A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIALTREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR,INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A.M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department ofIowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and NewYork
THOMAS MCCULLOCH GOBBLE.The career of the late Thomas McCulloch Gobble, of Clinton, Iowa, was typical of the best citizenship during the period which saw his state develop, and to its growth and expansion he gave the best qualities of character and practical ability. The industry, foresight and spirit of such men as he made possible a progress that carried forward the West at a pace not equaled in any other national development. Upon their accomplishments and in their strong faith may the present generation build itsconfident hope of America's future.
Thomas McCulloch Gobble was born near Abingdon, Iowa, in a log cabin
adjacent to the site of a building afterwards erected as the permanent home of the family.He came into the world April 2, 1846, a son of Thomas Wilson and Mary (McCulloch) Gobble, and he was named for his maternal grandfather,Thomas McCulloch, a pioneer of Iowa.
Tracing back in the ancestral line of the McCulloch family, ThomasMcCulloch
Gobble was a great-great-grandson of Thomas McCulloch, born inAlbemarle
County, Virginia, in 1735, and who died October 12, 1780.Helike all of his
relatives and neighbors, was of the Scotch-Irish stock whofought at the battle
of King's Mountain, that decisive battle of the Revolutionthat brought about Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown.Thomas McCulloch was a lieutenant in command of his company in William Campbell's regiment of Virginia Militia.On
October 7, 1780, he was mortally wounded, and died from the effects of his injury five days later.His remains lie in Little Brittain Cemetery, and on the rough stone marking his grave is this inscription:"Here lies the body of
Lieutenant Thomas McCulloch belonging to Colonel Campbell's Virginia Regiment who lost his life in and for the honorable, just and righteous cause of liberty in defeating Colonel Ferguson's infamous company of bandetta at King's
Mountain, October 7, 1780." He had two sons, John and Robert, and four daughters, Mrs. Rachel Jamison, Mary, Sarah, Mrs. Martin Hagy, and Mattie, Mrs. John Newhouse.
The McCullochs are said to be of the F. F. V., First Families of Virginia. They were always prominent in the affairs of the community. The will of Thomas McCulloch, in which he named his wife, Isabell, as administratrix, is dated October 9, 1780, and is recorded in Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia courthouse. In this will he gives his son Robert a tract of land in said county.Said son Robert McCulloch was born May 2, 1764, and died August 29, 1849. His wife, Sarah (Clark)McCulloch, was born November 25, 1775, and died December 28, 1854. They were married in 1794, and had five sons: Thomas, born October 24, 1795, died January 18, 1858; John, Robert and two others; and four daughters; Polly, or Mary, wife of John Dunn, Sarah, wife of Abia M. Linder, and two others.
Thomas McCulloch II was married, October 5, 1815, to Dorcas Logan, who was born December 12, 1792, and died October 29, 1855. They came to Iowa in 1843, laid out the town of Abingdon, Jefferson County, which was name after the home town of Mr. McCulloch in Virginia. He was called Col. Thomas McCulloch because of the rank given him in the Virginia State Militia, and he became very prominent in his new home, becoming the first surveyor, a justice of the peace, member of the Iowa State Legislature for one term, 1851 to 1852, inclusive, and county judge, and he died while holding the latter office. He and his wife were buried in the cemetery at Abingdon, Iowa. They had two sons and three daughters:Harriet, who was born May 5, 1831, married James Thompson, a Methodist minister of Iowa; Mary Smith McCulloch, whowas born April 29, 1820, died May 21, 1858, married Thomas Wilson Gobble, on October 18, 1838; Charles, born September 6, 1822; Elizabeth, born March 16, 1824; and John, born in 1828.
Thomas Wilson Gobble was born in Washington County, Virginia, August20,
1818.His father, Isaac Gobble, was the son of George Gobble, one ofthe first
settlers of the Holston River neighborhood in Virginia.Hismother was
Elizabeth Musick.He married Mary Smith McCulloch, October 18,1838.On
September 5, 1844, he started for Iowa, in a two-horse wagon, and landed safe in Jefferson County, October 9, 1844. Here he built a log house on a tract of land in Locust Grove Township, which he obtained from the United States Government in 1845, and held until his death.He established a grocery store at Abingdon in 1853, in which all of his sons were trained in the mercantile business.
The children of Thomas Wilson Gobble and Mary Smith McCulloch Gobblewere :
Mary, who died in infancy, in 1840; Margaret Jane, who was bornApril 19,
1843, married George Schriner, and died in March, 1928; Thomas McCulloch, whose name heads this review, married Delilah Ream, May 26, 1870, and died January 31, 1926;John McCulloch, who was born October 10, 1849, died in 1913; Charles Hardy, who was born July 23, died March 12, 1924.
Thomas McCulloch Gobble, the eldest son, was held in the highest esteemby
his neighbors and friends at Clinton, and when he died he was president of T.
M. Gobble & Company, although over eighty years old. Hon. Richard N. Howes,
mayor of Clinton at the time of Mr. Gobble's death, issued the following
"Tom Gobble has gone.His active life presented the finest typeof public
service and private citizenship.He was twice mayor of our cityand a member
of the police and fire commission since its inception.Hisintegrity was
beyond question.His service to this community is worthy offuture emulation.
"Now, I, Richard N. Nowes, mayor of the City of Clinton, request thatall
business houses close Tuesday afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30 o'clock that wemay
pay respect to one of our pioneer citizens."
The same issue of the local newspaper which carried this proclamationalso
contained an extended biography of this distinguished citizen, and portionsof
it are quoted herewith because the writer knew the dead man intimately and
was consequently able to render him the honor due him as no strangercould.
"He secured his early education in the little log and brickschoolhouses of
the locality.At the age of fourteen he became a clerk inthe general store
owned by his father.
"Later he extended his education under a private instructor, as at thattime
he expected to become a civil engineer and studied algebra, geometry and
trigonometry.It was an early ambition of his to follow in the footstepsof his
grandfather, Thomas McCulloch, one of the first Iowa surveyors.OnOctober
5, 1865, he entered Bryant and Stratton business college in Chicago.From
that institution he graduated in April, 1866.
"During the following six months Mr. Gobble was in the employ of J. V.
Farwell of Chicago.At the end of that time he returned to Iowa, and foreighteen
months kept books in a general store in Fairfield.Afterwards he was employed as bookkeeper for John McWilliams, the first wholesale grocer in the City of Des Moines.
"On May 26, 1870, he was united in marriage with Delilah, Ream, ofAbingdon.
She was the daughter of Doctor and Mrs. Henry Ream, pioneerresidents of
Iowa, who came from Hagerstown, Maryland.
"In August, 1875, Mr. Gobble moved his family from Fairfield toMuscatine.
After keeping books for six months for G. A. Garretson &Company there he and
his brother, John M. Gobble, entered into a partnership,buying out the
Garretson store.In 1884 he sold his interest in thatbusiness and on February
21 of the same year he moved his family toClinton."
While at Muscatine he was a member of Company C, Second Regiment, Iowa
National Guard, under the command of Capt. Fred Welker, widely known as "The
To resume the newspaper account of Mr. Gobble's life aftercoming to Clinton:
"Here he established the now widely-known grocery house, at whose headhe
remained until his death.
"This business was inaugurated about March 1, 1884, in the HardingBuilding.
Afterwards the store to the east was acquired and occupied.In 1891 the
firm purchased two lots, at 119 and 121 Fifth Avenue, on whicha brick plant was
erected.On November 17, 1915, the Gobble plant, withseveral adjoining
buildings, were destroyed by fire.Work was rushed on anew building, which has
been occupied since April 19, 1916.
"Mr. Gobble was on several occasions honored by the citizens of Clinton. In 1890 he was elected mayor and served two years. After several years of retirement from public duty his services were again demanded, and he was elected mayor in 1896, and served another two-year term.For many years he was a member of the Clinton police and fire commission board, of which he was chairman.
"Mr. Gobble was a staunch Democrat all his life.He cast hisfirst vote for
Horatio Seymour, of New York, for president in 1868.He wasa Clinton
County delegate to the national Democratic convention in Chicago in the summer of 1896, when William Jennings Bryan captured the nomination by his famous 'Cross of Gold' speech.
"Fraternally he was a thirty-second degree Mason, having completed his
Consistory degrees with the class of December, 1891.At the age of twenty-one he was master of the Masonic Lodge at Abingdon.
"He was long affiliated with Emulation Lodge No. 100, A. F. and A. M.and
was a long-time member of the Wapsipinicon Club, and one of the last two
survivors of the ole-time 'Hearts' Club, which once included many prominent
"Mr. Gobble was vice president and director of the Peoples Trust &Savings
Bank. "In August, 1903, he purchased his first automobile, becoming one of the first drivers in Iowa, and he had been a constant driver ever since.
"At the age of seventy-five he received numberous telegrams and lettersfrom
business friends of over half a century, and yesterday and today scores of
messages of condolence reached the family expressing sorrow and sympathy.
"Mr. and Mrs. Gobble celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on May26,
1920.It is said they had the distinguished record of being the onlywedded
pair in Iowa who both were natives of Iowa Territory and who had lived inthe
state their entire lives.
"Mr. Gobble had been identified with the Methodist Episcopal Churchsince he
was fourteen years old.
"He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mary Nellie Gobble and Cora
Gobble, at home, a son, T. Wilson Gobble, of this city, a grandson, T. Wilson
Gobble, Junior, and a granddaughter, Bonnie Ann Gobble.He leaves also a
sister, Mrs. Margaret Schriner, of Los Angeles, and the following half-brothers and half-sisters:Lee T. Gobble, of Fairfield; Mrs. Annie Linder, of Fairfield; Frank Gobble, of Washington, Iowa; Wilson B. Gobble, of Colorado, and Mrs. Mabel Hawthorne, of Abingdon, Iowa.
"Mr. Gobble's energy seemed inexhaustible, and right up to the time ofhis
death he was at his desk in his office at 7:30 every morning.Duringhis
entire life, from the age of fourteen years, he had led an exceedinglyactive
life, bringing to his business a remarkable equipment of ability andhonesty
which made his life work a great success.In Clinton's businessand public life
he was honored for the integrity and fair dealing which were therules of
his life, and among his wide circle of friends he was loved for hiscandor and
geniality, and his loyalty and devotion to those he admitted to his friendship. He was always intensely interested in Clinton's welfare, and every worthy municipal cause was sure of his loyal support.
"One of Mr. Gobble's outstanding traits of character was his love for
children, and today an old-time friend of his recalls having heard him say theday
he was first elected mayor of Clinton:'If I can help to make Clintonsafe
for children I will feel that my highest ambition has been realized.'
"At the offices of the wholesale grocery company he was regarded by allas
the father of a united family.Many of the employes had been with himfor
many years, and the profound sorrow of all in his loss shows the love andesteem
in which he was held by those with whom he had surrounded himself in the
conduct of his business.
"A telegram received from John F. Baker, a former associate of Mr.Gobble in
the local business, now in Phoenix, Arizona, is characteristic of many
received yesterday and today.It follows:
" ' The passing of Mr. Gobble was a shock to me because of our close friendship and former business relations.His example of integrity and industry during our association in my younger days had a marked relation to any success I
have attained. As one of his family of employes and partners I join you all in expressing my deepest sorrow.' "
The funeral services for Mr. Gobble were held at his former residenceat
Clinton, Rev. J. K. Hawkins, pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Churchof
Clinton, having charge of them.Burial was made in Springdale Cemetery.All
that is earthly of Thomas McCulloch Gobble has returned to the dustfrom which
it was raised, but his spirit has gone to a better land to join thoseof his
forbears whose noble deeds and stainless lives inspired him to emulatethem,
so that he, too, could hand down to his descendants a record of which they
could well be proud.
*Check your facts, don't know how accurate.