CAPTAIN A. J. COMSTOCK, b. 31Oct1828


from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

In every great crisis that has confronted this republic since that historic day when the rifles of the "embattled farmers" at Concord and Lexington rang the death knell of foreign oppression and ushered into existence a new-born nation, men have been eager and willing to respond to their country's call and sacrifice their blood and treasure in her defense. Of this type displaying loyalty, patriotism and fidelity Captain Andrew Jackson Comstock, of Spring Creek township, is a worthy representative. He was born in Butler county. Ohio, October 31, 1828. His father, James Comstock, was a native of Connecticut, born in 1793. He settled in Butler county, Ohio, when Cincinnati was but a small town of log cabins, and became a well known trader in his section. He also conducted a distillery near Cincinnati. On one occasion he loaded a flatboat with pork and whiskey and floated it down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, where he reloaded it with merchandise and thus with a keelboat returned to Cincinnati, it requiring nine months to make the trip. He was a strong Jacksonian democrat and on that party ticket was elected to congress from Ohio in 1827. It was in honor of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans, that the subject of this review was named. He came with his family to Iowa about 1842, settling in Jefferson county and the following year removed to Mahaska county, locating on the farm which is now owned and occupied by Captain Comstock, about four miles from Oskaloasa. Captain Comstock was a youth of fourteen years when he came to Mahaska county in the summer of 1842 with his father and brother, Loring S. There were also several others in the party and they camped out by the big spring on the Gibbs farm and gave to the creek which flowed therefrom the name of Spring creek. In that locality they hunted for several days and while hunting farther to the northwest they gave its present name to Panther creek. While engaged in hunting the party killed three deer, fifteen or twenty turkeys and a great quantity of smaller game including prairie chickens, pheasants and squirrels. They also chopped down bee trees and secured thirty-three gallons of strained honey. On the trip they did not see any buffaloes, elk or bears, but the following year a bear was killed on Panther creek. The family, taking up their abode in Mahaska county, experienced the usual hardships and privations of pioneer life in founding a home in a region remote from civilization. The nearest mill was about ninety miles away, at Bonaparte. and it required about four weeks to make the trip to and from the mill. There the settlers had to take their turns in having their grist ground and on one occasion Captain Comstock remembers of waiting his turn for twelve day. He aided in the arduous task of clearing and cultivating new land and throughout his active business life has been identified with financial interests in this county but his agricultural labors have twice been interrupted by military service in behalf of his country. He enlisted in early manhood as a soldier of the Mexican war and was one of those who fortunately escaped wounds and death from disease, there being only about a third of the entire company to which he belonged who returned to the north. Captain Comstock afterward gave his attention to agricultural pursuits until the inauguration of the Civil war, when, in response to President Lincoln's second call, he donned the blue uniform of the nation and having recruited a company was mustered in as captain of Company C, Thirty-third Iowa Infantry. In the engagement which occurred at Jenkin's Ferry he sustained a gunshot wound and was left upon the field of battle with a solitary comrade, Reuben Cooms, a private of his company, who was detailed to look after the wants of the wounded captain, whom it was expected could never survive. A few later they fell into the hands of the enemy and were taken to Camden, Arkansas. Captain Comstock was afterward removed to Little Rock and was later parolled and discharged for disabilities, after which he returned to his farm in Mahaska county. His military career was distinguished by many brilliant and daring deeds. On the morning of July 4, 1863, the Union and Confederate armies were lying in close proximity to each other at Helena, Arkansas. Captain Comstock saw what he be- lieved to be a chance to take same prisoners. He called for volunteers and eighteen men responded. Of this number Captain Comstock knows of but one man who is now living, Alonzo Church, of Madison township, who was one of the first men to step forward. They formed a skirmish line and stealing around to the rear of tht Confederates, Captain Camstock commanded them to surrender, telling them that they could not escape. In response the Confederates opened fire and again Captain Comstock ordered them to surrender, whereupon one of their officers raised his hands, and ordered his men to lay down their arms. Captam Comstock captured two hundred and ten Confederates, nine officers' swords and six revolvers. One of the latter, a fine Smith & Wessen, is still in his possession, which he cherishes as a trophy of the exploit. His almost wreckless courage was again demonstrated at Camden, Arkansas. Price's artillery was playing upon the Union advance. General Steel ordered Captain Comstock to form a skitmish line at six hundred yards in advance of the enemy. Seeing his command much exposed to the Confederate fire, Captain Cornstack gave a command "double quick," and advanced three hundred yards still farther ahead. The Confederates, mistaking his action for a charge of the whole division, hastily withdrew their guns and retreated. At this moment Major John F. Lacey. now congressman from Iowa, rode up to Captain Comstock and said, "General Steele wants to know if you intend to take General Price's guns with your skirmish line," and ordered him to fall back until dusk and hold the line until morning. When the Civil war was ended Captain Cornstock again took up the work of the farm, in which he continued actively engaged until his seventy-fifth year, when he turned over the work of the farm to others. He is now seventy-seven years of age and is a jovial, genial man, who takes a delight in gardening and the raising of poultry. He is making a specialty of raising Brown Leghorns and has for this purpose a six-hundred-dollar hen house and up-to-date incubators and brooders. Captain Comstock has been married twice. On the 18th of April, 1850, he wedded Adelaide Binns, a daughter of Thomas and Christina Binns, who was born in Wakefield, England, November 17, 1830. Their children were: James T.; Alfred Byron; Victoria Adelaide, who died September 20, 1857; Andrew Jackson, who died in November, 1903; Victoria Iowa; and Ella May. On the 17th of July, 1879, Captain Comstock was married in Oskaloosa to Mrs. M. Green, nee Merrill, and to them were born the following children: Nellie M.; Rose A., who died July 23, 1899; Ruben L.; and Annie B. Captain Comstock has always been very fond of hunting and while on a visit to his sons in California about two years ago he spent much of his time in the enjoyment of the chase, even though he had passed the Psalmist's three score years and ten. On one occasion he brought back with him the skins of a lynx, five wildcats, seven wolves and one badger, which he still preserves as trophies. On another occasion he had the unique distinction of killing eighteen quails with one shot. He has at his home interesting relics and souvenirs, including a gun which is over two hundred years old and which was used by his greatgrandfather against the Indians and brought by his father from Connecticut to Indiana. Among his most cherished possessions is an old photograph of Chapultepec Castle, where he guarded some prisoners belonging to Santa Anna's army during the Mexican war. Captain Comstock is now in his seventy-eighth year but is still quite a well preserved man and his mind is stored with many interesting incidents and reminiscences of the early days and of his military life. Few have longer resided in this part of Iowa than he, his residence here covering more than sixty-three years, and no man is more justly entitled to representation in this volume. He is respected by all who know him and is among the worthy and honored citizens of the county.

Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

Home Page