Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

MEEK, REUBEN (1844-1902)

History of the Fifteenth Regiment Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry

Headstone of Reuben Meek
Reuben Meek
IOOF Cemetery in Boulder Creek

Atlanta Georgia, Captain Rogers, of Company E, being driven in from the picket line, brought in his whole company and joined in the fight at the third position. Several Important captures were made during the day, one of the most remarkable being that made by Private Reuben Meek, of Company B, 15th Iowa. He, with some stragglers pressed by him into service, having captured and brought in seventy-one rebels, this being only a little less than the regiment lost while in the first position.

Article submitted by Frank Durham.

Burlington Hawk Eye Newspaper (October 6 1864)

Bold Exploit

We learn from unquestionable authority that Reuben Meek, of Company B, 15th Iowa infantry, late of Des Moines, took seventy six rebel prisoners the 22nd day of July, during that tumultuous fight in the vicinity of Atlanta.

The rebels were out of ammunition-- Meek told them that their best chance was to surrender, and they did so. He conducted them into camp. Meek is a young man hardly twenty one years of age. His exploit has given him deserved éclat. His Colonel complimented him in the highest terms -- State Register

Article submitted by Frank Durham.

Daily Iowa State Register (January 10 1866)

Achievement of a Polk County Soldier -- Gen Hedrick, who is stopping in Des Moines for a few days, related in the Register Sanctum yesterday an account of the achievements of a Polk County Soldier, which probably has no parallel in the history of the war. The facts are substantially as follows: When the Union army was in front or rather in the rear of Atlanta, Hood's army on the 22d of July made a bold dash on the Brigade in which was the Fifteenth Iowa. The Forty-Fifth Alabama and the Eighteenth Tennessee Regiments pressed particularly hard on the Fifteenth Iowa. At last, however, when our boys got a fair clip at the Reb's, the latter had to "git."

On our part of the field, in front of our line, however, there was a depression in the ground upon which the guns of the Fifteenth could not be brought to bear. Here a lot of Gray-Backs had ensconced themselves, and were unobserved, after the remainder of their regiment had fled to the woods for cover. Private Reuben Meek of Company B, Fifteenth Iowa, seeing a lull in the firing asked permission of the proper officer to go into the ravine and fill his canteen with water. Taking his gun with him, he had hardly reached the bottom of the ravine, before nearly a full company of Rebels rose up before him with unpleasant motions preliminary toward shooting. Quick as lightning he comprehended the situation, and with an air of authority, he ordered the entire force to lay down their arms, or he would bring up his skirmish line for their annihilation in less time than they could reasonably expect in which to say their prayers. The dropped their muskets like hot bricks, and in five minutes Private Meek, marched Eighty-Five full-grown, well armed Gray-Backs into camp as prisoners of War! Gen. Hedrick knows personally of these circumstances and in his opinion the feat was not equaled, taking all the facts into account, by any other soldier in either army during the War

Article submitted by Frank Durham.

The Mountain Echo (August 30, 1902)

Death of Reuben Meek

The people of this place were shocked Tuesday to hear of the awful death of Reuben Meek at Monterey, by being run over by a railway train, which occurred the Sunday evening before.

From the "Monterey New Era" of August 27th, we copy the following account of the dreadful affair:

The body of Reuben Meek, a teamster in the employ of G.C. Notley, was found in a cattle guard on the railroad near Gingling’s switch, about five miles north of Monterey, Monday morning by the crew of the freight train. Deceased had evidently been struck by a train on the previous night, for the corpse, when found, was stiff and cold.

The body, which was lying in a cattle guard, in a partly sitting position, presented a harrowing sight. The head was almost completely shattered, having been split open from the front, and the brains were scattered on the sill of the culvert while the left foot was cut off near the ankle. Thirty feet toward Monterey from the cattle guard was found the heel of the man’s shoe and a piece of suspender, these articles having evidently been carried forward by the suction of the train which struck him. Neither hat, coat or vest was found on the body, but his hat was discovered on the track, a short distance from the scene of his death, by the engineer of the freight, on a later trip.

Coroner Muller was notified and came over from Salinas in the afternoon, impaneled a jury and brought the body into town. An inquest was held in the evening.

At the inquest the facts regarding the finding of the body were brought out and John Pashon, engineer of the Del Monte bath house, testified that a man in his shirt sleeves and apparently intoxicated had passed his house, just east of the Del Monte grounds, walking along the railroad track towards Castroville.

Up to this time nothing had been learned of the unfortunate man’s identity and it looked as though he would go to his grave unknown, but just as the last of the testimony had been taken and the matter was being left to the deliberations of the jury, Phil Zelaya, a teamster employed by G.C. Motley, appeared and asked permission to see the body.

Being shown the body, Zelaya at once identified it as that of Reuben Meek, a fellow teamster, whom he had last seen on Saturday morning bringing a load of tan bark into town.

G.C. Notely’s foreman was then hunted up and he testified to having seen Meek at supper Saturday evening at the Notley residence. He was apparently sober at the time and was expected to take his team out Monday morning. Nobody could be found who remembered having seen Meek between the time he left the Notley residence Saturday evening and Sunday night, when he met his tragic death on the railroad track between here and Castroville.

Deceased who as a native of Illinois and about 55 years of age, leaves a wife and several children in Boulder Creek. He came here a short time ago to haul tan bark for G.C. Notley and was looked upon as a good workman.

Reuben Meek came to Boulder Creek with J.H Fuller of this place in 1882, from San Jose. For several years after coming here he drove team for Mr. Fuller. Later he engaged in teaming for himself and still later closed out his team and began driving for others. In June of this year he went to Monterey to drive team for Godfrey C Notley, formerly of this place, who is at present engaged in getting out tan bark there. For many years before coming to Boulder Creek Mr. Meek drove team for Mr. Fuller at San Jose and worked for the latter gentleman about 16 years altogether.

In Sept. 1887 Mr. Meek was united in marriage to Mrs. Alice Dick of this place, the latter being the eldest daughter of Mrs. L. E. Paschal, now of Santa Cruz. Five children have been born of this union, four boys and one girl, the eldest 12 and the youngest 3 years of age, who with the widow are shocked and grieved beyond expression by the awful calamity that has thus unexpectedly overtaken them.

The remains of the late Mr. Meek were brought to this place by train Wednesday morning, and the funeral took place immediately afterward from the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Wm. Hicks officiating. The attendance was large, the church being filled with friends and relatives of the deceased and his family. A select choir sang several beautiful hymns and Mr. Hicks spoke feelingly of the debt we owe to the soldiers of the great rebellion, of which Mr. Meek was one, and the great sorrow that has now so suddenly befallen his family. At the conclusion of the service the remains were interred in our local cemetery. The following, all old comrades of the G.A.R. acted as pall bearers: Peter Morris, Michael Elwood, O.R. Dascomb, A.A. Sporeland, Hermann Hesse, and Geo. M. Bruce.

The late Reuben Meek was born in Davis county, Indiana, on May 10, 1844. When but 17 years of age the great war of the rebellion broke out and he immediately enlisted in Co. B. 16th regiment, Iowa volunteers, for two years. At the end of this term he again enlisted for three years and served to the end of the war. Of his four years of service, covering the whole period of the war in the South, no doubt a thrilling and interesting book could be written. That he was a valiant, brave and active soldier, no one who knew Mr. Meek could doubt and he possessed what few even of the old soldiers could boast of and that he has two honorable discharges from the service of Uncle Sam. He concluded his army service by marching with Sherman "From Atlanta to the Sea" and was mustered out of service in Louisville, Kentucky, at the close of the war.

His twenty years of life here is too well known to need recapitulation. He was ever noted for his industry and faithfulness. That he could serve one employer for 16 years in the exacting duties of a teamster, attest this more than words can tell. Like all that is mortal he had his faults, but his life’s work has been a factor in the history of our country for good and the world is better for his having lived. Whatever he undertook he did well. Such is a good example to leave behind. His sorrowing wife and children have the sympathy of the community in their great and crushing affliction.

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