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Theodore Clothier
Born July 30, 1840


Theodore Clothier, now living retired at Olin, Iowa, was born near Kempville, Ontario, Canada, July 30, 1840, being a son of John S. and Annie (Holden) Clothier, natives of Corinth, New York, where she was born in 1803 and he in 1805. They were there reared and married, having two children before their removal to Ontario, Canada. Three more children were born in their new home before they returned to New York state, settling in Oswego, where still another child was born. In 1847 they moved west to Winnebago county, Illinois. The next change was a trip back to Oswego, New York, but in 1851 they again went to Winnebago county, Illinois, and from there to Jones county, Iowa, where a settlement was made in Rome township. The spirit of the pioneer sent the family west to Nebraska in 1879, Theodore Clothier locating in Harlan county and the remainder in Hamilton county, where the parents died, the mother when ninety- three and the father when ninety-eight. By trade he was a carpenter. A lover of home, he took no part in public affairs aside from casting his votes first for the candidates of the Whig and later the republican party. His first republican vote was for Fremont, his last for McKinley. The children born to John S. Clothier and wife were six in number, as follows: Smith is now residing in the Soldiers Home at Marshalltown, Iowa, having served in the Second Illinois Volunteer Artillery during the Civil war; Cynthia Ann married William H. Blackmar and died when thirty years old, leaving two children; Theodore is the third in order of birth; Thurlow lives in Hamilton county, Nebraska, on the first farm which his father there purchased; Sabrina E. married Albert H. Colby of Pleasant Valley township, Jones county, but now a resident of Cotesfield, Howard county, Nebraska; and Horatio lives in Olin, Iowa.
Theodore Clothier began working with his father at the carpenter trade when fourteen years old, following that vocation until he attained his majority, when he rented a hotel and operated it for some time. Afterward he engaged in business as a contractor and builder until his retirement.
Mr. Clothier has a splendid war record, enlisting August 12, 1862, in Company G, Thirty-first Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and participated in the siege of Vicksburg, the battles of Jackson, Champion Hills, Black River, Missionary Ridge, was in the Atlanta campaign, the march to the sea, then on through the Carolinas to Washington, where he participated in the grand review. He was in a number of other engagements and was one of the twenty-three of his company who survived to return home. He was with his command continuously and participated in every engagement in which it took part. He is now a member of Don M. Carpenter Post, No. 191, G.A.R., of Olin. He is also a charter member of the Knights of Pythias, at that place, belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is active in lodge work. For forty years he has been a member of the Methodist church, and his political views make him a republican.
On August 9, 1860, Mr. Clothier married Nancy Marsh, who was born in jasper county, Indiana, July 5, 1843, and was brought to Jones county, Iowa, in 1857 by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus Marsh. She died January 13, 1903. The following five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Clothier: John Cyrus born May 20, 1861, died as the result of an accident, March 13, 1904, leaving a widow and two daughters; Theodora, born September 1862, while her father was serving his country, died when ten months old and he never saw her; Elmer E., born in 1866, is the publisher of the Railway Bridge and Building Magazine and is a foreman on the Milwaukee Railroad, being a carpenter by trade; Annie E. is the wife of W. F. Glick, of Anamosa; and Freeman Smith died in infancy. All the children were born in Olin, Iowa.
Mr. Clothier's life has been filled with exciting incidents. In 1859, when a lad of nineteen, he left his home in Winnebago county, Illinois, and went to Pike's Peak with an ox-team. As there was so much danger anticipated from the Indians, people traveled together, and there were forty wagons in the band joined by Mr. Clothier. Leaving Omaha in the spring he reached Pike's Peak in due time, returning the same fall to find his father and family making ready to move to Iowa. He made the trip with them and, reaching this state, secured employment as a mail carrier. His trip took three days, he covering forty miles per day and continuing this work for two years. He has met with four seemingly fatal accidents, being blown up by a discharge of powder; was nearly drowned; was one out of five who were poisoned in Benton Barracks and as the only one to survive a stroke of lightning, but the last accident has left its mark, from which he feels he can never fully recover. It happened June 11, 1870, near Stanwood, Cedar county, Iowa. The sky was almost cloudless when the lightning struck Mr. Clothier and charred his body so badly that he was regarded as dead. So terrible was it that a rule he carried in his hip pocket had its brass ends completely melted, as were his keys, the ring to which they were attached and a nail set and the blades of his knife. However, he was resuscitated and has outlived his wife.
The scars of this terrible experience remain, however. The horse he was riding when struck was killed instantly. For many years Mr. Clothier received letters asking that he explain the accident. Finally the case attracted such universal interest that the New York Electrical Review under February 13, 1895, came out in a long article giving an account of it in detail, publishing a letter from Mr. Clothier. In it he expresses the fear that he will lose his sight as a result of his terrible experience and therefore no longer be able to see his wife. This is pitiful in view of the, fact that she has passed away, leaving her afflicted husband to bear his burdens alone.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 109.

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