History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Charles Aldrich

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[Very faithfully yours, Charles Aldrich.]


CHARLES ALDRICH was born at Ellington, Chautauqua County, New York, October 2, 1828. He attended the public schools and for one year was a student at Jamestown Academy. In 1846 he entered a printing office, learned the trade, and in 1850 established a paper at Randolph. In 1857 he removed to Iowa and located at the then frontier town of Webster City, Hamilton County, where he established the Hamilton Freeman in May of that year. In 1860 he was chosen Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the Eighth General Assembly and in 1862 was reëlected. In September of that year he entered the military service as adjutant of the Thirty-second Infantry Regiment, serving a year and a half. In 1865 he became editor of the Dubuque Daily Times and in 1866 purchased the Marshall Times which he conducted for about three years. He again served as chief clerk of the House in 1866 and 1870. In 1872 he was appointed one of the commissioners to investigate the claims of the settlers on the lands embraced in the Des Moines River grant. When Congress provided for a commission to examine into these claims Mr. Aldrich was one of the members. In 1876 he served on the Hayden Geological Survey in the western Territories. In 1881 he was a member of the House of the Nineteenth General Assembly from Hamilton County and was the author and advocate of a bill to prohibit the use of free railroad passes by public officials. In 1887 he was instrumental in having a tablet placed in the court-house of Hamilton County, on which were inscribed the names of the members of the company from that county which, in 1857, marched to the relief of the survivors of the Spirit Lake Massacre. At the assembly gathered upon that occasion a large amount of valuable historical material was secured in the addresses of several of the chief actors in that great tragedy. From early life Mr. Aldrich was a collector of autographs of notable persons and during Governor Sherman's administration he conceived the idea of making his collection the nucleus of a historical department for the State. He was granted space in the State Library where he worked for several years in collecting manuscripts, photographs, files of early newspapers and historical documents of value which were recognized by legislative action and became the foundation of the Historical Department established in 1892 of which Mr. Aldrich was appointed Curator. He has since given his entire time to the upbuilding of this department and conducting the Annals of Iowa a historical publication which was established in 1863. He was one of the Commissioners appointed by the State in 1895 to erect a monument to the memory of the victims of the Spirit Lake Massacre. In addition to many years' work in journalism, Mr. Aldrich has been a frequent contributor to scientific and historical publications.