DR. HEZEKIAH STOUT AILES, The patronymic surname, Ailes, the subject of this sketch, of course, is ancestral, but christening of the hopeful to designate him in a family of fifteen children was out of what may be deemed an excessive regard for their family physician. Dr. Hezekiah Stout, but notwithstanding this handicap he has survived, flourished, and is now our esteemed and prominent townsman, Hezekiah Stout Ailes, and has led an eventful life in peace and war.
Hezekiah was born at Lost Creek, Harrison county, now West Virginia, May 19, 1840, so that his infantile prattle mingled with hurrahs for "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." His father sold the rugged home farm in 1842 and moved to the northeast corner of Franklin township, this county. Of this numerous family of fifteen children Hezekiah is the only one living and none lived, not even his parents, to be so old as he is now though they outlived all their children but him.
The farm was purchased of Daniel Baldwin, now dead, who was known in Sidney as Sassafras, for each spring his bent form carried a basket of it to purify and thin the blood of our people grown thick and sluggish by too substantial food and lack of exercise.
The mansion into which they moved was a round log house well chinked and warm, one story high, but the barn was more pretentious, being two story. In that sparsely settled time people were considered neighbors two or three miles distant and in the absence of those diversions which now prevail were neighbors in fact willing to assist each other in any emergency.
The round log schoolhouse not crowded with conveniences nor ease inviting seats was one and three-quarters of a mile distant and he had to start alone, but was joined by the children of two other families on the way across the fields and through the woods. His a, b, c, teacher was Eli Bruner and his second Miss Elizabeth Allen, who afterward married William Edwards. He gradually absorbed the intellectual pabulum of the menu furnished in that crude temple of learning and when sixteen or seventeen years old, with two other boys, aspired to better things and as Sidney had just completed what is now the central school building, hired the front room over Thompson and Christian's drug store, boarded themselves, and slept three in a bed.
They went home every Friday night and early Monday morning could be seen returning with loaves of bread and a pound of butter. They would occasionally buy some ginger cakes at the grocery and when feeling convivial and careless of expenses would indulge in a glass of spruce beer at Washington Carroll's emporium, but refrained from taking enough to get boisterous.
Hezekiah went one term when the schoolhouse was first opened in 1857. His teacher was Miss Harriet Chapin, who subsequently married John Frankerberger. Being sufficiently advanced to have confidence in his ability to teach school he obtained a certificate and thus armed and equipped as the law directed, procured a school near home and his pedagogical pin feathers soon became fullfledged plumage for taking his experience both before and after the war embraced a period of fifteen years. When he had taught two weeks of his fifth term he resigned and enlisted in Company C, 118th regiment with Edgar Sowers, superintendent of schools at Port Jefferson as captain, and W. H. Taylor, of Sidney, now of Mansfield, as lieutenant.
At the battle of Resaca, Georgia; he received the only wound he got in the war. He was shot in the shoulder and lay on the ground by the side of George. Murray Thompson, brother of Mrs. E. T. Mathers and H. W. Thompson, of this city. George's was a dangerous and painful one in the foot and he returned home and never went back. Hezekiah was reported dead, but pleasantly surprised his people by appearing clothed in his right mind and arm in a sling. Upon recovery he went back and was promoted to sergeant-major. In that engagement 112 soldiers out of 220 of that regiment were either killed or wounded in five minutes time. Upon returning, as his corps did not go with General Sherman to the sea, they participated the battles of Franklin, the severest one of the war, and the struggle around Nashville which destroyed General Hood's army. They were also in the East Tennessee campaign and were forty-six miles from Knoxville when Burnside was bottled there. As the rebel army was between them and Knoxville they were powerless to give assistance.
When the war was drawing to a close the army to which he belonged came north to Columbus and were transferred in box cars to Washington where they arrived dirty and ragged, as they had drawn no clothing nor had not received a dollar for six months and were lucky if they got enough water to drink, much less to wash in. Their dilapidated appearance provoked sneering remarks from some of the brass buttoned parvenues at Washington. Their commander hearing them responded through a newspaper that they were no feathered soldiers but had come east to help the feather-bed army around Washington.
In a few days they boarded vessels on the Potomac, went down the river to the ocean, around Cape Hatteras, to Fort Fisher at the mouth of Cape Fear river and then to Fort Anderson. They celebrated Washington's birthday in 1865, by taking Wilmington, North Carolina, and after ten days made a forced march of 100 miles to Kingston where the rebels delivered 8,000 men who had been prisoners at Andersonville and Salisbury and were living skeletons. Many were demented and would voraciously devour any eatable handed them in their insatiate hunger. Mr. Ailes was ordered to detail ten men from his regiments to act as nurses, among whom was Fred Doody and John H. Kessler, of this county, who were unable to make the forced marches. Of these all died but two of swamp fever. The army marched to Goldsboro and to Raleigh to meet Sherman's army coming from Savannah through the Carolinas. Soon the news came that Lee had surrendered arid the joyful news was carried along the lines with huzzas and tossing of caps in the air. A part was retained for a while as an army of occupation so he did not take part in the grand review at Washington.
After resting for a season and burnishing his education which had got a trifle powder burnt in the years of patriotic conflict, he entered again the school room and taught in Montra and vicinity for ten years more, or fifteen years in all. Among his early pupils was Miss Jane Elliott, then twelve years old, an attractive and amiable girl, whose charms in Hezekiah's eyes had grown so irresistible as to occasion heart trouble in his bosom and again she became his pupil from which she graduated, her diploma being a marriage certificate of lifelong duration.
This remarkable event happened October 11, 1866, but did not interfere with his pedagogical avocation. In 1867 Milton E. of Washington, D. C., appeared in their household and was succeeded by Eva, now Mrs. John H. Taft, and Ada, now Mrs. Hugh Wilson, both of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Eugene, of late years of Nome, Alaska, but part of the time in Washington; Lulu, Olive, Chesley and Adrian of this city. Of their ten children two died while young.
On October 28, 1875, Mr. Ailes moved his family to Sidney to the house now owned and occupied by Mr. George Moeller in West street. The monumental building was then in process of construction.
The children were all educated in the public school here and received graduating diplomas, with the exception of Adrian, who has graduating symptoms, as he is a member of the senior class and is probably cudgeling his brains for ideas in the oratorical display to come off the first of June.
A little over twenty years ago Milton, through General LeFevre, then congressman, received an appointment in Washington and became a messenger boy for General Sewall and Charles Chesley, government officials. He performed his duties with such fidelity and dispatch that Mr. Chesley who was an eminent lawyer, advised him to utilize his spare hours in studying law, a thing he had determined upon, and offered to be his preceptor. This proposition was accepted and he finally graduated with Bachelor of Arts honors and subsequently with Master of Arts distinction. His promotion was rapid and at length culminated in being appointed assistant secretary of the treasury under Lyman Gage, and two years under Secretary Shaw, a position which Milton resigned to accept the vice-presidency of the Riggs national bank, of Washington, a position he now holds. Eugene went to Washington, studied chemistry, became an expert assayer and for several years has been employed at Nome, Alaska, by a banking firm that makes a business of buying gold from the miners. Lest it be thought that the subject of this sketch is lost in the family shuffle, a return to the considering of Hezekiah will be made.
Since Mr. Ailes came to Sidney he has been elected three times as mayor of this city, became deputy county auditor under Oriando 0. Mathers and subsequently served two terms as auditor and was the first county official to occupy the new courthouse. After his terms he again became deputy county auditor under Knox Cummins, now of Washington, thus serving for fifteen years in the courthouse. He is now president of the sinking fund trustees, was appointed by Judge Hughes a member of the board of monumental trustees to succeed the late Andrew J. Robertson and was for six years a member of the board of education. Before coming to Sidney he was clerk
of Jackson township for four terms. Hezekiah now has an office of justice of the peace which keeps him out of mischief in his serene and happy age. Few can look back upon a busier and more blissful domestic and public life replete with honors and with a family of children who reflect radiance upon the name.
When Mr. Ailes returned from the war the time of his pre-soldier certificate had expired and a new one had to be procured. He came to Sidney to brighten up under Ben McFarland, one of the county examiners. Examination day and the democratic county convention came off the same day. The candidates for nomination to the state legislature were Jason McVay and Gen. Ben LeFevre, McFarland, though a republican, was very anxious to have the General nominated as he was his particular friend and asked Hezekiah whom he favored. The reply was, "the General, for we were boys together." Hearing this McFarland said, "I know your qualifications for teacher and I want you to put in the day working for the General and when the polls close come and get your certificate." Since this sketch was written Mr. Ailes has died.