He visited classes at Houston School to talk about the Battle of Gettysburg. He was knowledgeable because he had been there, in uniform, as a combatant. Born in Dedham, Mass., in 1838, Samuel Bates McIntire (sometimes spelled McIntyre) moved as a young man with his parents, Edmund and Sarah McIntire, to Minnesota territory in the early- to mid-1850s. First settling in Yucatan Valley, Edmund became a successful merchant and son Samuel would become the most distinguished resident of the Houston community and revered there by its citizens for decades after his death by those that remembered him.
Soon after Minnesota became a state in 1858, Samuel so impressed J. M. Cavanaugh, the first Congressman from the First District, that he received an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. According to his obituary, McIntire was the first West Point cadet from Minnesota. Graduating as a lieutenant in 1862, he was thrust immediately into the Civil War, during which he engaged in many famous battles, including the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He was given a promotion to captain for his bravery during battle.
Area historian Ingrid Julsrud recalled his visit to her seventh grade class when McIntire described the Battle of Gettysburg. “He drew a diagram on the board showing the location of Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge where each of the armies were situated. He explained why the North was victorious in that battle. It was the only interesting history lesson I ever had and the only one I remember.”
Following the war (1861-1864), he continued in the military, serving in Texas and California and spending nearly three years in Alaska as a member of the first regiment in that new U. S. possession after its purchase from Russia. He was in the process of being promoted to the rank of colonel when he decided to resign in 1870. He was referred to thereafter as Capt. McIntire.
In that same year of 1870, he married Helen Frances Weld in Philadelphia and brought his bride to Yucatan Valley. The captain worked in his father’s store and taught school while studying law under a lawyer from Rushford. After being admitted to the bar, McIntire sold the farm in Yucatan and purchased 80 acres in the Root River Valley, which became part of the city of Houston where he lived and practiced law until a few days before his death from stomach cancer at age 79 in 1917.
McIntire held many important offices and positions, and according to Julsrud “declined many more.” He served as justice of the peace, past master of Mystic Circle Lodge No, 78, village councilman, several terms as president of the village, postmaster and most impressively, chairman of the board of education for 40 years, until his death. He was in demand for his eloquence as a speaker, especially at patriotic celebrations, such as the 4th of July.
Julsrud remembers McIntire as “a tall slender man with a long grey beard, beginning to stoop a little… He was friendly but always the dignified, proper English gentleman. He usually carried a cane, which he didn’t need, but in those days, I think
a cane was a status symbol.”
Summer and winter, he wore a wide-brimmed, grey felt Army dress hat. “He must have had several as one would not have lasted a lifetime.”
Devoted as he was to the school and children of his community, McIntire had only one child of his own who died in infancy. Helen died in 1893, and he married again to native Houstonian Frances J. Gerard. Julsrud was sure that he truly loved children. In addition to his being a young teacher and serving so long on the school board, “He walked past the school house daily to his law office above the old post office on Cedar Steet… It seems he timed his walks past the schoolhouse just as we were being dismissed at noon or were outside at recess time. He visited school often, spending a half day in each room. He talked to us about the value of education and quoted poetry from memory. When I was in the eighth grade, I remember he recited Poe’s ‘The Raven.’”
Writing in 1993, Julsrud said the McIntire property was just south of the present grade school, “To us kids, this property was sort of sacred land. We all looked at Captain McIntire with awe and reverence.” Following his widow’s death in the late 1930s, the house was moved to Ellsworth Street.
His published obituary said, “The well-known and commanding figure of Capt. McIntire will be missed by Houstonites, and especially so by the students of Houston school, in whom he took deep interest. In his every day life, Captain McIntire was a man – outspoken, fearless – and with that conscientiousness of championing a cause he thought right; was active and aggressive in all affairs which pertained to the welfare of our people or village. It can truly be said of him, that he lived an open life and for his manly and outspoken traits of character he was respected and esteemed by all who knew him. The largely attended funeral of sympathizing friends, not only of his village but who came from all of the surrounding country and towns, attested to the large acquaintance and the esteem in which he was held.”
Sources: “Remembering Old Times” book by Ingrid Julsrud, 1993; newspaper obituary, 1917; Houston newspaper article, March 10, 1977, “Houston’s Heritage: Captain Samuel Bates McIntyre.”