Carroll County Biographies


John M. Startzman, Postmaster of Savanna, during his residence here of more than ten years has won the entire confidence of his fellow-citizens, irrespective of party, by his straightforward dealings as a business man, and by his never-failing courtesy, by his evident desire to please the public, and by the efficient discharge of his duties in his official capacity. During the late rebellion he showed his loyalty and patriotic love of country by throwing aside all private interests, and, in the freshness and vigor of early manhood, enlisting in defense of the old flag, and serving with valor on Southern battlefields until he was disabled and unfit for duty. And it is but fitting that his services as a faithful soldier should have been recognized by his appointment to a federal office.

Mr. Startzman was born in Hagerstown, Md., May 25, 1839. His father, Elias Startzman, was born in the same town, in 1813, and his grandfather, David Startzman, was born of German parentage, either in Maryland or Pennsylvania. He was a brewer by trade, and carried on that business in Hagerstown for many years, and there his death occurred. The father of our subject was reared in his native town, and in early life began business for himself as a cattle dealer, buying cattle in the surrounding country and driving them to Baltimore, where he disposed of them at a good profit. In connection with that business he also carried on the market business in Baltimore, and later engaged as a butcher at Clear Springs, Washington County. In 1854 he removed with his family to Illinois, and, locating at Garden Plain, Whiteside County, bought a farm, and was engaged in agricultural pursuits there for some years. He then removed to Fulton, where he resided until his death in 1887. The maiden name of his wife, mother of our subject, was Susan Betts, and she was a native of Washington County, Md. Her father, David Betts, was of German origin, and it is supposed was a native of Maryland. He was for many years a wagonmaker and blacksmith at Funkstown, Md., and there spent his last days. There were thirteen children born to the parents of our subject, and eight of them grew to maturity: John M., David W., Luther C., Ellen A., Charles B., W.A., Jacob J.L., and Thomas B. Luther served during the late war in the 10th Illinois Cavalry, and died soon after his discharge.

The subject of this sketch received the preliminaries of his education in the schools of his native State, and, after the removal of the family to Illinois, attended the public schools and assisted in the farm work until 1860, when, thirsting for a higher education, he went to Aurora, and was a student in Clark Seminary there until the fall of 1861, and was thus well fitted for a business life, or any career he might adopt in after-life. He had watched with intense interest the progress of the war that seemed to threaten the institutions of our country, and Aug. 19, 1862, he enlisted in their defense, becoming a member of Company F, 93d Illinois Infantry. His regiment was dispatched to the scene of action, and on Southern battle-fields our subject sturdily fought for the Nationís honor. He was present at the battle of Champion Hill, and took part in other engagements, serving faithfully until his discharge, in 1864, on account of disability.

After leaving the army Mr. Startzman returned to his old home in Fulton, and for two years engaged in buying grain and keeping books. He then formed a partnership with W.C. Snyder in the grain business, and continued with him two or three years. He then bought his partnerís interest, and conducted the business alone until 1878, when he came to Savanna in the interest of the St. Paul & St. Louis Packet Company, buying and dealing in grain for that company for two years. He then carried on the same business on his own account six months, and after that was engaged in various kinds of business until October, 1886, when President Cleveland appointed him Postmaster of Savanna, and he has had charge of that office since Jan. 15, 1887.

Mr. Startzman has been married twice. His first marriage, in December, 1865, was to Miss Ella J. Roberts, a native of Fox Lake, Wis. She died in 1878, leaving two children, Blanche and Fred. The second marriage of our subject was in 1879, to Miss Johanna Grady, a native of Clinton County, Iowa. To them have been born three children Ė Harry, James A. and Myrtle.

Mr. Startzman is known as a man of unblemished reputation and of sterling common sense, and his fellow-citizens, duly appreciating his worth, accord him a high place in their estimation. In politics, he is a Democrat; socially, he is identified wit the A.F. & A.M., being a member of Fulton City Lodge No. 385, and of Fulton Chapter. When he was a resident of that city he took a prominent part in the control of its affairs, and served in the City Council four years.

Contributed by Carol Parrish from "Portraits & Biographical 1889 Pg 1012

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