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.

(C-0207-C-0210) In January 2021, I purchased these 4 Iowa City postmarked covers from an Ebay dealer. As I did research on them, I found a great deal of info about the Iowan the letters were addressed to: David Newton Heizer of Kossuth (near Mediapolis in Des Moines County). A few weeks later, that same Ebay dealer offered me 63 more covers related to Heizer. The price was right (less than 50-cents per cover) so I got ’em and here’s the complete collection. 67 covers – ranging over thirty years – one interesting story. Enjoy!

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 Heizer and 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.

March – December 1864: After resting a short time, the regiment marched to Memphis and went into camp there. Major Coon and General Grierson now made a special effort to induce the men to re-enlist for another term of three years, or during the war. These officers were very popular with the regiment, and their efforts resulted in the re-enlistment of a sufficient number of men to entitle the regiment to the designation of a veteran organization.

The re-enlisted men were again mustered into the service on the 28th of March, 1864, and, from that date, the regiment had the new title of Second Iowa Veteran Cavalry Volunteers. The aggregate strength of the regiment at this time was 1,088, of which number 45 were commissioned officers, 360 re-enlisted veterans and 683 non-veterans and recruits. The re-enlisted men were granted a furlough of thirty days, to begin from the time they arrived at Davenport, Iowa. They embarked on steamer at Memphis, April 7, 1864. Upon reaching Davenport they were accorded an enthusiastic reception. They then received their furloughs and departed for their respective homes. On the 15th of May they reassembled at Davenport and, on the 17th, departed for St. Louis. In the meantime Colonel Hatch had been promoted to Brigadier General, Major Coon succeeding him as Colonel of the regiment and Captains Horton, Schnitger and Moore had become Battalion Majors. At St. Louis the veterans were supplied with horses and then proceeded to Memphis, where they arrived on the 29th of May and rejoined the non-veterans and recruits, who had, in the meantime, been performing garrison duty at Fort Pickering, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hepburn. Here the regiment was supplied with the latest improved arms, Spencers’ seven- shooting carbines, at that time considered the most effective cavalry arm in the service.

Another active and aggressive campaign was now about to begin. The rebel General Forrest had captured Fort Pillow and won a victory over the troops commanded by General Sturgis. Emboldened by these successes, Forrest had established his headquarters at Tupelo, Miss., where he was daily augmenting his forces and bidding defiance to any force that might be sent against him. General A. J. Smith was ordered to Memphis to take command of the Union forces there and to proceed against Forrest. The Second Iowa Cavalry now belonged to the cavalry division commanded by General B. B Grierson, its own Colonel, D. E. Coon, being in command of the brigade to which his regiment was attached, while the regiment was under the command of Major C. C. Horton, whose series of admirable official reports describe with great particularity of detail all the movements and operations of the regiment from the day he became its commander to the close of the year 1864. Appended to these reports are the lists of casualties sustained during the period embraced, showing how the regiment had fought and suffered during the campaign. The principal engagements in which the regiment took part, and included in Major Horton’s reports, are here given in the order in which they occurred: Tupelo, Miss., Ripley, Miss., Pontotoc, Miss., Oxford, Miss., Hurricane Creek Miss., Shoal Creek, Ala., Aberdeen, Ala., Butler Creek, Ala., Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Campbellville, Tenn., Linville, Tenn., Mount Carmel, Tenn., and near Franklin, Tenn.

On December 2, 1864, the regiment, with its brigade and division, fell back to Nashville, crossed the Cumberland River and went into camp at Edgefield, to which place the tents and knapsacks had been forwarded. The men were very glad to again have these equipments, having been deprived of them since leaving their camp at Whitens Station in September. In the meantime they had bivouacked in the open field. with no protection save that afforded by the army blanket. The weather had now become intensely cold and the men suffered very greatly. It was evident that another desperate struggle was now impending and could not long be delayed. The opposing armies of Generals Thomas and Hood were constantly employed in fortifying the positions they occupied, that of Thomas being along a chain of hills encircling the city of Nashville, and that of Hood along another chain of hills from one to four miles distant from that city. General Thomas, after making every preparation to meet the threatened attack finally determined to assume the offensive and made the necessary disposition of his troops for the purpose of assaulting the enemy along the entire line of his works. The cavalry division, commanded by General Hatch, was ordered to recross the Cumberland River on the 12th of December, and was assigned to a position on the right of General A. J. Smith’s Corps. Everything being in readiness, the advance was ordered on the morning of December 15, 1864, and the result of the tremendous struggle which ensued went far towards the complete overthrow of the so-called Confederate Government and the restoration of peace. It was the greatest battle in which the Second Iowa Cavalry participated and the one in which the regiment won its highest honors.
(C-0207) Postmarked in Iowa City on March 14, 1865 to D. N. Heizer Co. M 2nd Iowa Cav. via Cairo, Ill.
(C-0207) This was recorded at a later date by one of David’s children: “Received by Dad in March of 1865 when he was in Co. M 2nd Iowa Calvary during the Civil War. I think that Dad’s cousin Lou Fuller wrote it.”

January – September 1865: The regiment, with its brigade and division arrived at Eastport, Miss., January 11, 1865, and went into winter quarters at that place. On the 19th of February, Major Schnitger, with four hundred men from the Second Iowa and Ninth Illinois Cavalry, conducted a successful expedition against a force of cavalry under command of the rebel General Roddy, returning to camp with a large number of prisoners, most of whom were found hiding in the woods, they having deserted the rebel commander, who continued to retreat with the remainder of his force and made good his escape. During the remainder of the winter the regiment was not called upon for active duty as the war was practically ended. During the spring and summer of 1865 the operations of the regiment extended over a considerable territory in the northern sections of Alabama and Mississippi, but these operations were more in the nature of a pacific than hostile character, the real necessity for the retention of troops in the Southern States during this period being for the purpose of maintaining order, and assisting in the readjustment of the functions of civil government. Early in the month of September, the Veteran Second Iowa Cavalry was ordered to proceed to Selma, Ala., at which place, on the 19th day of September, 1865, it was mustered out of the service of the United States. It was then provided with transportation to Davenport, Iowa, and, upon arriving there, was disbanded, and the officers and men returned to their respective homes.

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.

(C-0208) Letter #1 to Dave N. Heizer Postmarked in Iowa City January 19, (late 1860’s).
(C-0209) Letter #2 to Dave N. Heizer Postmarked in Iowa City October 30, (late 1860’s).
(C-0210) Letter #3 to Dave N. Heizer Esq. Postmarked in Iowa City April 15 (late 1860’s-1870).

University of Iowa (SUI) records from 1871 show David, and his cousin, Cyrus, attending classes in Iowa City between 1869 and 1871.

From the 1869-1870 school year.
From the 1870-1871 school year.

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).

Kossuth (Mediapolis) to Winterset. Did Emma & David meet at SUI in Iowa City?
(C-0219) Circa 1870-1871 – David is writing Emma McCaughan in Winterset from Iowa City (1870?), and after moving to Kansas (postmarked in Ellsworth) in 1871.
(C-0220) Circa 1870-1871 – Emma (in Winterset) is writing letters to David while he is in Kossuth and Iowa City.

Go West – Dave Heizer – Go West.

Fort Zarah (Barton County) Kansas. A Kansas Historical Marker located on the grounds of the park called Fort Zarah Park reads: “In 1825 The Federal Government surveyed the Santa Fe Trail great trade route from Western Missouri to Santa Fe. Treaties with the Kansas and Osage Indians safeguarded the Eastern end of the road but Plains tribes continued to make raids. Fort Zarah at this point was one of a chain of forts built on the trail to protect wagon trains and guard settlers. It was established in 1864 by Gen. Samuel R. Curtis and named for his son, Maj. H. Zarah Curtis, who had been killed in the Baxter Springs Massacre Oct. 6, 1863. The fort was built of sandstone quarried in nearby bluffs. Fort Zarah was successfully defended against an attack by 100 Kiowas on Oct. 2, 1868. It was abandoned in 1869.”

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.

(C-0221) (C-0218a) Circa 1871-1872 – Numerous postal covers to David in Ft. Zarah from Xenia & Cedarville, Ohio (near Springfield) and Enterprise, Mississippi (near Meridian). We are assuming these many letters are from W.W. Weymouth (Ohio) and Dr. John Prescott (Mississippi) during the transition time David mentions in his biographic material (above).
(C-0222) Circa 1871-1872 – Here’s more postal covers to David in Ft. Zarah from Xenia, Ohio (near Springfield). Again we assume these many letters are from W.W. Weymouth (Ohio) during the transition time David mentions in his biographic material.
(C-0228) Circa 1871-1872 – Here’s an interesting cover to David postmarked in Ellsworth but going to him in Manhattan, KS. Possibly while he was “on the road” back to Iowa?

1871-1872 Keeping the Love Going from Zarah to Great Bend.

Great Bend/Zarah is 50+ miles from Ellsworth. When David first moved to Ft. Zarah in 1871, the nearest railroad was 150 miles away (Topeka) and he traveled 56 miles to get his mail (Ellsworth).
(C-0223) Circa 1871-1872 – Emma continued to write to David, as well, after he moved out west.
(C-0218b) Circa 1871-1872 – More letters from Emma!
1872 – When the Santa Fe Railroad bypassed Zarah, running through nearby Great Bend instead, most Zarah residents, including David, threw in the towel and put their attention toward Great Bend, a new community on the Arkansas River. As you can see from this report, David was elected Probate Judge for Barton County in July 1872, and other records show, he eventually became Mayor as well.

1872 – David & Emma – A Great Bend Wedding.

David & Emma

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.

(C-0224) Circa late-1870’s – David & Emma had three children while living in Great Bend – Frances (1875), Dell (1877), Charles (1880?). Here’s a note to Frankie & Dell (from Mom when she was in Winterset)?
Here’s an interesting fact. In 1886, David was involved with the first exploration of oil in Barton County, Kansas.
(C-0225) Circa late-1880’s – Here’s a self-addressed stamped envelope (i.e. a party invitation?) sent out by Mr. & Mrs. D.N. Heizer to friends in Great Bend.
(C-0226) Circa 1890-1892 – Postal covers from Emma’s parents (Rev Charles and Emily McCaughan) of Winterset, Iowa to the family in Great Bend.
(C-0227) 1891 – According to his biography, David became the Railroad Commissioner for Kansas in 1873 and after that worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. I’m guessing this cover (from Emma’s family in Winterset) was sent to a temporary residence in Topeka in 1891.

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!

(C-0229) (C-0218c-d) Circa 1893-1894 – a large collection of covers from family in Winterset and Great Bend, addressed to the Heizer family in Cascade and Colorado Springs, their final destination in life.

Below is a biographical sketch found in The Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado (1913)…

Emilie (Emma) McCaughan Heizer (born Feb 9, 1847) died Sept 12, 1920 at age 73. David Newton Heizer (born Nov 11, 1846) died on March 27, 1932 at age 85. Both are buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

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.

Yellow Spring and Huron, J. W. Merrill – Mediapolis, Iowa, 1897 pp. 88-91

Fort Zarah, Barton County, Kansas, Santa Fe Trail Resource

Early Barton County History, D.N. Heizer – Colorado Springs

A History of Early Day Barton County, Kansas, John Simons, 1971

Lajos Kossuth, Wikepedia

Historical Sketch of the Second Regiment Iowa Volunteer Calvary, IaGenWeb

David Newton Heizer (1846-1932), Find-A-Grave

Emilie Caroline McCaughan Heizer (1847-1920), Find-A-Grave

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