The Sherman Family: James Sherman, the forgotten brother

James Sherman was born on December 14, 1813,[1] or December 12, 1814,[2] depending on which source you look at.  His parents were Charles Robert Sherman, a respected lawyer in Lancaster, Ohio, and Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and Mary Hoyt Sherman.  James lost his father at an early age after Charles’s sudden death on June 24, 1829.[3]   It’s possible James never truly recovered from the loss of his father during his adolescent years.  Unlike his brothers, Mansfield, Ohio lawyer Charles T. Sherman; Civil War General William T. Sherman; Senator John Sherman; newspaperman and Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa Lampson P. Sherman; and Army paymaster and politician Maj. Hoyt Sherman, James never rose to greatness.

SHERMAN_James marriage Fairfield Co Ohio

James Sherman and Sophia Connell Marriage Record

In John Sherman’s autobiography, he says James left for Cincinnati after their father’s death and “accepted a clerkship in a store,” and “from that time paid his own way.”[4]  James is not mentioned again, but letters between John and William T. Sherman strongly indicated John did not agree with the life James was leading.  On September 26, 1841, James married Sophia Connell in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio and a few years later, after declining an offer from his brother Charles to come to Mansfield, James went west to the new settlement in Fort Des Moines.  He returned to Ohio in 1847, procured $1,000 to start a grocery store, and left again for Iowa.  His wife, Sophia, and oldest son, Charles, joined him a few months later.  The 1850 Census lists James as having no occupation in Fort Des Moines, indicating the grocery store had failed and he had added another child, Frances.  His brothers, Hoyt and Lampson, were also living with him.  In letters between Hoyt and William, Hoyt says there are troubles between Sophia and James and that she is considering returning to Ohio.  By 1851 Hoyt writes: “Jim still drinks – does nothing.”[5]


William is able to patch up the marriage between James and Sophia, but both he and John express their concerns and say that if James’s drinking does not stop, Sophia will have no alternative.  John was finished with his brother, calling him a “miserable drunkard,” and saying he was “lost to all sense of honor.”[6]  James and Sophia never divorced and had two more children: Hoyt, in 1851, and Mary, in 1855, who only lived a few months.  James made small profits by buying and selling land in Iowa.  Most notably an area called Sevastopol, Iowa was laid out by James and recorded on July 21, 1862.  It was incorporated after his death.  It was said to be named after a well-known Russian Fortress during the Crimean War.[7]


From The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Iowa, 1875, A.T. Andreas.

James got into further financial problems and, in 1863, he quitclaimed the family homestead to Sophia for $200, most likely a tactic to put the property beyond the reach of his creditors.  Later that year, John Sherman made one last attempt to help his brother and arranged for James to move to Cincinnati, while Sophia and his children stayed in Des Moines.  It was hoped a brother-in-law there would be able to keep a watch over him.  James got a job in a tent factory, making war materials, but was never able to kick his habit.  On July 10, 1864, James Sherman died in Cincinnati, Ohio due to the effects of alcoholism.  His wife, Sophia, continued to live on in the family homestead, selling the property James had accumulated throughout the years to raise money.  She died on September 9, 1871, in Des Moines, Iowa.[8]


[1] James Sherman,
[2] Sherman genealogy, including families of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, England, p. 319.
[3] Judge Charles Robert Sherman,
[4] Sherman, John, Recollections of forty years in the House, Senate and cabinet. An autobiography, p. 29.
[5] Ferraro, William M., Representing a Layered Community: James, Lampson P., and Hoyt Sherman and the Development of Des Moines, 1850-1900. The Annals of Iowa 57 (1998), P. 246.
[6] Ibid, p. 247.
[7] Sevastopol,
[8] Sophia Connell Sherman,


The Sherman Family: Lampson Parker Sherman

Charles Robert Sherman and Mary Hoyt had eleven children before Charles’ early death at the age of 40 on June 24, 1829.  This created a situation where Mary was unable to care for all eleven children, who aged from 18 years to 3 months, and many went to live with prominent friends of Charles Sherman.  Charles, the eldest, went to Dayton, OH to stay with a cousin and lawyer, Mr. Stoddard.  Charles would eventually practice law in Mansfield.  William Tecumseh went to the family of the Hon. Thomas Ewing, a future Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of the Interior.  John would stay with his mother for two years before moving in with his father’s cousin, also named John Sherman, at Mt. Vernon, OH.  Lampson Parker, the fourth son, was adopted into the family of Charles Hammond, a lawyer and editor and chief proprietor of the Gazette, which was a leading newspaper in Cincinnati.


Lampson, or “Lamp” as he was called, and John were fond of playing practical jokes and often got into mischief together.  Once while Lampson was visiting from Cincinnati, John convinced Lamp to rob Mr. Howe’s orchard.  Lamp and other children had climbed a tree and began to shake down the apples.  However, unknown to them, John had arranged three boys from the academy to fire their muskets “loaded with powder and nothing else” at the tree.  The boys scattered, getting caught in vines and jumping over a high fence to escape.  In his autobiography, John Sherman remarked, “at seventy-two I know it was wrong.  At thirteen it was fun.”


Charles Hammond

Lampson would later begin an apprenticeship at the Cincinnati Gazette and, on April 10, 1845, married Mary A. Gitchell.  The couple had one child before Mary’s death on May 1, 1848, who was named Charles Hammond Sherman.  The following year, Lamp would make his way west and settle in what was then called Fort Des Moines.  Soon after his arrival, he started a Whig newspaper calling it the Gazette.  Lamp made his way to Cincinnati to buy presses, type, and other material he would need and shipped it by boat to St. Louis, which was then hauled to the fort.  He would set up shop across the street from his competitor, The Star, and publish his first paper on January 1, 1850.  The price was $2 per year in advance for the paper, but that $2 often never came.  Six months later, Lamp was having trouble paying the bills, and citizens agreed to assume one-half of the indebtedness, and the name of the paper was changed to the State Journal.  Lamp was later asked how he managed to get a paper out in those days without having the proper means and conveniences for the job.  He said summers went very well, but winters were difficult.  Snow would come in through the cracks in the logs making the paper damp, the ink would freeze and it took 40 days to get news from Washington.


Lampson P. Sherman house at 1052 26th St. Des Moines, Iowa

On December 31, 1851, Lamp was remarried to Susan Rebecca Lawson.  They would have 8 children.  That same year, Lamp helped draft the city charter for Fort Des Moines, was elected to the city council, and was Justice of the Peace.  In 1854 he was elected the third Mayor of Des Moines, in 1855 city recorder and in 1858 city treasurer.  Lampson would later begin working with his brother, Hoyt, who was also in Des Moines at Hoyt Sherman & Company Bank.  He was elected to many other public positions but seldom sought them out.  The people of Des Moines thought so much of him that they placed him in positions of importance.  Socially he was “reserved, genial, and popular” and active in getting the public school system started.  Lampson Parker Sherman died November 21, 1900, one month after his brother John.  On September 8, 1988, his home at 1052 26th St. was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


From the Iowa S0tate Bystander.  November 23, 1900, Page 3


Mansfield City Basketball and Their First Road Trip

A photo of seven men posing in their basketball uniforms is located in the Sherman Room.  The only indications of their identity are the words Mansfield, Ohio across their chests, “’15-‘16” written on the Basketball in the middle of the group and the name of the studio, Oscar Grossheim, Muscatine, IA on the mat around the photo.  Six of the seven men show the somber expression typical in images from this time, one has a slight smile.  I wanted to know the identity of the individuals and what brought them to Muscatine, IA.


1915-16 Mansfield City Basketball Team (Photo by Oscar Grossheim)

I first searched through the newspaper and, rather quickly, found an article of the Mansfield City Basketball team taking a “big western trip” in February of 1916.  This was the first trip of its kind for a local semi-pro team.  The team was “composed almost entirely of former college stars” who were located in Mansfield.  The article goes on to list six players who would be making the trip: Laurence Hughes, Merz Pecht, Robert Wilcox, Dean Leuthner, Glenn Davis and Douglas Miller.[i]

The Mansfield City basketball team had a successful record the previous year, though, according to newspaper reports, they didn’t get the support from the city they deserved.  They played mainly neighboring city teams, including Ashland, Bucyrus, Galion, Wooster, Polk, and Mt. Vernon.  Also on the schedule were some collegiate teams such as Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan, Marietta, and Baldwin-Wallace.  Some nationally known teams, like the New York Nationals and Buffalo Germans, even traveled to Mansfield to showcase their skills.  They even competed against the Mansfield High School team near the end of the season.  The high school team was one of the best to date and could “lay claim to the state championship”[ii] and included future football Hall-of-Famer Wilbur “Pete” Henry.  The high school team won all three games.  The city team finished with a record of 15-13, but despite the poor record won the Semi-Professional Championship of Central Ohio.[iii]


Wilbur “Pete” Henry in 1915

The 1915-16 season started strong for the Mansfield City team.  In the first two games, they defeated the Ashland Y.M.C.A. 34-22 and 36-25.[iv]  On February 5, 1916, The Mansfield News announced the team would take a western trip, starting in Ft. Wayne, IN, then hitting Iowa and finishing in Minnesota.  They would play a total of 8 games on the trip.  They were given new uniforms by the Globe Clothing company and headed out on their first-ever road trip.[v]

The first game was on Tuesday, February 8, 1916, against the St. Paul’s Club of Ft. Wayne, IN.  The team “did not play true to form” and “there was evidence of a lack of practice,” and Mansfield lost the game 48-16.[vi]  The team next arrived in Muscatine, IA and played two games against the local team.  The mystery of the seventh person in the photo was solved as Floyd Dent, who was going to college in the area, also joined the Mansfield City team and would play the remainder of the games.  The Mansfield Globes, as they were now called, lost both games 43-21[vii] and 34-24[viii] respectively.  This is where the photograph located in the Sherman Room was taken, in the studio of Oscar Grossheim.  Grossheim was a well-known photographer in the area, his archive, containing 55,000 glass plate negatives is located at the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, IA.  They include the image of the Mansfield team and give evidence of who at least one individual is, the description in the archives lists D. H. Miller as manager.[ix]  Douglas Miller stands in the middle in a suit and bow tie.


Oscar Grossheim Self Portrait (1910)

The team next made the short trip to Columbus Junction, IA losing again 18-12.[x]  Mansfield then traveled to Emmetsburg, IA and played a local side who had not lost at home in 3 years.  The run continued with Mansfield losing 48-21.[xi]  The team was next set to play in Osage, IA, but missed the train.  They had to travel by bobsled in near-zero temperatures to make the game.  Despite this, the Mansfield side nearly earned their first victory losing 26-22.  According to The Mansfield News, poor officiating cost Mansfield the game.[xii]  They next traveled to Ft. Dodge, IA losing 56-22[xiii] before making their way to Red Wing, MN for the final game.  Many of the players were sick, most likely from traveling by bobsled in near-zero temperatures and lost the final game 68-10.[xiv]  Despite the record, the team made a positive impression on their opponents and were invited back the following season.[xv]



Google Map of the teams neatly 2000 mile trip

These men would stay in the city most of their lives.  Glenn Davis and Floyd Dent would both be physical directors of the YMCA and Dent would go on to be instrumental in building up the Boy Scouts in Mansfield.  Merz Pecht would spend 32 years at the Post Office retiring in 1959 and Laurence, or Lawrence, Hughes worked at Westinghouse and farmed.  Dean Leuthner attended dental school at The Ohio State University and became a dentist in the city.  Douglas Miller was a car salesman and later ran the Mansfield Terrace Motel.  It is unknown what happened to Robert Wilcox.


[i] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 05 FEB 1916.
[ii] Manhigan Yearbook (Mansfield, Ohio), 1915, p 93.
[iii] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 03 MAR 1915, p. 14.
[iv] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 24 DEC 1915, p14 and 27 DEC 1915, p9.
[v] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 05 FEB 1916.
[vi] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 09 FEB 1916,  p9.
[vii] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 12 FEB 1916, p7.
[viii] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 14 FEB 1916, p10.
[x] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 15 FEB 1916, p11.
[xi] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 17 FEB 1916, p12.
[xii] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 17 FEB 1916, p12.
[xiii] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 19 FEB 1916, p13.
[xiv] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 19 FEB 1916, p4.
[xv] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio), 21 FEB 1916, p10.

The Sherman Family: Hoyt Sherman


Earlier we looked at John Sherman’s oldest brother Charles and his impact in Mansfield.  In this post, we will take a closer look at one of his other 10 siblings, Hoyt Sherman.  While not making an impact in Mansfield, Hoyt was another successful member, and lawyer, of the prolific Sherman family.  Hoyt was born November 21, 1827 in Lancaster, Ohio and was the youngest son in the Sherman family.  Up until the age of 18, he focused on school and worked in a printing office.  In 1848 Hoyt made his way to Des Moines, Iowa.  A year later he passed the bar and on June 26, 1849, was appointed postmaster.  With his own funds, he built a frame building on West Second and Vine Streets, which was used exclusively as a post office.[1]  In addition to this, he built the first bank, served on the town council and was involved in local and state politics.  In 1855, Hoyt married Miss Sara Moulton of Ohio and had five children, Frank, Adaline, Charles, Arthur and Helen.  When the Civil War started, President Lincoln appointed Hoyt Army paymaster with the rank of Major and he held that position for three years.  After the War, Major Sherman was a member of the House of the Eleventh General Assembly, was chairman of the committee on railroads, and a member of the committee of ways and means.  Hoyt was in Mansfield at least once in 1885, when he was present at the Sherman Family Reunion held at John Sherman’s residence, along with brother William Tecumseh.  In 1886 he was one of the founders of the Pioneers Lawmakers’ Association and for many years executive officer of the Associated Charities of Des Moines.[2]  In addition to all this, he gave his counsel, time and money to ensure Des Moines had schools, a college, a waterworks and more.[3]  Hoyt Sherman died on January 25, 1904 at the age of 77, the last of the children of Charles Robert and Mary Hoyt Sherman.


Hoyt Sherman Place today, from Wikipedia

Unlike John Sherman’s home in Mansfield, Hoyt Sherman’s residence is still standing.  It is known today as Hoyt Sherman Place and includes an art gallery and historic theater, which was completed in 1923.  The home was built in 1877 by Hoyt and sat empty after his death until 1907 when members of The Des Moines Women’s Club began using it.  Guest speakers included individuals like Helen Keller and Amelia Earhart.  Today it is used for concerts, art exhibits, weddings and business affairs.