Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

RS 13/16/11
James L. Geddes (1827-1887)
Papers, 1878-2008

Descriptive summary


Geddes, James L. (1827-1887)






0.21 linear feet (1 half-document box)

collection number:

RS 13/16/11


University Archives, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information


Open for research

publication rights:

Consult Head, Special Collections Department

preferred citation:

James L. Geddes Papers, RS 13/16/11, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Biographical note

James Lorraine Geddes was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 19, 1827. His family immigrated to Canada in 1837. Geddes returned to Scotland in 1843 to live with relatives. In 1845, he moved to Calcutta, India and studied at the British military academy for two years. After graduating, he joined the Royal horse artillery and served seven years under Sir Hugh Gough, Sir Charles Napier, and Sir Colin Campbell. For his service, Geddes was awarded a medal and made a Colonel (1854-1857) of the Canadian cavalry.

He resigned his post in Canada and moved to a farm near Vinton, Iowa. In addition to farming, Geddes taught at a country school. When the Civil War started, he resigned as from the school to became a Private (1861) in Company D of the Iowa 8th Infantry. He was promoted to Captain (1861), Lieutenant Colonel (1861-1862), Colonel (1862-1865), and Brevet Brigadier General (1865). During the war, he fought at Shiloh and was wounded and taken prisoner (1862-1863) by the Confederate Army. After being released, Geddes went on to fight at Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi. He was briefly sent to Brownsville, Texas and then to Memphis, Tennessee where he was the Provost-Marshall of the district. His last major battle was in Mobile, Alabama campaign where his brigade helped capture Spanish Fort. He resigned from service on June 30, 1865.

Geddes returned to Vinton and became Superintendent of the Iowa Institution for the Education of the Blind (1867-1869). He then joined the staff of the Iowa Agricultural College (Iowa State University) as its Steward (1870-1882). A year later, he was made Professor (1871-1883) of Military Tactics and Engineering. During his time at the College, Geddes was also Acting President (1877-1878), Treasurer (1880-1883), and Treasurer, Recorder, and Land Agent (1885-1887).

He married Margaret Moore October 14, 1856. She passed away May 18, 1875. He then married Elizabeth Evans on April 14, 1876. He died February 21, 1887.


Collection description

The collection (1878-2008) contains biographies, news clippings, and correspondence about General Geddes. The papers also include articles (1878-1879) written by General Geddes about horse training. The articles are from the College Quarterly (call number: S1 C59x), a journal produced by the Iowa Agricultural College (Iowa State University).



The collection is arranged in alphabetical order.


Container list







Biographical information – news clippings, biographies, correspondence




Horse training articles