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John J. Steadman of Iowa

By Kathryn Hall | February 12, 2010

John J. Steadman (1849-1941)

The following is an excerpt from Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa: Leaders in Business, Politics and the Professions (Benjamin Gue and Benjamin Franklin Shambaugh, 1899). I am including because John J. Steadman is the son of Reverend John Judson Steadman, a founding Methodist Episcopalian minister, mentioned in previous post. Current posts are dedicated to unlocking the mystery of Mercy Stedman/Steadman’s background. KH

Steadman, John J. of Council Bluffs, wa bron in Ashtabula county, Ohio, April 4, 1849. He is the son of Rev. John J. Steadman, who was during his lifetime one of the most distinguished divines of the Methodist church. A preacher of great ability, a debater of renown, he became famous during the discussion of the slavery question that agitated the country more than half a century ago. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, he and Rev. Hiram Kinsley met on the forum the most pronounced advocates of slavery, and history records that in all their public debates not once where they vanquished. As a promulgator of the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal church, no man of his time excelled him. His public discussions with Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Christian Church, are referred to in Ohio today as the most interesting and beneficial to the cause of Methodism. He belonged to a type of stalwart theologians not today much in evidence, because of the changed condition of public sentiment on matters of religion and the rights of men.

Mr. Steadman’s mother’s maiden name was Lydia Reader. She was well educated for the times in which she lived, and possessed mental qualities and Christian graces that made her one of the forceful women of her day. Born and reared in Ohio, she naturally acquired strong anti-slavery ideas, and during the days preceeding the war sought to impress upon her children–two daughters and three sons–an ardent love of country, due regard for the rights of all men and firm religious convictions as the safe anchor for success in life.

John J. Steadman was scarcely three years old when his father died, in 1851. As is usually the case with Methodist ministers of early date, not much of worldly wealth was left the wife on which to rear and educate her five children. To obtain an education was Mr. Steadman’s great ambition. It is related of him by the citizens of West Farmington, Ohio, where he was brought up, that he did odd chores to pay his tuition’ that he worked on the farm in vacation, and, in fact, did whatever he could find to do in order to obtain the means to complete a course of study at Western Reserve Seminary at West Farmington, Ohio, from which he was graduated with honors at the age of nineteen years, in both classical and scientific courses. After his graduation from the seminary he taught school in the city of Niles, Ohio, one year, and then entered Mt. Union College, at Alliance, Ohio, from which he graduated in 1869.

During his school days at Farmington the War of Rebellion broke out. Young Steadman became impressed with the idea he ought to join the army, and after two or three trials succeeded, by the aid of friends, in being accepted as a drummer in the One Hundred and Seventy-first Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served with his regiment until the war closed. Before he enlisted his services were much in demand on the Western Reserve as an orator at war meetings, when recruiting officers were enlisting men for the army.

After his graduation from Mt. Union College Mr. Steadman was elected principal of West Springfield Academy in Pennsylvania, a school of considerable standing and large membership of students. During this time he was married to Miss Darcie Garretson, of Mt. Union, Ohio, a member of his class, who graduated with class honors and subsequently became a teacher of mathematics in the institution over which her husband presided. A successful period at this academy opened the way to a higher call, and Mr. and Mrs. Steadman went to Carrier Seminary and Normal School in Clarion, Pennsylvania. They remained in charge of this institution of learning for three years, until, health demanding a change of work for both, they turned their faces toward Iowa, the state of their adoption, and in 1873 Mr. Steadman bought the Osceola Sentinel, which he edited until he purchased the Creston Gazette in 1877. During his connection with the Osceola Sentinel, he was elected district delegate from the Seventh Congressional district to the Republican National Convention, which met in Cincinnati in 1876.

He owned and edited the Creston Gazette for seven years, and during that time founded the Daily Gazette. The Creston Daily and Weekly Gazette, under his management, developed into one of the most prosperous newspaper plants in the state and obtained a prestige among editors which it has ever since maintained. In 1884 Mr. Steadman purchased an interest in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil. This paper he edited for several years, retiring only when forced to do so by impaired health. During the years he was connected with the Osceola Sentinel, the Creston Gazette and the Council Bluffs Nonpariel, he was actively engaged on the stump in every political campaign, both national and state. His active work as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic made him a popular candidate for Department Commander of that great organization. In 1892 he was elected to this high responsible office, and so efficiently did he discharge his duties that a double testimonial was bestowed upon him, one by his comrades and one by the state encampment. In 1892 Mr. Steadman was appointed clerk of the United States district court for the southern district of Iowa. Mr. Steadman has always been a republican, prominent in the councils of the party and honored because of his ability to defend its principles, both in the newspaper and on the stump. He has prospered financially and today ranks among the solid and successful business men in Iowa.

~published in 1899

Topics: Brick Wall: Mercy Stedman | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “John J. Steadman of Iowa”

  1. Antonia Says:
    February 14th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” -Marcus Garvey~ Thanks for all of the research and Wonderful posts!

  2. admin Says:
    February 14th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Thank you so much for your kind acknowledgment and the beautiful quote!