, where he married and began a family in a house across the street from his brother. As revolutionary politics roiled the colonies, first John, then Edward served as South Carolina’s representative to the Continental Congress. Neither Rutledge brother was eager to sever ties with Great Britain, but it fell to Edward to sign the Declaration of Independence and create the appearance of unanimity to strengthen the Patriots’ stand. At age 26, Edward Rutledge was the youngest American to literally risk his neck by signing the document.

Rutledge Family History

The Rutledge Family Reunion is a reunion of the descendents and their families of four African-American slave women who bore children by their slave master, Joseph (Joe) Rutledge in and around the area of LaGrange, GA.

These four women were named Annie, Frances, Lillie, and Lizzie.

In 1986, the idea to have a family reunion was discussed in Atlanta by Willie Roy Hutchinson**, Marian Kelly, Norma Gary, and Bernice Cook** - our Reunion Founders. From the beginning, their ultimate desire was to come together as a family unit on a happy occasion with the hopes that the reunion would continue to grow each year.

What we have come to know as the history of these four women, has essentially remained unchanged since first published at the first reunion in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987. It must have been quite a task for our first reunion planning committee to research the history of our slave ancestors, as it was not considered important enough to properly document in the historical archives. Here is a re-cap of the history of our ancestors, as we know it.

We don’t have much history on Annie as of this writing. All we know is the name of one child she had with Joseph Rutledge, which was Robert Rutledge and his descendants.

Frances was born in 1845 in an area between Gabittville and LaGrange, Georgia on the Rutledge Plantation. She became the cook and housekeeper for Joe Rutledge, owner of the plantation and the father of her seven children. She was known as being very aggressive, headstrong, and defiant.

Lillie was taken from a loving and secure home and moved into an atmosphere of slavery, pain, and suffering. She was a woman of great strength and love, which was demonstrated when she refused to allow the slave masters to separate her family. She bore eight children to Joe Rutledge.

Lizzie joined the Bethel C.M.E Church in LaGrange, Georgia on August 4, 1908. The author who researched this information, Martha Anderson, was quoted as saying that there was never another black person to become a member of that particular church. She bore four children to Joe Rutledge.

Locating information on the plantation and slave owners, however, is a bit easier. We have located some additional information on Joseph Rutledge and his immediate family. We did a search on the Internet and came up with the following information that coincides with Joseph Rutledge’s obituary, which was provided to us at a prior reunion, and the grave of his daughter, Mary, and grandson in Troup County, Georgia.

Joseph Rutledge was born about 1811 and died in 1892. His first marriage was to (Sarah) Jane Brooker. The two of them had a son named John Thomas Rutledge (born in 1832 in Troup County and died in 1912). John served in the military between 1861 and 1865 in the Civil War. They also had a daughter named Mary L. Rutledge Robertson, born on September 7, 1834 and died on December 22, 1865 along with her son. After Joseph's first wife died, he later married Sarah T. Oglesby and they had two sons named William Franklin Rutledge and Elmer Eugene Rutledge. Joseph’s parents were James Rutledge, Jr. (born August 28, 1786 in Wilkes County, Georgia) and Suzannah Sherrer (or Susanna Shearer). Joseph’s paternal grandparents were James Rutledge, Sr. and Ann Owens. James, Sr. was born in 1745 in Wilkes County and died in 1837 in Troup County. He served in the military between 1776 and 1782 in the Revolutionary War.

John Rutledge Wiki, Biography, & History

John and Elizabeth had 10 kids: Martha (1764–1816), Sarah (born and died 1765), John (1766–1819), Edward (1767–1811), Frederick (1769/71–1821/24), [7] William (?–1822), Charles (1773–1821), Thomas (born 1774 and died younger), Elizabeth (1776–1842), and States (1783–1829). [8]

With his profitable authorized profession, he was capable of construct on his mom’s fortune. On May 1, 1763, Rutledge married Elizabeth Grimké (born 1742). Rutledge was very dedicated to his spouse, and Elizabeth’s dying on July 6, 1792, was a significant reason behind the sickness that affected Rutledge in his later years. [6]

After ending his research, Rutledge returned to Charleston to start a fruitful authorized profession. At the time, many new attorneys barely scraped collectively sufficient enterprise to earn their livings. Most new attorneys may solely hope that they’d win well-known circumstances to make sure their success. [4] Rutledge, nevertheless, emerged virtually instantly as one of the vital outstanding attorneys in Charleston, and his providers have been in excessive demand. [5]

John took an early curiosity in legislation and infrequently “performed lawyer” together with his brothers and sisters. When he was 17 years outdated, Rutledge started to learn legislation underneath a person named James Parsons. Two years later, Rutledge sailed to England to additional his research at London’s Middle Temple. In the course of his research, he gained a number of circumstances in English courts. [3]

Rutledge was the eldest little one in a big household in Charleston, South Carolina. His father was Irish immigrant John Rutledge (Sr.) (1713–1750), the doctor. His mom, South Carolina–born Sarah (née Hext born September 18, 1724), was of English descent. John had six youthful siblings: Andrew (1740–1772), Thomas (1741–1783), Sarah (1742–1819), Hugh (1745–1811), Mary (1747–1832), and Edward (1749–1800). John’s early training was supplied by his father till the latter’s dying. The remainder of Rutledge’s main training was supplied by an Anglican priest. [2]

In 1789, President George Washington appointed Rutledge as one of many inaugural Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Rutledge left the Supreme Court in 1791 to develop into Chief Justice of the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas and Sessions. He returned to the Supreme Court, this time as Chief Justice, following the resignation of John Jay in June 1795. As the emptiness got here throughout a protracted Senate recess, Washington named Rutledge as the brand new chief justice by a recess appointment. When the Senate reconvened in December 1795, it rejected Rutledge’s nomination by a ten–14 vote. Rutledge resigned his fee shortly thereafter, and withdrew from public life till his dying in 1800. He holds the document for the shortest tenure of any Chief Justice. His was the primary Supreme Court nomination to be rejected by the Senate, and he stays the one “recess appointed” justice to not be subsequently confirmed by the Senate.

After briefly returning to Congress, Rutledge was appointed to the South Carolina Court of Chancery. He was a delegate to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, which wrote the United States Constitution. During the conference, he served as Chairman of the Committee of Detail, which produced the primary full draft of the Constitution. The following yr he additionally participated within the South Carolina conference to ratify the Constitution.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Rutledge established a authorized profession after learning at Middle Temple within the City of London. He was the elder brother of Edward Rutledge, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Rutledge served as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, which protested taxes imposed on the Thirteen Colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain. He additionally served as a delegate to the Continental Congress earlier than being elected as Governor of South Carolina. He served as governor throughout a lot of the American Revolutionary War.

John Rutledge (September 17, 1739 – July 23, 1800) was an American politician and jurist who served as one of many authentic Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and as its second Chief Justice. Additionally, he served as the primary President of South Carolina and later as its first governor after the Declaration of Independence.

Edward Rutledge

When asked to write a biography of Edward Rutledge I was excited because my grandmother, Valeria North Burnet, had done a masterful piece of detective work in documenting our family’s genealogy. She accomplished this in the 1920s with no typewriter and before the age of computers. With the help of a telephone and a great deal of letter writing, and then documenting everything, she produced a remarkable book that traced her forbears and those of her husband. My grandfather was directly descended from Thomas Heyward, Jr., and bore his middle name, Henry Heyward Burnet. He was collaterally descended from Arthur Middleton and Edward Rutledge.

Edward Rutledge was born in Charleston, South Carolina on November 23, 1749. He was the youngest son of Dr. John Rutledge, who emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina about the year 1735. A diligent Rutledge family historian on the internet has ascertained that Edward was the grandson of Thomas Rutledge who lived in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, about 65 miles southwest of Dublin.

Edward’s mother was Sarah Hert, a “lady of respectable family, and large fortune.” Sarah’s grandfather, Hugh Hext, came to South Carolina from Dorsetshire, England about 1686. Sarah’s father, also named Hugh, left to his “dearly beloved and only daughter” substantial lands inherited from the Fenwick family, two homes in Charleston, a 550 acre plantation at Stono, and 640 acres on St. Helen’s in Granville County.

Not a lot is known about the early years of Edward Rutledge, but we do know that he was placed under the tutelage of David Smith who instructed him in the learned languages. He was not a brilliant student, but his skill as an orator later in his life perhaps is due in part to this early experience. After this education Edward read law with his elder brother John, who was already a distinguished member of the Charleston bar.

When he was twenty years of age, Edward Rutledge sailed for England and became a student of law at the Temple. He had the experience there of listening to some of the most distinguished orators of the day, in court and in parliament, a precursor to his later ability. The Temple in London was an ancient institution for teaching law founded by the Knights Templar in the reign of Henry II in 1185. The Inner Temple, where Edward studied, became an Inn of Law in the reign of Edward III about 1340. The Temple was a prominent source for teaching law to many famous South Carolinians including Edward’s uncle Andrew Rutledge, Edward’s brothers John and Hugh, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Thomas Heyward, Jr. and several members of the Pinckney family.

Rutledge returned to Charleston in 1773 to practice law. He quickly gained recognition as a patriot when he successfully defended a printer, Thomas Powell, who had been imprisoned by the Crown for printing an article critical of the Loyalist upper house of the colonial legislature. Despite his youth (he was only 24 at the time) he earned a reputation for his quickness of apprehension, fluency of speech and graceful delivery.

Soon after he established his law practice Edward married Henrietta Middleton, the sister of Arthur Middleton who would also sign the Declaration of Independence. The couple had a son and a daughter, and a third child who died as an infant. After the death of his first wife in 1792, Rutledge married Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, a young widow. This marriage continued the inter-relationship among the signers of the Declaration, since two of Mary Shubrick’s sisters had married signers of the Declaration—one married Thomas Heyward, Jr. and one married Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Henrietta’s great-grandfather was Edward Middleton, who was born in 1620 and came to the Barbados in 1635 on the Dorsetand settled in South Carolina in 1678. He was Lord Proprietor’s deputy, assistant justice, and a member of the Grand Council from 1678 to 1684. Henrietta’s grandfather, the Honorable Ralph Izard, was born in England and came to South Carolina in 1682.

Rutledge enjoyed a happy home life and public success in the succeeding years. He was first elected to the Continental Congress and the South Carolina House of Representatives. In both bodies his increasing self-confidence and maturation of judgment brought him the esteem of the delegates.

In 1775 Rutledge seemed favorably disposed to the idea of independence. In his autobiography John Adams recalled, “In some of the earlier deliberations in Congress in May 1775, after I had reasoned at some length on my own Plan, Mr. John Rutledge (i.e., Edward’s brother) in more than one public speech, approved of my sentiments and the other Delegates from that State Mr. Lynch, Mr. Gadsden and Mr. Edward Rutledge appeared to me to be of the same mind.”

But when the debate began over Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence in June 1776 Rutledge was vigorously opposed. In a letter to John Jay, Rutledge wrote, “The Congress sat till 7 o’clock this evening in consequence of a motion of R. H. Lee’s resolving ourselves free & independent states. The sensible part of the house Opposed the motion…They saw no wisdom in a Declaration of Independence, nor any other purpose to be answered by it…No reason could be assigned for pressing into this measure, but the reason of every Madman, a shew of our Spirit…The whole Argument was sustained on one side by R. Livingston, Wilson, Dickenson & myself, & by the Powers of all N. England, Virginia & Georgia on the other.”

When a trial vote on independence was taken on July 1, the South Carolina delegates voted “no”. Rutledge then asked for a one day postponement of the vote and met with his South Carolina colleagues that night. He persuaded them to support Lee’s motion, and next day South Carolina reversed its course, making the official vote for independence unanimous, 12 to 0, with New York abstaining. Rutledge signed the Declaration in August, at age 26 the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In the stage play and then movie “1776”, the character of Edward Rutledge is portrayed as the leader in the opposition to the slavery reference in Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration. There seems to be no corroboration of this in the written record, although Rutledge proved to be a passionate defender of South Carolina’s state rights throughout his tenure in the Continental Congress. Later in his career, during his tenure in the South Carolina House of Representatives, he opposed the opening of the African slave trade. This provides a remarkable insight into his sense of belief in the dignity of all human beings, as his fortune had been built on the backs of slaves working on his rice plantations.

In June 1776, before the vote for independence, Rutledge was chosen to represent South Carolina on a committee to draft the country’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. Again, Rutledge shared his reservations about the Articles with John Jay. “I greatly curtailed it never can pass…If the Plan now proposed should be adopted nothing less than Ruin to some Colonies will be the Consequence of it. The Idea of destroying all Provincial Distinctions… …is…to say that these Colonies must be subject to the Government of the Eastern Provinces…I am resolved to vest the Congress with no more Power than what is absolutely necessary.” The Confederation was heatedly debated by the Congress for many months with regard to representation, state boundaries, taxation and the powers of the new central government. The Articles were not completed and signed until November 15, 1777, and were not ratified by the last state until 1781.

In September 1776 Edward Rutledge, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were selected by Congress to attend a meeting at the Billopp House on Staten Island, requested by Lord Admiral Richard Howe. The meeting was pleasant but nothing was accomplished.

After the meeting Rutledge wrote to his close friend General Washington, whom he greatly admired, to tell him about the meeting. “I must beg Leave to inform you that our Conference with Lord Howe has been attended with no immediate Advantages. He declared that he had no Powers to consider us an Independent States, and we easily discovered that were we still Dependent we should have nothing to expect from those with which he is vested. He talked altogether in generals, that he came out here to consult, advise & confer with Gentlemen of the greatest Influence in the Colonies about their Complaints…This kind of Conversation lasted for several Hours & as I have already said without any effect….Our reliance continues therefore to be (under God) on your Wisdom & Fortitude & that of your Forces. That you may be as successful as I know you are worthy is my most sincere wish…God bless you my dear Sir. Your most affectionate Friend, E. Rutledge.”

Rutledge continued to serve in the Congress, but illness prevented Rutledge from taking his seat in Congress in 1779, and he returned home. He was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Charleston Battalion of Artillery, and served under General William Moultrie in the victory over the British forces under Major Gardiner, driving them from Port Royal Island. A year later he was taken prisoner during the British siege of Charleston on May 12, 1780, along with Thomas Heyward and Arthur Middleton. Rutledge was held in a prison off the coast of St. Augustine for eleven months, and was exchanged in July, 1781. He began a long 800 mile journey to return home.

Edward Rutledge held a variety of distinguished public offices until 1798. He served in the South Carolina legislature from 1782 to 1798, and voted in favor of ratification of the U.S. Constitution in the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1790-1791. During his time in the legislature drew up the act which abolished primogeniture, worked to give equitable distribution of the real estate of intestates, as well as voting against opening the African slave trade, as mentioned earlier.

During this period the wealth of the Rutledge family increased substantially–his law practice flourished, and in partnership with his brother-in-law, Charles C. Pinckney, he invested in plantations.

Rutledge declined President George Washington’s offer of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1794, but ran for office and was elected Governor of South Carolina in December, 1798.

The accomplishments of Edward’s older brother, John Rutledge, rivaled those of Edward’s. John was an early delegate to the Continental Congress, President of South Carolina from 1776 to 1778, Governor of South Carolina in 1779, a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1789 to 1791 and was appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by President George Washington in 1795, despite his opposition to the Jay treaty with Great Britain.

In his person Rutledge was above the middle size and of a florid but fair complexion. His countenance expressed great animation, and he was universally admired for his intelligent and benevolent aspect. He was undoubtedly an orator of great power and eloquence, and a “genial and charming gentleman.”

Despite his many honors, the temperament and character of Edward Rutledge were sometimes controversial. In 1774 John Adams considered him “a peacock who wasted time debating upon points of little consequence.” He went on to describe him as “a perfect Bob-O-Lincoln, a swallow, a sparrow…jejune, inane and puerile.” Benjamin Rush, however, thought Rutledge to be a sensible young lawyer and useful in Congress, but also remarked on his “great volubility in speaking.”

Patrick Henry, by comparison, viewed Rutledge as the greatest orator among a group that included John and Samuel Adams, John Jay and Thomas Jefferson. It was said that the eloquence of Patrick Henry was as a mountain torrent, while that of Edward Rutledge was like a smooth stream gliding along the plain—that the former hurried you forward with a resistless impetuosity, while the latter conducted you with fascinations, that made every progressive step appear enchanting.

Edward Rutledge died in Charleston on January 23, 1800 while he was still Governor and was buried in St. Philip’s Churchyard Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. His loss was mourned by the people of Charleston and South Carolina, and impressive military and funeral honors were paid to him on the occasion of his death. In 1969 an historical marker was installed at the entrance to St. Philip’s Churchyard by the South Carolina Daughters of the Revolution, honoring both Edward Rutledge and Charles Pinckney. In 1974 the National Park Service designated St. Philip’s Church a national historical landmark.

Rutledge, John - History

The Van Buren Historical Society

Compiled by Clem Topping, Lester Lindsay, and Beulah Scott


Some lands in Iowa were opened to settlement in 1833, but the Blackhawk purchase, of which Van Buren County is a part, was not opened until Dec. 1836. Not everyone who bought land in those days expected to settle on it. Some buyers were land speculators. One such was Robert F. Barrett, for he owned in the late 1830’s, more than sixty-five tracts in Van Buren and Jefferson counties. On November 21, 1838, he bought eighty acres in the southwest quarter of section 7, of what is now Union township. Presumably he paid $1.25 an acre for it, because that was the going price for land gotten through the U.S. Land Office. Thus he became the first man to own a part of what is now the town ofBirmingham. But he didn’t keep it long. Records indicate that early in 1839 he sold it to John Harrison for $1.75 an acre. John Harrison, too, was evidently interested in profits from land. On June 27, 18398, he laid out the Original(town of) Birmingham, on the north forty acres of the tract of land he had gotten from Mr. Barrett. Records show that this plat was filed in the recorder’s office on the same date. Mr. Harrison divided the forty acres into sixteen blocks, laid out streets and alleys and allocated one black for a public square. He deeded the streets, alleys, and square to the public, platted the remaining fifteen blocks, and made ready to sell lots. For one specific instance: Harrison sold Lot 2 in Block 4 to one Sally Skinner for $70 on Dec. 22, 1840. Perhaps John Harrison dreamed himself to be an empire builder. At the least he was the founder of a town and this example indicates that his dream was coming true. (This propertylies just west of the present Farmer’s Store.)

As shown by this table, one could say that the rise in property value of the original town of Birmingham was meteoric.

This last figure assumes that all lots were of equal value and includes the value of the public square had it peen platted. By way of comparison to the present day the area of the town (now one square mile) had a 100% property value on January 1, 1970, according to the assessor’s records in Keosauqua, of approximately one million dollars.

Further evidence that Richard F. Barrett was a land speculator lies in the fact that on Oct. 15, 1840 he and his wife, Maria, gave to a lawyer, James W. Grimes, the power of attorney to “sell and convey by deed of general warranty any and all lands owned by us in Iowa.” This James W. Grimes later became the governor of Iowa, (1854to 1858)

Legal processes must have moved slowly in those early days for John Harrison’s warranty deed to the tract on which he laid out Birmingham was dated January 18, 1843 and filed a week later on January 25th, and James W. Grimes gave him this warranty deed as the legal representative of Mr. and Mrs. Barrett. Pieces of paper and word of mouth must have made up the evidence of many early transactions and carried much meaning if John Harrison could lay out a town and sell lots on land to which he did not have a legal title for almost four and one-half years after he started such activities.

Other additions were made to the town. Probably very soon after Original Birmingham was platted, North Birmingham Addition was made and other areas soon followed. Among these are Barnes I, Barnes II, Wiedners, Wilson’s Addition, Work’s Addition and Work’s Supplement. The writer does not know when the full one square mile area was finalized but remember when each of the roads leading into the town was marked with a sign at the edge of the town limits. These signs read: “Town of Birmingham” “Speed Limit 15 miles per hour”. This was probably about 1912 or 13 when the automobile was beginning to become a factor in the road traffic.

The following items are excerpts from a History of Van Buren County published in 1878.

“A man named Berry was the first settler in the town, although Dr. I.N. Norris passed over the land where the city now stands when the plat was all grass-grown. James Steel kept the first hotel here. The man Berry, referred to, was the first blacksmith. The first physician was William Miller and H.C. Clinton was the first lawyer.

A daughter of Dr. Norris was the first to be born, while the first death was a child of Titus Moss. Reuben Morse(Moss) son of Titus and Almira Sanferd Moss(2nd wife) was born August 4, 1831 and died May 14, 1839 (and is buried in the old Methodist cemetery east of the present schoolhouse). (Note-the school is now closed down).

Jacob Lawton was the first postmaster, and carried the mail to Winchester. (Winchester was on a stagecoach route so was possibly a receiving center for Birmingham mail).

Birmingham is an incorporated city. The first charter was dated June 1, 1856. The first meeting was held June 3. The first officers were: President, Joseph Talbott. Councilmen- J.B. Spees, J.N. Norris, E. Pitkin. Recorder-Robert Porter. Treasurer-Geo. Parker. A second charter was granted June 1, 1869 with H. Clay Clinton , Mayor. Robert Porter, Recorder. Joseph Graham, S.A. Bogle, C.C. Pleasant, F.B. Huffman and J.N. Smith, Councilmen. The present officers are Samuel Wilson, Mayor. Robert Porter, Recorder. Joseph Graham, Treasurer. George Deahl, Marshal. Councilmen- F. Eichelberger, H. Barnes, D. McMillen, Geo. Clinkenbeard and Newton Calhoun.

Next to the village of Bonaparte, Birmingham is probably the most important town in the county of Van Buren for extensive manufacturing.”

The industries of the town were: The mill- lumber, grist and flour a plow and wagon factory creamery tannery pork-packing plant woolen factory cheese factory Birmingham Enterprise.

It is difficult to believe today that for more than forty of its first years the only way to get in or out of Birmingham was either on foot or with transportation by oxen or horses. It was in late February, 1882 that the railroad track into town was finished and the first train came in on March 1, 1882. The railroad was known as the Ft. Madison and Northwestern. In later years this first narrow gauge railroad came into ownership of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Company and was changed tostandard width track in 1891. At one time Birmingham’s railroad extended from Ft. Madison to Ottumwa and came to be known as the “Peavine”. The origin of this name is unknown. With the coming of paved highways and motor trucks, hard times fell on branch railroads and they began to be abandoned. The track from Birmingham to Batavia was taken out in the 1940’s and in 1955 it was taken out from Stockport to Birmingham so that now the town is without a railroad as it was in its early history.

In the matter of education the town was active, as it was in industry. Dr. Norris taught the first school. This school was evidently built before Original Birmingham was platted for Dr. Norris taught in it in 1838-39.

An academy was established in 1857 by a United Presbyterian preacher, Rev. McArthur. This academy was called “ The Collegiate Institute” and is referred to in some sources as a college. As such it can claim to be the onlycollege ever established in the county. It was promoted as a stock company and finally ended up in the ownership of Prof. J.W. Wolf. Many of the leading citizens of the community during the boyhood of the writer had received most or all of their higher education at Wolf’s Academy. But the coming of the public school finally drove Wolf’s Academy out of business. The public school was established in 1871 and in a few years high school courses were added to it. The first graduating class from the Birmingham High School, in 1888, consisted of just one member, Elmer Moore, who, unfortunately, died just a short time before his graduation day.

On May 25, 1890 the Alumni of the school, which consisted then of twelve persons, met at the home of Dr. W.W. Nelson, father of one of the members, and organized the Birmingham High School Alumni Association. They have met every year with possible exception of one or two of the World War years and are still a strong and active organization after more than eighty years. They are without doubt the oldest high school alumni association in the county and possibly could well challenge any such organization in the state for the honor of being the oldest and longest active of such groups.

From all the various sources of its early history, one gains the impression that the boom years for Birmingham were very likely the1850’s for then its industries were being established and it was rapidly gaining population by the new settlers who were being attracted to it. The town had its largest population in the 1870’s with about 700 residents. Today its population is about 450.

The story is told by descendants of the Norris family that Birmingham received its name as the result of an incident at a spelling match at the first school conducted in the Birmingham area by Dr. I.N. Norris. A child was asked to spell the name Birmingham(a city in England) and he spelled it “Burmingham”. He was much discomfited and embarrasses by the incident that Dr. Norris later remembering it, when he helped John Harrison plat the town, suggested that it be given this name. If this be the fact the suggestion was evidently well received.

The following letter was received this August, 1971 by Clem Topping and speaks for itself:

I and my family were in Birmingham Aug. 14. We had a nice talk with the lady who works in the postoffice. She said you were having a celebration in Oct.

My grandfather laid out the town of Birmingham, so the town makes a lot of interest to me. Am sending you the story of their trip from Ohio to Oregon. Hope you will enjoy it as it is interesting, sure has been for me.

My father was Archibald McNair Harrison. Born May 24, 1832. Died April 27, 1916.

John Harrison was born in Fayette county Penn. March 14, 1802. Later he moved to Holmes county Ohio where he married Jane Miller. Their marriage being the first to take place in the newly formed county. Later he moved to Iowa where in June 1839 he laid out the town of Birmingham. Then in April 1846 (7 years later) he formed a company and set out for Oregon. Arriving (there) at a time when the city of Portlandwas but a group of wig-wams and log huts. He owned and operated the first grist mill in the state in Yamhill county.

EARLY NEARBY TOWNS In the early history of Van Buren County, about forty towns were realized or dreamed so naturally some of them were close to Birmingham. PARKERSBURG

The government surveyors of 1837 set out in their notes that they found this town in the northwestern part of section 17, Union Township, which would be about one mile southeast of the present town of Birmingham.

Winchester, about three miles southeast, was at one time a rival of Birmingham but in the days of the coming of the railroads most of its leading citizens opposed having a railroad and the town soon after started to decline. In stage-coach days it had a population of probably two tothree hundred people for it had forty dwellings. There were several stores one was a drugstore, a hotel, and four churches. One of Winchester’s most famous organizations was the Anti-Horse Thief Association. It was founded April 11, 1848 and lasted until April 3, 1937 when it was disbanded. Today the only evidences of early Winchester are its well kept cemetery and the fallen rubble of the Anti-Horse Thief building and the Methodist Church.

Kilbourne is about five miles south and a little west of Birmingham. It never exceeded Winchester in size but there is more evidence today of its past than at Winchester. It was established as Philadelphia in 1839. The Van Buren county history of 1878 states-”Nothing ever became of the place outside of a “paper town.” However, this history calls it Kilbourne. One of its claims to fame is that in 1832 two early hunters or explorers, William Phelps and Peter Avery, camped for the winter at the confluence of Lick Creek and the Des Moines river, which place is very close to the present village. One of the characters of Phil Stong’s novel “State Fair” is said to be based on “Peck” Stong, an early storekeeper of the place.

Collet, one mile and a few feet north of the Van Buren county line in Jefferson county, deserves to be mentioned as a nearby town because it was at this place, about four miles northwest of Birmingham, that the first railroad into our town ended. The story is told that there was a roundtable there on a switch-line where the engine was turned around so that it might be placed at the head of the train for the return trip to Ft. Madison and that this roundtable was pushed around by volunteer manpower which would come in from the surrounding community when the train arrived. The town never got beyond one or two houses and today it is open farmland and all but forgotten.

Charles Lloyd Moss was born in Cheshire, New Haven County, Connecticut, May 7, 1821. He was a son of Titus and Bedie (Dolittle) Moss. The family is of Scottish origin and came to Connecticut prior to the Revolution. The name is spelled in no less than four ways-Moss, Moose, Mors and Morse. The grandfather Joel Morse, was a lumberman and woolen manufacturer of Cheshire at which place Titus Morse was born in 1799. Titus Moss married and moved to Wayne County, New York in 1827, where he farmed. There his wife died at the age of 26. He remarried Almira Sanders and the family then moved to Kalamazoo County, Michigan in 1833. in1837 they moved to Iowa and bought a 320 acre farm, three-fourths of a mile southwest of Birmingham from James G . Ritchie and as soon as the land came into market, secured a patent from the government. They found only four families within five miles of where they settled.

Until he came of age, C.L. Moss worked for his father. In 1843 he married Miss Hannah Barnes who had come with her parents from Ohio to Iowa. After farming for a short time, he engaged in merchandising in Birmingham, from which business he turned to buying and selling livestock.

In 1850 he drove a team and wagon to California, reaching his destination in four months. For a year and a half he sold miner’s supplies at “Rough and Ready” Nevada County, California. Returning by way of Panama, and the Mississippi river, he reached Birmingham in 1851, some $5000.00 better off than when he started.

In 1853 Mr. Moss and E. Pitkin bought the saw mill and then built a large grist and flour mill adjoining. Later Mr. Moss became sole owner. In 1871 he added a cheese factory to his enterprises. His saw mill furnished a vast amount of timber for the Des Moines Railroads, whereby employment was furnished to thirty-five hands.

Mr. Moss was the first man to ship hogs from west of the Mississippi River. In December 1856, he shipped from Rome, Iowa, then the terminus of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, a full trainload of hogs (1837 hogs) and drawn to Chicago by two locomotives. He unloaded at Chicago, could not sell at a profit, so fed and watered and reloaded to go to Cleveland. There he had the same experiences at Chicago, so reloaded them and went on to Buffalo where he unloaded, fed, and rested before proceeding to New York. Themarket was good and he sold out, making $2000.00 clear profit. The event caused quite a stir among the stock dealers of that city, and at the opening of the Miles House ( a drover’s hotel) Mr. Moss was invited and made the honored guest of the occasion. Horace Greeley sent Mr. Robinson, a reporter for the Tribune to interview Mr. Moss and published an account of the man, his journey and enterprise.

Mr. Moss was still operating the mills at the time of his death in 1892.

Mr. and Mrs. Moss had eight children. One of them, Abbie, married E.J. Hoenshel, President of Holton College(1890) in Holton, Kansas. Their son, Wendell, went to live with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Moss, while he was quite young. With the help and advice of his Uncle Tom, Wendell entered the logging and sawmill business. He operated all over southeast Iowa, northeast Missouri and along the Mississippi river and had as many as three saw mills cutting lumber for him at one time. Wendell is now retired (1971) and is the last descendant of the Moss family living in Birmingham.

In the year 1851 Abel Bott and John Gwinn built a saw mill on the northwest corner at the present junction of Main Street and Highway No. 1. A huge chimney eighty-five feet high and containing 85,000 brick was built adjoining the saw mill. The brick for the chimney were burned at a kiln on the Glotfelty farm, just northwest of town. The chimney was built by a man named Berry, and it is said that on the day he finished the chimney, he stood on top of it on one leg and drank a pint of whiskey.

In 1853 C.L.Moss and E.L. Pitkin bought Mr. Bott’s share in the mill. In 1854 a grist mill was built in addition to the saw mill and in 1855 they were both burned to the ground. Within twenty-four hours the owners had men hired to rebuild both the saw mill and grist mill. It was a comparatively short time until both mills were running day and night and doing a better business than before the fire. In the new grist mill a carding machine was placed for the making of rolls and it was operated in connection with the other business from 1855 to 1860. In 1857-1858 a large addition was built to the grist mill and in 1860 C.L. Moss became the proprietor of all the mill property. In 1862, D.C. Cramer, a clothier, was taken into partnership by Mr. Moss, and they used the new addition to the mill for a woolen factory. The second floor was used for the work withthe looms, jack and 350 spindles being used. Mr. Cramer did the spinning and making of fine woolen blankets and other articles out of the raw wool. He was assisted by Roswell Beach of Fairfield from 1857 to 1861. Mr. Beach did all the carding of the wool. The woolen factory was not a success and Mr. Cramer sold out to Mr. Moss. The addition to the mills was now used for various purposes by Mr. Moss and finally it was converted into a sort of wagon factory or machine shop. Here wagon felloes, all kinds of wagon accessories-axles, tongues, spokes, lath chair seats and many other articles were made. The saw mill was running early and late getting out all kinds of lumber, frames, timbers, and bridge plank. Moss was shipping his products to all parts of the state by the car load and sold millions of feet of lumber. For years he kept sixteen yoke of oxen and eight or ten teams ofhorses in his business. About the year 1877 the chimney was leaning toward the west and a man by the name of Hickory Davis constructed a ladder on the inside of the chimney and took about twenty feet off the top. On Saturday, November 30, 1878, shortly after 1:00 p.m. the people of Birmingham were terrified by a cannon-like explosion and hurried from their homes to find that the boilers at the mills had exploded. The engineer, J.I. Withrow and James Morse, D.C.Cramer, Marshall Harbaugh, Al Dell(colored), Lewis Bonnet, CL Moss and S.B. Shott were in or near the mill at the time of the explosion but none was seriously injured. James Morse, who lives west of this city with his son Frank Morse, was a witness to the explosion and was standing only six feet from the boiler when it exploded. Mr.. Morse was bookkeeper in the mill for thirty years. When the mills were repaired new tenfoot boilers were made to order. The mills caught fire about 1880 and were considerably damaged. The damage was soon repaired and the mills continued to flourish. After the death of C.L. Moss in 1892 the mils were bought by Sam Arbough and John Parson. They operated as partners until the death of John Parson in 1907. After the Parson’s estate was settled, Sam Arbough became the sole owner and about 1920 razed both the chimney and building. Thus came and end to a business that had a big part in the development of the area.

No history of a town could be complete without a search through the available records for the first evidences of the religious faith that sustained the founding fathers as they carved their community out of the wilderness. Five different religious denominations had leading roles throughout the years in the development of Birmingham. Today the bells still toll in three active churches each Sunday morning extending an invitation to worship.

In 1837, through the efforts of Titus Moss, a Methodist congregation was organized. His log cabin home of peeled hickory logs served as the first church, with Rev. Robert Hawke, as minister. The Sunday School was first organized in 1841 and the sum of $10.00 was collected and spent for books.

The Birmingham Circuit of Methodist Churches was formed in 1842 with Joel Arrington and Moses Shinn as pastors. It consisted of Birmingham, Robertsons, Dustins, Colony, Widow James Winsells, Philadelphia(Kilbourne), Carrots, Keosauqua, Bentonsport, Bonaparte, Scotts, Utica, Washington, Widow Anderson’s, Newman’s, Winchester, and Busic’s. With protracted meetings the memberships in the circuits grew. The first church building of the congregation was completed in 1847 on a site east of the present school house. This is substantiated by the Methodist cemetery which is in evidence today. The church building was later purchased by the school district and used for a school for a number of years.

In 1865 the second church was erected at a cost of $700.00. This building burned April 3, 1893. The insurance of over $1400.00 furnished the beginning for another church which was dedicated January 21, 1894 at a cost of $3800.00 On Sunday, November 30, 1919, following the morning service, the church was again destroyed by fire, with only a few dishes and the silverware, property of the Ladies Aid Society, being saved. With an insurance settlement of $3300.00, the congregation again set to work to get a church building, but the days following the war saw high prices for everything and construction was postponed. The congregation for three years held services in the opera house which was owned by Orange Calhoun, who furnished not only the building but the care, lights, and fuel free. The cornerpost of the present edifice was laid June 11, 1922 and the church was dedicatedDecember 31, 1922 at a cost of $27,000.00.

In 1944, due to the shortage of pastors in the conference, the Birmingham and Stockport charges were combined. The Birmingham church in spite of its periods of stress, trial and tribulation has gone steadily forward and has for well over a hundred years, filled its place in the community life of Birmingham.

The Congregation of the United Presbyterian Church was organized as far back as 1839 at the town of Philadelphia (since called Kilbourne) by the Rev. George C. Vincent of Washington, Iowa. In 1841, Rev. David Lindsay moved from Reynoldsburg, Ohio and settled near there, becoming pastor. He was the great-grandfather of Alma and Lester Lindsay who live near Birmingham at the present time. Rev. Lindsay moved to Birmingham in 1844 and as the majority of the members resided there, by mutual consent the place of preaching was changedto Birmingham. It was organized with two Elders, Mr. Leech, and Doctor Miller afterwards Mr. S. Gould and Mr. William Collier were elected. The members numbered about thirty. Meetings were held during the summer months in Miller’s grove and during the winter services were conducted in different homes but this manner of worshipping was not very convenient or satisfactory either and the people awoke by saying we will build a church. In 1850 they succeeded in building a church in North Birmingham directly north of the public school building. This is also evidenced by the cemetery which is still there today. The structure was forty feet square, facing the south with two entrances. On the interior four large pine pillars reaching from the floor to the ceiling were placed in the middle of the church. It was heated by four boxstoves, two in the front and two in the back part of thechurch. There, on a cold breezy day, one could sing very appropriately, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”, and fully appreciate the line of thought. The seating capacity of the church was 600. Mr. Lindsay was an energetic worker, often walking many miles to fill appointments. He was known to walk to Keokuk to attend Presbytery. The salary was a mere pittance, accepting what the congregation saw fit to contribute. He remained until 1854. The congregation remained vacant until 1856 when the Rev. Samuel McArthur became pastor. A prayer-meeting and Sabbath School were started. Mr. McArthur did much for the cause of education as he was the founder of the College, called the Birmingham Academy. It was during Rev. McArthur’s pastorate that the union was effected between the Associate and the Associate Reformed Churches, then becoming the United Presbyterian Church.

After twenty-four years of worshipping in the church in North Birmingham, the people decided they needed something more modern to worship in. After due consideration the old building was sold to Mr. Newman, east of town, for a barn. A lot was then purchased in South Birmingham for the new church, and in 1874 the church was erected. It had a seating capacity of three hundred and was built at a cost of $2300.00 In 1893 a parsonage was erected and at the present time is the home of Clarence Crafton family.

In 1882 the pastor was Rev. George Warrington. He was the founder and editor of the Birmingham “Free Press” and was an earnest opposer of secret societies taking an active part in all measures to expose or overthrow their evil designs. Copies of his publication are on file inthe present Birmingham Public Library.

In 1916 the United Presbyterian Church was merged with the Presbyterian Church in Birmingham and the old United Presbyterian church building was razed. Source materials for a history of the earliest years of the Presbyterian church in the community are somewhat lacking. Unfortunately, the record book of the first few years has been lost. Some dates and other information are available from the minutes of Presbytery of that far-off date.

At the spring meeting of Presbytery in the year 1842 the church was received and entered on the roll as the Union Church of Winchester. An early history of Iowa Presbyterianism states that the church was organized by L.G. Bell, that famous pioneer of southern Iowa Presbyterianism who is credited with organizing a Presbyterian church in every county seat from Burlington to the Missouri river. From a manuscript volume containing the autobiographies of several early Iowa ministers of this denomination, we learn that L.G. Bell came to the Union church of Winchester partly because several families in the congregation had migrated from his former church in Zanesville, Ohio. Here, according to his own account, he was in charge of Winchester and Shiloh churches and received a salary of $300.00 per year, one-half from his congregations and one-half from the Board of Domestic Missions.

The first church building at Winchester of which we have record was of brick and was located between the Methodist Church building and the cemetery. In later years when this building was torn down, the material was sold and used to construct a brick dwelling northeast of Winchester. Later the growing population of Birmingham and some shift inmembership caused the Presbytery to divide the church into two, one at Winchester and the other at Birmingham. In 1856 the Winchester organization at their own request was dissolved and all the members and the records transferred to the Birmingham church. In 1853 the Birmingham portion of the congregation consisted of 38 members who were joined by seven new adherents at the time of their separate organization. When the Birmingham church was organized in 1853, the members worshipped for some time in a building which belonged to the Associate Presbyterian congregation. This church was located across the street from the present school building (Note-no longer used)..

In 1855 two lots were purchased in North Birmingham Addition, the site of the present church, and a new church erected which served the congregation down through the years until 1915 when the present church was built. The present church cost $11,500.00 and was dedicated debt free. (Note-This church was struck bylightening June 22, 1986 & a new one was built). Just prior to the construction of the present church, the old church was sold and removed from the lots to another location. Some years ago it was destroyed by fire.

The Birmingham Free Methodist Society was organized in 1871 with the Rev. B.F. Doughty serving as pastor. Services were first held in the old brick Academy and in 1873, a church building was erected. A number of years later an addition was built to the church to accommodate the increasing crowds. This buildingserved the congregation until August of 1948 when the old building was torn down and a beautiful new building was erected on the same site. The opening service was held in the new auditorium on Sunday, April 24, 1949. In 1963 an addition was built to the church almost doubling the seating capacity in the auditorium and the basement facilities.

The parsonage of the Free Methodist Church is located at the entrance to a beautiful fifteen acre camp ground at the west edge of Birmingham. This camp ground was known for years as the “Huffman Grove” and has been used by the Fairfield District for Camp Meeting purposes off and on since at least 1887. In the District Conference Minutes of 1897, it was spoken of as the “Old Camp Ground at Birmingham,” suggesting that it may have been used earlier than 1887. After much discussion and considerationgiven to a permanent camp ground it was decided to purchase the Huffman Grove at Birmingham at a cost of $1125.00 J.Graham, who represented the Birmingham site, secured pledges amounting to $440.00 of the purchase price from citizens of Birmingham. Lewis Mendenhall, A.S. Doughty and S.S. Stewart were appointed as the committee to draw up the articles of incorporation necessary to make the purchase, which articles were executed December 24, 1898.

The old well at the East of the tabernacle was dug by J.S. Booten and his brother, G.G. Booten, in August 1901 to save having to haul all of the water to supply the large crowds who attended the camp. The present tabernacle was built about 1905. Evidently, the crowds on Sundays were massive for an action was taken by the District Quarterly Conference, August 10, 1901 to “petition the Burlington Railroad Company not to run Sunday excursion trains to the Birmingham Camp Meeting, for the reason that it brings such a rowdy element to the camp ground.” The Fairfield Ledger published an account of the camp meeting in the horse and buggy days, stating that the trains and hacks were chartered to take the crowds to the camp meeting which numbered on Sundays, around 7000 people. An attendant at the camp stated that the horses and wagons lined the highway north of town for two miles. The camp ground was not used for a few years and the Fairfield District Conference decided in 1942 to deed the camp ground to the Iowa Conference as permanent conference camp ground on the condition that the conference would gradually improve the property. In compliance with this agreement, the tabernacle was completely repaired and the grounds landscaped. The present dining hall was built in 1944 and the Missionary Chapel in 1946. Rest rooms were provided in the basement of the dining hall and new wells bored in 1949 to increase the water supply. Some additional land was purchased in 1967. A yearly program of improvement is planned by the camp trustees which is making the camp one of the outstanding camp grounds in the middle west.

In 1880, a company of Sabbath (Seventh Day) Keepers in the vicinity of the Union Church and Douds met at Brother Ed Morrow’s for the purpose of organizing a church. These people had been diligently searching the scriptures. They were thoroughly convinced that the Ten Commandment should be their guide and that the fourth commandment was in equal importance with the other nine. There were fourteen men and women in attendance at this meeting among whom were William and Esther Greenfield, grandparents of Ruth McKee Canadaywho lives near Birmingham at the present time. At this meeting it was decided to build a church in Birmingham. In 1884 a lot was purchased from Mr. Hoagland for $200.00. The head carpenter for the new church was George Countryman and he was paid $625.00 to erect the structure. Ed Morrow assisted as well as several others and the building was completed and dedicatedon December 14, 1884. There was a good attendance for many years at this little church, but by 1963 the membership became small and the decision was made to close the church and unite with the Fairfield Church. The old church building has been turned into the Dorcas Welfare Center for the distribution of clothing and supplies. (Note-That building was torn down & a new church was built between Birmingham & Fairfield).

It is gratifying to any community to be able to tie itself in some way to national history. One of Van Buren County’s ties is with the life of Abraham Lincoln, and Birmingham is the community that claims this tie. Historians make much of the romance between Lincoln and Ann Rutledge.

Lincoln lived and boarded with the Rutledge family for a time when he clerked in the New Salem, Illinois store and it was in the Rutledge home that the romance between him and Ann (or Annie) began. In the summer of 1835 Ann contracted an illness (typhoid fever) which proved fatal and she died August 25th of that year. A few months later her father also died of the same disease.

They moved from New Salem to a nearby farm where the family lived for a year or so. In 1837 they came to Iowa-the mother and six living children. They settled on a farm next to the Jefferson-Van Buren county line, in Lick Creek Township, Van Buren county, about two and one-half miles due northwest of where the town of Birmingham was to be laid out two years after their arrival.

In “The Gate City”, a Keokuk newspaper dated January 16, 1898 an article entitled “Early Days in Iowa” relates the following:

“In the fall of 1838 J.N. Norris contracted to teach a subscription school taught in this section of the county. The school was in a small log cabin. It might be of interest to some of your readers to mention the names of some of his scholars. The most of them are gone.William, Elijah and Martha Redman: Nancy, Sarah, Robert and William Rutledge William andMcCray Parker Pattison, Emily, Rhoda and Jane Martin Jacob, David and Katy Ann Griffiths Joseph, Isaiah and Judah Foster C.L. James Mann and Reuben Moss Jane and James Bickford and others.”

These Rutledge children named above were sisters and brothers of Ann Rutledge. The other two children were Jane, the eldest child and John, the eldest son.

Two families living nearby came to be intertwined with the Rutledge family. Anthony T. Prewitt and family came to the area about 1843 from Lee county. On November 9, 1845 his wife died and the next year, October 14, 1846, Anthony married Nancy Rutledge. Mr. Prewitt died in 1864, and shortly after Nancy Prewitt and her children moved to Birmingham where she lived until after the death of her mother. The Plaskets came to the Rutledge neighborhood about 1838 and Robert married their daughter Sarah, probablysometime between 1843 and 1845 for Sarah died young in 1847.

The Rutledge family was active in both church and civil life. They were Cumberland Presbyterians and the church they attended was at the crossroads about a mile south of their homestead. The remains of this church with sheds added to it for farm uses still stands in the northeast corner of this crossroads on Woodrow land. A parsonage for its minister was across the road west from the church but it has been long gone. No one now living remembers when this church was active.

An article on Rutledge family history appearing in the October 13, 1921 issue of the Fairfield Ledger-Journal has these statements which attest to the civic activities.

“Out of regard he would naturally have for the family, Lincoln appointed Robert as provost marshal of the First Congressional district of Iowa during the war. He was sheriff of Van Buren county when he was appointed.”

When Mrs. Rutledge in her declining years moved to Birmingham to live with her daughter Nancy, the son John came into possession of the old homestead and lived there until his death in 1879. Mrs. Rutledge, who was blind the last twelve years of her life lived to be past 91. She died at her daughter’s home in Birmingham on December 26, 1878. A few years after this Nancy Prewitt moved toFairfield that her sons might attend Parsons College. One of her sons became a Presbyterian minister in California.

It would be interesting to know where in Birmingham Nancy and Mrs. Rutledge lived but the writer has found no local resident who knows or remembers this fact. There has been no descendants with the Rutledge name living in the area since probably the mid 1890’s.

Today the Rutledge farm is owned by Mace Clarridge and has been for many years. The Rutledge dwelling is completely gone. During the course of the fifty to sixty years that the Rutledges lived here, family burials were made in the Bethel cemetery one mile west of the farmstead. There are six marked Rutledge graves all in the eastern half of the cemetery. One of these is the gravesite of Mary Ann Rutledge, mother of the young manhood sweetheart of Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge. There, under a bit of the Iowa prairie that she came to know so well, Mother Rutledge rests from the long and often harsh pioneer life that earned her a niche in history. The grave, in the northeast section, is marked by a slender marble shaft and ninety years of time and weathering have already softened its sharp lines and began to dim its inscriptions which read:

The long history of political fights over Supreme Court seats

WASHINGTON -- Wondering when Supreme Court nominations became so politically contentious? Only about 222 years ago -- when the Senate voted down George Washington&rsquos choice for chief justice.

&ldquoWe are in an era of extreme partisan energy right now. In such a moment, the partisanship will manifest itself across government, and there&rsquos no reason to think the nomination process will be exempt from that. It hasn&rsquot been in the past,&rdquo University of Georgia law professor Lori Ringhand said.

This year&rsquos brouhaha sees Senate Democrats and Republicans bracing for a showdown over President Donald Trump&rsquos nominee, Neil Gorsuch. It&rsquos the latest twist in the political wrangling that has surrounded the high court vacancy almost from the moment Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.

Each side has accused the other of unprecedented obstruction. Republicans wouldn&rsquot even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama&rsquos nominee. Democrats are threatening a filibuster, which takes 60 votes to overcome, to try to stop Gorsuch from becoming a justice. If they succeed, Republicans who control the Senate could change the rules and prevail with a simple majority vote in the 100-member body.

As she lays out in &ldquoSupreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change,&rdquo the book she co-wrote, Ringhand said, &ldquoThere were more rejected nominees in the first half of the nation&rsquos history than in the second half. That controversy has been partisan in many cases, back to George Washington.&rdquo

&ldquoConfirmations have been episodically controversial,&rdquo said Ringhand, who is the Georgia law school&rsquos associate dean. &ldquoThe level of controversy has ebbed and flowed.&rdquo

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John Rutledge, a South Carolinian who was a drafter of the Constitution, was the first to succumb to politics. The Senate confirmed Rutledge as a justice in 1789, a post he gave up a couple of years later to become South Carolina&rsquos chief justice.

In 1795, Washington nominated Rutledge to replace John Jay as chief justice. By then, Rutledge had become an outspoken opponent of the Jay Treaty, which sought to reduce tensions with England. A year after ratifying the treaty, the Senate voted down Rutledge&rsquos nomination.

The rejected chief justice was partly a victim of his own design. He was among the drafters who insisted Congress should have a role in the Supreme Court appointment process, rather than leave it solely to the president, historian Henry Abraham wrote in his history of high court appointments, &ldquoJustices, Presidents, and Senators.&rdquo

Rutledge was not the last to get close to the lifetime appointment to the court only to see it yanked away. The most recent were Garland and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, whose nomination by President George W. Bush was withdrawn under pressure from conservatives.

In between, President John Tyler broke with the Whigs who controlled the Senate and couldn&rsquot even get a vote for three nominees. A fourth was rejected and only one of Tyler&rsquos choices ever made it to the court. A quarter-century later, following the Civil War, the Republican-dominated Congress actually abolished a Supreme Court seat rather than act on a nomination by President Andrew Johnson.

Even some who have made it to the court endured difficult confirmations. Justice Clarence Thomas faced questions about former colleague Anita Hill&rsquos claims that he sexually harassed her. Justice Felix Frankfurter&rsquos loyalty to the United States was questioned because of his birth in Austria, his Judaism and his affiliation with the American Civil Liberties Union.

But American politicians don&rsquot tend to look back so far. Democrats fixate on 1968, the last year of the Johnson administration, when Republicans and southern Democrats came together to filibuster the nomination of Abe Fortas to be chief justice.

Republicans point to 1987, when Democrats led the way in rejecting Ronald Reagan&rsquos nomination of Robert Bork for the high court. The 58-42 vote against Bork came after a full hearing and Senate debate.

Still, it&rsquos understandable for the public to see the Gorsuch fight as the product of a recent change in American politics.

Barbara Perry, a University of Virginia expert on the presidency, said she spoke about the confirmation process recently in Charlottesville, Virginia.

&ldquoA woman stood up and said, &lsquoWhen did the court become so political?&rsquo&rdquo Perry recalled. Around the founding of the country, she and a colleague replied, &ldquoor at least since we&rsquove had two political parties.&rdquo

First published on April 2, 2017 / 8:25 AM

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