|Dr. Martin H. Calkins
September 15, 1828–September 27, 1909
|The subject of this memorial was born near the town of Mexico, Oswego County, New York, September 15th, 1828, and was of Mayflower lineage and colonial ancestors both on the maternal and paternal side. He was educated in the common schools and at the age of seventeen began teaching in the country schools; later in the city of Oswego. He read medicine in a local doctor's office while in Oswego, then took a course in the College of Medicine in Geneva, N.Y., finishing his course in the Medical University of New York City, and began his practice at Constantia, New York.
He was married November 5th, 1855, to Miss Lucinda Loudon of North Bay, Oneida County, New York. In the spring of 1856 he moved west to the new state of Iowa, stopping a few weeks at Maquoketa, and June 14th, 1856 came to Wyoming, then a town of not over a dozen houses but hopeful and growing rapidly, and the surrounding country not only a most beautiful rolling prairie but also rapidly gaining in settlers who were busily engaged in breaking up the virgin soil and laying the foundations of the costly homes and farms in Jones County.
The young doctor built a dwelling on a block cornering on Main and Washington streets, modest in size, and the building material about all black walnut cut from the groves along Bear Creek or on the Maquoketa. And here, upon this lot, but in a more pretentious mansion, built in later years, Dr. Calkins resided and practiced his chosen profession for nearly fifty years before he gave up to the infirmities of age and rested from professional labors. As a physician he was eminently successful and held his very large practice perhaps as much by his social, genial strength of character and magnetic influence and the sunshine that always entered the sick room with his presence, as by the administering of drugs. His personality was a force for good not only in the sick room but in the entire growing community, and he was looked up to as a safe advisor and true counsellor. During his long practice he was faithful to all calls responding cheerfully, and we have no knowledge or remembrance of his ever pressing his patients for fees or invoking the courts to assist him in collecting from those who perhaps should pay but did not. It can never be truthfully said of him that he oppressed the poor or failed in performing fully every obligation imposed upon a medical practitioner, and because of these characteristics he had the love and respect of the people.
In 1862, acting as mustering officer, he administered the oath of allegiance and mustered into the state militia a company of eighty-nine men, who afterward formed Co. K of the 24th Iowa Infantry, and served their country during the civil war. He also acted as one of the state commissioners in the years 1862-3 to go to the southland and take the vote of the soldiers then in the field.
Dr. Calkins had little of the politician in him and never sought office. But when the town of Wyoming was incorporated he was unanimously chosen mayor, and in 1881 was nominated as the republican candidate to represent this country in the lower house of the state legislature; the democrats made no nomination and the doctor was unanimously elected. Two years later he was re-elected and although opposed by a leading democrat polled a very large majority, and in Wyoming township out of a total vote of 211 he had 200 votes to his credit. In the legislature he was true to his party and his conscience. He was one of it's fifty-two members who voted for the prohibitory law. He led in the house in the matter of the passage of the oil inspection law and had opposed to him one of the most active and unscrupulous lobbies, who went so far as to hide the bill after it was returned from the senate. But Dr. Calkins called a halt during the last hours of the assembly and had the bill searched for until found and put upon it's passage and passed, much to the surprise of the lobby who thought they had the matter over for that session and there would be no oil inspection for two years more. This bill brings in a net revenue of from ten to twelve thousand dollars a year, to say nothing of the safety to people using illuminating oils.
Dr. Calkins was a writer of unusual ability and every day for many years wrote upon some subject either scientific, historical or literary as a personal duty. In these moments he forgot not the town and vicinity of his adoption but gathered together the reminiscences of the early days of the settlement of this place and vicinity in chronological order, weaving a very pleasant and useful bit of local history that formed a most interesting course of lectures delivered by him to our people about 1874. So fully had the Doctor covered the ground that in 1879 when the History of Jones County was published, under the editorship of the veteran newspaper writer and worker, J.H. Ely, the local history of Dr. Calkins was incorporated into the volume, Mr. Ely saying the ground had been fully covered by the Doctor and in language and thought superior to anything the editor could hope to place in the volume. It was a high compliment to the hard working physician who had thus kept the annals of his town and vicinity in it?s early days, and makes for Dr. Calkins a monument has the pioneer historian of Wyoming and vicinity that will live when the marble column is in dust.
He was a modest man, living the simple life of one devoted to his profession and the people, and while his name may not be found upon the church rolls he followed closely the Golden Rule of the Master in his daily life, as an obligation due one to the other among all people. His upright life, courteous manner and kindly daily life, set a standard of good living to several generations of young people in the community that has been for the betterment of our social life.
Dr. Calkins departed this life on the evening of September 27th, 1909, surrounded by his family: Mrs. M. H. Calkins, his widow; Mrs. Elva Briggs of St. Paul, and Mrs. Mary Chassell of LeMars, daughters. The funeral services were held at his late residence on Friday afternoon at three o'clock. The Rev. Henry Cullen of Milan, Illinois, spoke briefly of the deceased and was followed by Rev. W. H. Ilsley of this place. Rev. C. F. Hoffman offered prayer and the services closed in the chanting of the Lord's prayer by E. A. Grimwood of Oxford Junction. The attendance upon the funeral obsequies was very large, house and front yard being fully occupied. There were present from out of town T. E. Booth and wife, Judge F. O. Ellison and wife, H. M. Remley and others from Anamosa, Senator R. C. Stirton, J. W. Doxsee, M. L. Carpenter, Thomas A. King and wife, and others from Monticello; L. M. Carpenter, wife and others from Olin; Dr. Bowen, J. A. Wherry, and others from Maquoketa; E. A. Grimwood and others from Oxford Junction and many from Onslow. After the services at the house the remains were interred in the Wyoming Cemetery. The active pall bearers were: J. T. Wherry, A. G. Alden, E. C. Vaughn, A. N. Reade, E. M. Babcock, C. S. Ames, John Thomsen, J. W. Waite. The honorary bearers accompanying the body were composed of R. A. Norton, G. W. Evans, S. G. Franks, E. B. Wherry, L. B. Woodard, I. Pelkey, W. S. Garrison, M. H. Morse, W. J. Brainard, H. P. Johnson.
Submitted by: Obituary and photo submitted by Laura Kendall
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