M. E. CUTTS, b. 22May1833


biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

HON. M. E. CUTTS was one of the most distinguished of the citizens of Mahaska County. He was truly a self-made man, one whose life affords an incentive to the young men for emulation. He was a native of Vermont, born in Orwell, Rutland County, May 22, 1833. His education was such as could be obtained in the common schools of his native village and at the academies of Brandon, Vt., and Potadam, N. Y. He paid his tuition in these academies by doing janitor work, and working for his board after hours. On leaving the last named institution, he joined an expedition engaged in surveying and subdividing townships into sections, in Saginaw County, Mich. In 1853, when but twenty years of age, he emigrated to Wisconsin and located at Sheboygan Falls, where he was engaged in teaching school and reading law for two years, and then nine months in Sheboygan city as Principal of the public schools. In June, 1855, he came to Oskaloosa, finishing his law studies in the office of Loughridge & Cassiday, and being admitted to the bar the following August. On his admission he moved to Montezuma, the county seat of Poweshiek County, where he formed a partnership with a Mr. Cassiday, under the firm name of Cutts & Cassiday, making a lasting reputation for legal ability. In May, 1861, Mr. Cutta was elected for an extra Session of the House of Representatives of the State. In the fall of the same year he was reelected at the regular State election, and it being the war session of the General Assembly, gave early proof of his good judgment and discreet Counsel. In 1863 he was elected to the State Senate and served four years, representing Poweshiek and Iowa Counties. Previous to this time he Served as Prosecuting Attorney for the Poweshiek District. In 1866 he returned to Oskaloosa and formed a Law partnership with Judge Seevers, which continued most happily until the election of Mr. Seevers to the Supreme Bench. In 1869 he was chosen to the Legislature from this county, having for his associate Hon. John F. Lacey, a most able representation, as all will admit who knew the two men. In February, 1872, he was appointed Attorney General of the State vice Hon. Henry O'Connor, resigned. He was elected to the office in the fall of the same year, and re-elected in 1874, holding that position until 1877. His reputation was made national, when, as Attorney General in the celebrated "Granger" railroad cases, he won for the people and the State the right to control these corporations. Those cases placed him in the front rank of the Iowa bar. At home Mr. Cutts was nearly always on one side or the other of all important cases in law. In 1878 he was the choice of his party for Congress, declining, however, the proffered honor, but in 1880 accepted the nomination and entered upon an active canvas of his Congressional district. Not heeding the advice of friends, he spoke day and night during the entire campaign, and the result was the serious impairment of his health. He entered the canvas with a majority of 1,800 against him in the district, but secured a substantial victory over his opponent and was given the certificate of election. A long and bitter contest followed in the House of Representatives, and in the closing hours of the session he was ousted and his seat given to his opponent. Again, in 1882, he was unanimously nominated by the Republicans for Congress, and was triumphantly elected. But his career as a Congressman was to be a short one indeed. The disease contracted in the campaign of 1880 was slowly sapping his life blood away, and on Saturday, Sept. 1, 1883, his spirit passed away. Marsena E. Cutts and Miss Helen Frick, daughter of Emanuel and Elizabeth (Henley) Prick, of Sheboygan, Wis., were united in marriage June 16, 1857. Their married life was a happy one, their love one for the other growing stronger and stronger as the years went by. Four children came to bless their unionÄLizzie, Charles E., Thomas and Nellie, two of whom, Nellie and Charles, passed on and were ready to welcome the father to the better land. The life of the father was wrapped up in these children. When Charles died he remarked, "The half of my life is gone." When Nellie passed away he was seriously affeeted, being in poor health himself. Two children, with the mother, now remain, "waking, only waiting," while thoughts of the kind husband and indulgent father, and loving children fill their minds, and they determine to be faithful to the end. His death is mourned by family and friends alike. We say he is dead, but may it not be as Longfellow has well said: "We see but dimly through the inlet and vapors Amid these earthly damps; What seem to us but sad funereal tapers May be Heaven's distant lands. "There is no death.. What seens so is transition; This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life Elysian Whose portal we call death." Mr. Cutts, as a lawyer, was the peer of any man in the State. Hee was diligent, sparing no thime nor pains in the preparation of his cases. He was no idler and had no sympathy with any man in the profession who was, he had no special feature in which he was strong, but was regarded as a strong man in all things, whether before a jury or Court. He was disposed in all matters to inquire into the why and wherefore of everything pertaining thereto. He did not stop with the questions of his profession, but grasped others and made them pass through his crucible. He was a man of sturdy likes and dislikes. As a partisan he was uncompromising always. As a political orator, few men could equal him, and none were his superiors in forceful sarcasm. In debate he was strong, ready, quick and merciless. In his political views he was conscientious, and advocated them because be believed them to be morally right. As a man he thoroughly despised all shams, and wanted no empty words or vain show, being himself plain in all his life. Those who knew him best loved him most. By some he was thought to be distant and cold; by others who knew his inner life he was regarded as a man most generous and charitable. The creditor, showing a disposition to pay, was never pressed by him, and as Judge Seevers remarked at a meeting of the bar, "There were hundreds that knew and appreciated his kindness. If you want to know the facts as to his generosity go to the laboring men of this city, and inquire of them if ever they went to him for a favor that was not granted. The colored man who passed by his body to-day and burst into tears appreciated the nobility of his nature. And why? Because he had been kind to him, and not only to him but to others. He never turned a deaf ear to one who was in want, and no greater epigraph could be inscribed upon his tomb than that he was kind to the poor. Such a man was Marsena E. Cutts in all his life. Of him it can well be said that now `He rests from his labors and his works do follow him.'"

Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

Home Page