Obit: Tolford, Joshua Woodbury #2 (1831 - 1913)


Contact: Ann Stevens



Surnames: Tolford, Nichols, Lynn, Jewett, Marsh, O’Neill, Reynolds, Meyers, Stockwell, Spooner, Esch, Vilas


----Source:  Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.)  Dec 25, 1913


Tolford, Joshua Woodbury (31 Oct 1831 - 20 Dec 1913)


Died—Captain  Joshua Woodbury Tolford at his home in this city.  Born Oct. 31, 1931, at Woodstock, New Brunswick.  Died Dec. 20, 1913.  At the age of 17 years, deceased went to Portland, Maine, where he engaged in the trade of a carriage painter.  In 1852 he removed to Madison and worked at his trade.  He enlisted as 1st Lieut. Co. D, 23rd Wis., in 1862, and was afterwards made Captain of Co. G, 23rd Wis., and continued as such until mustered out July 4, 1865.  He was chief of police at Madison for a term of years and later engaged in the meat business with Bob Nichols until July 1, 1872, when he removed to Neillsville.  He engaged in the stage and livery business under the partnership name of Lynn & Tolford, driving four horse teams in the old rockaway stages between here and Humbird.  He also built the telegraph line between this city and Humbird.  He was a member of the Masonic fraternity for 60 years and it is also notable that he was the first commander of the first G.A.R. Post in Madison.


Deceased was united in marriage to Julia E. Jewett on Sept. 29, 1858, and to this union six children were born.  Arthur died in 1864, Frank in 1866, and Minnie in 1908 and a baby in 1874.  Deceased is survived by the widow and two sons, Ralph H. of Thorp, and Joshua W. of Jerome, Ariz.  He is survived by three brothers, Frank of San Francisco, Ed of Blaine, Wash., and George of Boston.


Captain Tolford was one of Neillsville’s best known and best liked men.  He lived an exemplary life in every particular and his kindly deeds and words were a perpetual exemplification of the Golden Rule.  Monday morning a brief memorial service was held at the old Unitarian Church and was attended by the Masonic brethren in a body.  S.M. Marsh spoke most fittingly of Captain Tolford as he knew him and of the life he lived.  Judge O’Neill also gave a glowing tribute to the deceased and which tribute is herewith given as follows:


For forty years Capt. Tolford was my intimate and constant friend.  It was my good fortune to become acquainted with him soon after I came to Neillsville.  I have known him as a business man, a public official, and I have often met him at his home.  Especially during the period of his last illness I have often visited him.  Now that he has passed from our midst it seems words are lacking to express my appreciation of his life and character.  There is so much to admire, so much to praise, and so little to criticize by those who knew the dear Captain during all these years of a long and active life.


Captain Tolford went out as a lieutenant in the 23rd Wisconsin, which was mustered into the service at Madison on the 30th day of August, 1862.  That regiment entered the service with 1010 men.  It was mustered out July 4th, 1865, and there returned only 318 men and 27 officers.  The regiment travelled 11,000 miles, participated in 15 engagements, and was under fire 94 days.  The young lieutenant discharged his duty faithfully, served his country with courage and devotion, and returned with the rank of captain.


Captain Tolford was the first commander of Lucious Fairchild Post of the Grand Army at Madison.  The Charter of the Post is the oldest under which any Grand Army Post exists.  The captain was in business in Madison until July, 1872, when he removed to Neillsville, which has ever since been his home.


The following resolutions indicate the esteem in which he was held by those who knew him at Madison.



At a meeting of the members of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, resident at Madison, Wisconsin, the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted:


Whereas, His comrades of the army have heard with the deepest regret, that a change of residence is required by his business interests whereby one among the truest hearted soldiers, the best citizens and the most gentle and generous neighbors whom our city contains, is lost to our daily social life.  Therefore,


Resolved, We express the sentiments entertained by not only every fellow soldier, but by every fellow citizen, in declaring our sincere regret at his departure from among us, and in bearing testimony to the fact, long well known to us, that covered by an unpretentious and modest demeanor which often represses the display of his excellent qualities, Capt. Tolford possesses the highest sentiments of manly and soldierly honor, the most upright principles of life, and faculties of mind much above the average of men.  And that in every respect of life, in the household, in society with his fellow men, and, in the trying scenes of camp and field, his bearing and conduct have been always kind, generous and just.


That our wishes will attend him in every enterprise of business, that he may return to his friends at Madison with an ample fortune to enjoy the pleasures of age, well earned by an honorable life.  And that he will be ever met by each and all of us with the greeting due a brave soldier and noble friend.


That we commend to the people of Clark County our friend, as a man worthy of every consideration and regard, who will, the longer and better he is known, the more firmly fix himself in their esteem.


Resolved, That the Secretary be directed to cause these resolutions to be published in the evening papers, and a copy by sent to Capt. Tolford.

THOMAS REYNOLDS, Chairman                                          CHAS. GEO. MEYERS, Secretary


The record our friend has made here in Clark County is well known.  It is one of which his friends and family may justly be proud.  As a public official he faithfully and honestly discharged his duty.  As a citizen he was patriotic.  In all the walks of private life he was true and generous.  Who can look back over this record of forty years in this community and point to a stain or even a fault in the life of him, whom we this day lay away to rest.


Captain Tolford was about the most unselfish man I ever knew.  He never seemed to think about himself, but was always ready to render a kindly service to others.  An illustration comes to mind.  A few years ago Mr. Stockwell came to me and said that Captain Tolford was not drawing a pension; that nearly all the old soldiers were getting pensions, but that the Captain was too modest to apply.  It was a surprise that one who so richly deserved his country’s benefaction, should not be receiving it.  We went to our friend, obtained permission to act, and through Senator Spooner and Congressman Esch, secured the passage of a special act, giving the Captain $30 per month.  I recall that a letter from Col. William F. Vilas, under whom Capt. Tolford had served, praising the conduct of his officer, assisted in securing the passage of the act of Congress.


All who knew him remember the constancy of his friendship.  It has been said the only things worthwhile in this world are its loves and its friendships.  Captain Tolford made all who became intimate with him his friends.  No man in this community has had more friends or more deserved them.  He had a great big, warm, tender heart.  He nursed the sick.  It would be a long list if we should set down the names of all whom he attended in illness.  There is a beautiful chapter in the Memorabilia of Socrates on friendship in which it is stated that a true friend serves you without calling.  Your ox will serve you if you house and feed him well, but then only when you call upon him.  But a real friend does not await a call.  He is always looking for an opportunity to do you a kindness.  It may be said of Captain Tolford, that he was always ready and anxious to render a service to those who were in trouble.  This was his nature.  His deeds came forth like water from a bubbling fountain.


We shall remember him as a brave soldier, a citizen of public spirit and zeal in every good cause, and an honest and upright man in all his relations with his fellows.  We shall cherish his memory and emulate his virtues.  Society has been made better and sweeter for the life and example of Joshua W. Tolford.


At the conclusion of the memorial service the remains were born to the train and conveyed to Madison for interment.  The funeral party was accompanied by A.B. Marsh and C.S. Stockwell.



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