||At Olin Sept. 7th, Richard J. Cleveland, aged 72 years and 10 months
He was, during his life, from his strong organization, delicate temperament, his thorough culture, his naturally refined tastes derived from the predominance of similar qualities in his father and his mother, and his truth loving and open disposition, a man of mark. His birthplace was Boston, Nov. 26, 1805. He was the oldest son of Captain R. J. Cleveland, author of Cleveland's Voyages and Commercial Enterprises, the last addition bearing the imprint of 1850. Captain Cleveland was largely engaged in commerce; executed many voyages to distant parts, in command of many vessels previous to the era of ocean navigation by steam, made and lost several fortunes to the vicissitudes that attend such enterprises, and was a man of great energy and force of character. His wife, as seen in her photograph, possessed the same delicate temperament as her son, the subject of this sketch, and a continence indicative of intelligence and sweetness of disposition.
When sixteen years old young Cleveland was placed at West Point as a student. He thought the discipline to strict and severe, and left the institution at the end of the year. In 1823 he entered Harvard University and graduated with the class of 1827, and to those days and his classmates his memory ever turned to fond recollections. He was a year or more in the Commandant's office in Charlestown, Mass., Navy Yard perfecting himself in drawing and civil engineering. He also passed some time at Gosport Navy Yard, Virginia working on the dry dock. Afterward, when his father Capt. Cleveland was Vice Counsul at Havana, the son was a clerk in the office a year or more. Next he went to Texas as a party of Surveyors, where in that then wild and unsettled region he underwent great hardships and privations. Lost his health and returned to Boston, entered Rainford Island Hospital when in due time his health was reestablished.
It was at that time Poland was fighting for an existence as a nation against the mighty power of Russia, and the sympathy of America was with the Poles. Young Cleveland always had a strong feeling in favor of the weaker party, provided such party was in the right, and he now crossed the ocean with a view of offing his personal services in behalf of suffering Poland. Landing in Liverpool the first news that he encountered was that Poland was conquered and the war ended. He remained a few months in England, was present at the coronation of King William and Queen Adelaide, the immediate predecessors of the present Queen Victoria.
In 1836 0r 1837 Mr. Cleveland came to Illinois and was one of a party of civil engineers engaged in running a railroad line from some point on the Wabash River across the state to Alton. In the autumn of 1837 he came to Whiteside County in that state; and in Sept. 1840 to Jones County, Iowa Territory, six years before Iowa became a state and settled in what now is known as the town of Olin and where he lived until his death. It was about this time or just previous, that he was in the Survey General's Office in Dubuque, an assisted in running the line between Iowa and Minnesota. He was at that time a vigorous and handsome looking man, in fact he and his wife—a sister of Norman B. Seeley, the original settler who laid out the town which ought to have been named after him—were as good looking couple as one would wish to see. They had one daughter who died just as she reached the verge of young womanhood .
The war breaking out in the spring of 1861, found Mr. Cleveland as wide-awake, as patriotic and enthusiastic as when he sailed to take his chances in the Polish struggle. He was past the military age by ten years and would have been rejected on that ground; but on the organization of the 9th Iowa Volunteer Regiment, two companies under Capt. Harper and Capt. Carpenter, joining it from Jones County; he obtained admission in August, through the favor of Col. Vandover, his old friend in the Dubuque land office, who commanded the regiment. To evade any technicalities of law he concealed his age. At least his age is not mentioned on the published rolls of the company. The readers of the Eureka will remember the letters from the army and signed "Leonidas." These letters were written by him and were highly prized for the fullness, precision and clearness of their statements of detail. After twenty months of service, including weeks of camping and drill in St. Louis, the march through Missouri to Arkansas, the battle of Pea Ridge, the march to Helena and the work there, his health failed through exposure and hardship and he was honorably discharged and came home.
Mr. Cleveland was, in height, size, look and bearing before age changed him, the picture of a complete man, with a heart as brave as a lion and tender as a woman's. With strangers he might be reserved, but among friends he was open frank cordial—in fact chivalrous. His temperament was intensely poetical. His physical and mental conditions did not qualify him as a businessman, and the rough and selfish world around him sometimes jarred hard on his higher organization. He was one of this aesthetical natures whose very being is, in all ages, a protest against the coarseness and heartless selfishness of there time, but who will find their proper and more satisfactory sphere in the universal culture and more varied life in the thousands of years ahead. Our friend is gone. His was a checkered but noble life; and example of what a man can do and be he has not lived in vain.
Submitted by: Steve Hanken
Source: Anamosa Eureka, Anamosa, Iowa, Thursday, September 13, 1877
Note: The age calculation is a bit off. Mr. Cleveland lived 71 years, 9 months, and 12 days. He would have been 72 on his birthday in 1877.