Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

A Nineteen-year-old Color Bearer

When the Civil War started between the Union states and the Confederate States of America, a large number of young men from Van Buren County signed up as volunteers for the Army. Among those brave men was a youngster born in Salubria (near Farmington) and raised in Keosauqua.

The nineteen-year-old with a given name of Voltaire, is described as having a fair complexion, dark eyes, dark hair, standing 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall. Before his 20th birthday his decisive role would help bring victory for the Union cause at the Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee. He rose to the occasion and carried the flag to mark the victory.

As a group of his men charged up the hill, three color bearers were knocked down. Corporal Twombly picked up the flag and although he was knocked down and wounded almost immediately, he somehow arose again and carried the colors to the end of the engagement.

Although years after the fact he was given the Medal of Honor for bravery in this battle, he went on to serve in several more battles and again sustained wounds for his efforts.

After the war, he returned to Keosauqua. He eventually enrolled in Burlington Business College and for a while lived in Ottumwa where he was employed for two years.

He met Chloe Funk, whose father ran the mill and built the distillery in Pittsburg. After marrying the miller's daughter, Twombly and his wife made their home in Pittsburg where they lived for 9 years and began raising a family.

After moving his family over to Keosauqua, Voltaire became Treasurer of Van Buren County, and eventually was mayor of the City of Keosauqua, which he won because of his stand against saloons. Eventually, he was elected Treasurer of the State of Iowa and spent his last 33 years in Des Moines, serving the state in several capacities.

After Voltaire died in February of 1918, his body was placed in a receiving vault as it was the dead of winter in Iowa. It remained there until April 16 when the body was brought to Keosauqua by train and placed in Pittsburg Cemetery near family and friends. The distinguished hero and former color bearer is one of Pittsburg's most honored citizens.

 - -
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick