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John Harper Hamilton

Des Moines, IA

1934, 793, Hill City, F-9 Cpt. Eng. Res. CO
1934, 2758, Ft. Meade/Fechner, D-Army-1 Cpt. Eng. Res. CO
1935, 1790, Rochford, F-5 Cpt. Eng. Res. CO

Biographical sketch courtesy family of J.H. Hamilton

John Harper Hamilton was born December 15, 1892 in Brooklyn, NY to Louella and Oliver Hamilton. He was raised in Pittsburgh, PA and Des Moines, IA along with his two younger sisters. The family called him "Harper", his mother’s maiden name. He graduated West High School in Des Moines and went on to Drake University in Des Moines.

Harper met Caroline Mary "Calla" Bolter at Drake. He finished his college education at Iowa State College in Ames, IA (now Iowa State University) becoming an engineer. In February of 1918 he enlisted in the U. S. army. He and Calla were married in April of 1918. Harper spent his WW I service in a military camp in Virginia.

Beaver Creek BridgeBeaver Creek Bridge
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)

After his discharge he remained in the reserves. He moved his family to Pierre, SD in 1919. Harper and Calla eventually had two daughters: Joanne and Patricia. In 1927 he was named State Bridge Engineer for the SD State Highway Commission. He was responsible for the well-known concrete-arch bridge over Beaver Creek in Wind Cave National Park built in 1929.

Calla died in 1931. Harper re-married in 1933 at Rapid City, SD.

He was commander of three CCC camps between 1934-1936: Hill City, Fort Meade/R. Fechner, and Rochford. He later became chief engineer for the state of South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. During WW II Harper was called up to the regular army and served in the South Pacific - specifically on New Guinea, Leyte, Mindoro, and Luzon doing work with air landing-strips. He was discharged with the rank of Colonel and returned to the PUC in Pierre, SD J.H. Hamilton had a fatal accident died April 11, 1948. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Beaver Creek BridgeJohn Harper Hamilton

John Harper Hamilton was born in New York on December 15th 1892, his family moving to Philadelphia when he was very young and later to Iowa when he was twelve. He finished his schooling in Iowa attending Drake University and being graduated from Iowa State College at Ames.

He came to Pierre shortly after World War I and was employed by the bridge engineers during the time that five bridges where erected it over the Missouri River.

Active in civic affairs he had served as a member of the Pierre City Council … he was a charter member of the Pierre Kiwanis Club . . . was an active church worker, and took a great interest in the affairs of the Masonic Lodge.

He died on April 11th 1948 at 6 o'clock in the morning following an accidental fall.

His military record commenced with the enlistment as a private in the year 1918 and advanced through World War I, Enlisted Reserves for 20 years and active duty again at the time of World War II. He was discharged as a Colonel of the Engineers after duty in the South Pacific.

He was serving as Commander of Pierre Post No. 8 of the American Legion at the time of his death.

He was a member of Acadia Lodge No. 249, A.F. & A.M., at Ames Iowa . . . Black Hills Consistory of Deadwood, South Dakota, Yelduz Temple of the Shrine at Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Capital City Chapter 39, Order of the Eastern Star. He was serving as Associate Patron of Capital City Chapter No. 39 at the time of his passing.

He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church of Pierre.

He is survived by his widow Harriet Arrowsmith Hamilton, two daughters by a former marriage, Mrs. Glenn Thomas of Wellman Iowa and Mrs. Thurston J. Fell of Council Bluffs, two sisters, Miss Maud Hamilton and Mrs. Lance Daniels, both of Des Moines and two grandchildren.

Interment will be made in Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia, Friday April 16th at 2 p.m., 1948.

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