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Subject: Sd-Faulk Co. Bios (Pickler)
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2005 23:14:37 -0500

Faulk County, SD Biographies.....Pickler, John A. 1844 - living in 1909
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Joy Fisher January 8, 2005, 11:14 pm

Author: C. H. Ellis

MAJOR JOHN A. PICKLER is a native of Washington county, Indiana, where he
was born on the 24th of January, 1844, being a son of George and Emily (Martin)
Pickler, the former of whom was born in Indiana and the latter in Kentucky,
while both families early settled in the Hoosier state, in the pioneer epoch.
The father of Major Pickler was for many years engaged in agricultural pursuits,
finally removing to Davis county, Iowa, where he engaged in merchandising, as
did he later in Kirksville, Missouri, where both he and his wife passed the
closing years of their earnest and useful lives. Major Pickler passed his
boyhood days on the old Indiana homestead and secured his preliminary
educational discipline in the district schools, after which he completed a
course of study in the high school at Bloomfield, Iowa, where his parents had
taken up their abode. He was later matriculated in the Iowa State University,
where he was graduated as a member of the class of 1870, with the degree of
Bachelor of Philosophy. Shortly afterwards he entered the law department of the
celebrated University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, where he completed the
prescribed course and was graduated in 1872, receiving the degree of Bachelor of
Laws. After thus fortifying himself for the work of his exacting profession he
engaged in the practice of law at Kirksville, Missouri, whence, in 1875, he
removed to Muscatine, Iowa, where he entered into a professional alliance as a
member of the law firm of Hoffman, Pickler & Brown, which held prestige at the
bar of the Hawkeye state, and he continued to be thus associated until coming to
Dakota Territory in 1882, since which year he has retained his home in Faulk
county. He possesses one of the largest and best selected libraries in the state.

Prompted by intrinsic loyalty and patriotism, Major Pickler early offered
his services in defense of the Union when “grim-visaged war reared its horrid
front." In 1862 he enlisted in Company D, Third Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, in which
he became a non-commissioned officer. During his period of service with this
command he was granted a furlough of thirty days in order that he might attend,
in Philadelphia, a military training school for applicants for command in
colored troops. He was later examined, in the city of St. Louis, and passed for
captaincy, and there rejoined his regiment to await developments. He continued
in active service with the Third Iowa Cavalry until 1864, when he veteranized
and rejoined the same company and regiment, being promoted to second lieutenant,
first lieutenant and finally captain of Company D, in the meanwhile having
declined to be mustered in as captain in the One Hundred and Twenty-second
Regiment of the United States Colored Infantry. Upon being mustered out of the
Third Cavalry he was made major of the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Regiment of
United States Colored Infantry, at the age of twenty-one years, and commanded
this regiment for several months at Atlanta, Georgia This regiment was mustered
out in January, 1866, and Major Pickler then received his honorable discharge.
He participated in a number of the notable engagements of the great internecine
conflict and made an enviable record as a faithful and valiant soldier and able
commanding officer. He retains a deep interest in his old comrades in arms and
is an honored member of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In September, 1882, Major Pickler came from Iowa by railroad to Mitchell,
South Dakota and thence by stage to Huron, at which point he joined a party of
gentlemen who were going to the center of Faulk county to locate a town, which
they hoped to make the county seat. The party proceeded by rail to Miller, Hand
county, where the subject of this sketch and others of the company procured
lumber for claim shanties, the material being loaded with other lumber belonging
to others of the party and designed for the construction of a hotel in the new
town. In the procession that finally proceeded northward over the un-trampled
prairies there were thirteen wagons, each being well loaded. For eight miles out
of Miller they followed a somewhat beaten" track, but thereafter proceeded
across the prairies without a trail, placing lath on various high points as they
traveled, in order that they might find their way back by the same route. On
sunfall of the second day they arrived on the present site of Faulkton, locating
that town on the south bank of the Nixon river. The next day Major Pickler
settled upon a pre-emption claim adjoining the town, and his pleasaut home is
located on this property, a considerable portion of which is now platted into
town lots. He was active in assisting in the organization and •development of
Faulk county, being one of the most prominent members of the bar of this section.

In politics he has ever given an uncompromising allegiance to the republican
party and has long been known as one of its leaders in the state. He served as
state's attorney of Adair county, Missouri, and while engaged in practice in
Iowa was a Garfield elector from the second district of that state. He served as
a member of the legislature of Iowa, and in 1885 was elected to the territorial
legislature of South Dakota. By his old colonel of the Third Iowa Cavalry,
General John W. Noble, secretary of the intertor under President Harrison, he
was appointed an inspector in the public land service, in which capacity he
served until his election to congress in 1889. Upon the admission of South
Dakota to the Union, Major Pickler was elected at large as one of the first
members of congress from the state, the fifty-first congress. He was re-elected
at large to the fifty-second, fifty-third and fifty-fourth congresses, and thus
was a representative of his state in the lower house of the federal legislature
for four successive congresses, within which he accomplished much for the
furtherance of the best interests of South Dakota. He served as a member of the
committees of public land, Indian affairs, invalid pensions, irrigation of arid
lands, alcoholic liquor traffic and that of claims. He was chairman of the
committee on invalid pensions in the fifty-fourth congress. He was-not a
candidate for re-election to the fifty-fifth congress but was a candidate for
nomination for the United States senate. He received the Republican legislative
caucus nomination and the unanimous vote of the caucus for more than thirty
days, but the Republicans were lacking five votes of a majority and as it was
deemed improbable that a Republican could be elected, the representatives of the
party, with one exception, voted for Hon. James. H. Kyle to succeed himself as
senator, and he was duly elected. The senate succeeding President McKinley's
first election was known to be very equally divided between the Republicans and
the opposition, and the national Republican committee was very desirous; and so
expressed itself to Major Pickler, that in case it became apparent that a
Republican could not be elected, the Republican strength in South Dakota be
thrown to a man who would, if necessary, vote for the tariff and financial
policies of the Republican party. In accordance with this expressed desire of
the national leaders, and after protracted support by the caucus, Major Pickler
advised the change of vote from himself to Senator Kyle, who could be relied
upon to support the measures desired. While acting as chairman of the house
committee on invalid pensions Major Pickler became so popular with the veteran
soldier elements in the Republican party, that petitions poured in from every
direction by the thousands asking the Secretary of the Interior to appoint him
commissioner of pensions, a request which if seconded by the man who had been so
anxious for him to withdraw from the race for senator in the interest of the
party, when at last an equal chance for victory was before him, would have
assured his appointment, but the request of thousands of comrades was not
seconded and the appointment was not made. The Major is identified with the
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order
of United Workmen. He and his wife are prominent and valued members of the
Methodist Episcopal church in their home city.

On the sixteenth of November, 1870, was solemnized the marriage of Major
Pickler to Miss Alice M. Alt, who was born in Johnson county, Iowa, in 1848,
being a daughter of Joseph A. Alt, one of the sterling pioneers of that state.
They have four children, Lula A., wife of W. J. Frad, dry goods merchant in
Faulkton. Madge E., wife of Prof. N. K. Hoy, editor of the Grand Valley Herald
and real estate dealer at Meadow, Perkins county, South Dakota, Alfred A.,
editor of the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Daily American, and Dale Alice, now a
student at Simmons College, Boston, Mass.

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