Senator Eli Cushman Perkins View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 10/10/1916
Birth Place: Bethel, Maine
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 35 (1913) - 36 (1915)
House: 33 (1909) - 34 (1911)
Home County: Delaware
Eli Cushman Perkins
Delaware County


MR. PRESIDENT Your committee appointed to draft resolutions commemorative of the life, character and services of Eli C. Perkins beg leave to submit the following report:

Hon. Eli C. Perkins, a member of the Senate of Iowa in the thirty-sixth general assembly, passed away October 10, 1915. In the death of Senator Perkins, the state of Iowa, Delaware county, and particularly the Delhi community, suffer an irreparable loss. During the many years of his residence and activities he had endeared himself to the community in a relation that is seldom given to a man to acquire. As a lawyer he commanded the utmost confidence, esteem and friendship of the members of the bar; as a citizen he was known as a loyal supporter of every worthy enterprise looking to the advancement of his town or community; and as a philanthropist, no one is capable of summarizing his many acts of benevolence, so quietly and unassumingly were they dispensed.

Eli Perkins was one of God’s noblemen. His obsession, if it may be called such, was to do things that would benefit mankind. His legal knowledge was not used as an instrument for the accumulation of a fortune, but rather as a talent loaned to him, and which he must return with a good report and with usury. His benefactions were many, his chief recompense was in the love and esteem of all who came in touch with him. As a politician he may not have been as astute as most who engage in the game, but his honesty of purpose was so manifest that he was frequently chosen to responsible official positions without opposition worthy of the name. He was a dispenser of clean politics, a promoter of high ideals, clean morals and a true citizenship.

Mr. Perkins was a native of Bethel, Maine, where he was born August 30, 1850, a son of Rev. Charles Perkins. He came to Iowa in his youth, secured his primary education in the public schools of that time and later graduated from Lenox college with the class of 1875. He attended the state university for his law course and after graduation in 1879 located at Delhi for the practice of his profession. He grew in favor and popularity and was elected to the office of county attorney, serving the county ably in that capacity from 1887 until 1893.

When the republicans were casting about for a candidate for the legislature in 1908, Mr. Perkins was at once recognized as the logical candidate and he was put forward without opposition. He served two terms in the House of Representatives and then was promoted by the people to the office of state senator. He took hold of the problems of state with his customary conscientious devotion to every charge laid upon him and was early recognized as one of the substantial, hard-working members of the legislature. In his capacity as senator added responsibilities were laid upon him and he stood at the head of some of the leading committees. There is no question that the arduous duties of the last session, a strenuous one from the political standpoint, were partially responsible for the breakdown in health which resulted in his untimely death. Toward the close of the session he kept steadily at work upon the mass of legislation piled upon his desk, notwithstanding the premonitory warnings that announced a weakened physical condition.

Mr. Perkins was never a shirker, and therefore he was less concerned for his own condition than for the welfare of his district and the state which he was serving. His friends know now that he sacrificed himself upon the altar of duty. He returned from Des Moines with the disease pernicious anaemia fastened upon him and his hosts of friends sorrowfully watched the end approaching.

Mr. Perkins was married on September 13, 1882, to Miss Kate Galpin who has been an inspiration and helpmate during the happy years of their married life. There are two daughters, Mrs. Gwendolyn Bentz and Hazel E., who with their mother survive to mourn the loss of a devoted husband and father, and to cherish in memory his ideal character. There is wide sorrow because of the passing, really in the prime of life, of a useful man and at a time when he was planning to accomplish much more for the benefit of humanity.

In due time there will be a marble monument at his grave to commemorate his life, but on the statute books of Iowa, and along the way of his lifework, he has left invisible monuments that will perpetuate his memory with the generations to come.

One of the last accomplishments of his life and a fitting and enduring monument to his memory was the passage by the thirty-sixth general assembly of what will always be known as the Perkins law for the relief and cure of crippled children. Although the law has been in operation less than two years, yet nearly every community in the state can point with pride to the fact that some little child in that community has been relieved of some physical handicap in life’s work. This work has become so popular that the thirty-seventh general assembly has endorsed this most important work by making an appropriation for a children’s hospital to accommodate the children which are being sent to Iowa City for treatment.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be printed, in the journal of the Senate and that the secretary of the Senate be directed to forward an engrossed copy to the family of the deceased.