Iowa City, Johnson County, and Eastern Iowa history, as seen through the eyes of postage stamps, postcards, letters, coins, books, and other collectibles.
Our Iowa Heritage: A Rocky Mountain Mayor with Strong Iowa Roots.
David Newton Heizer– Iowa Farm Boy – Civil War Veteran – Founding Citizen in Kansas, and Mayor of Colorado Springs.
Whenever I obtain a new postal cover (in this case, a whole slew of covers from one family living during the second half of the nineteenth century), I always try to dig up, if I can, more information about those people who sent and received these letters. It never ceases to amaze me of the full, rich stories that so often come from these now-empty envelopes. Brave men and women, much like my Boller ancestors, who risked it all to start a whole new life here in the wild, untamed west called Iowa.
So it is with David Newton Heizerand his family from Kossuth, Iowa. In my research I found a wealth of information. So let me begin, first and foremost, with David’s own account of his earliest years…
I was born November 11, 1846, in Ross County, Ohio. I belonged to a race of pioneers; my great-grandfather, Samuel Heizer, was a pioneer in Virginia when the Blue Ridge Mountains marked the line of the frontier, and lived there at the time of the Revolution. My grand-father, Samuel Heizer, was a pioneer in Ohio and moved from Virginia to Ross County in 1816. My father, Edward Heizer, and his brothers all moved to Iowa on the admission of Iowa as a state into the Union, and a part of them before. I was raised on an Iowa farm fifteen miles north of Burlington until I was seventeen years of age.
As David states, we know there were six Heizer brothers and two Heizer sisters who came west to Iowa, one of which was Edward Heizer, David’s father. J. W. Merrill, an early historian from the Burlington area, records this:
There were three brothers (Fredrick, Nathaniel and Joshua Heizer) who came with the immigration of 1842. They came here in the fall of the year and settled on farms. Nathaniel purchased his home of David Rankin, and settled on round prairie. Frederick settled on land now owned by Hope Eland, just north of the M. J. Seeds farm. Joshua made his home on the farm he owned for many years, south of Northfield. These three were born in Virginia but came to Ohio when boys, with their parents. There were three other brothers, born in Ohio, who came later — Edward, Samuel and Henry. They grew to manhood in Ohio and all but one (Henry) married before they came west. They brought their families with them, and commenced life as pioneers. They were Presbyterians and their influence added strength to the young church that was being built up in Kossuth.
Kossuth, Iowa (like Kossuth County in north-central Iowa) is named for the famed Hungarian lawyer, journalist, and statesman, Lajos Kossuth. Horace Greeley said of this European hero, “Among the orators, patriots, statesmen, exiles, he has, living or dead, no superior,” and Kossuth’s powerful speeches of the 1840’s impressed so many Americans, the orator Daniel Webster wrote a book about this freedom-fighter’s life.
Now, back to Edward Heizer’s oldest son, David N. Heizer of Kossuth, Iowa…
David grew up working on his father’s farm, but always had an eye on education. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, David was attending school at Yellow Springs College, a local training academy in Yellow Springs township of Des Moines County. In his words…
(In 1863) I enlisted in the latter part of the civil war in Company “M” Second Iowa Cavalry, and served eighteen months of active service and was mustered out at the close of the war at Selma, Alabama (1865).
Historical Civil War records give us these details:
Heizer, David N. Age 17. Resident of Des Moines County, native of Ohio. Enlisted & mustered into Company M of the Second Iowa Calvary on March 29, 1864 and mustered out Sept. 19, 1865, in Selma, Alabama.
1865 – Home Again in Iowa.
In his biography, David states: On returning home, I spent a year on the old home farm and during the next five years, spent the greater part of the time taking a course in the Iowa State University and in teaching school.
University of Iowa (SUI) records from 1871 show David, and his cousin, Cyrus, attending classes in Iowa City between 1869 and 1871.
1870-1871 Falling in Love with a Pastor’s Daughter.
In our collection, we have several postal covers (below) that indicate during these “school” years (1869-1871) David began a relationship with Emilie (Emma) Caroline McCaughan, a pastor’s daughter from Winterset, Iowa (Madison County).
Go West – Dave Heizer – Go West.
On February 24, 1871, an act of Congress provided for bringing into market the lands of the Fort Zarah Reservation in central Kansas. David, as a Civil War veteran and two-year graduate at SUI, took advantage of this low-cost land being offered to vets, becoming a pioneer in Barton County, moving to Ft. Zarah in the spring of 1871.
Once again, here’s how David described it…
In May, 1871, within two days after our arrival at Ft. Zarah (Kansas), Dr. John Prescott, W. W. Weymouth, Wm. Finn, Captain Griffin and myself, organized the Zarah Town Company. Dr. John Prescott was elected president, D. N. Heizer secretary and W. W. Weymouth treasurer. We were all directors. We at once proceeded to select a location for our town and decided on the west fractional half of section 26, township 19, range 13. William Finn, who had a transit and surveyor’s chain with him, directed the survey and we staked out a street running north and south, as I remember, for about two blocks, a row of blocks on either side of the street. This was not intended to be a complete survey, but only such a survey as would enable us to make filing on this land under the Townsite-Preemption Act, as in force at that time. Mr. W. W. Weymouth and Dr. John Prescott were supposed to be the heavy capitalists in this enterprise and the next day after the survey were taken by me to Ellsworth, they took the train for their respective homes. Mr. Weymouth to Springfield, Ohio, and Dr. Prescott to Meridan, Miss., both with the avowed determination of arranging their business as speedily as possible, to return with their families for settlement and to develop the new town.
1871-1872 Keeping the Love Going from Zarah to Great Bend.
1872 – David & Emma – A Great Bend Wedding.
Emilie (Emma) Caroline McCaughan and David Newton Heizer married, in Great Bend, in 1872. They lived there until moving to Colorado in the 1890’s.
In the 1890’s, David moved his family to Colorado, settling in the Colorado Springs area. By 1907, David was elected mayor of the city!
Below is a biographical sketch found in The Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado (1913)…
All in all, I’d say not too bad for a farm boy from Kossuth, Iowa! Don’t you think?
On an interesting side-note: Because of our link to Find-A-Grave, we were contacted in July 2021 by a dear lady, and fellow historian, Mary Stanulonis of Colorado Springs. Turns out Mary & her husband live in the 1896 home of David & Emilie Heizer.
In her research, she’s uncovered some stock certificates signed by Heizer, as president of an investment company – Cripple Creek and Spearfish mines. They have completely restored the home and have placed these two historical plaques on the front door! Beautiful! Thanks, Mary, for continuing the Heizer story!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.