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


The Bust of John Sherman

The first time John Sherman met Abraham Lincoln was on February 23, 1861, the day the President-elect arrived in Washington D. C.  He arrived in disguise with his valet and bodyguard William H. Johnson after evading a suspected assassination in Baltimore.  Sherman wrote of meeting Lincoln and his wife in his autobiography.  The event happened at Willard’s Hotel, where Sheman was then staying.  When he was introduced, Lincoln took both of Sherman’s hands and said, “You are John Sherman!  Well, I am taller than you; let’s measure.”  They then stood back to back and someone announced that Lincoln was two inches taller.  Sherman said their conversation was cheerful and that a “congratulations for his escape from Baltimore ‘roughs’ was received with a laugh.”


Lincoln arriving in Washington D. C. with William H. Johnson, 1861

Both of these men would later be immortalized by American Sculptor, Daniel Chester French.  The statue of Lincoln, in the Lincoln Memorial, would become much more famous and is still one of the top tourist attractions in Washington D. C. today.  Sherman inquired about a bust in 1886 while Senator.  In a letter received by Sherman dated May 12, 1886, from French, French indicated the price for a marble bust sculpture was $1000 and that he would soon be in Washington D. C. to finish a bust of former Vice President Henry Wilson and that he could stay and begin Sherman’s if he desired.

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John Sherman Marble Bust by Daniel Chester French, 1886

French was born April 20, 1850, to Anne Richardson and Henry Flagg French.  In 1867 the family moved to Concord, Massachusetts where French became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and decided to pursue sculpting under the influence of Lousia May Alcott’s sister, May.  Though he is most famous for his Lincoln design, he also is credited with many other monuments and sculptures. This includes the Justice statue, which adorns the pediment of the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State in Manhattan and the bronze doors of the Boston Public Library.

Smithsonian Institution - The National Gallery of Art p 66 1922

from The Smithsonian Institution – The National Gallery of Art catalog (1922), p 66

The bust of John Sherman eventually came into the possession of his grandson, Lt. John Sherman McCallum, and was donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the Memory of John Sherman in 1920.  The bust is currently part of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.


The Razing of John Sherman’s Mansion


John Sherman’s home was razed not long after his death on October 22, 1900, it stood for only four more years.  There were those who wished to save the property and others for various reasons, either financial or they were not a fan of the former senator, who hoped the property would be demolished.  The two articles below from the Mansfield Daily Shield show these two points of view in 1904.  Eventually, the home was razed and lots were sold.  The full page ad from the Mansfield News describes the 71 lots made from the Sherman property.


Mansfield Daily Shield, October 4, 1904, p. 5


Mansfield Daily Shield, October 6, 1904, p. 2

ad 14MAR1904

Full page ad from the Mansfield News, March 14, 1904