In a little log cabin on the site of his present home in Lost Creek township, Miami County, John Riley Stratton was born on the 27th of November, 1831.  His parents were Orange and Isabella (Long) Stratton.  The father was born in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, and was a son of Cephas and Hannah Stratton.  The family is of English lineage and was found in America in early colonial days.  The great-great-grandfather of Orange Stratton aided in building Fort Pitt, where the city of Pittsburg now stands, and took part in the Braddock Campaign.  The family established a home in Tioga County, whence Cephas Stratton removed to what is now Cumminsville, near Cincinnati.  He was a resident of this city for two or three years before Orange Stratton joined him in 1820. Cephas Stratton spent his remaining days at Cumminsville, where he died when little past the prime of life.  Orange had five brothers, but was the only one to come to Miami County. One brother, Myron Stratton, removed to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and his son is the famous Winfield Scott Stratton, the mining king of Cripple Creek, Colorado.  He was born about the time of the Mexican war.  In early manhood John Riley Stratton visited the home of his uncle Myron and he therefore remembers his cousin Winfield as a lad.

            John R. Stratton spent his boyhood days on the home farm.  He bade adieu to friends and relatives in the winter of 1849, in order to enter upon his business career in the city.  He secured a clerkship in a dry-goods store in Cincinnati and was thus employed for four years.  On the expiration of that period he went to New Orleans, by boat.   He had expected to remain there, but yellow fever was prevalent and he returned.  In the fall of the same year, however, he again made his way to the Crescent city, where he engaged in clerking for two years.  He then went up the river to St. Louis, where he remained for a short time and next made a visit to his old home.  Later, in the winter of 1856, he went to Davenport, Iowa, and spent two winters in teaching school in Scott County, Iowa, while in the summer months he engaged in the raising of garden vegetables, near Davenport.  He loaded his crop of onions and potatoes onto a flatboat which he intended floating down the Mississippi river to market.  The river was filled at the time with similar boats and at Grand Tower an exciting incident occurred.  The channel narrows very much at that place and high banks are on either side so that the current is very strong.  Four men were on the flatboat and, the river being gorged with ice, it was only by a desperate effort that they pulled to the shore, making fast their cable of two-inch rope, but the ice snapped the rope.  Mr. Stratton’s companions struck out for the shore, but he stuck to the boat. Seeing that it was being crowded down, he jumped into the water and cling to the broken end of the rope until the others came to his assistance, when he succeeded in pulling the boat back of a small bank and thus protecting it.  This was during the Christmas holidays. The ice was carried downstream in a week and the water sank rapidly, leaving the boat fully a quarter of a mile on dry land, so the four men simply camped in that neighborhood, spending their time in hunting and fishing until the 1st of March.  In February, however, Mr. Stratton took a few bushels down to Cairo, one hundred miles below, where he sold them, returning by steamer.  Unloading his flatboat he attempted to haul it to the water, but it took twenty men a whole day to move it the width of the boat.  Mr. Stratton was much discouraged, but that night the water rose and in a few hours the boat was afloat so that he again began loading it and, when the task was completed, the river was high enough to float it easily down stream.  This was the happiest hour of his life, and the music of a band on a passing steamer seemed to him the sweetest he had ever heard.  He went down to Memphis, where he sold his produce to good advantage and also sold his boat, after which he returned to Davenport and raised a second crop.  This he sold in St. Louis, attempting to go no further south on account of the war.  While in that city he visited the state convention, where the question whether Missouri should remain in the Union or not, was being discussed, Sterling Price acting as president of the convention.

            Mr. Stratton returned to Davenport and in 1862 enlisted in Company D, Twentieth Iowa Infantry.  He served in Missouri, Arkansas and the Indian Territory under General Herron, participating in several skirmishes and the battle of Prairie Grove, in northwestern Kansas .  The next spring his command went to Vicksburg, the regiment lying in trenches and participating in the siege of that city.  Later they went to Port Hudson and to New Orleans, where Mr. Stratton witnessed the grand review, just before Grant went to take command of the Union forces in the east.  Contracting a fever, his surgeon secured for him a furlough and he returned home, but after recovering he went back to New Orleans, and found that the regiment had gone to Texas.  Accordingly, he boarded the Cape Dale, bound for Texas, but when off the coast of Galveston they were caught in a storm and the vessel was disabled.  Three days they kept afloat only by pumping and in the third night everybody thought the vessel was doomed to sink; finally a blockading vessel offered to take the men on board, but the storm was such that it was dangerous for the vessel to come close enough. At length, however, the storm subsided and one of the blockading fleet towed the vessel into Berwick bay.  Mr. Stratton then went by rail to New Orleans and a week later was sent to Point Isabel, Texas, with a squad of men, to join his regiment.  On reaching that place, however, the command had left there and at Arkansas Pass they finally found their companions.  They were there camped for eight months, or until July, 1864, when they went to Brownville, on the Rio Grande, remaining at that point for two months, and in the fall of the same year they were sent to Fort Morgan, near Mobile, and were among those to take possession of the fort, which had been captured as the result of dropping shells into it from the vessels.  This was the greatest bombardment Mr. Stratton ever witnessed.  Subsequently, he was sent back to New Orleans for a few months and afterward to Pensacola, Florida.  With his command he marched through Florida and Alabama to the rear of Mobile, which had not yet fallen.  Starting out with five days’ rations, it was found necessary to make their food supplies last two weeks.  They marched through swamps most of the way and occasionally Mr. Stratton and his companions picked up corn, where horses had been fed, and parched it to eat.  It was on that trip that the Twentieth Iowa endured its greatest sufferings, but finally the regiment reached Fort Blakely and, after its surrender, marched into the city of Mobile, where our subject received an honorable discharge.  He then returned to Iowa, but soon after came to Ohio .  In 1898 he attended a reunion of the regiment at Davenport, Iowa, for the first time since the war. There he spent some of the happiest days of his life, for in the intervening years he had met only one of the old comrades of the blue.

            After his return to Ohio, Mr. Stratton remained upon the old home farm and has since successfully carried on agricultural pursuits.  He was married in 1866, to Miss Jane Ann Walker, a sister of John E. Walker, and they now have three children: Clifford Eugene, who is clerking in Troy; Curtis Walker, a farmer residing near the old homestead; and Susie Viola, who is yet with her parents.

            Mr. Stratton is a Republican in his political views, and is a member of Marion A. Ross Post, G. A. R., of Addison, Ohio,  in which he has taken an active interest.  For ten years he served as master of Burr Oak Grange, No. 541, and has been a member of both the county and state organizations of the Grange.  He also belongs to the Lost Creek Christian church, of which he is now trustee.  His life has been spent in the quiet pursuits of farming, and in days of peace he is as loyal to the country as when he followed the old flag upon the battlefields of the south.  He is familiar with the history of pioneer development of the west, and in many ways has aided in its substantial growth and improvement.

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