Friday, August 14, 2009

Ed Callery at Funeral of Representative Latta


The following report of Congressman Latta's funeral
is reproduced from the Omaha Daily World-Herald, of
September 16, 1911, whose special reporter was present
at the obsequies:

By the rugged rock of granite that marks the family burial
lot on the highest point of Tekamah Cemetery the body of Con-
gressman James P. Latta was buried this afternoon — a place
typical of the rugged character which had chosen the place in
years gone by.

It was after a funeral service such as Tekamah has never known
before, because Congressman Latta belonged not alone to Teka-
mah, but to all Nebraska, and from far and near his old friends
came with sorrowing hearts. The early train from the south
brought many; two coaches attached to an early afternoon
freight from the north brought large delegations from Bancroft,
Lyons, Oakland, and other points; by automobile and carriage
they arrived by the hundred.

The funeral service was at the Latta home, where, on the
large lawn were arranged hundreds of seats and where those
for whom seats had not been reserved remained standing while
Canon Marsh, of Blair, said the Episcopal service. A quartet
composed of Miss Irene Sutherland, Mrs. Neil Cameron, Balph
D. Colliding, and N. W. Preston, the private secretary of Mr.
Latta, sang sweetly, " Softly the Day Fades," " In the Hour of
Trial," " Abide With Me," with Miss Adelaide Thomas at the

The body had rested in the parlor of the old home during
the day, surrounded by a wondrous gift of flowers and guarded
by Knights Templar in uniform, while thousands passed by to
view for the last time the face of their beloved old friend. As
the hour approached for the funeral service the casket was
borne to the lawn, where the deceased Congressman had passed
many happy hours with his family and friends, now meeting
again to weep where once all had been joy and laughter.

After the service was taken up the long march over the hills
to the cemetery, located on the crest of one of them. The Ma-
sonic fraternity at this moment took charge of the services,
Tekamah Lodge, No. 31, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of

93009°— 13 2 [17]

Memorial Addresses: Representative Latta

which Mr. Latta had been a member for 32 years, of which he
had been master for two terms and of which he had been treas-
urer for many years up to the time of his death, Fred Wixer
now being master. Jordan Commandery of Knights Templar,
of Blair, of which Mr. Latta was past eminent commander, and of
which all the Knights Templar are members, was the escort.
The active pallbearers were: T. A. Minier and Oscar Samson,
of Oakland; C. A. Darling, of Lyons; E. A. Hansen, of Decatur;
John Harrington, of Wayne; E. C. Houston, C. Jeep, and L. D.
Phipps, of Tekamah. The honorary pallbearers were Col. Wel-
lington Harrington, J. R. Sutherland, R. A. Templeton, sr„ and
S. T. Story, of Tekamah; Dr. J. B. Whittier, Decatur; Dan V.
Stephens, Fremont; Charles P. Mathewson, Walthill; James Parry,
Jackson; Watson Tyson, Blair; J. B. Garland and H. A. Garland,
who were boyhood friends of the late Congressman, from Jack-
son County, Iowa. Col. John P. Cameron was marshal.

The order of march consisted of Jordan Commandery of
Knights Templar; Tekamah Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons; the hearse and pallbearers; relatives and friends in car-
riages; relatives and friends in automobiles.

At the cemetery the Masonic burial ritual was observed with
all of the pathos and impressiveness and tender sentiment pos-
sible. Robert E. French, grand custodian of the Grand Lodge of
Nebraska, was in charge of the ceremonials committing the body
to earth.

Official recognition of the dead Congressman was given by
the presence of the entire congressional delegation of Nebraska,
consisting of Congressmen C. O. Lobeck, of Omaha; John A.
Maguire, of Lincoln; Charles H. Sloan, of Geneva; Moses P. Kin-
kaid, of O'Neill; and George W. Norris, of McCook; and Philip
P. Campbell, of Pittsburg, Kans.; and I. D. Young, of Beloit, Kans.,
appointed members of the House committee by Speaker Clark;
and by the presence of Nebraska's two United States Senators,
Norris Brown and G. M. Hitchcock.

Other men prominent in public life present were: Acting
Gov. John H. Moorehead, of Falls City; Speaker John Kuhl, of
Bandolph; Senator George W. Wiltse, of Randolph; Willis D. Reed,
of Madison; Senator Fred Volpp, of Scribner; Dan V. Stephens, of
Fremont; Judge W. L. Stark, of Aurora; Gen. John C. Cowin, Wil-
liam Wallace, B. K. Robison, Robert Robison, Herman Peters, and
Thomas J. Nolen, all of Omaha; Rev. John F. Poucher, of Stanton;


Address of Mr. Stephens, of Nebraska

Editors Don C. Van Dusen and Thomas Osterman, and Judge
Clark O'Hanlion, of Blair; Senator Philip H. Kohl, of Wayne; Col.
John A. Ehrhart, of Stanton; Col. J. C. Elliott and P. Moodie, of
West Point; C. E. Bardwell, of Lincoln; Judge Walton and Charles
Selleek, of Blair; besides many other friends from over the
county and State.

The relatives and intimate family friends from abroad were:
Mr. and Mrs. John Harrington, Mr. Chris Astor, and Mr. and
Mrs. Dan Harrington, of Wayne; Miss Margaret Latta, Mrs. Byan,
and Miss Powell, of Omaha; Ed Callery and P. T. Flynn, sons-in-
law of the late John Latta, of Duncomb, Iowa; J. B. and H. A. Gar-
land, of Cranston, Iowa; Mrs. Bectol and Mrs. Goza, of Tama,
Iowa; Dr. N. P. Hansen, of. Elk Creek, Nebr.

Among the elegant gifts of flowers was a huge shield done in
colors, the offering of the United States Congress, besides lodge
offerings and many from friends near and far.

It was just such a funeral in just such a place as would pull
the hardest on the heartstrings of the members of the family who
are left to mourn, as it would bring more vividly to memory the
tender moments that had been spent on the same spot with the
deceased in his life. Yet there was something about it — the deep
shade of the trees, the songs of the birds, the music selected for
the occasion, the words of the minister, the sorrowing friends,
the solemnity of the scene — that seemed to designate it as the
funeral of the deceased and made to be just the kind of a funeral
he himself would have desired had he been able to plan it for

Those of the immediate family who survive him are: His
wife and two sons, Ed and Bur; a sister, Miss Louise Latta; and
a brother, George C. Latta; also a cousin, W. W. Latta, who .has
during all these years been as a brother, so close have been their


Address of Mr. Collier, of Mississippi

Mr. Speaker: It was my good fortune to become inti-
mately acquainted with Mr. James P. Latta. We entered
Congress at the same time, and for nearly two years we
lived at the same hotel. Notwithstanding the difference
in our ages, a warm and lasting friendship sprang up
between us. Living under the same roof, seeing him
nearly every day, I had an opportunity to know his worth
and appreciate his merits.

Mr. Latta was a self-made man. He many times re-
counted to me the hardships and trials of his early life.
"When a mere boy, he followed the star of empire west-
ward and, unaided and alone, " exacted from the grasp
of reluctant fortune " that success which characterized all
his efforts.

Prudent, resourceful, painstaking, and honest, it did
not take Mr. Latta long to acquire what men call a com-
petency. He was not a brilliant man, nor a great orator,
but he was rich in that great gift which, for want of a
better name, is called common sense. When some ques-
tion would arise in the House affecting the interest of the
people of his district or that of the people of the entire
country, I have seen Mr. Latta rise in his seat, and in ear-
nest tones, and with eloquence born of the justness of
the cause he was advocating, become convincing, forceful,
logical, and persuasive.

He was at all times armed with the courage of his con-
victions. His pioneer training gave him that self-confi-
dence with which he met and vanquished the difficulties
which so often confronted him.


Address of Mr. Collier, of Mississippi

His fearless nature, his rugged honesty, his independent
spirit, his plain matter-of-fact manner, his industrious
habits, his cordial greeting, his genial disposition, his
innate modesty, his sterling worth, and true merit were
recognized by all who knew him, and the possession of
these qualities not alone endeared him to his friends, but
gained for him an enviable position in the House of Rep-

Faithful, conscientious, true to himself and his friends,
in the fullness of his strength he accomplished his daily
tasks and performed well his work in this busy world of

He left behind him as a heritage to his family an
" honest name, the memory of earnest deeds well done."

Death had no terrors for James Latta. He was firm in
that faith which is founded upon the Rock of Ages. He
believed with the poet who said that —

Death is but an angel, who to man at last his freedom brings;
And the grave is but a nest in which the soul shall find its wings.

James P. Latta fought a good fight; he kept the faith;
he was affectionate to his family; he was true to his
friends; he was devoted to his country; he was faithful
to his party and conscientious in his convictions.

His colleagues sincerely mourn his death, and though
these historic Halls will echo no more with the sound of
his voice, and his pleasant smile, his cordial greeting, and
his hearty handclasp have gone forever, yet he is not

Death is a mystery which all the intellectual forces of
mankind have vainly endeavored to solve.

The lips of the young inquiring " whence " and the old asking
" whither " are alike unanswered.

Why some are called in the early morning of youth and
some fall asleep in the evening of their days we know'
not; we can but wonder.


Memorial Addresses: Representative Latta

When childhood, tender childhood, meets the dread
messenger, though our hearts may be torn with grief,
yet we are comforted by the thought that, safe from life's
trials and temptations and hardships, ignorant even of
the knowledge of evil, the little ones sleep secure in the
Master's arms. When death halts the faltering steps of
old age, we draw some comfort from the knowledge that
threescore years and ten is the allotment for usefulness
here on earth. But when the bitter stroke descends un-
expected, unannounced, upon vigorous manhood, we
stand appalled, our hearts are troubled, and we wonder
why this should be. But in this hour of doubt and trouble
and grief there comes to comfort the aching heart " the
divine assurance that He doeth all things well."

For 'tis idle to talk of the future, the sad might have been mid

our tears.
God knew all about it, yet took him away from the oncoming

God knows all about those that love Him; how bitter this parting

must be.
And yet through it all God is loving and knows so much better

than we.


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