|Robert C. Stirton
Born April 2, 1861
|Few if any of the legislators of the state of Iowa are more widely and more favorably known that Robert C. Stirton, who is frequently called the "real commoner." A man of the people, he has exerted his best talents in their behalf, and being a hardheaded, practical business man, who has achieved success in whatever field he engaged in, he did not leave the general assemblies of the state without leaving his mark upon their policies and acts. A self-made man in the best sense of the term, his is a life which might serve as an example to others, for there is no blemish upon his reputation or upon his character, his standing in the commercial world of his political record. Despite the fact of his English birth, he is a typical Iowan, and none of her native sons nor those of American parentage could be more devoted to its best interests.
Robert C. Stirton was born in Devonshire, England, April 2, 1861, a son of Robert and Anne Stirton, both natives of Scotland. The father, who was employed as a forester, died when his son was but two years old. The widowed mother thereupon took her family to Scotland, where they remained until 1871. when they emigrated to this country, locating first in Delaware county, Iowa. In 1873 they came to Monticello, which has since been the home of Robert C. Stirton. For several years lie worked upon farms in the vicinity of the town during the summer months, while he attended school in the winter, thereby acquiring a thorough and practical education. He was enrolled as a pupil in the hi-h school of Monticello and although he never graduated he took the examination for a teacher's certificate, having secured which he proved himself a competent instructor. In 1887 he was appointed assistant postmaster of the town but resigned that position after three years to enter the employ of G. W. & G. L. Lovell, the pioneer bankers of Monticello. In 1897, when the institution was reorganized tinder the state laws, he was made cashier of the concern, a position he holds to the present time.
In 1903 Mr. Stirton entered upon his political career, being in that year the candidate upon the democratic ticket in the Jones-Cedar district for state senator. Despite the fact that the district was strongly republican, he won by a majority of four hundred and seventy-one votes, sitting in the thirtieth, thirty-first and thirty-second general assemblies. What he did during those years any one may read, for there is nothing of which he or his constituents need be ashamed. He introduced the two-cent fare bill in the senate at the first session in which he participated; voted for the passage of the anti-pass law, which lost by only one vote, urged the Crossley primary election bill, which is the only bona fide bill of its kind introduced into the senate; voted for the resolution to elect United States senators by direct vote of the people, voted for the pure food law; voted for the law to prohibit and regulate child labor; and again voted for the anti pass bill, which, has now become a law. In short, while representing the people, lie strove by all means in his power to do what in his judgment he believed to be for their best interests. Upon the expiration of his term in the senate lie was made the democratic nominee for congress from the fifth district in the campaign of 1907, and in the campaign of 1908 he was his party's nominee from the fifth Iowa congressional district for presidential elector, an indication of the strength he holds in the ranks of his political brethren. who rightly regard him as a man who has won the confidence of the voters of the district in which he lives. While he does not lay claim to being an orator, he has the power to speak effectively when there is need, but it is as a man easy of approach, affable and sympathetic that he has won those who have come into personal contact with him.
At Cincinnati, Ohio, January 25, 1893, Mr. Stirton wedded Miss Agnes Russell, a daughter of the late Dr. Isaac Russell, of Monticello. Two daughters have been born to them: Agnes, now fifteen years of age; and Anne, who is twelve years old.
Mr. Stirton attends the services of the Congregational church, although he is not a member thereof, while fraternally he is connected with the Masons and the Modern Woodmen. He has been particularly active in the former. having served as master of the local lodge. In a political way he has also been signaled out by the citizens of his town and county, for he has acted as president and secretary of the Jones county fair and as president of the school board for a period of ten years. Should he again enter the political arena Mr. Stirton has little to fear on the score of support, for although this section is strongly republican, yet the record of his life, his public policy, his reputation as a man who adheres to the cause of the people who elected him, these and other qualities which have made his a character of strength and honorableness should win above party considerations.
Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 310.
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