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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/William H. F. Gurley

WILLIAM H. F. GURLEY was born in Washington, D. C., in 1830. When a lad he was chosen clerk of a committee on which Abraham Lincoln, who was a member of the House of Representatives, was serving. He was a favorite with the tall, awkward member from Illinois, who never forgot the bright, black-eyed boy clerk of his committee. When but sixteen years of age, young Gurley accompanied Dr. Owen of the United States Geological Survey on one of his exploring expeditions to the far west, where he obtained his first view of the great, wild prairies of Iowa as they were in 1846-7. He was so fascinated with the beauty of the picturesque rivers, woods, bluffs and rolling prairie, that he then determined some day to return and make his home in the new State. In 1854 he came to Davenport and opened a law office. He was an active Republican and in 1859 was nominated for Representative in the Eighth General Assembly and elected. He was made chairman of the committee of ways and means and drafted the revenue system which for many years has been so successful in providing funds for the State expenses. Soon after the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, he tendered to his former committee clerk the position of United States District Attorney for Iowa. His health failed under the pressure of the exacting labors of that position, after a few years, and he found it necessary to resign. He was appointed Consul to Quebec, but a fatal malady had overtaken him and after a short term he died. He was cut down on the threshold of what promised to be a useful and brilliant career at the early age of thirty-five.