Biography - DAVID H. SLAGLE
An honored veteran of the civil war and a faithful employee in the mail service of the nation, David Henry Slagle well deserves mention among the representative citizens of Marseilles. He was born at Delta, Fulton county, Ohio, March 23, 1843, the eldest son of Henry and Caroline Slagle, whose family numbered five children, - three sons and two daughters. The father was a native of Little York, Pennsylvania, and the mother, who bore the maiden name of Caroline Hobart, was born at Pulteney, Steuben county, New York. Their children were Mary, who died in infancy; Elizabeth E., David H., Oscar and James. During the Mexican war Henry Slagle enlisted in the country's service, becoming a member of Company A, Fifth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Morgan. When the war was ended and the regiment was on the way home, he was taken ill and died in Cincinnati, Ohio, leaving a widow and four children.
David H. Slagle, the subject of this review, after his father's death, was adopted by George Gallaher, a man of strict Presbyterian faith, living near Delta, Ohio. Li May, 1851, with Mr. Gallaher he came to Illinois, locating in the vicinity of Marseilles, in Manlius township. He entered school in 1852, pursuing his education in the old log school-house south of the Christian church, on section 3, Manlius township. Among his fellow students at that time was Dwight M. Sabin, afterward United States senator from Minnesota. Mr. Slagle was eighteen years of age at the time of the inauguration of the civil war, and was clerking in the store of William W. Richey, of Marseilles. When the secessionists of the south attempted to drag the flag of the Union in the dust and rend in twain the nation, and men came from work-shop, factory, the counting-room and the office to do battle for the starry banner and the cause it represented, Mr. Slagle also offered his service. With five or six of his friends, young men, he was the first from the village to enlist in the three-months service, becoming a member of Captain Charles Houghtaling's battery of light artillery, which was organized at Ottawa, Illinois, April 19, 1861. His name was carried on the roll as Henry Slagle.
On the same day the battery left for the war, arriving at Cairo, Illinois, April 22. This organization became Company F, Tenth Illinois Infantry, and during its term of enlistment did service at Cairo. While Mr. Slagle was in the three-months service, Hon. B. C. Cook, a representative in congress, assured Captain Houghtaling that any young man of his company that he would recommend from his battery would be named to the secretary of war for appointment as a cadet at the West Point Military Academy. Mr. Slagle was recommended and strongly urged to accept the appointment, but declined, and a few weeks later, on the 27th of August, 1861, re-entered the service as a member of Company K, Thirty-ninth Regiment, Yates Phalanx, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The company was recruited at Marseilles to serve for three years or during the war and was under command of Captain Joseph Woodruff. Mr. Slagle was promoted to the rank of sergeant at Benton Barracks, Missouri, October 19, 1861, and served for three years, after which he re-enlisted at Hilton Head, South Carolina. His was no temporary loyalty, and throughout the entire struggle he remained at the front, faithfully defending the cause he loved on the battlefields of the south.
In 1862, while the regiment was at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, Mr. Slagle was one of ten detailed from the regiment to return to Illinois on recruiting service. After performing that duty he rejoined his command at Newbern, North Carolina, and soon entered upon the year's campaign in South Carolina. He participated in the battles in front of Charleston, and the regiment then returned to the front of Richmond, where he took part in the many engagements that occurred in that vicinity in the summer of 1864. On the 13th of October of that year the First Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps, made an advance on the works in front of Richmond and executed a notable charge on a line of works at Darbytown Cross Roads. In that charge, while climbing the abattis of the works. Sergeant Slagle was wounded and taken prisoner, and in the same engagement his brother James was wounded, but not captured. His regiment with two hundred and fifty men in line lost seventy. While a prisoner our subject was confined in Castle Thunder prison, just across the street from Libby prison, but being wounded he was held only -for a few days, after which he was paroled and sent down the James river to Annapolis, Maryland, to the St. John's College Hospital. In January, 1865, with one hundred and fifty other wounded soldiers, he was placed on board a steamer to be transferred to the hospital at Baltimore. A steamer usually made the run up the Chesapeake bay in two hours and consequently carried no provisions and but few men to care for the wounded; but on this trip the boat became lodged in the ice in the middle of the bay and was forced to remain there for two days and two nights in the bitter cold of winter. The Eleventh Indiana Infantry, at Baltimore, twenty-seven miles distant, volunteered to rescue the imperiled men, and every soldier on skates and drawing a hand sled made of board went to the steamer, whence they transferred the wounded, on a terribly cold night, to the shore, four miles distant. From Baltimore our subject was sent to Wilmington, Delaware, and on to Philadelphia, where he was discharged from the United States service when orderly sergeant, on account of a severe wound in the joint of the right ankle. This necessitated his use of crutches for nearly a year after his return home, where he arrived in June, 1865.
During the following fall Mr. Slagle attended Bryant & Stratton's Commercial College, at Chicago. On the 6th of March, 1866, he was appointed postmaster at Marseilles, Illinois, the salary being then twenty dollars per month for service, office, fuel and lights. On the loth of December, 1872, the office became presidential in the character of appointment, and Mr. Slagle was commissioned postmaster by President Grant; January 21, 1878, by President Hayes; and January 30, 1882, by President Arthur, serving until April 1, 1886, when E. Barber became his successor, by an appointment made by President Cleveland. For one year he served as deputy under Mr. Barber, making a continuous service in the office of twenty-one years.
On his retirement he accepted the position of bookkeeper for the firm of Bruce & Barron, bridge contractors, with whom he remained for two years. In February. 1889, he took the United States civil service examination, and on the 5th of June, of that year, received an appointment as railway postal clerk on the Chicago. Dunbar & Dubuque Railway post-office, running between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa. In February, 1890, he was transferred to the Chicago & West Liberty Railway post-office, running between Chicago and West Liberty, Iowa.
Socially Mr. Slagle has long been a Mason, having become a member of
Marseilles Lodge, No. 417, F. & A. M., in 1868. He has been very prominent
in the work of the order and has served as treasurer, secretary, warden and
master of the lodge. On the 21st of February, 1873, he was exalted ta the
august degree of Royal Arch Mason in Shabbona Chapter, No. 37; and on the
20th of November, 1873, he received the orders of knighthood in Ottawa
Commandery, No. 10, Knights Templar. He was again connected with the
military service of the state, when on the 30th of March,. 1876. he was
commissioned by Governor John L. Beveridge second lieutenant in the
Marseilles Light Guards, Third Regiment Illinois National Guards, in which
capacity he served until Septemher 21, 1877, when he resigned.
At the organization of Joseph Woodruff Post, No. 281, G. A. R., on the 13th of February, 1874, he was elected officer of the day; in 1887 was elected adjutant; and on the 7th of April, 1895, was elected commander.
In politics he is a stanch Republican, and in June, 1874, he served as a delegate from LaSalle county to the state convention at Springfield. On the 13th of August, 1879, he was a delegate from LaSalle county to the congressional convention at Morris, Illinois. In 1866 he was made clerk of the corporation of the village of Marseilles, in 1867 was clerk of the town of Manlius, and in all these different positions, social, civil, military and political he has ever been most faithful to the trust and confidence reposed in him.
Mr. Slagle was married October 20, 1864, to Miss Hattie Juckett, of Coldwater, Michigan, who died August 8, 1875, on which date their infant son also passed away. On the 21st of December, 1876, Mr. Slagle was joined in wedlock to Mrs. Lucy M. Fleming, of Marseilles. Their only child, Bessie D., died November 21, 1880, at the age of three years, one month and four days; and the mother's death occurred April 7, 1895. On the 21st of April, 1897, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Slagle and Miss Lillie L. Conkling, the wedding ceremony being performed by the Rev. A. H. Laing, at Joliet, Illinois. The lady is a native of Delphos, Ohio, and a daughter of Dr. Samuel F. Conkling. On the 7th of April, 1898, a son was born to them, David Henry, Jr.
Such in brief is the life history of one of Marseilles' most prominent and esteemed citizens. His life has been an honorable and upright one, and he is to-day as true to his duties of citizenship as when he followed the starry banner upon the battle-fields of the south.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 312-315.