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June 9, 1841â€“May 20, 1920
|William, son of Henry and Mary Wildermuth Alspaugh, was born in Morrow county, Ohio, June 9, 1841, and died in Anamosa, Iowa, May 20, 1920, at the ripe age of 78 years, 11 months and 11 days. He came with his parents to Iowa in 1854 and located on a farm in Jackson township, Jones county. In 1857 his father died, leaving the care of the farm to him and a brother two years his senior.
In those pioneer days schools were few and far between. For four years there was no school within reach of the family; after that the boys attended school in the winter season and cared for the farm in the summer. In 1862 William entered Cornell college, intending to finish the course, but the disastrous event of the Civil War that year decided otherwise. He reasoned, "If enough of us enlist we can the sooner put a stop of this awful carnage." On Sept. 13, 1862, he enlisted in the Sixth Iowa Cavalry and spent the following winter in Davenport in training camp.
The boat was at the wharf to convey the regiment to St. Louis, in the spring of 1863, when the command came for the regiment to report at Sioux City, because of the Indians on the frontier. Thus his services were rendered in a conflict with the savages of the northwest instead of in the southland. In Sept., 1863, at the battle of White Stone Hill, N. Dak., he suffered a bullet wound in the leg and a slight scalp wound from an arrow, when twenty three of his comrades were literally cut to pieces by the ruthless foe. He was discharged from his army service in Oct., 1865, and returned to his care of the home farm.
On the 27th day of May, 1866, he was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Conmey, recently from Pennsylvania, whose wise counsel and true wifely devotion have brightened the intervening years and demonstrated again her right to be counted his helpmeet indeed, and she only is left of his close relatives. In the spring of 1874 he left the farm and located in Anamosa, because of impaired health. For thirteen years he dealt in farm and dairy products and retired from business in 1887. Although in frail health for more than thirty years, no day passing without physical pain, he acquired a comfortable competence for his old age.
Mr. Alspaugh's nature was intense—to his own hurt. Of strictest business integrity himself, he had small patience with the business shortcomings of others. He fulfilled the injunction, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." "This one thing I do," characterized his every understanding. It was ever said of him, "Whenever Alspaugh does a thing he does it right." The minor offices he held in military and civil life were administered with painstaking fidelity.
In his home life he never thought of self. He carried every burden and performed every unpleasant task. His were the "beautiful hands."
Mr. Alspaugh idealized womanhood. He had small patience with the man who let the woman carry a burden the man might have borne. His sympathies were with the weak and the helpless, as evidenced by his political affiliations. His friendships were deep and lasting. He entered into them as he entered into everything else, with his whole heart. An army comrade, whom he had nursed through a long Dakota winter, whom he visited in Kansas during that comrade’s last illness, burst into tears when he saw him and exclaimed, "I would rather see you than any man living."
Brother Alspaugh united with the Methodist Episcopal church in 1870. While not participating largely in the activities of the church himself, he encouraged such activities in the family, and was generous in his support of all lines of church work. Our new church building might fitly be called his monument, as he was made head of the building committee. He entered into its construction with all the zeal of his nature. His motto, "The best material and the best workmanship," strictly adhered to was not so profitable to the contractors as it was to the church. The building speaks for itself. For one whole year he superintended every detail, putting in as long hours as the workmen. The strain was too great, and more enfeebled health was the result. He never regained his former vigor.
Mr. Alspaugh showed his interest in higher education by his gifts. He set apart $3,000 to endow a scholarship and other benefits in Cornell college; $1,000 to the Adaline Smith Home, Little Rock, Ark., a school for colored girls in charge of the W.H.M.S.; $1,000 to the W.F.M.S.; $1,000 to the Children’s Home Society, of Des Moines, $500 to the Conference Claimants Fund of the U.I. Conf., and $500 to the cemetery.
The last years of his life were somewhat clouded by his severe afflictions and infirmities which rendered him irresponsible for either word or deed to a large extent. But the years of his responsibility secure his character against any irresponsible acts he may have performed.
The funeral services were held in connection with the Memorial services in the Methodist Episcopal church, on Sunday morning, May 23.
In the absence of his pastor, a former pastor, Rev. L. L. Lockard, conducted the service, and the body was laid to rest in Riverside.
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