Gen. Isaac R. Sherwood
General Isaac R. Sherwood was born in Stanford, Dutchess County, New York on August 13, 1835. One of Sherwood's ancestors, Dr. Thomas Sherwood, sailed in 1634 from Ipswich, England to the New World. Sherwood's grandfather served in the American Revolution with the Cavalry and was with General Gates at the Battle of Stillwater, 1777. He was also a member of the New York legislature as well as a local magistrate. Sherwood's father, Aaron Sherwood, served in the War of 1812 and was also an inventor, making improvements on mill and farm machinery.
Early on, Isaac Sherwood's uncle dissuaded him from entering West Point Military Academy. Instead, he enrolled in the Hudson River Institute in New York in 1852. Two years later he traveled to Ohio to attend Antioch College where the acclaimed Horace Mann was president. Another two years passed and Sherwood transferred to the Ohio Law College in Poland, Ohio.
After completing his education, Sherwood relocated to Bryan, Ohio where he bought the Williams County Gazette in 1857. The Gazette was an abolitionist newspaper that Sherwood put in full mourning after John Brown was hung in 1859. He also served as probate judge of Williams County. In 1861, Sherwood's attention shifted towards President Lincoln's call for volunteers. Sherwood enlisted as a private in the Fourteenth Ohio Infantry under Colonel James B. Steedman. Sherwood's outfit saw action in West Virginia during the early days of the war. Four months later he returned home and was ill during the summer of 1861. In September, 1862, he joined the 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Toledo. In February of the next year he was promoted to Major. His regiment spent a harsh winter in East Tennessee in 1863 and 1864. Sherwood shared the suffering along with his men. Later, Sherwood was complemented for his brave conduct at the battle of Campbell's Station. In February 1864, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.
Sherwood's regiment was a part of General Sherman's Atlanta campaign in the summer of 1864. At Lost Mountain, he led his regiment in a charge down the slopes of Resaca. The second brigade lost 679 men out of the 1800 who took part.
Sherwood played an important part in defeating General Hood's Confederates at Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864. The Ohio civilians in Tennessee expressed their thanks by presenting him with a sword and silver scabbard. Sherwood's efforts were rewarded as he gained the respect of the other soldiers as well as the title of brigadier-general by President Lincoln on February 16, 1865.
At the conclusion of the war, the General returned to Ohio and to his interest in journalism. He moved to Toledo and served as editor of the Toledo Commercial. At that time he was also a member of the editorial staff at the Cleveland Leader. In 1875 he purchased the Toledo Journal and edited it for nine years. He was associated with the Canton News Democrat from 1888-1898. Aside from editing and writing for papers, Sherwood served as the Secretary of State in 1868 and again in 1870 for four years. He is noted for organizing the Bureau of Statistics. In 1872 he was elected as a Republican to serve the sixth district in Congress. He conflicted with the party leaders over the money question and was denied renomination. In 1878, representing the National or Greenback ticket, Sherwood was elected probate judge of Lucas County. He was reelected in 1881 as a Democrat and Independent.
After moving to Canton in 1896, Sherwood decided to run again for Congress. Canton was also the home district of then Presidential candidate, William McKinley. As part of his campaign, Sherwood criticized McKinley's war record. He failed to win a seat in Congress in 1896. After the election, he returned to Toledo. Continuing in public service, Sherwood accepted Congressional nomination in 1906 in the Ninth Ohio (Toledo) district and was triumphant.
At Age 71, he was one of the two oldest members of the House. Sherwood was elected every year until 1920. He lost that year, but returned two years later. At age 87, he was then America's oldest congressman.
Sherwood distinguished himself many times in his congressional career. He pushed through his "Dollar-a-Day" bill which increased the pensions of Civil War veterans. In 1916 he expressed pacifist opposition to the Wilson administration's WWI measures. On a trip to Toledo, President Wilson rebuked Sherwood. Despite this, Sherwood garnered his biggest victory ever in the fall elections.
Isaac Sherwood was a member of the fraternity of Masons and Odd Fellows and of Forsyth Post, No. 15, Department of Ohio, Grand Army of the Republic. In addition, he was a member of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Ohio. He contributed a war poem at the first reunion of the Army of the Ohio at Cincinnati in 1866. He married Katherine Margaret Brownlee in September, 1859 and they had two children.[Clark Waggoner, ed., History of Toledo and Lucas County Ohio (New York: Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1888), pp.198-200. See also Harvey Scribner, Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo: From the Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present, including a Geneaological and Biographical Record of Representative Familes, vol. 2 (Madison: Western Historical Association, 1910), pp.18-20;( "General Sherwood Dies at Home Here AFter Great Career as Soldier-Solon," Toledo Times, 16 October 1925) and ("Defeat of 'The General': Public Career of Distinguished Citizen," Toledo Blade, 3 November 1970)].
Gen. Isaac R. Sherwood's grave
(Photography of Woodlawn Cemetery by Josef Schneider.)