Major Hoyt Sherman • 1827 - 1904
Born in 1827, Hoyt Sherman was the youngest son of eleven children. His family included older brothers, John Sherman, writer
of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, Civil War Hero.
A prominant citizen of Des Moines, Iowa, gave his counsel, time and money to ensure that Des Moines had schools, a college,
a waterworks system and many more facilites.
Hoyt initially studied the printing trade in the office of his brothers, Charles and John, in Mansfield, Ohio, while in school.
In 1848, after turning 21, he was able to indulge a long-held dream to visit less-traveled parts of the country. Finding his
way to Des Moines, Iowa, he quickly decided to make it his home. He soon entered public service as a school fund commissioner.
His demonstrated business skills in this role earned him appointment to the position of deputy postmaster, which he held until
1849, when he was named postmaster of Des Moines, serving until 1853. As postmaster, he built the city's first dedicated post
office building, moving the postal operation out of a barracks building.
In 1849, Hoyt was admitted to the bar, becoming one of the city's most prominent attornies and a clerk of the district
He established the bank of Hoyt Sherman and Company, building a reputation for character and integrity which earned it
considerable success, particularly in the trust of the company's banknotes, an important factor in the era before the issue
of any official federal currency other than coin. In 1858, a new state constitution allowed the establishment of the State
Bank of Iowa with authority to issue note. Hoyt was appointed cashier of the Des Moines branch and one of the State Bank's
directors, merging Hoyt Sherman and Company into the new bank.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Hoyt a major and named him a paymaster in the
Army. He held the post for three years, without discrepancy of even a penny.
After the war, he served in the Iowa legislature in 1866. In 1867, he was an organizer of the Equitable Life Insurance
Company of Iowa, serving first as actuary, then secretary, and in Janaury of 1874 beginning a fourteen-year tenure as president.
Actively committed to the development and betterment of his home town, Hoyt was a founder of the Des Moines Water Company
in 1871, and 1876, was a founder and president of the Iowa Industrial Exposition Company which sought to establish a museum
for arts and industries of the state. Several years after his death, Hoyt's own spacious home, left vacant, began its evolution
into the current Hoyt Sherman Place, a major performing arts center and museum.
--source: "History of Des Moines and Polk County", Johnson Brigham.