Ezekiel Sampson 1845-1896 & Isabelle Hopkirk 1847-1942
Married 28 Oct 1871 Lockridge, Jefferson County, Iowa
Sixth child of Thomas & Mary Sampson
Born: 18 Mar 1845 Cornwall
Died: 9 Feb 1896 Lockridge, Jefferson County, Iowa
Occupation: store clerk, union soldier, university student, methodist minister and farmer
Daughter of John Hopkirk (1809-1875) & Jane Nicholson (1810-1901)
Born: 21 Jan 1847 Jefferson County, Iowa
Died: 25 Nov 1942
Buried: Lockridge Cemetery, Jefferson County, Iowa
A Sketch of Ezekiel Sampson
A short biography of Ezekiel Sampson, lately deceased, may afford an example worthy emulation by the youth of our country and give a key to the character of as noble a man as the history of our county has produced; and, to some extent, represent a type of citizenship peculiarly American.
Ezekiel Sampson was born in England, county of Cornwall, March 13th, 1845. His father, Thomas Sampson was a coal miner [correction Cornish miners mined tin and copper], with a disposition that led him to unite with the Wesleyan societies, and his talent soon marked him as worthy to be a lay preacher. While delving deep down in the earth, his thoughts were ever of the good and beautiful, and full of a desire to elevate his companions in toil to a life of virtue, too often sadly wanting among the Cornish miners. Mary Sampson, the mother, was a woman of more than average sweetness of character, and worthy to be the wife of Thomas Sampson, the miner and preacher.
When Ezekiel was five years old, his parents came to America with their six sons [correction five sons and one daughter in Samuel, Lydia, William, Thomas, Ezekiel and Gideon] leaving their only daughter in England [correction – leaving their eldest daughter Jane Sampson]. This family, strangers in a strange land, found a home in a small cabin near Perlee. The many biographies of Lincoln have made us acquainted with the depth of poverty from which he emerged. Many another family could tell of poverty equally oppressive, and the family of Thomas Sampson was among the number. The writer has heard Ezekiel tell of attending Sunday school barefooted, which for a boy in those days was rather a pleasure that a hardship, but to conceal his want of a hat he would reach the schoolhouse first of all, and thus avoid undue attention.
Books were few in those days before the war, and such as the family could buy or borrow were too precious to be read by each separately, so a circle would be formed around the table, with Ezekiel for the reader, because he read easily and with expression. The readings were of great value because of the discussions which frequently took place during them, joined in by the deeply thoughtful father, and the quiet loving mother. It is much to be feared that in these days of many societies, both in the churches and out of them, the sweet home life is not as much valued as it was in that humble cabin.
Ezekiel was ever full of resources, a leader among his brothers and the neighbouring youth. He was historian of a literary society formed in 1859 and continuing until the fall of 1865. In the early days of 1864 he was a clerk in the store of Dr. C.S. Clarke, in Fairfield. When Lincoln called for one hundred day men, he quit his position and enlisted in the Forty-fifth Iowa Infantry, Company G. One brother had enlisted in 1861, another in 1862, still another in 1863, and now in the old ho9me was only the widowed mother, with two sons younger than Ezekiel. The Forty-fifth was only called for reserve duty in western Tennessee. At the close of the period for which its members had enlisted President Lincoln tendered to them his thanks through the governor of the state. Returning home in the fall of 1864 Mr. S. spent the winter in such work as he could find, but when spring came a younger brother, Gideon G., became infected with the war fever, and Ezekiel, unwilling to let him, a mere lad, go alone, accompanied him to Chicago, where they enlisted in the Twenty-third Illinois Infantry, Company G.
Some wish, perhaps to see more of the world than the west afforded, led the two young men to enlist in a regiment that was serving in the Potomac army, and when in April Grant began his final movement against Lee the five companies that were at home recruiting were hurried to the front. They passed through Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, as people were returning from church, and were wildly cheered, for at that time everyone was excited over the news from the front. They were hurried down Chesapeake bay to Richmond, and to a point on James river about eight miles above the city. This last move proved Ezekiel’s wisdom in going with his brother into the service, for the latter was unable, on account of the intense heat, to keep up with the column, and Ezekiel carried his load for him. The recruits here joined the veteran Twenty third Illinois, only 150 in number, out of 1,200 who had enlisted under Mulligan.
In May the company to which the Sampson boys belonged returned to Richmond to guard government property. A heavy rain during this march gave them a taste of what campaigning in the terrible red mud of Virginia meant. They slept that night with the rain beating in their faces. Their service here often was to stand guard at Libby Prison, both at the east front and at the “rat hell” entrance. While in camp, which was between the docks and James river, Gideon fell sick, and but for his brother would have been sent to the hospital; but the latter, knowing the terrors of homesickness to a boy separated from all friends, made a vow that if God would permit him to take his brother safely home, he would devote his life to the ministry. It was well that these two youths were together, for each in turn cared for the other. It was while camped in Richmond that the strength of the home training stood nobly by them. Surrounded as they were by the temptations of a soldier’s life, its dissipations and intemperance, each night and morning witnessed the same form of worship and thanksgiving that had been strictly observed at home.
Sampson entered the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mt. Pleasant the fall term of 1866. Many of the students had seen service in the army and knew, perhaps, more of what life means, and of the need of an education, than the average student of today. Poverty, hard work and army privations made these young men terribly in earnest. Rev. Charles Elliot was president of the university, a profound scholar, of rugged manhood and simple piety. Professor Burns, of abounding vitality; Bierbower, of gentlemanly demeanor and persuasive Christian life; Mansfield, with brilliant thought and social feeling; Miss Nellie Ambler, somewhat studied in her manners, yet her whole nature beaming with love for all good things good and holy, were Sampson’s teachers. Dr. H. W. Thomas, Rev. John Pickett and Rev. Williams were in the pulpits of the city and exerted a deep influence. The first named has since made himself famous in a Chicago pulpit, and the second closed a noble life of labor in Colorado, killed by the overturning of a stage coach. Sampson joined the Philo society just after its organization, and it soon took rank as the first in the university. Among the members of the society who have achieved fame since their college days, as orators and thinkers, are Thos. McFarland, D.D., and his brother William M., secretary of state, C.L. Stafford, D.D., J.E. Corley, D.D., and W.W. Fink.
In 1867-8 a great religious awakening swept the town and college. Every student either was or became s convert except one, and he, on going home for winter vacation, returned converted. Sampson and many other students were greatly aided in their literary work by H.C. Dean and his son William. They threw open their large and magnificent library to the use of all students and friends, anyone might go and read at pleasure. The Deans lived a short distance east of the corporation and made all welcome, so that Friday afternoons troops of students would flock there, enter the library containing nothing but books and a rag carpet, throw themselves on the floor, or into any easy position, and read.
Sampson graduated in 1871 in the scientific course, and at once began to preach under Rev. John Hayden on the Libertyville circuit. After entering the Methodist conference he filled the following pastorates: Knoxville circuit, Otley, Eddyville, Millersburg, Tiffin and Riverside. Failing health compelled him to retire to a farm just east of Lockridge, formerly owned by John Hopkirk. In 1870 he was married to Isabella Hopkirk, and, although no children blessed their home, their love for children made them the friends of the little folks far and near. Mr Sampson was never happier than when in the company of children and young people. He began farming with the same enthusiasm that he had entered college and the ministerial vocation, and perhaps his pleasure at obtaining a premium on farm products or live stock at the county fair was as great as it had been in gaining collegiate honors. While farming he wrote to college friends “that he was spending his years, strength and talents for his fellow men.” Mr Sampson was of the same mind as the poet –
“He prayeth well who loveth well
Both bird and man and beast.”
In all his vocations a wish to be helpful and make the world brighter inspired his actions.
For years he filled with credit the office of justice of the peace and his sense of duty impelled him to take an active part in politics. In summing up Mr. Sampson’s life, it seems, perhaps, to have been most interesting as a radiating center of sympathy and brightness. He was full of ideas and wishes which will bear fruit in years still to come. Such lives as his are “stepping stones” by which we rise to better views of human possibilities, and even in losing such a man we may –
“Reach a hand thro’ time to catch
The far-off interest of tears.”
DOING GOOD EVERYWHERE