Since I have been working more on artifact rehousing, some of the items I receive are very interesting pieces and I like to do a little investigating on them while making new enclosures. Recently the 1827 General Geddes Sword came into my hands looking for a new enclosure.
James Lorraine Geddes was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 19, 1827 and migrated to Canada in 1837 then returning to Scotland in 1843. After studying at the British military academy in India and serving he was awarded the title Colonel of the Canadian cavalry. From there he moved to Vinton, Iowa to farm and teach at a country school. Upon the start of the Civil War he resigned from school to become a Private (1861) in Company D of the Iowa 8th Infantry the after several promotions to Brevet Brigadier General (1865). Geddes was a prisoner of the Confederate Army and after release went to Mississippi and Texas then landing in Memphis, Tennessee as he became Provost-Marshall until he resigned from service on June 30, 1865.
Geddes returned to Vinton to become Superintendent of the Iowa Institution for the Education of the Blind (1867-1868) then ventured to Iowa Agricultural College (later Iowa State University) as Steward (1870-1882) and Professor (1871-1883) of Military Tactics and Engineering. During his time on campus Geddes also served as Acting President (1877-1878), Treasurer (1880-1883), and Treasurer, Records, and Land Agent (1885-1887) until his death February 21, 1887. Geddes served this university and country well and was respected by many.
Below is General Geddes’ 1827 Sword in its new housing enclosure cradled in protective Volara and now resides in the Special Collections and University Archives at the Parks Library at Iowa State University.