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Albert H. Marvin
February 24, 1808—May 8, 1887
A. H. Marvin (Albert) was born in Columbiana county New York, February 24, 1808. He passed his younger days in Ontario County, that state. In 1832 he removed to Ashtabula county, Ohio, where he resided until 1855. In the spring of that year he removed with his family into this new but rapidly growing county and settled on a farm two and a half miles west of Monticello. At that time Mr. Marvin had reached his forty-seventh year. It was at that time when the great political questions were being earnestly and freely discussed. In those questions Mr. Marvin took a deep and fervent interest. His opinons were upon the right side of those important controversies and many times when his words gave utterance to the logic of his mind and the feelings of his heart. He at once entered earnestly entered into the politics of the new state and soon became a recognized factor among men of influence in more than his immediate vicinity. His ability, his sincerity and earnestness in the advocacy of the cause of Freedom and education soon marked him as not only a man of reliability, but one who possessed the coolness and judgment so essential to a counselor during the dawn of the most turbulent and important epoch in the history of our country. His fellow citizens and political associates quickly recognized his ability, and in less than two years after his arrival here elected him as a member of the constitutional convention which in 1857 framed the present constitution of the state and which for thirty years has been the basis for all of the legislative enactments of Iowa. And as to how well Mr. Marvin preformed his duties and carried out the trusts confided in him, one has only to examine the splendid constitution of a great state and read the debates of the convention which led to its adoption. On the organization of that important convention Mr. Marvin was appointed to the chairmanship of the committee on education. He believed that the success of Iowa and the measure of her prosperity depended upon her education system, and to that end he advocated for free schools, schools which should be held for sixth months each year in every school district of the state. He pleaded earnestly for such a school, and one that might be attended by black as well as white children. With but slight modification the convention adopted his suggestions, and from the foundations thus laid has been erected by subsequent legislative enactment the greatest pride of Iowa, her system of common schools. As illustrating Mr. Marvin’s ideas and as an example of his forceful language, we reproduce a part of his speeches in the Constitutional Convention. He said:

“I feel disposed to make some remarks upon this subject, but they will be very few. I hold, that this state, every man, woman and child and especially every white man, has a direct and substantial interest in the education of every child in the state; not for the purpose of placing the colored child upon an equality with them, not for the purpose of making then capable of being citizens, but a direct interest primarily. Go into a community where a portion of that community are permitted, or rather compelled, to become degraded in their intellectual powers, degraded morally, physically and in every way and you will find in that community a class dangerous to your interests, a class which may strike a fatal blow at midnight, a class which may rob you of your treasures and your life. I know of no better way to prevent such a state of things than by giving every child in the state and opportunity to become educated, to learn the principles of government, and the principles of our religion, the principles that are calculated to make men, the principles which are calculated to elevate man into the position which God, in his creation intended him to fill. I hold that we might, with equal, nay greater, propriety, say that our school houses should not be contaminated with that blacker stain of immorality, and exclude those young persons who are so immoral in their course of life that it is a contamination for our children to come into contact with them. I know that our schools are to a certain extent, dangerous schools, because they open their doors to all classes. But that contamination that comes from depraved morality I dread far more than the contamination which arises only from a dark complexion. I have never experienced any difficulty from the introduction of colored children into common schools. To get what little knowledge that I have, I sat side by side in the same school house with blacks, and I never heard it complained of. It is a common thing in New York. But if the districts are any of them so tenacious of their prejudices that they cannot consent to this They can do as the professors of religion do in many churches—have a side pew for them. But by all that is dear to us, let us educate every human being within our reach. Let us prepare them to become citizens. Let us prepare them to act the part, whatever it may be, which is assigned them for after life.

“Can it be possible that, in this age of the world, and in this enlightened and free Iowa, we are to travel back and refuse to make provisions by which all should be educated? I feel that it is our duty to lift from degradation every class of men which we may have among us, needing our assistance. It is necessary for our own interests, and our own safety, and will enable us to answer, I trust, with a good conscience before God. While I feel deeply in the cause of education, because I feel the want for it, I believe that my tongue shall cleave to the roof of my mouth and my right hand forget her cunning before I shall forget to put forth every effort in a proper place to elevate all God’s creation. When you ask me to say that they should not have equal privileges in learning to read of the God who created them, and the Savior who died for their salvation, you ask me to do that which my religion forbids me to do.”

Those were brave words, and the logic of events has demonstrated their wisdom. Mr. Marvin’s service to Iowahas been a valuable one.
After a residence of fifteen years upon his farm Mr. Marvin sold it and removed to Monticello where he spent his declining years. He was chiefly instrumental in the organization of the Monticello high school and for many years after its organization was a member of the school board. He has held many minor offices, and in all of them did his constituents faithful and conscientious service.
In his family relations Mr. Marvin was particularly fortunate. His very excellent wife who celebrated with him their golden wedding in 1882, survives him to commemorate his virtues, and in patient readiness awaits the summons to join him in the great hereafter. Five sons, three of whom did service in the late war, survive the father. He left one daughter, Mary, who is a companion to her mother. And right here it will not be out of place to say that she has been to her father all that could be desired in a daughter. Ever since his first serious illiness five years ago, and during the long days of his feebleness when his hand was palsied and his step was tottering she has shared with her mother the care and attention so lovingly bestowed upon its grateful recipient, and never once did she feel that it was a burden to her.
The sons present at the funeral were Andrew J. of Cleveland, Ohio; Richard M. of Manchester; Fred L. of Tecumseh, Nebraska, and Charles E. of Rochester, Minnesota.
The deceased was a consistent member of the Congregational church of this city, and for many years was an honored member of the Masonic fraternity.
The funeral was held last Wednesday forenoon at the Congregational church, the services being conducted by Rev. J. T. Blanchard, Rev. C. A. Towie and Rev. E. P. Kimball.
A large procession of citizens and old time friends followed the remains to the cemetery where they were borne by the following Masonic brethren who acted as pall bearers. Dr. E. T. Mellette, F. S. Dunham, J. A. Chandler, S. R. Howard, P. O. Babcock, M. Hofacre. At the grave the services were conducted by Master and brethren of Burns’ Lodge of which the deceased was a member, in accordance with the ritual prescribed by that fraternity. The floral decorations at the church were exceedingly fine.

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Source: Monticello Express, May 12, 1887

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