Representative Joseph Holbrook View All Years
JOSEPH M. HOLBROOK
At 3 o'clock the Senate accompanied its President to the hall of the House of Representatives.
Resolutions relative to the deceased, Hon. J. M. Holbrook, late member of the House, were proposed and adopted.
Addresses in eulogy of the dead were made by Messers. Carpenter, Babb, Tuttle, Hershey, Kerr and Humphrey, on the part of the House.
Senator Donnan, on the part of the Senate, spoke as follows:
MR. SPEAKER — If one may mention enjoyment in connection with the sadness of such an occasion, then I may truly say that I have experienced a sincere pleasure in listening to the timely and beautiful remarks which have been offered in memory of your lamented associate and our departed friend.
At the rendezvous of our regiment, in 1862, I first met and formed his acquaintance. He had just been enrolled as first lieutenant of company F, in the 27th regiment, Iowa infantry volunteers. I soon learned to respect, and then admire him; and these sentiments have increased rather than diminished for more than twenty intervening years. Only old soldiers can know how those associations, formed in duties of camp and dangers of field, ripen into the closest and most enduring of earthly friendships.
He became captain of his company, devoted to the comfort, welfare and discipline of his men, and they were always ready to follow where be led-even though it were into the fiercest fire of the enemy; there to stand or fall beside him. At the desperate battle of Pleasant Hill, although painfully wounded, he remained, gallantly fighting with his company until a second severe wound, which caused the amputation of an arm, and which totally disabled him.
Returning to civil life, in 1865, he was elected to the most responsible office in his county, and was continuously re-elected for the long period of eighteen years. Confinement to official duties, the wounds he had endured, and a severe illness, so far impaired his physical health that he declined further re election. Perceiving that the election to membership of this General Assembly would be earnestly contested, Republicans urged him to take up the standard of his legislative district and carry it to no uncertain victory. To this he reluctantly consented. Not, as he said to me, because he wished for any other public station, but his people had so often elected him to an office which he did desire, that if they now asked him to take an office which he did not want he felt that he ought not to decline candidacy. So he came to legislative duty, and a sense of its high responsibility accompanied him close to the dark waters. Had he lived, his native modesty was such as to allow him to speak only the quiet words of practical wisdom, but he would have proven himself as one of the most thoughtful, candid and prudent members of the House.
Within an hour of his death I assisted to raise him upon his couch, and he seemed to have so much more strength than I expected that hope rose buoyant in my breast that yet he might survive; but it was ordered otherwise. On the second day thereafter, at the city hall of Manchester, on the anniversary day of his birth, your legislative committee, preceded by his old army comrades and by a vast concourse of his bereaved constituency, took a last, lingering, tearful glance at the mortal remains of that true man. His bier, accompanied by a beautiful floral decoration, rested beneath a canopy formed of the “grand old flag,” beneath whose starry folds he had so often marched and for all the grandeur and glory thereby represented be had so bravely fought and so freely shed his blood.
He is gone! not like many a less fortunate comrade to a distant and unknown grave. He was permitted to live to see victory perch upon the standard of his country everywhere. He lived to see the midday peace and prosperity of a reunited nation. He lived to accept honorable office to which a grateful people gladly and repeatedly elected him. He lived to officially assist in the dedication of this magnificent structure, devoted to the enactment of good and wholesome laws for our grand young commonwealth.
Gone, but not to forgetfulness, for his cherished memory will remain, and whenever Iowa shall call her grand roll of heroes, of all those who have labored, or fought, or bled, or died, in the defense of human freedom or the preservation of our country, there will be none among them all whose love of humanity was more sincere or whose patriotic devotion was more unselfish than was that of Captain J. M. Holbrook.
As a citizen he was deservedly and universally esteemed. He formed his friendship slowly, but he held them steadfastly. As a neighbor and friend he was kind, obliging, faithful, reliable and generous. Many of his acts of charity and beneficence were so quietly performed that they will never be known by the public.
Politically, at least since the war, he held firmly, I may say enthusiastically, by the Republican faith. In public office and military command he uniformly acquitted himself so faithfully and honorably as to receive the commendation of all. And so we may say of him, in all the relations of life,
“None knew him but to love him.
None named him but to praise.”
His quiet career illustrates the golden value of manly deeds. It. shows how real is this earthly life even though transcient; earnest, even if purposes are sometimes changed; desirable, though so strangly commingled with sorrow, and sadness, and death. It awakens the tenderest sympathies at inception, oftentimes grows to grandeur in its progress, and may become sublime in its completion, even though it treads the humbler paths of duty.