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Edgar Sheldon

The death of Edgar Sheldon, one of the oldest  pioneer citizens of Ringgold County, occurred November 30, 1924, at the home of his son, F.E. Sheldon in this city, where he has made his home during his declining years.  Had Mr. Sheldon lived until the 5th of December, 1924, he would have attained the age of 92 years.  He was born near Mantua, OH in 1832.  On Friday evening of last week he sustained a fall in the home and was injured about the head, and while the injuries might not have proven fatal to one of younger years, he was unable to rally from the effects of the shock by reason of his advanced age, and passed away on Sunday morning.  His death marks the passing of one of the oldest pioneer citizens in Ringgold County, with perhaps the exceptions of Mrs. M.M. Lesan of this city and L. O. Imus of Liberty township.  Mr. Sheldon belongs to that sturdy and strong type of pioneers who had so much to do with the development of the great middle west and the commonwealth of Iowa.  His life spans the greatest historical period in the nation’s history, and he contributed his full share as a pioneer and a citizen to the growth and development of his state and nation.  It is often asserted by the descendants of these pioneers that this early period produced a stronger and more virile type of men and women than has since been produced.  Be that as it may, such strong men as Edgar Sheldon and his personal and intimate friends of the days long since gone, at least add color to the assertion.  Among Mr. Sheldon’s old friends of the pioneer period who have gone to their reward can be mentioned such strong characters as Capt. Johnston, John D. Carter, Elihu Cornwall, Judge I. W. Keller, Ith S. and A.G. Beall, Asher Lorimor, Mordecai Smith, Asa Ames, Barton Dunning, Alex Blackmore, Allen Hagans and scores of others who cannot now be recalled.  Mr. Sheldon came to Iowa from his Ohio home in 1852 and located in Lee County, removing to Washington County the next year.  He first came to Ringgold County in the spring of 1853.  The trip was made on horseback with the object of spying out the land.  Ringgold County must have looked like a Land of Promise to him for he returned again in the spring of 1854 and entered forty acres of timber land and purchased the northeast 1/4 of section 2 in Tingley Township from the government at $1.25 an acre.  He then returned to Washington County and was married to Matilda Baker, the marriage ceremony being performed at the home of the father Hon. C.C. Bosworth, of Tingley, lately deceased.  On either his first or second trip to Ringgold County, when he reached Chariton…then called Fort Chariton…he heard rumors of an Indian uprising in Ringgold and Union Counties.  It was just at that time that a remnant of the Pottawattamie tribe was roaming over the prairies of southwestern Iowa, and it was reported that an Indian had killed a white settler in Sand Creek Township of Union County.  The Indians were soon compelled by the white settlers to move further westward.  But not daunted by fears of an Indian massacre, Mr. Sheldon pushed on from Fort Chariton to his new home on the quarter section purchased from the government, and here he raised a family of eight sons and resided until the death of his wife in 1883.  This farm has always been known as the “Sheldon Place” and Mr. Sheldon or his sons have held title to it until the year 1919 when it passed into other hands for the first time in sixty-five years.  Mr. Sheldon’s early years were passed near his birthplace at Mantua, OH.  He attended school at Hiram College where he was a fellow student with President James A. Garfield and knew him intimately.  He had splendid educational advantages for those early days and made the best of his opportunities.  He was therefore well equipped to take a prominent and leading part in the civic affairs of Ringgold County during its formative period when strong leadership was so essential.  It is not strange therefore that he was chosen as the first superintendent of schools in this county, which office he filled with credit.  He was also a member of the board of county commissioners when the county comprised only three districts. He also served as surveyor of the county from 1884 to 1890, when that office was an important one and men capable of holding it were few.  Mr. Sheldon was not a man to seek office, being of a retiring disposition, but such honors were thrust upon him.  At the earnest insistence of his friends in the northern part of the county he was prevailed upon to accept the office of county auditor, which position he filled with ability from January 1, 1890, to December 31, 1894, when he refused to become a candidate for re-election.  In 1896 he was again married to Mrs. Martha Sheldon, of Garretsville, OH, and lived there until her death fifteen years later.  He then returned to Mount Ayr to make his home with his son, where he has since resided, and where he has been tenderly cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon and the children in the home.  The deceased was a great reader and student of history, but was deprived of his joy in the last years of his life by impaired vision, which finally resulted in blindness about a year ago.  But he was a great lover of nature and the soil and found pleasure and enjoyment  for years during the summer months in caring for his garden which was always a model one.  During the last two summers his failing strength has even deprived him of this pleasure, and he has been confined to the house most of the time except for an occasional walk.  But his mind remained strong until the last, and no person could discuss pioneer days and the early history of the nation more entertainingly than he could.  In his mind was stored up a great wealth of information which he would readily give forth if he thought the listener was interested.  It is to such pioneers as Mr. Sheldon that the present generation owes so much, for they endured the hardships incident to pioneer life and laid strong and secure the foundation of the republic.  We may well pause and bow with reverent heads as the bell tolls the departure of such stalwart pioneer citizens.  Mr. Sheldon was the father of eight sons, five of whom survive him. They are M.L. Sheldon of Pittsburg, KS; O.E. and C. B. of Upton, WY; F.E. Sheldon of Mount Ayr and S.B. Sheldon of Lemoore, CA; Newell, Henry and Junian preceded him in death.  He leaves thirty grandchildren, and thirty-three great-grandchildren.  The funeral services were held from the home of F.E. Sheldon on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30, conducted by Rev. W. L. Thornburg, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church and interment was in Rose Hill Cemetery.

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