Henry Dodge was born in Indiana on Oct. 12, 1782. He was raised by his mother until he was 14. In 1796, he joined his father, Israel Dodge, and his Uncle John in the Ste. Genevieve district of Missouri. His education consisted of working in family businesses such as salt production, lead mining, whiskey distillation and trade.
Dodge married Christina McDonald in 1800. During his time in Ste. Genevieve, he gained valuable experience in commerce as well as politics. He served as deputy sheriff and then succeeded his father as sheriff in 1806. Later he served as lieutenant and adjutant in the district militia, and first lieutenant and captain in the Ste. Genevieve Cavalry.
A year after the Missouri Territory organized in 1812, Dodge was appointed its marshal. During the War of 1812, he was commissioned brigadier general and led five military units into battle against Native Americans who were siding with Great Britain.
Dodge remained active in the military until 1820 when he was chosen to be a delegate to the Missouri Constitutional Convention.
In 1827, Dodge moved his family to the Michigan Territory where he discovered the largest lode of iron ore in the region and erected two smelting furnaces, forming a small community.
President Andrew Jackson, in 1833, established the US Dragoons to monitor Native American activities and appointed Dodge to lead its first regiment. His second-in-command was future President Lt. Col. Zachary Taylor. The Dragoons has the distinction of being the first mounted Regular Army unit and, in 1861, was renamed the 1st U.S. Cavalry.
Michigan and Wisconsin officially split in 1836 and Dodge served as Wisconsin’s territorial governor and superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1836 to 1841. In 1841, he became their territorial delegate in the House of Representatives until 1845, when he returned to serve again as the territorial governor.
Zachary Taylor ran for President in 1847. He asked Dodge to be his Vice Presidential running mate, but Dodge declined the honor. Millard Fillmore accepted and when Taylor died in office in July 1850, Fillmore, not Dodge, became the 13th President of the US.
When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, Dodge and Isaac Pidgeon Walker were elected the state’s first two U.S. Senators. Dodge’s son, Augustus C. Dodge, served as a Senator from Iowa at the same time making them the only father and son to serve simultaneously. Dodge served until 1857 when he retired from public life.
Henry Dodge died on June 19, 1867, in Burlington, Iowa, and is laid to rest in Aspen Grove Cemetery.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org.